It’s Tuesday…you know what that means…NEW chapters for THE GIRL WHO WOULD BE KING.
You can download the new chapters here: The Girl Who Would Be King Chapters 13 & 14
Or just read below.
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Turning a corner deep in thought I don’t notice anything until I see a shadow fall across my path and I almost smack right into her.
Apparently she hasn’t forgotten what I’d done to her and has been paying attention to when I would be released. She looks rough. Like the months since she left the home have been hard on her. I notice her hand that I crushed is still damaged. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that an orphan’s hand wasn’t properly repaired. My guilt doubles. Triples. She hides the hand underneath crossed arms when she sees me looking at it. I look up into her face and open my mouth to say I’m sorry but I can see it will mean nothing to her and turn away, determined not to get into another physical altercation with her.
“Not so fast!” she almost screams as she reaches out with her left hand and grabs the strap of my duffel bag, pulling me backward. I probably could have dodged her grab, but my guilt is keeping me pretty contained; I don’t want to hurt her again, I’ve obviously done enough to her. Ironically when I had crushed her hand I’d done it because I thought maybe it would keep her from hurting other people. From the look and feel of her now that has backfired horribly. As she pulls me toward her by my duffel strap she wraps her right arm around my neck, so that her face is right next to my ear. I am tense and ready to move, but letting her call the shots. Of course if I’d known she was going to stab me I probably would have been a little more proactive.
The knife slides into my side and I feel like I’m just a bundle of nerves strapped together with electrical tape. I yelp in pain and pull away from her. As I pull forward she stabs me in the back, repeatedly. Pain and fear shoot through me and the world starts to slip away just as another voice pushes into the alley. My vision is being eaten away at the edges, but I see a pair of huge black boots as I hit the dirt with a thud, the knife still wedged between my shoulder blades.
I can tell from the second I come into the room that something is going to happen tonight, probably something bad. There’s a tension in the room that I haven’t felt since I first started working with the crew. But since I can’t tell what is going to go bad, or when, I decide to just ride it out and try to be extra careful. I wrap my arms around Adrian’s waist, burying my face in the crook of his neck, smelling him wrapped up in his old leather jacket. He smiles down at me and kisses my hair.
“Mi niña,” he says.
“Hi,” I say. At least everything with Adrian seems fine. I catch Melvin watching us and shoot him a nasty look which he laughs at. I don’t know what I’m going to have to do to make that dude shut up and stop laughing, but it isn’t going to be pretty. Maybe when Adrian and I finally get out of here and head for L.A. I’ll leave Melvin a parting gift.
I get in the car with the rest of the crew. Enrico is there, and Felice’s boyfriend Jorge of course, and the new guy, Albert. I’m not too wild about Albert being included since I don’t know him too well, but I actually trust him more than Melvin, so I guess it doesn’t matter much one way or the other. The crew loads up into the SUV and Adrian and I sit in the back as usual, making out as we drive to the site. Felice yells at us to ‘cut it out’ at least three times, which is two times less than she usually does, but we never pay attention anyway. When we get there I hop out and take off my jeans and sweatshirt to reveal my black cat suit, which I have officially begun to call my ‘working clothes’. I pull the hood over my hair and adjust it on my face. Adrian steps out after me, all in black, a black ski mask on his face, and a tire iron in his hand. He looks back at Felice, who’s driving, as per usual and Enrico who’s looking intently at a glowing laptop perched on his knee. Albert and Jorge lace up their boots, gearing up for their “decoy bit”. Felice is on the phone with Melvin waiting for a ‘go ahead order’. She’s holding her finger up, telling us to wait a minute. I look in the distance at the low concrete building and the surrounding fence. Something still feels off. Felice snaps her phone shut and looks at Adrian.
“We’re a go,” she says curtly. Adrian looks at me.
“You ready baby?”
“Actually…” I pause, looking around. I still have the creeps; something feels wrong. “I don’t know.”
“What?” he asks, looking around, trying to see what I am seeing, which is of course impossible.
“Something’s wrong. I’ve had a bad feeling all night…and now, well, I’ve still got it. I think we should bail.”
“What the hell is going on?” Felice calls from inside the SUV.
“Lola’s got a bad feeling. She thinks we should call if off,” Adrian says into the darkness of the SUV.
“Oh really? So now Lola’s got super instincts?” Albert laughs. I kinda want to shove Adrian’s tire iron up his nose, but Adrian puts a hand on my arm to keep me still.
“I don’t know Albert, her judgment has been pretty good so far,” he starts.
“Yeah, I’m sure you’re not compromised in any way considering you’re fucking her.” At that I kind of lose it and jump forward into the car, intent on clawing out his freaking eyes, but Adrian grabs me by the waist and pulls me back outside with him. I don’t really fight it. I hate showing these people what I can do and am constantly holding back. Regardless of my anger, this moment has to be no exception. Adrian puts his hand up to me as if to calm me and gets back in the SUV and discusses it with the rest of the group. I hear cabron a couple times and cagar at least once, both of which mean Adrian is pissed, but we lose anyway. We’re going ahead with the plan. Of course we are. It’s really only Adrian and I with our asses on the line, so of course they want the score regardless of any thoughts we may have on the subject.
We get caught.
Well actually, I get caught. We’ve gotten what we came for and we’re slipping out the side and Adrian or I (but it’s totally Adrian) trips an alarm. We start running, but he can’t keep up with me so I slow my pace and take the heavy box from him in mid-stride to lighten his load. He still can’t keep up and so I slow down so that we’re at least together.
And then there are dogs.
I hate when there’re dogs.
But we’re close to the fence, and I’m all “we’re gonna be fine” in my head. Since tripping the alarm though we’re off course, and so where we’re coming out the fence is higher than where we originally came over; higher than where we were supposed to come out. And since we’re not in position, the SUV is nowhere to be seen either. I’m looking at the fence and there is just no way Adrian is getting over it, especially not with the dogs on us. So when we hit the fence I send the box flying up over it. The box lands with a satisfying thud in the dust on the other side. When Adrian catches up with me he’s out of breath and horrified and he tears off his mask, his eyes wide and panicked. I take his face in my hands for just a second. “Don’t worry,” I say. He looks at me like I’m insane. “Trust me.” I make my hands into a step for him and he looks at me like I’m even more insane. The dogs are getting really close though, so I drop the sweet voice I used before. “Just trust me. Hurry.” He points at the razor wire at the top of the fence.
“I’ll be cut to shreds Lola – you’re nuts!” he screams.
“Damnit Adrian, you’ll make it. I promise!” I scream back at him. And then I point at the dogs a few yards away. “Would you rather be torn to shreds by that?” Adrian turns and sees how close the dogs are.
“SHIT!” he screams and puts his foot in my hands. I lever him over the fence, and I totally overcompensate with the adrenaline pumping through my veins and he goes flying WAY over the fence. I’m horrified that he’ll break his neck on the way down, so instead of being smart and jumping over myself I watch him fly through the air, and just as he crash lands safely in a mound of sand the SUV pulls up, and one of the dogs jumps my back. The force of it sends me to the ground and it sinks its teeth into my neck. I clamp one hand over the wound and hear Adrian cry out, “NO!” as I throw the dog off and get hit by a second and third bites into my back. A fourth dog joins in and lays into my right calf; I kick that one off with my left foot and send it flying with a high-pitched yelp. I can hear footsteps in the distance trying to catch up with the dogs and I figure if I can just throw the dogs off and get over the fence and into the car I’ll be fine, but then I hear the tires squeal as the car drives away at an accelerated rate. I look up to see if Adrian is at least waiting for me on the other side. Of course there’s nothing.
I turn roughly, throwing two of the dogs off me, and the first jumps at me again, I catch it by its jaws and pull in opposite directions, breaking its jaw and killing it instantly. I throw the corpse at the two running toward me, hitting one with the body and sending it shooting backwards. The other jumps at me and I swing my fist at it mid-jump, connecting beautifully with the face, smashing it to pieces. The third dog that I’d hit with the body is heading back my way, albeit a bit more slowly, and the fourth dog has maybe given up, limping away with a broken leg. Dog number three lunges for me just as I’m about to make a jump for the fence. I pull up short and we circle each other, the dog and I, trying to measure each other up. I lurch forward and it steps back. When my back is toward the fence it jumps at me and it jumps high enough that I go under it slightly and set it into the air like a massive furry teethy volleyball so that it goes over the fence, but just barely, and when it comes down it lands in the razor wire with a howl. I plant my feet and go over the fence myself and take off running just as the some of the guards open fire. Others try to chase me along the fence line. I keep the pace nice and light for a few seconds until I hear the runners behind me drawing their guns. I yell back at them. “You need some new fucking dogs! Those other ones are dead!” And then I kick my speed into high gear and leave them in the dust.
I slow my pace a few miles away from the facility and sit down near some weeds to give my body a chance to heal its wounds, especially the critical neck wound. It takes the better part of an hour, but when I’m well enough I begin running again and don’t stop until I can see the Vegas lights big and bright in the darkness again.
It’s time to move on, after I kill my old crew of course.
When I get back to our rendezvous point, the old Spanish restaurant, the car is parked in the back as per usual. They obviously think I’m dead or they wouldn’t have come back here. I go up on the roof first, as for maybe the first time in my life I am slightly more curious than I am pissed. Actually that’s a lie, I’m like royally pissed, but my curiosity gets the better of me anyway. There’s a skylight in the room and so I kneel at the edge and watch and listen. There’s no talk of me. No remorse, no concern, no animated discussion as to whether we should ‘go back for Lola’, nothing. To Adrian’s credit he looks quite miserable, but whether that’s because he’s left his girlfriend to get eaten alive by dogs or because he’s broken his wrist I can’t be sure. Mostly they’re just dividing up the take, as usual; discussing their payday.
I sit back and try to think. I’ve been discovering, much to my dismay, that I’m not a criminal mastermind or anything. I’m just brute force and my powers in no way include super intelligence, which kind of pisses me off. I mean, I guess it’s possible I’ll get smarter with time, but at 16 I’m still clearly just muscle, to myself and to everyone else.
Ah, screw the thinking, I’m made of pure badass action.
I snap the padlock off the skylight pull up the window and drop down through the ceiling. I have deliberately not cleaned myself up, since I look like I’ve been half devoured by dogs and figure the sight of me alone will instill some horror. To their credit, nobody faints, though Adrian looks like he might.
“Hello gang. Nice night to be eaten alive by dogs isn’t it?”
“Jesus Lola,” Enrico says
“Dios mio,” Jorge breathes while crossing himself. He looks the most frightened next to Adrian, maybe because he’s the most religious. Melvin is the first to say something ridiculous, true to form.
“Well Lola girl. Thank God you’re all right,” he says, putting a firm hand on my shoulder, the one not still torn apart by dogs. I shake it off.
“Yeah, no thanks to any of you on that front,” I say eyeing everyone except Adrian. I don’t want to kill him, but I admit I’m upset he doesn’t seem happy, or even relieved, to see me. Silly me to expect a romantic reunion scene. Jorge is the only one that seems to feel any need to explain anything.
“But Lola…we…we saw those dogs attack you…we knew you couldn’t survive that…nobody could…”
“Well, surprise surprise I guess.”
Felice steps forward. “How did you survive Lola?”
“With no help from any of you that’s for damn sure,” I say, this time cutting a hard look at Adrian, who is curled up like a kitten that can’t process any more information. They all stand there dumbfounded. I don’t even feel much like killing them anymore, now that they look like stupid sheep, but I am taking the loot and moving on, without them. I point to the box I’ve just been nearly killed for.
“I’ll be taking that.”
“Oh really?” Melvin says more than asks.
“Yes. I’m pretty sure I’ve earned it.” Jorge steps back, not wanting to get caught in whatever is going to happen. Enrico steps forward to try to stop whatever is going to happen and Albert starts bellyaching that there is no way he isn’t taking his cut. Just as I’m about to let things get physical (I have this whole idea about leapfrogging over Melvin, grabbing the box and then kind of spiderman-ing out the skylight with the box in hand) Felice hits me in the back of the head with a tire iron. I stumble but catch myself on a table and pick up a gun lying there innocently. I point it at Felice, making sure I’ve got Melvin, Jorge, and Enrico in my sights despite my swimming vision. Albert makes a move for the gun and I elbow him in the face, breaking a few bones, knocking him out. “Don’t even,” I say, my words slurring together slightly. Just as I’m about to put a bullet in Felice I get hit from behind again, and since Adrian’s the only one behind me, I know it’s him.
I honestly can’t believe it.
So much for love conquering all.
I fall forward hard, blackness trying to swallow me on all sides. My eyes flutter trying to beat back the black and I feel Adrian’s strong hands rolling me over onto my back. Melvin speaks, bastard that he is. “Good work kid.”
“I…I didn’t want to,” Adrian says, his voice cracking.
“It was her or me, mi hermano,” Felice says.
“You did the right thing,” Enrico adds quietly.
I hate all these bastards.
“If those dogs didn’t kill her then two blows to the back of the head aren’t going to either,” Melvin says, his words swimming around me. “We better make sure she’s done.”
The last thing I see is Melvin picking up a huge shiny blade. It glints brightly when it catches the light. The thing must be at least nine inches long. He plunges it into my stomach as if he’s gutting a fish.
Then everything’s black.
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