“What do you want?” Indi demanded, still keeping a safe distance away. When the guy didn’t answer, she tried again. “How did you know this was where I lived?”
“Oh, Kitten, you didn’t think I’d give up so easily, did you?” Mr. Wright, the prick from the cafe, was sporting two partial black eyes and a swollen, misshapen nose. Indi couldn’t take credit for how he’d brained himself on the table, but she had helped him on his way and that made her smile.
“What. Do. You. Want?” she repeated in a hiss.
Running a finger across his chin in thought, his top lip curled up into a sneer and he said, “I want to teach you a lesson.”
She laughed derisively. “If it’s about how I shouldn’t beat the shit out of people when they touch me, you’re wasting your time. That ship hasn’t just sailed. It’s sunk.”
He pushed himself off the wall. There was a snick and when he uncrossed his arms there was a small switchblade in his left hand. “Now, you’re going to play nice, Kitten, or I’ll be sure to cut you up a little to remind you what happens when you don’t do as you’re told.” The blade flashed in the little streetlight available as he twisted it menacingly from side to side.
“And if I don’t?” she asked boldly, raising her chin a fraction. She’d been threatened with knives before so she was strolling through achingly familiar territory.
“And if you don’t,” he replied teasingly, “it’s nothing a bullet can’t help.” He opened up his jacket and revealed a holstered gun on his right hip. Oh. That’s why he was so damn confident. He tapped it with the tip of the knife––a metallic sound pealing around them.
Indi swallowed thickly. As if the sight of the weapon was a signal to her body, her pulse began racing again––pumping around the much-needed adrenalin. It cleared her head, allowing her to think through her options properly.
Indi wasn’t in the habit of running from a fight, but she knew when she was beaten. If it was between a gun and a knife, then the loud, bullet-operated thing would win every time.
One point for run.
She knew from the cafe that he was a south paw. If he wanted to draw the gun, he’d have to drop the knife first, unless he just also happened to be ambidextrous…which she was suddenly praying he was not. She was sure she could get her blade out of the holster before he could reach for the gun though. Her reflexes had always been good.
One point for fight.
Factor number three: he had at least fifty pounds on her. If he pinned her, she’d be dead––plain and simple.
Two points for run.
Indi glanced around at the buildings. They were all very well sound-proofed thanks to the flight path they were living under. Nobody would hear the fight between them, which meant that if she had to resort to screaming for help nobody would hear her.
Three points for run.
Madness bubbled in his dark gaze as she met his eyes again. Rage, greed, lust and revenge were the fuel to the fire that lit him up from the inside. And that was the deciding factor.
Four points to one. She ran.
Taking off in the opposite direction to that she’d come from, her lighter frame and longer legs carried her a lot faster than his could. She rounded the corner, noting that the alleyway to her left was the one that ran behind her building. She knew it was a dead-end, but maybe she would be able to find a fire escape left down at random. If she couldn’t find a way out, she’d have to hide and launch a surprise attack. She’d done it before, and there was a lot to be said about the element of surprise.
Her footsteps echoed all around her, amplified by the brick walls soaring up on either side of her like the walls of a prison. Her breath caught in her throat when she heard his footsteps stop. After some frantic searching and no fire escape later, Indi dove behind one of the dumpsters and waited for her opportunity. If this guy had half a brain, he would know that was where she was hiding, especially since she was panting so hard. Forcing her breathing to slow, she held her breath and waited.
A few seconds later, his footsteps sounded like gun shots booming through the alleyway. “Kitten, I know you’re hiding back here,” he called. The sound of his steps competed with his words, making it difficult for her to pinpoint exactly where he was. “Where are you?” he called in a sing-song voice.
Indi shifted her right leg forward, being careful not to make a sound, and pulled her knife from its sheath. She took comfort in the feeling of the blade in her hand. Taking a deep breath in, Indi retreated in on herself to find that place that was quiet and cold. This was her angry place––her safe place. She removed her fear completely, replacing it with her perpetually-raging anger.
Grit crunched under Mr. Wright’s shoes, edging him closer to her and farther into the alleyway. With the blade out and ready, Indi let go of her held breath and felt complete calm sluice over her head, across her shoulders and down her back.
“If you just come out here, Kitten, I’ll take it easy on you. I promise.”
Indi rotated her neck until every vertebra cracked individually. There was no need for stealth now. He knew exactly where she was. He was just playing with her. His shuffling footsteps ended around the corner of the dumpster, no more than a foot away from her. He was so close that she could hear him breathing. She steeled herself, ready to lunge, and a trickle of anticipation burned through her body.
One more step, she thought.
One more step and then I attack.
One more step...