Bantering With Murder

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Banter is a gun for hire. After she does a hit in a park, she meets a good looking detective, Corey Van Baine, who is investigating the case. But he’s married. When Banter learns his marriage is on the rocks and his wife has left him, she becomes his unlikely therapist to help him overcome the devastation. However, Banter finds herself falling in love with him and suspects Corey is falling for her. A love affair enfolds via cellphones and brief glimpses as they do their jobs. Him, always one step behind her, trying to find out who she is, and she, leading him on… Until they find themselves working together on a mass murder case...and the bullets start flying.

Thriller / Mystery
4.9 11 reviews
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

Banter could feel that her gun was still strapped firmly to her back. It didn’t even shift as she executed one last cartwheel. She’d calculated the distance precisely and landed right beside the picnic table. After two deep breaths to recover, she sat on top of the table with her feet resting on the seat. Three breaths later, the black stretch limo pulled up to the curb. She’d been waiting for it.

“I don’t like you,” Banter said.

She stretched her right shoulder as she looked over the park, knowing she had to wait. This was her favorite place to go to execute her parkour moves. There were a number of benches, nicely spaced, a few half walls defining garden areas, and picnic tables that she could use as obstacles to be navigated. The park still had the old-style metal swings with the A-frame base that was fun to run up and climb, then walk across the top like a balance beam. This was her way of training to stay in shape and keep agile.

Banter rubbed her hands together to generate some heat and expend some of her exasperation. She liked that her thin black gloves kept her hands warm with the added benefit of giving her enough feel should she need to pick a lock or someone’s pocket as well as preventing her from leaving fingerprints.

“Give me an opening. I’ve been after you for weeks. I’m getting tired of this. I need to use this gun and get rid of it.”

She adjusted her black hoodie, hoping that it would absorb a little of the sun’s warmth, but the late afternoon sun was already too low in the sky to do much good.

“I’m waiting and you can’t see me. Take a chance.”

Banter didn’t know why, but a figure dressed all in black garnered no attention as if invisible. She was dressed totally in black and even the logo on her shoes was blacked out with permanent marker to keep her as nondescript as possible.

“We have company,” she murmured under her breath as if she was alerting the gun.

A young girl that Banter guessed was about five years old ran to the swing set that Banter had climbed earlier. The child stood out, dressed in a bright red and yellow jacket. A woman that Banter knew was a hooker and probably the girl’s mother was strutting along the sidewalk where the limo pulled up. She looked a little cold wearing only a short, tight red skirt and a white blouse showing a lot of cleavage.

“Right on time today,” Banter said as she adjusted her hoodie lower on her face.

“Limo’s sitting lower than normal, don’t you think? Bet he brought company. So what’d you think?” Her one idiosyncrasy, due to working alone, was to talk to her gun.

“I bet he brought two or three buddies? Not more than three or he’d be too crowded and not have room for the hooker.”

The window rolled down as the hooker approached. Banter could hear the murmur of voices, but was unable to pick out any words. Then the window closed and the door opened. A hand reached out and literally pulled the hooker into the limo. The door closed quickly behind her.

“I don’t think you know what trouble you’re getting into today, girl.” Banter murmured, knowing she needed to be patient and wait. She rued the fact that the limo had bulletproof glass and reinforced doors. However, with multiple people in the back and one hooker, she was betting they’d get sloppy.

The limo shifted just a bit from side to side.

“Someone’s having a little too much fun. Told you that limo was trouble, girl. Bet their slapping you around and tenderizing you a bit. Those are not nice people.”

Banter counted out five minutes.

“Just about show time,” she said as she rose.

“Mommy? Mommy?” The child looked a little frantic as she realized her mother was out of sight. She spun around, then focused on Banter. “Have you seen my mommy?”

The child trotted over to her.

Banter wasn’t surprised that the child saw her. Children saw everything. However, she did think the child was a little too trusting, especially considering her mother’s choice of career. She decided to take advantage of it.

“Yeah, she’s in that limo having sex,” Banter said. The child would be a good cover. “Let’s go over and check on her.”

Banter stepped slow as she crossed the park, knowing the child would follow, providing a sort of blind for a killer on the move. She slid out the gun from her holster. While keeping the gun hidden under her hoodie, she pulled out her silencer from another pocket and twisted it onto the gun. It was a small annoyance that the gun didn’t fit the holster with the silencer on. She had to keep them separate.

As Banter came within fifteen feet of the limo, the door opened. The hooker was kicked out, face planting on the cement. Her skirt was hiked up, revealing a bare ass with a new bite mark. One shoe was off. Her splayed legs prevented the door from closing. Voices and loud raucous laughter radiated from within the limo, letting Banter know the men weren’t paying attention to what was happening outside the windows.

She made her move, prepared for the worst case scenario: four men in the back, a driver, and a man riding shotgun. Narrowing the distance, she deftly switched the gun to her left hand, getting the right angle and shifting her body to be out of the path of the ejected shells. She shot twice through the open door; one headshot at her target and one shot at chest range. Then she quickly shifted the gun to her right hand and changed the angle and shot twice more, hoping she got whoever was sitting across from the back seat.

The driver’s door opened, but Banter, still moving, anticipated this and she fire one shot into the driver. He slumped over the steering wheel as she continued toward the front of the limo. The man riding shotgun couldn’t get out fast enough. He already had his door open enough and his gun hanging out in hopes he’d get her to hesitate. Banter knew she was protected by the windshield and the fact he didn’t have enough of himself out the door to get the right aim. She kept moving, firing a shot at his hand, taking off a finger. The loss of his finger caused him to lose his grip on the gun. He stumbled as he tried to recover his stance. The gun, now slick with blood, was foiling his attempt to regain his grip and it wasn’t helping that he was also trying to keep track of her position. With a second shot, she caught the man in the head, between the eyes. It was a clean shot and he dropped like a rock, out of sight. There was the sickening thud of his head hitting the pavement.

Banter turned around and returned to her original position. No more doors opened. No more windows were rolled down. She knew the driver and the man riding shotgun were dead. She knew her main target was dead as he’d been the first one she shot. With that head shot, he was definitely a goner.

“Ah…gat the fuck out of here, ya bitch,” Banter said using a low voice with a bit of an accent, talking tough to the hooker on purpose. The hooker had yet to recover from her landing on the sidewalk, seeming to be afraid to move for fear she was next. Her child was crying beside her, tugging on her mother’s arm.

Banter’s tough talk caused the woman to gain control of herself and to rise. She pulled down her skirt and grabbed her child’s hand. Her nose was skinned and bleeding. The woman avoided looking at Banter as if she knew it wasn’t a wise thing to do. She limped off with her child in tow.

Banter did a quick look around the area, before she returned to her picnic table. She took off the silencer and replaced the gun into her back holster, then put the silencer into her pocket. There wasn’t a single person around and she knew it was safe to wait. She wanted to know how many people were in the limo without the risk of sticking her head in to find out.

“Damn. I should have asked the hooker. Why didn’t you remind me to ask the hooker?”

The hooker was no longer in sight.

“Oh, well. At least it’s pretty quiet around here. Far enough from buildings. Lots of trees to hide us. I’d say they parked that limo in just about the perfect place. Far enough from those pesky traffic cameras that spy on everyone.”

She gazed around the park again.

“Yes, you’re right. A perfect place. No witnesses. Well, yeah, there’s the hooker, but she’s not going to tell anyone. She’d be afraid of retribution aimed at her kid. Yeah, kid, today was your mother’s lucky day.”

The child was the only reason that Banter hadn’t included the hooker in the hit.

“Amazing what a guy will do for sex. I bet he spent a fortune, too. Don’t you think?” She shifted her shoulders as if nudging the gun for a response. “This isn’t the usual spot to pick up a hooker. Too nice of a neighborhood. Yeah, I’d agree with you. He was addicted to sex. A different hooker here everyday. Prearranged, definitely.”

A bird landed on the swing set, then flew away.

“Do you think he got a quantity discount?”

She chuckled.

“The joys of fast sex. In and out in minutes. Never gave us an opening. Until today. He bought pals along for the ride. Gave me enough time for my approach. Yeah, I’d say he got sloppy. Bet they gang banged that hooker and never even paid her.”

There was a siren in the distance, but it faded.

“Fast sex. For good reason. There’s the patrol car for the neighborhood.”

The patrol car hadn’t even reached the limo when it turned on its flashing lights and stopped.

“I bet a dead guy by a limo is a big give away that something’s amiss. Especially since he has a hole in his head.” She chuckled to herself, waiting with interest to see how the scene would play out.

Remaining at the crime scene had a little risk, but she knew she didn’t fit the stereotype of a gun for hire. She pulled off the hoodie, revealing her dark hair, which was short and sassy. Her eyes were a deep brown. However, her complexion was pale, making her eyes stand out. Her eyes could catch a lot of attention whenever she needed to bait a guy. She was only a few inches over five feet and petite, which caused most people to misjudge her age and think her much younger.

She closed her eyes, thinking about this hit. It was worth three hundred thousand. That was going to be a good paycheck, she thought, opening her eyes. She knew she was pretty good at what she did, despite that her slender frame made it tricky to hiding weapons on her body. Strapping her gun to her back was her only option.

“Here comes backup.”

Two more police cars arrived, blocking the other side of the road which hemmed in the limo, securing the crime scene. None of them were using sirens, but they turned on their flashing lights. The officers exited their vehicles and converged on the far side of the limo. Ten minutes later, two unmarked police cars arrived and parked on the grass of the park. The crime scene investigators arrived in their van moments later. Soon, tiny orange markers appeared around the limo.

“Lets see,” she said to herself. “Seven markers for seven shells. Yep. I fired seven times.”

A technician was now walking around taking pictures of the markers and the limo. She knew they’d checked the interior of the limo through one of the doors on the side away from her as well as through the door on her side that was still open.

An ambulance arrived. It was also not using its siren. They weren’t even using their flashing lights. There appeared to be no hurry by anyone to remove the bodies. Banter felt confident that everyone in the limo was dead. Quiet ambulances usually meant there were no survivors.

Banter pulled out her phone; another ploy to remain invisible. No one paid attention to a person absorbed in their phone. She pulled up a special email app that allowed her to send mail but not receive and she sent an email claiming that the hit was complete.

A shiver ran up her back. The day was cooling and she was starting to get chilled just sitting there.

Movement caused her to look up as three suits and one police officer met over by the unmarked cars. Banter figured this was the policeman who first arrived and the meeting was about him giving the details of his discovery. After a fifteen minute meeting, two of the suits and the policeman walked off toward the limo. The third suit scanned the area and spied her, which surprised her as none of the other officers seemed aware of her.

Banter enjoyed watching the man approach her. He was a good looking guy that she guessed was in his thirties. Toned body. Black hair. Brown eyes. Handsome face. She’d not be surprised to find out he was Italian or some other import.

Banter smiled and spoke to him first.

“You married?” she said, putting a little huskiness in her voice. She could tell she’d caught him off-guard.

“Good afternoon,” he said, finessing through a slight breakdown of his composure. Banter decided he had a nice voice too. “Did you by chance see what happened?”

“Just sat down,” Banter said. “Watching the show.”

“What’s your name?” He had a way of giving her his full attention while maintaining a vigilance around himself. Banter was a little impressed.

“Depends. You married or not?” Banter couldn’t see his left hand to tell if he had on a ring.

“Sorry. Married,” he said. “So now what’s your name?”

“People call me Banter. My mom calls me a pain-in-the-ass. My dad calls me Annie. What’s your name?”

“Detective Van Baine. Anyone else around when you came?” He was working to take back control of the conversation despite she was trying to derail him.

“Nope,” she said. “How many dead?”

“Don’t know yet. Anybody you know?”

She knew he had to be aware of the body count, but, typical policeman behavior, wasn’t giving out any information.

“Can’t see from here,” Banter said. “You got pictures?”

He gave a quick smile and shook his head. “Not yet. But you think you might know?”

She shrugged. “I’m not exactly a jet setter in the limo crowd. Chances are pretty slim that I’m tight with whoever is in there.”

“You come here a lot?”

“Not regularly, no. Like I said, just sat down to watch the show.”

“Live around here?”

“Nope, just came up the walking path,” she said with a shrug toward the path.

She could tell his eyes noted the path.

“Here’s my card. If you do remember seeing or hearing anything, let me know,” he said.

“Sure thing. So you have a good marriage?” Banter said as she took the card.

He smiled as if he found the comment amusing and walked away.

Banter laughed silently to herself and watched him carefully as he made his way back to the crime scene. She typed on her phone, keying in the license plate number of the unmarked car he used.

“You are one good looking guy,” she muttered as she slid his card into her back pocket.

A few more curious bystanders gathered to gawk, but the police already had the area they needed taped off. She knew the police needed to hurry to get things wrapped up before rush hour when there’d really be a bunch of gawkers.

“About time,” she said to herself.

Someone must have made the decision and they began to bag the bodies. They took her target out on the side she was on, but she noted the door on the other side was also open and they were taking out another body that way. It looked like her first two shots took out her target and a man sitting next to him. Then they opened the other door on her side and took out one more body. That man was hit by either her third or fourth shots. The last two bodies were the driver and the man riding shotgun. Five bodies total.

“What happened?” a man said as he approached her from the walking path. He was dressed for a jog.

Banter shrugged. The man walked away to ask someone else.

The bodies were loaded into the ambulance and the doors shut. One of the unmarked cars pulled out and left. Then one of the marked police cars left. She could tell that those remaining were working quickly to clear the crime scene. A technician picked up all the orange markers and, she suspected, the shells as well. A tow truck appeared and all the doors to the limo were closed.

A muffled alert dinged on her phone.

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