Pink Walls

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Day Three [Part IV]

“I apologize for being too attached to life.”

For a long moment, I wondered if she would be my first kill, this hunting dog with a death wish.

She put a gun to my side and paraded me through the heart of Ron’s territory without so much as an afterthought, as though she would not be gunned down the moment I let out a scream.

Unfortunately, the gunfire would draw more of her ‘colleagues’ to the hotel, so the smartest thing I could when we got to the lobby was ask the receptionist for the keys to Alex’s car.

“Here Sir.” As he slid it across the front desk, his dark eyes flitted to the person behind me. “Going out for an evening drive?”

“Yes. I promised this fine lady a fun time. As great as Dei Lupi is. . .” I winked. “You understand, don’t you?”

“Where is your name tag, Amelia?” he asked her, his voice as light as mine. He stared at me hard, his knowing gaze begging me to say something, but I just smiled. I couldn’t do that when Daniel was still in the hotel, unprotected.

“She must have lost it,” I answered, the moment I sensed her agitation. She was getting tired of this little detour we were taking. “She’s clumsy like that.”

“I understand,” he said slowly then addressed her again. “Since you are off duty at the moment, it’s not a problem. But the instant your next shift starts, you need to be wearing a new one.”

“I’ll remind her,” I told him with a small smile then started to turn away.

“Oh,” I called out after taking only one step back. Amelia tensed behind me. I could tell that her finger was ready to pull the trigger.

“Remember to wash the other car,” I said.

Confusion flashed across his features almost imperceptibly, then he nodded and smiled. “Of course.”

“I’ll pay you extra if there are no scratches,” I added with a small laugh then turned to Amelia, holding my hand out towards the exit. “Shall we?”

With a wordless grunt, she shoved me forward. “Don’t even try to pull anything. If you do. . .”

“I already told you that I would cooperate,” I muttered, my knife itching to be used. It would be so easy to take her down right now. I would take her by surprise, sidestep and slice her hand at the wrist, damaging the tendons that let her hold that gun she was so confident about. I had to slit her throat after that though. It was the only thing I could do.

I had to want to kill her to be able to beat her. I had to forget mercy entirely, because any moment of weakness would get me killed.

That was what made me avoid fighting hunting dogs. I had to lose myself in the fight to survive, I had to want them dead.

I had to go for the carotid, the jugular, the trachea, spleen, femoral artery. . . Places I knew too well to know to not hit with a knife. Places I usually avoided thinking about entirely.

As the two of us walked out of the hotel, I found myself wondering just how many of the Carmosinos’ people had infiltrated it.

I already knew that Ron couldn’t mobilize anyone right now but her hotels were supposed to be safe zones. That was the reason why they were so popular. Mobsters, gangsters, hitmen, if they needed somewhere to lay low and evade whoever was out to get them, this was it.

The Carmosinos’ plan to infiltrate must have taken years of careful consideration to come to fruition. Planting someone at Ron’s side wasn’t as easy as it sounded.

The moment she was tipped off, the entire chain of spies would be systematically eradicated. Years of hard work would go down the drain in a matter of months.

An extra reason for the Carmosinos to want me dead. I wonder if. . .

The appearance of Alex’s car in my field of vision cut my musings short. No matter what happened, I couldn’t let us get anywhere near it. There was no telling how long Daniel would stay alive if I left the hotel without him.

I scanned the space around me for anyone who wouldn’t appreciate a bullet digging into them, and I found nothing but a few cars in the vicinity. Apart from those, Amelia and I were completely alone.

The front of the hotel, I decided, was a nice place for this fight to go down, but the opportunity to surprise Amelia had passed and I was probably going to end up eating a bullet if I didn’t stay on my toes.

I spun on my heel and knocked the gun away from me with the back of my arm.

As the gunshot rang out and the bullet struck the spot by my feet, Amelia, unprepared, left herself wide open.

With a quick step forward, the knife between my fingers dug itself deep into her abdomen.

I could almost imagine muscle fibers tearing as I twisted and pulled, but I had no time to think about what I had done.

I had no time to think at all.

I turned my back to her and elbowed her in the side, holding her gun hand over my shoulder with both hands.

Using my body as a fulcrum, I pulled her over my shoulder and threw her to the ground in front of me.

The moment her back hit the gravel, she shrugged off the pain and rolled away like it had been nothing.

I didn’t let her raise the gun.

I threw the knife at her face and she blocked with her arm before it could impale her eye.

When I tapped the buckle of my belt, another knife shot into my hand. Blood dripped from between my fingers but ignored it. At least I hadn’t been shot.

Amelia pull the knife out and tossed it to my feet, her smile wide as though she had loved the feeling of ripping it out of her skin. “Can you dodge bullets, lover boy?”

“Do you think you’ll still be able to shoot with this knife stuck in your hand?”

She raised the gun and cocked her head to the side. “We’ll see.”

I threw the knife at the gun, dropped to a crouch then rolled once to squat behind the nearest car. A second later, I heard a gunshot and the window opposite the door I was hiding behind shattered.

“Stop playing hide and seek,” Amelia got to her feet with a loud groan, “if you come out now, I’ll still give you a painless death.”

I exhaled slowly, having forgotten to breathe during all that. I was only alive because she still wasn’t taking me seriously. She wouldn’t until I dealt enough damage to make her start worrying.

My knives had hurt her but that last throw had been sloppy and we both knew it.

I was still thinking too much.

With a quiet sigh, I picked up one of the stones decorating the ground and palmed its inexistent edges. In the end, knives still did too much damage for me to actively use them to fight right now.

I picked up another pebble then another and another until I had a handful of the round stones clenched in my fist.

I got to my feet, silently, and saw that Amelia had turned her back to me. I threw the first stone with same force I would have a knife and it collided with the back of her skull with an audible ‘thud’.

Her left hand went to the spot and she whirled around. The moment I ducked, the remaining window shattered and glass rained down on me.

I got to my feet before she could shoot again and flung a larger pebble at the inside of her wrist.

Amelia hissed as the gun dropped to the ground and immediately moved towards it. She had to take a step back when the next stone hit her right in the middle of her forehead.

She used her hand to wipe off the blood dripping down the bridge of her nose, but only succeeded in spreading more across her face because her palm was also bleeding.

I had managed to hit her after all, but not on her gun hand. She had blocked the knife with her left, and the wound wasn’t shallow.

“Throwing stones like a child,” she commented, miffed. “Come out and fight if you can.”

“Look, lady. We can both walk away right now,” I bounced a pebble in my hand. “I won’t tell Ron you were here. She probably already knows with the gunshots and everything.”

“You coward ” Amelia hugged herself and laughed. She turned her hand over and pressed two fingers into her wound then closed her eyes, grinning as she savoured the pain.

“No,” she said, her gaze wide and frantic. “I will kill you then kill myself, right here to atone for my sins. A parting gift worthy of accolades. I will be rewarded in death.”

“You are delusional.”

“Maybe,” she admitted, and brought her bloodied fingers to her lips. “You are still going to die.”

I watched her lick her fingers clean then beckon me with them. I had a feeling she really wanted to drain my veins of every drop and drink it all, and I was starting to understand why this masochistic killer had been classified as rouge.

“I’m guessing you aren’t going to try and get that gun.” I raised my hand and let the pebbles fall out of them. Out of her sight, behind the frame of the car, I got another knife.

She grinned and kicked her pistol underneath a car. “No. . . This is personal. I want to kill you with my bare hands. Bullets. . .are too easy.”

“Lovely. ” I grinned as well and rolled my shoulders, coming to terms to the fact that I might really need to put a knife in her chest to stop her from killing me.

We walked to each other and paused when there was half a metre between us.

“This is the worst mistake you could make.” She cracked her neck and knuckles then made a fist. “You should have stayed still and let me kill you nice and cleanly.”

“I apologize for being too attached to life.”

She lunged at me. I blocked her punch with my arm and she did the same for my knife. She let it dig into her already injured hand and grabbed my fist.

She grinned, pulled me forward and headbutted me.

I stumbled back, barely remembering to take the knife with me.

Amelia licked her lips and kept her gaze on me. Blood was now dripping freely from her right hand to the gravel covering the ground.

The amount of reconstructive surgery it would take to get it back to—

Not now, Kayden!

Instinctively, I sidestepped a punch I hadn’t seen coming. I recovered before she could pull it back, grabbing her fist with one hand while the other stabbed into her forearm and made a lateral cut.

Amelia jerked away from me and held her arm to her chest. I knew enough about her now to know that it wasn’t because of the pain.

She looked at her fingers in confusion for a moment but that didn’t stop her from charging at me.

I did nothing to stop her punch when it slammed into my side, but in return I stabbed the knife deep into the junction between her arm and her forearm and backed away before she could attack again.

By now, the white in her uniform was more red than not. Blood trickled down both her arms and forehead, staining her sleeves and collar a blooming crimson.

I felt the ache of her punches now too. For such a light person, she was hit heavy.

“What did you do?” She growled then stared down her right arm.

I fell into a defensive stance and raised my hands but didn’t bother answering her. I knew that she could no longer form a fist with that hand, and she must have realized it too.

How could she when the muscles that made the motion possible had been completely severed? That last knife had most likely knicked an artery too. Too much blood was gushing out of the wound for its source to have been superficial.

I felt my heart drop at that thought. She could bleed to death.

When she came at me, one hand out of action and the other wounded badly, I knew that she was going to lose. It was only a matter of time before her body started shutting down to maintain bloodflow to her brain and keep her alive.

An uppercut to the jaw had her stumbling back, but I was done holding back. I kneed her in the gut and when she doubled over, smashed her face into my knee.

She pulled away, more blood spilling down her nose and grinned, her teeth stained red. “I am really going to kill you now.”

I didn’t doubt that. Before she died, Amelia planned to take me down with her. That much was clear.

She held up both hands but I knew that she wouldn’t use them. Too bad that fact didn’t help me dodge the kick she aimed at my temple.

She had concentrated all of her body weight into that one spot and had nearly succeeded in throwing me off my feet but I knew that the moment I fell to the ground, I was going to die.

There was a ringing in my ears. The world dimmed and spun and flipped upside-down.

With my arm raised, I faced my opponent blindly.

I was still on my feet, but not for long.

A fist hit my jaw from the left and a moment later her shin collided with my side.

I felt a rib snap under its force and prayed that I had felt wrongly.

Unbalanced, the next kick had me smashing into the windshield of the car behind me. I felt the glass shatter under me and for a moment, I didn’t move.

I stared at Amelia as she approached me, my eyes watering from pain and several other things—like the blood trickling into them. “Are you even human?”

“Are you ready to die?” she asked back, her smile just as bloody as mine.

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