Val didn’t pour herself another gin and tonic. She put the empty glass to her lips and leaned back her head, getting a small swallow of melted ice with just a hint of flavor. No more alcohol. She was going to need every fraction of her brainpower to stay alive. She gazed around the room, sizing up the few men who’d come to watch Joey and Cleto’s game, a crumpled wad of fifties waiting on the side of the table for the winner. She’d be able to mind-control one of them, maybe two, to cover her exit if things went south.
The heavy pool tables would make decent cover in the event of a firefight, and the cue sticks could be close-range weapons in a pinch. She’d already mapped the layout and knew about the man Blueblood had out front. That only left Blueblood himself, the most dangerous of them all. She had to keep distance between them at all costs.
Speaking of Blueblood, he walked jauntily out of the kitchen while munching on potato chips. “Ready to have at him?” he asked her.
Val set her glass onto the bar with a resolved thunk and stood. “Lead the way.”
She focused on relaxing her shoulders, on not walking too fast or two slowly. Joey abandoned the game and went to her side, and the other muscle followed. They trailed behind her, eliminating the option of retreat. Had that been intentional? No, they just didn’t dare cut in front of her and Blueblood. She walked next to him, too close to be safe, but there was no way to avoid him and have it seem natural. So much for keeping distance between them. She’d just have to trust her reflexes and lunge back if he tried to touch her.
He reached the door to the back room first, and Val’s heart skipped a beat. Then he pushed it open with one hand and stepped back, gesturing like a gentleman for her to go first.
And just like that, Val knew how she would play it. She smiled at him as she passed. Then she froze at the threshold, staring ahead and letting tension seize her body.
“Shit!” She rushed inside and looked wildly around.
The reaction was instantaneous. Everyone behind her stormed in and started shouting. Blueblood showed the most brains. He crossed the room at a run, flung open the back door, and looked across the parking lot. But Dave and Madame Morphine had already made it out of sight.
Val closed her eyes and wrinkled her forehead. “I can’t sense them nearby.”
Blueblood rounded on her. “Why didn’t you sense them leave?”
“Because I didn’t think I’d need to focus on them constantly,” she snapped. “I thought you had this under control.”
“Don’t try to pin this on me—”
“Why not? Madame Morphine and Werecat were yours.” She gestured at where the others were trying to rouse Werecat. “Now he’s unconscious, and she’s gone with White Knight. You know what that means, don’t you?”
Blueblood snarled. Then the sound of police sirens made them all freeze.
Joey touched Val’s arm. “We need to leave.”
“Right.” She spun on her heel and made for the door.
“Carry that useless sack of shit to the car,” Blueblood told his men, pointing at Werecat. “When he wakes up, I’m going to find out who’s responsible for this.” His blue-eyed gaze slowly passed over each one of them, showing no trace of his usual jovial charm.
“And I promise you, I’m going to make them pay.”
Dum dum DUM. That’s the end of this episode. (And it’s actually on time for once!) I’m going to take next Monday off, since I’ll be vacationing in the mountains, and the next episode will start on Monday, June 19th.
I hope you guys are enjoying the story. We’re actually not that far from the end. I’ve got almost all of my dominoes in place and am about to start knocking them down. *evil grin*