Authors: Julie Mangan
THE DEVIL MAKES THREE
Copyright © 2011 by Julie Mangan
Cover Art by Arthur Nelson. Contact him at [email protected]
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the author, except where permitted by law.
The Devil Makes Three
By Julie Mangan
In which Gretchen commits homicide,
But more importantly, meets a man.
Martins would die, and it would be at my hand. I’d waited years for this, and now that the moment had arrived anticipation mingled with fear. But it would happen. Come hell, high water, or even the Devil himself, that man would finish out the day in a body bag.
I kicked the office door open with my Lady Footlocker sneaker and slid past the threshold, Smith and Wesson at the ready. Martins knelt in the middle of the abandoned warehouse office. He prowled through his dead dealer’s pockets but jerked to attention at my SWAT-style entrance.
“Make one move and I’ll empty this gun in your gut.” I harbored every intention of following through with my threat, but preferred he comply with my wishes so I could make him suffer first, after I drilled into him how significantly he had ruined my life.
He opened his mouth, confusion clear in his eyes, but said nothing. Instead, his glance shot over my shoulder. A moment later a gun eased past me into my peripheral view. Along with it came the poke of something hard and cold against the back of my neck.
Martins looked terrified to the tenth degree and I understood his reaction. Shock filled me – along with desperation – and it wasn’t a pleasant sensation.
“Who are you?” Martins asked, gaping back and forth between me and who ever stood behind me. “Are you cops?” He edged away from the dealer’s corpse, as if a few inches might exonerate him from the murder.
“I’m not a cop,” said a baritone voice behind me.
“I’m not a cop.” I echoed, my voice a whisper.
“Oh, good.” The feel of metal disappeared from the back of my neck but the other gun remained pointed at Martins. Still, I took the change as progress and seized the opportunity to inch away from the door, towards a plywood desk. Once a few steps away, I turned to survey the new arrival.
He looked gorgeous. When God gave out looks this man must have gotten in line something like fifteen times. His black hair peeked out from under a black knit cap. The dim room cast his face in shadows, but I suspected the color of his eyes would look the same in sunlight: blacker than ink. His goatee showed obvious signs of meticulous man-scaping but I would never complain. Usually I preferred the sleek touch of clean shaven men, but the look worked for him and made my toes curl.
He wore black from neck to toe. The turtleneck and slacks clung to him in a way that left just enough to the imagination to make a nun blush. Over it all he wore a black leather trench coat.
“I hate shooting cops,” he said, dragging me back from my assessment of his better qualities.
What do you want from me?” Martins asked, continuing away from the corpse on the floor. I didn’t know where he thought he would go. The flat expanse of wall behind him certainly wouldn’t get him far.
“Two guns are pointed at you and you have to ask?” said Mr. Fatally Hot.
“Who are you?” I asked, wanting his merciless black eyes back on me, rather than my prey.
“No one of consequence.”
“I’m willing to bet that’s not true.”
He flashed me a wicked smile that promptly upgraded him from fatally hot to Pure Evil. “Who are you, Temptress? Scarlett Johansson’s hotter sister?”
I ignored his comment about my looks and stuck to the more pressing topic. “I’m someone of consequence. At least for Martins here.” I reasserted my waning aim.
“Do you work for The Shark? Because I told him last week I’d have the money at the first of the month,” Martins said, as he still tried to meld with the wall behind him.
Something tickled the back of my brain but I ignored it. “Mr. Shark will need to find alternate sources of income. You won’t be making any payments from where you’re headed.”
“Who are you?” he asked again, incredulity seeping from his pores along with sweat.
“Don’t you recognize me?” I asked, flipping my blond hair over my shoulder.
He leaned forward, squinting. Then he shrugged and settled back into his slouchy stance against the wall. “No. Could you give me a hint?”
My intentions encompassed a lot more than that not two minutes ago, but now that Pure Evil looked on I hesitated at revealing my true identity. Not while my short term goals included homicide, anyway.
“You ruined my life. You ruined my family.” My staccato tone made him cringe. Then understanding dawned in his eyes.
“Oh, I know who you are.” His tone became hollow, lifeless even. As if reality had suddenly kicked in and instead of paying attention to the room around him, he watched a short but lurid reel of his life, passing all too quickly.
“Yeah? Well good.” I took a step forward and aimed. Pure Evil, however, darted forward and yanked the gun straight out of my hand. My bullet went wide and shot a hole in the wooden-planked wall over Martins’ left shoulder. The shot deafened me momentarily, but soon I could hear Pure Evil chastising me.
“Slow down, Temptress. You’re not going to shoot him.”
“The hell I’m not.”
“I don’t know what he’s done to you, but this isn’t the answer. Killing Martins won’t make it any better.”
“So you’re not here to kill me?” Martins straightened, regaining some of his lost vigor. He stared at Pure Evil, willing to take any deal offered just to walk away with a pulse.
I snorted at Pure Evil’s hypocrisy. “Are you telling me you’re not here for revenge?”
“Oh, I am. I just don’t think you’re the type of girl that is satisfied with such dead end solutions.”
“You don’t know jack about me, Mister,” I said, taking a step towards him and setting my hands on my hips. I straightened my posture – and noted how they both checked me out – then continued on. “Now kindly return my gun so I can dispatch this roach.”
Martins deemed it a good time to break for the door. Blinking in surprise, I realized I’d let myself get distracted by Pure Evil’s banter. Pure Evil, however, didn’t seem phased. He slid across the room, met Martins at the door and with an almost bored expression stuck an elbow in Martins’ throat. Thrown back by the force if impact, Martins landed in a heap on his dealer’s bloody remains. He gurgled, clutching his throat and rolling in blood.
Pure Evil dropped my gun into his trench coat pocket and pulled out a length of thin rope. Casting a wary glance at me, he approached Martins’ writhing form. In less time than it takes me to locate a shoe sale at the mall Martins sat in a decrepit chair, restrained hands and ankles struggling against their bonds. Pure Evil stepped back, dry washing his hands. Not a drop of blood had gotten on him, despite Martins covered state.
Perhaps Pure Evil absorbs blood, rather than needing to wash from it, I mused.
“You’re good at this,” I said, fantasizing of his capable hands.
“I’ve had some practice.” He stepped back, admiring his work.
“So this is work for you?”
He cracked a smile and pulled his gun back out from his pocket. “What? Don’t I look like I’m having any fun?”
“Personal revenge, then?”
“Yeah. You could say that.”
“I don’t even know you!” Martins said, glaring at both of us. His vehemence gave me pause. But only for a moment. For a guy in no position to argue he suddenly wanted to put in his two cents? Seemed like a bad decision. Then again, he’d probably filled a lifetime with those.
“That’s fine,” Pure Evil said as he reasserted his aim. “Anonymity doesn’t bother me in the least.”
“Wait a minute.” I raised my hand and rested it on his arm.
“Yes? Oh, you probably want to leave. This is the part where things get messy.” He motioned to the door, but I crossed my arms and thrust out my chin, resolute.
“My gun?” I flipped over my hand and wiggled my fingers.
My eyes narrowed and I glared at both men. Martins swam in sweat and rightly so, but Pure Evil looked amused.
“I want my gun back.”
“Why? You’re not going to shoot him. You’d probably end up shooting yourself, or worse, me.”
I clenched my teeth, fighting the urge to scream. “Give me my gun.”
“Give me a legitimate reason.”
I didn’t stop to think up a civil response. Instead I made a fist and swung for his face. To my dismay, he caught my fist in his spare hand and pushed me backwards into the desk.
“You punch like a girl.”
I pushed myself up and realized my hands shook. From rage, fear or disappointment, I couldn’t tell. I felt plenty of all. To cover the excessive emotion I straightened my clothes then proffered my hand once more. “I want my gun back.”
I didn’t have a good answer. Not only did I lack control of the situation, but I also lacked any sort of chance for survival. Not if his ruthless manner could be taken as an indicator. My life expectancy at this point rivaled that of a cricket in a lizard cage. Then again, if that were true, then what did I have to loose? I might as well tell the truth. “I’ve waited too long not to kill him now,” I said. I let my eyes drift from Pure Evil, back to Martins. He sat in his chair, chin a quiver.
“As long as me?” Pure Evil asked.
I nodded. “Probably. Maybe even longer.”
He scanned me up and down then shook his head. “I doubt that. I’m going to shoot him, Temptress. I’ve earned the pleasure.”
“If it’s a matter of earning it, how do you know I haven’t?”
Again he scanned me. His eyes felt like hellfire drifting over my body, leaving a trail of burnt skin in their wake. “What did he do to you?”
I didn’t answer right away. Finally he shrugged and turned back to Martins. “If you won’t answer then I guess we’ll never know if you’ve earned the right or not. I’m going to kill him.”
“How about nobody kills me?” Martins broke in. His face shone red under rivers of sweat and his arms and legs strained against his bonds. “I did my time. I paid my debt to society.”
“Your time means about as much to me as a politicians promise,” Pure Evil said, waving his Glock in Martins general direction. Martins cringed and I grimaced.
“You got out of prison early by ratting on a bigger fish,” I said, shifting my stance to face him. “That hardly makes you innocent. You’re a waste of parts that needs to be wiped from humanity.” I held out my hand to Pure Evil once more. “Now, may I please have my gun? I promise I will not shoot you at anytime.”
He raised his eyebrows and cocked a smile at me. “Fine. But only because you asked so nicely. It’s not like you’ll have the guts to use it anyway.” Digging through his pocket he pulled out my Smith and Wesson and handed it back to me. Its weight felt heavy in my hand and on my soul, but I ignored it. I would not be stopped now that the moment had arrived.
Turning to Martins, I didn’t wait for Pure Evil to beat me to it. I squeezed the trigger. The gun fired and I jumped in surprise at the noise. The recoil made the gun buck in my hands, but not enough to faze me.
“My foot, my foot!” You shot my foot!” Martins screamed, interspersing profanity between his expressions of pain and shook.
Pure Evil turned to me with newfound respect. “You actually shot him.”
“Did you mean to shoot him in the foot?”
“Of course.” I lied. I’d actually been aiming for his chest.
Pure Evil leaned back against the door frame and crossed his arms over his chest. “I can’t believe you actually shot him. You’re an interesting girl, Temptress. You’ve got a lot of righteous indignation in you. What exactly did he do to you?”
“He murdered my twin sister.” The words threatened to break my fragile calm and I sought anything to stem the tide of threatening tears. The last thing I wanted was for Pure Evil to see me cry. “And stop calling me Temptress. I hate it when people mock me.”
“What makes you think I’m mocking you?” His tone lacked his previous jocularity and I cast him a wary glance. Our eyes met and something indefinable passed between us. Then, without warning, he unfolded his arms and shot Martins in the other foot. Hard to believe, considering the racket he already made, but Martins’ screams gained fresh vigor. Blood oozed to the floor around the chair legs from his mangled stumps.
“And you’re just going to shoot him?” Pure Evil asked. “Don’t you want to ask him anything first?”
Pure Evil shrugged and slid his Glock into a pocket, then crossed the room in two steps and grabbed Martins by the throat. His screams came to a gurgled stop. “What about it?” Pure Evil said, leaning in over his quarry. “Anything you want to tell this nice woman about her sister?”