Pink Walls

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Day Two [Part III]

“Are you ready to behave, Danny?”

The knife glided through the air in a smooth arc to bury itself into the man’s shoulder. Before he could cry out, I had already bounded up the steps and slammed his head into the wall behind him with a muted thud that vibrated my arm all the way to the elbow.

He and his cigarette crumbled to my feet the moment I let go. I crushed the smouldering death stick beneath my boot and I let out a long breath that condensed to fog right in front of me.

I reached down to retrieve the knife, taking care not to aggravate the wound it had caused as I did. I wiped its sides on the man’s coat before slipping it between my fingers, glad that I had managed to take him by surprise. The cold had made him slow and lazy, and it had saved me a lot of energy.

Stepping over his body, I leaned towards the window, not surprised to see Daniel tied to a chair and bleeding from... everywhere.

I did wince when the woman in front of him reared back her arm and slapped him so hard that his head snapped to the side so forcefully that I almost heard the crack despite the loudness of the wind.

“Where is it?” I read her lips. “Where did you hide it?”

Daniel spat a thick glob of blood on her boot then grinned wide, charmingly as though his gums weren’t bleeding. “You’ll have to kill me before I tell you, darling.”

“You…” She whipped out a dirk from her belt and pressed it to his throat, the muscles in her own neck tensing. “Don’t tempt me, cub.”

I knew that I should have been more concerned about the kid, but my eyes were glued to the knife and the woman’s pale skin. Again, Daniel had tangled himself with someone who wasn’t a Carmosino, meaning that other people wanted him dead. A lot of them.

Which also means that I’m royally screwed.

I knocked on the frosted glass twice then dropped to a crouch when the woman turned in my direction. I focused on the frigid winter air as it slowly filled my lungs and concentrated on her footsteps as they got closer and closer.

I needed to disarm her quickly, without alerting whoever else was in the room. And I needed to do it without accidentally snapping her pretty neck.

I tightened my fingers around my knife, considering briefly whether it was humane to use the same blade for two different people.

It probably wasn’t, but I didn’t have time to worry about that.

As I exhaled, the window was lifted open with a noisy screech.

I shot to my feet as the woman looked out, crushing her head beneath the top of the window frame, her throat pinned by my shoulder.

I felt her gag against my collar bone—felt her surprise as she realized that she could no longer breath.

I stabbed the knife into the arm holding the dirk, not giving her the chance to swing it at me. Now, I had gotten Daniel’s attention. He looked at me with wide, panicked eyes as I pulled the woman out of the apartment by the neck, thankful to the wind for covering up her pitiful attempts to scream.

She glared at me when I kicked the dirk off the fire escape and pulled her to her feet, but I didn’t even flinch when she attempted to knee me in the groin.

I let go of her immediately. She stumbled back and held her arms up. “You just made the most terrible mistake of your life,” she hissed.

I held up the knife that was still stained with her blood then raised an eyebrow. “I don’t think so.”

“What do you want with the boy?”

She laughed mirthlessly and lunged for me.

I didn’t let her get close enough to have the fight that she wanted. I lashed out a second before her and struck her throat with my knuckles while blocking her punch with my left arm.

She fell to her knees, her hands around her neck and a furious glare fixed on me. I kicked her to the ground and allowed myself a moment of peace before moving to secure her and the other man together with cable ties.

By the time I was done, she had passed out.

I rubbed my forehead and rolled my shoulders, feeling the cold stab at the bruises that were sure to form. All these fights just kept piling up on each other, and I didn’t like it.

I climbed into the apartment and walked to Daniel. “How many?”

“Four,” he whispered when I cut the ropes that tied him to the chair.

Before he moved to get up, I grabbed his chin and forced our eyes to meet, ignoring the way he winced when they did. “Are you ready to behave, Danny?”

“I thought you were dead.”

“You would have liked that, wouldn’t you?”

“I just drugged you.”

“But you left me to die.” I helped him off the chair and supported him when he staggered. “Where’s the bathroom?”

“They are still in there,” he licked his lips and swallowed, glancing at me nervously, “I don’t think…”

“You’re covered in blood. And you’re not dressed for a blizzard.”

“They have guns.”

Just as the words left Daniel’s lips, a man came bursting through one of the rooms. “Sonya, I got a call from the boss. He said to tell you not to kill—”

I pushed Daniel behind me and watched the man silently, waiting for him to look up before throwing the knife and reaching down to get Frank’s from my boot.

It was hard not aiming for anywhere on his neck or chest, and by the time I reached him, the big guy had already yanked out the knife, ready to pounce on me.

Throwing all my weight forward, I tackled him to ground first, returning the punch to my gut with a stab in his. He growled and tried to pry me off.

I twisted the knife in retaliation, well aware that he had a gun holstered to the belt on his waist.

I couldn’t let him get to it, no matter what he did.

Even when another sloppy punch clipped my jaw and my eyes went dark for a moment, I didn’t get off him. I pulled out the knife and slashed at his face, and when he used his hands to block, I grabbed the gun and leapt off him.

He stared at me, his expression uneasy, when I pointed the firearm at him.

I chuckled and disengaged the safety of the hand gun. “We can do this two ways. Choose one.”

He groaned and let his head hit the floor. Without taking my eyes off him, I held the gun out to Danny and got out two cable ties.

“Shoot him if he so much as blinks.” I got on my knees to tie his ankles together while trying to ignore the growing pain in my side.

Of course, I didn’t trust the man just because he was being reasonable. I was done trusting people I didn’t know, even if they had life-threatning knife wounds in their side. So when he rushed me while I was trying to bind his wrists, I was more than ready.

Without a second thought, I flipped Frank’s knife in my hand and slammed its hilt into his temple. His body hit the floor again, but this time he was out cold.

I tied him up without any further hassles then turned to Daniel who was still pointing the gun at the man. “Why didn’t you shoot? I thought you were all about guns.”

“I…” The gun slipped out of his hands and clattered to the floor. “I….”

“Stay behind me.” I walked to the door the man had walked through and opened it slowly. Behind it, I found another room—a bedroom.

After searching it thoroughly, I called Daniel in.

He walked to my side with a small limp and the gun back in his hand. He cleared his throat. “I… I didn’t shoot because I didn’t have a clear shot.”

“I didn’t want to hit you accidentally,” he muttered.

“I didn’t ask.” I fished the aspirin out of my pocket. “You’ll need this.”

He fumbled to catch it then turned to me, his head still bowed. “Thank you...for coming to get me.”

I nodded in the direction of the bathroom. “Change into new clothes. Pack. We need to move.”

“How about the rest of them?”

“I’ll handle it, cub.” I softened my expression, knowing that he wouldn’t look up to see it. The Daniel in front of me now was very different from the one that had grinned triumphantly at the person who tortured him. “But after we’re well out of this mess, you have a lot of explaining to do.”

“I know,” Daniel said, his voice dropping to a shaky whisper. He might have even had tears in his eyes but I wasn’t looking.

I wouldn’t look.

He sniffed and wiped the blood splattered across the bridge of his nose with the back of his hand. “Thanks anyway, Mr Bodyguard.”

❄❄❄

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