Warning: Non-Graphic sexual content, blood, mild violence and language. Side view of naked (sim) breasts.

A shot rang out in the alley. The woman screamed and immediately tensed up. She was practically frozen in terror. Her captor’s body jerked violently, turning her loose from his death grip. His face turned white and went suddenly slack. He opened his mouth to speak. Instead of words, blood began to flow from his parted lips.

He fell away from the woman, dead before he hit the ground. Blood blossomed from his throat and trickled down the side of his neck on to the dark pavement. The woman shook with fear. Billie could see her eyes welling with tears. Without thinking, Billie went through the next few moments mechanically. She had done it so many times before; it was second nature to her at this point, as normal as someone preparing their morning coffee.

She didn’t holster her pistol immediately. Past experience had taught her to never assume that her target was dead. Instead she pushed past the hysterical woman and kicked the man with the tip of her boot. He jostled from the force, his body slack, but didn’t stir. Billie poked around his side with her toe, trying to find one certain spot. Having found her target she hopped on her other foot and swung her leg back. She pushed her leg forward again. Had it been quiet enough, she was certain she could have heard it swish through the air. She kicked the man with such force in his side that she heard a crack in his ribs. He still didn’t stir.

Satisfied, Billie finally holstered her weapon. She turned to the young woman, who was now fully hysterical. Tears were streaming steadily down her cheeks; her nose was also running down her face. She inhaled in gasps, sounding more like strangled squeaks. At first, she was too shell shocked to speak. As Billie reached out to put her hands on the woman’s shoulders, her head seemed to clear.

“Oh God I…I thought…I mean I-I-I thank you!” she stammered out.

“Shh,” Billie murmured, “you’re okay. You’re safe now.”

She always said the same words to every victim. She had no clue if she was lying or not. Was the person really okay? Would they ever feel safe again? It was the words that had always given her comfort. She could still recall her father’s voice whispering them in her ear. She had never felt as safe in her life as she did in his arms. Even before…he had always been safe.

“What…I don’t know, what do I do now?”

Billie pulled a phone out of her pocket and switched in on. She handed the woman the small, plastic thing.

“You’re going to use this phone to call 911. You’re going to tell them what happened and where you are.”

“How can I ever repay you? You saved my life!”

“You can do me a favor. When the police come to take your statement, refuse to talk to anyone but Deputy Chief Fredrick Jones. They’ll try to intimidate you into talking to someone else, but don’t let them. Talk to no one but him. When he finally shows himself to you, I want you to tell him something. Very simply, just say that Billie sent you.”

The woman nodded, “I’ll do it. I owe you that much. You said Deputy Chief Fredrick Jones?”

Billie nodded, and smiled to herself as she imagined his face. She almost wished that she could stick around to see it.

The woman dialed 911 and told the operator what had happened to her. As she started to speak, Billie turned to leave. She stole one last look at the bloody body next to her and disappeared into the darkness of the alley.

* * *

A phone jangled in Billie’s pocket. She always kept an extra one in case she needed to dump one. She pulled it out and pressed it against her ear.

“Billie here.”

“Hey, are you okay?”

“Of course, Clem,” she paused a moment before speaking again, “I saved a girl.”

Her voice turned suddenly softer. It was almost like a fragment of a ghost. The girl who she had once been, long ago was speaking out.

“I’m glad,” he replied, “are you coming by? I want to see you before you go after Victor.”

She smiled against the mouthpiece of the phone, a slight flush creeping up her cheeks. In that moment, she looked positively girlish, like a young innocent woman. Not the cold-blooded killer she had worked so hard to become. Billie brushed a strand of black, synthetic hair behind her ear. She didn’t know why Clem automatically made her flirty, but he did.

“I’ll be right over.”

Billie hung up the phone and shoved it back into her pocket. She wrapped her arms around herself and fought the upward tugging of the corners of her mouth. She stepped out of the alleyway and out on to the street. She walked about four blocks over and cut through another alleyway. She took a sharp right and came face to face with the back door to a building. She straightened her wig and knocked on the door. A metal faceplate slid away and Billie could see two brown eyes staring back at her. She grinned at the eyes. Even though she couldn’t see the rest of the face, she could tell from the crinkle in the corner that the face was smiling back at her. The metal plate slid shut again. Billie could hear several locks clicking. Finally, the door opened.

As the door swung open, Billie caught a hold of the edge and pulled the door to her. She leaned against the edge of the door and smiled at the man in the doorway. He leaned against the doorjamb with his arms crossed over his chest.

“Billie,” he murmured, smiling.

“Clem,” she replied.

Clem rose from the doorway and gestured for Billie to go inside. She pulled the door behind her and stepped through the doorway. She could feel the weight of Clem’s eyes on her as she passed. She smiled softly at the feeling. As she cleared the door, she turned around to watch Clem pull it shut and flip all the locks into place. He turned around and flashed a wide smile at her.

“Nice hair,” he quipped.

“Nice paranoia,” she shot back, referring to his locks.

“All the better to protect you with, my dear.”

He winked and closed the gap between them. Billie lifted her arms and wrapped them around Clem’s waist as his arms encircled her shoulders. She nestled her head into his neck and breathed in the scent of him. He always smelled the same. His clothes held the scent of his laundry detergent, while his long hair smelled of rosemary and his skin smelled like soap. She pulled away from him a little and looked into his eyes. He stroked her cheek softly before taking her chin with his thumb.

“Your eyes,” he whispered.

She laughed, “You know my signature.”

He shook his head, his face serious. He sighed and let go of her chin before speaking:

“I still can’t help but wonder if I’ve ever seen the real you.”

Billie didn’t have the answer for him. She couldn’t tell him that no, he had never seen the true her. She pushed those thoughts from her head, and hopefully from his head as well as she slid her arms up Clem’s body and pulled his head down to hers. Their lips collided together, and Billie felt her thoughts go fuzzy. She felt warm and safe as Clem ran his hands up and down her back. His hands peeled off her jacket and threw it off to the side. Billie’s lips left Clem’s and trailed down his jaw. They settled on the warm brown of his neck, licking at his pulse before giving it a light nip. He moaned and took a hold of her scarf. She shivered as he pulled the slick fabric off of her. The fibers slid against her neck, sending little waves of sensation down her back. She pulled away from Clem’s neck and found his lips again. He peeled the side of her tank top down and pulled away from her lips. He kissed the flesh of her shoulder before kissing his way over to her throat. He wrapped his arms back around her body and picked her up.

Billie let out a little squeal as she left the ground. Clem took a few steps in his small home and dropped Billie down on his bed. She felt suddenly bereft as he left her arms. She reached for him and he covered her body with his own. He sat back and pulled off her shirt, leaving her lying on his bed in her bra. He fell back against her and pulled the strap of her bra down and kissed the newly exposed flesh.

“Are you sure about your information?” Billie asked as she buried her hands in his thick hair.

“Always business with you, isn’t it?” he asked between kisses.

“This is important business,” she replied, her eyes glassy and faraway.

Clem stopped and sat back again. He sighed, “I thought that this was important business.”

Billie sat up on her elbows and stared him down, but found that she had nothing to say to him. What could she say? She felt about Clem…. Well, exactly what it was that she  felt she wasn’t something that she wouldn’t allow herself to say, even in her own head. Her quest, her life’s work was the thing that had to matter the most to her. Clem sighed, taking her silence for some sort of answer.

“Yes, Billie. I’m positive about the information I got about Victor. I hate that you even want to go after him. I don’t think I could bear the thought of you getting hurt.”

She sat up further and cupped his cheek with her hand.

“I know, Clem. I’m sorry, but I have to do this,” she dropped her gaze for a moment before lifting it again and smiling at him mischievously. She brought her arms behind her and unfastened her bra with a couple of quick movements. She let go over the fasteners and let her bra droop on her chest ever so slightly. It was enough for Clem’s eyes to glaze over again. He fell against her again and this time, neither of them stopped until they fell against each other one final time, fully satiated.

* * *

They slept a little bit, wrapped in each other’s arms. True, deep sleep eluded Billie and she found herself waking after just an hour. She sat up and gazed down at her lover’s face. She brushed her fingertips lightly over the scruff on his cheeks. Her heart swelled a little as she studied his sweet, sleeping face. This relationship was dangerous, Billie knew. It had the potential to cloud her judgment and it certainly was distracting.

Clement Walker was well known in Elmira for being the best source for information. He always seemed to have his finger on the pulse of the city, which was quite a feat for a man who had barely left his house for seven years. Clem wasn’t an agoraphobic, but he was somewhat of a wanted man. He was known for giving information to anyone who paid the price for it, and there were some people out there who didn’t appreciate that. Billie was one of the few people to know where he lived. She had first tracked him down when she as getting started on the streets. He had helped to connect her to a local mafia Made Man. Billie shivered as the cold air of Clement’s hovel hit her flesh. She pulled a loose sheet off of the bed and wrapped it around her exposed skin.

Billie sometimes did wonder how they had wound up a couple. At first, she had been hostile towards him. She had just assumed that he was another criminal, and she had longed for the day when she would catch him committing a crime so she could add him to her list of victims.

Her view towards the informant had changed when she had come to his home, injured. She had caught a bullet in her shoulder, and Clem didn’t turn her away when she showed up. At the time, she was squatting further away than she had thought she could travel. Clem was the closest “friendly face” that she could think of, and she was truly grateful when he let her inside. She passed out, and when she woke up he had patched her shoulder and gave her antibiotics and pain medicine. She stayed with him overnight, and he had been a complete gentleman. Billie had expected Clem to try to take advantage of her, but instead, the two of them spent the night talking. Billie had gotten to know Clem and somehow she had dropped her guard long enough for the strange man to work his way into her heart. He definitely wasn’t the sort of man she could bring home to her family. Then again, she didn’t have any family so that problem took care of itself. Plus, she wasn’t exactly the sort of woman one would want to bring home to their mother. Clem understood her, and had even begrudgingly praised her actions when it came to her vigilantism. He worried about her going out every night. Yet, he knew how important it was to her, and he always supplied her with information whenever he could.

They had been lovers for a couple of years now, and Billie was fairly certain that Clement was in love with her. Billie chose not to think about her own feelings, lest they be the sort of feelings hat would make her want to quit her work. Still, she couldn’t help but feel her heart beat a little faster and her legs shake just a bit when Clem said her name, or brushed the hair from her eyes.

Thinking about her hair, Billie became suddenly aware that she could feel her hair against her bare shoulders. She looked around the small home and saw her black wig lying haphazardly on the floor. She faintly remembered switching positions, being on top of Clem. In their…activities…Clem’s hands had ripped the wig from her head, sending her bottle-red hair tumbling down her back.

She smiled at the memory. She didn’t notice Clem’s eyes fluttering awake. She started when he brought a fingertip up to the corner of her lips and gave a light caress.

“The Mona Lisa has thousands of visitors looking at her, all wondering what she’s smiling about.”

“Well, I don’t know about her, but I was smiling about you.”

Clem chuckled as he sat up in bed. He wrapped his arm around Billie and pulled her back close to him. He rested his lips against the side of her head.

After a moment in quiet solitude Clem’s brow furrowed forward. Though Billie couldn’t see his face, she could tell from the way that his body tensed beneath her, that Clem was about to voice his worries.

“Billie, I really…really don’t want you to go after Victor. It’s too dangerous.”

Billie sat up and turned to face Clem. She fixed him with an angry glare.

“Clem, I appreciate that you worry about me…and I know you care for me…but, I have to do this. He’s a rat-faced son-of-a-bitch who deserves to pay for his crimes.”

“Why do you have to do it?”

“Who else is going to do it? I’m the only one out there risking her life to clean up the street. You know how it is, half the cops are criminals and the rest are too damn scared to change the status quo.”

“What ever happened to ‘good will overcome evil’?”

She scoffed, “just call me the hand of God. I get bloody so he doesn’t have to.”

Clem sighed and ran a hand through his hair. He looked away from her, as if meeting her eyes was just too painful for him. Finally, after a moment he whispered softly:

“I just couldn’t bear the thought of something happening to you. I love you, Billie.”

Billie looked away from the heat of his gaze. As much as she wanted to say something back to Clem, as much as she wished that her life had turned out differently and as much as she hoped for one day being a normal woman again she couldn’t and wouldn’t say anything to him in return. Instead, Billie did what she did best with Clem. She smiled and let the sheet covering her nakedness drop and climbed on top of Clem. Together, they let their worries wash away as they became one, once again.

*******************

I meant to do this earlier, but I forgot. If you guys wouldn’t mind, could you vote in this poll for me? I like to keep track of what sort of stories people seem to enjoy more, and with dual heirs it was a bit difficult to do so. Also for the last option, it will NOT hurt my feelings if you vote that one. So don’t be shy. I want *honest* opinions. Thanks 🙂

Like I said, I meant to do this earlier but I’ve been so scatterbrained. Things have been pretty crazy around here and I’ve done a lot of “cave retreating” which is what my family calls it when I get into one of my moods where I just shut down. I’ve just been feeling really out of it, like I can’t focus on anything. Somehow I’ve managed to get some writing done, but its like I can do one thing or another. It’s really frustrating. Hooray for over-sharing Toast!

Oh and, I am going out of town a week from uh, yesterday (Sunday) and I will be gone for 3-4 days. I will have internet though (presumably) I’m going to a seminar on Tea in Kentucky (that is to say it will be on Tea and it will take place in Kentucky). After the seminar I’ll probably be in Pigeon Forge for a night. I’ll try to get chapter five out before I go, but there may be a bit of a delay for chapter six. Sorry all.