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122 Rules(6)

By:Deek Rhew

Joe continued, “Let Frankie know it’s done. We can move the product to the distributors in a couple of weeks once we’re sure Lenny isn’t missed.”

“The guy was such an incompetent, meddling asshole. I don’t think anyone’ll go looking for him. And if someone did find out it was us, no one would care,” Baldy said.

“Don’t be an idiot. How many times do I have to tell you about being careful? I do not want this coming back on us. People come to our organization because they trust our brand and our ethics. You know that. Incompetent or not, if word got out that we removed the head of the biggest supplier in New York, it could seriously hurt our reputation.”

Baldy chuckled. “Removed the head. Literally. Funny, boss.”

Those black, soulless eyes fixed on the underling. Ice chilled her soul as Monica stared into their frozen depths. “It’s time to go. The spooks have been watching, and I don’t want anyone to see us together. Wait five minutes then get out of here before someone spots you.”

Baldy nodded, and Joe walked away. He turned around, and Monica jerked back from the gap. Had the mobster seen her?

When he didn’t say anything, her heart slowed a little, though its rhythm remained far above its normal cadence. The killer waited a few minutes, set something on the shelf, then turned and strolled away as if he didn’t have a care in the world.

Monica let out her breath and tried to calm her still-galloping heart. Had she really just seen what she thought she had? She hit stop on her phone and played back part of what she’d recorded. “I don’t think anyone will go looking for him...” She clicked stop.

Oh, shit. She had become a witness.

Now the big question: What did she plan to do about it?

Nothing! You do not want to be involved in this! Do not go to the police. What did you see, really? Nothing. Nothing at all. None of it made any sense or meant anything.

Besides, would the police even believe her? Every day, millions of nut jobs in this city screamed about conspiracy theories and government cover-ups. No one would listen. Just another crazy looking for attention. But the recording... Did that matter? Would it give her credibility? With each question, her doubts compounded.

She didn’t know the answers, but she did know she wanted out of the library as fast as possible. With trembling hands, she shoved her books and notes into her bag helter-skelter, tucked the phone in her pants pocket, and stood. Before leaving, she reached through the shelf and picked up the book Baldy had left behind. The Untouchables. How ironic.

Monica’s eyes scanned the reading room as she moved out of the rows of books, looking for Baldy and Joe, but she saw no sign of them. She moved quickly past the tables thick with people reading, toward the door leading to the massive stone hallways. She had almost made it when a man at a workstation she had just passed stood.

He fell in step beside her, gripped her by the arm, and whispered, “Come with me.” He pushed her in front of him, guiding her, naughty-three-year-old-like, towards the exit. You’re gonna get it when we get home.

Stunned, Monica let him lead her away.

Just before they reached the door, she tried to pull out of his grasp, but he held her arm in an iron grip. “Don’t...” he started to say, but the survivor took over, breaking her paralysis. With all her might, Monica swung her free elbow back into the man’s solar plexus. He stood a head taller and arched forward in response to being sucker punched. She thrust her weight up and back, and when the back of her head connected with the center of the man’s face, his nose broke with a satisfactory crunch.

Monica tore her arm free and swung around, kneeing the unprepared man in the groin. She didn’t weigh a lot, but she put all of her energy behind it. He doubled over, grunting in pain, rewarding her for her efforts.

In an adrenaline-driven sprint, she bolted for the door. She would hug her best friend, Angel, for making her take that self-defense class before heading off to NYU. Jesus, how many times would that girl save her?

Monica had just reached the exit when the man caught up to her again. He spun her around and slammed her into the wall, holding both of her arms this time. Fear and anger mingled as he stepped into her personal space, preventing further attacks, and whispered, “Are you trying to get yourself killed? If you are interested in living, knock it the hell off and come with me.” His voice, strained thanks to his injured testicles, carried the weight of someone used to being in charge.

He wore his jet-black hair clipped crew-cut short; sharp blue eyes stared unwavering into hers. A thin stream of blood trickled from his nose to his mouth and dribbled onto the front of his gray hoodie, but he did nothing to stop it. “Do I have your undivided attention?”