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122 Rules(10)

By:Deek Rhew



Monica glared at Crew Cut, who now smirked at her. “You told him you gave me your name, rank, and serial number? That’s not the way I remember it.” Her attention returned to Jon. “I’m single and alone in a big city. As such, I’ve learned to protect myself from the lowlifes that prowl the streets. He’s just lucky I wasn’t really pissed, or he’d be in the hospital.”

Jon held up his hand for silence. “As we speak, the scholarship committee is convening to discuss the situation. I think you can imagine how that will end.”

Monica’s heart sank. Years of work and dreams lost. A possible career and life after the hell she’d been living—gone in an instant.

“Here’s the deal,” Jon said. “You will go hide away for a while and testify. In exchange, we forget about these little incidents, chalk them up to misunderstandings.”

“Great. So I’ll only not go to prison.”

“We’ll also give you a full-ride scholarship including a stipend for living expenses. No more having to bum a room in exchange for blow jobs.”

If she could have shot fire from her eyes, she would have turned him to a flaming McNugget. “So my choices are jail or jail and school?”

“Not jail, Ms. Sable. Just a minor inconvenience to help us put away a very bad man. Consider it giving back to society. However, your testimony has to be rock solid. The prosecutor says if you stick with the story you’ve given us…”

Monica thumped the table. “It isn’t a story.”

“Yes, yes. If you stick to the story you’ve given us, you’d better not waver a single syllable. Everything you’ve said had better be accurate, or the charges stick and our offer is revoked. What do you say?”

She looked at Jon then at Crew Cut, who continued to smirk down at her. “What choice do I have?”

“Good, I’m glad we came to an agreement. We begin immediately. First, I’d like you to meet Hale Lenski.” He motioned to Crew Cut.

“Yes, we’ve had the pleasure,” she said. “Though until now I didn’t know his name. Score a point for the ‘secret’ part of ‘secret service.’” She turned to Crew Cut. “Gotta be kind of embarrassing for you to get your ass kicked by a girl though, huh? What are you—an accountant with delusions of grandeur you could excel in the field? That never really works out, does it?”

Jon prevented her from continuing to badger the agent by saying, “Mr. Lenski is a highly trained field operative and the head of your security detail.”

So it got worse. “He’s my what?”

Crew Cut gave her a grin so plastic it could have had Made in Taiwan stamped on the back of it. “It’s my job to keep you safe by whatever means I deem necessary. Don’t worry”—he leered—“I’ll take good care of you.”

A sense of foreboding tried to wash over her already overtaxed nerves, but Monica shoved it away. She had always relied only on herself; this would be no different. Besides, she’d kicked Crew’s ass once, so she could do it again if she had to. She sat back, returned his smile, and began planning her escape.





4





Monica pressed the phone to her ear, listening to it ring in a world a thousand miles and half a lifetime away. A familiar voice answered. “Hello.” A longing for home washed through her at the simple greeting.

“Hey, it’s me.”

“Oh, hey hon! I didn’t recognize the number. How’s life in the Big Apple?”

“Ummm…fine. How are things with you?”

“Mon, what’s wrong?”

Just like that, the years unwound, and within a few words, her best friend sensed something was wrong. She must have heard the anxiety in Monica’s voice. “Jesus, how do you always know?”

“I’m amazing,” Angel replied. “Now spill.”

Monica sighed. “I need to see you. Soon.”

“Okay, like how soon?”

“When can you get here?”

“Ummm, honey, I’ve never even been to New York. I don’t know. I guess I could figure something out.”

Monica shifted the phone to her other ear. “No. Not New York. I’m at Len’s off Highway 23.”

“Wait. You’re there now?”

“Yes.”

Nothing lined the deserted roads leading into and out of The Cove for almost a hundred miles in either direction except trees, scrub pines, and jagged mountains. But some sixty clicks north, smack dab in the middle of nowhere, Len’s Little Diner eked out a humble existence off of weary travelers too exhausted and desperate to find something decent.

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