KILLING ME SOFTLY - Teenage Assassin - Chapter 40

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Watching my girl take out two guys in less than two minutes, I realize that my old sense of repulsion is gone.  Anna’s just doing what needs to be done, saving my ass in the process.  And, surprisingly, I’m proud of her.  But, I’m not about to have her protect me, while I cower in a corner, like a dude in distress.  Nuh-uh. 

I scan the room, looking for a weapon.  Nada.  Unless I want to start swinging around the hotel iron.  Without even looking at me, eyes still on the door, Anna grabs me by the arm and pushes me up against the wall.  With our backs against the wall, just feet from the doorway, I take a sec to look down at the dead body sticking out of it. 

Wow, that guy is huge.  Weapons definitely not optional when taking on a big motherfucker like that.  All we can hear is silence from the other room.  Nudging in her side Anna, I whisper, “Give a guy a Glock.”

“I only have one gun,” she whispers back.  “And since I’m a better shot . . .”

Dumb of me not to bring a gun with me to France, but hey, it’s not like I was planning on shooting anyone this trip.  Besides, my girl’s a professional, kinda figured if I needed a gun, she’d have one to spare.  Of course, the fact that she has a gun at all, while coming to visit me, makes me wonder if she planned on shooting me again. 

The sound of a deep voice shouting, “We just want to talk!” has me refocusing on the situation. 

 I’m about to give some inane answer when Anna steps away from her spot to wall over to the window.  Glancing down, she curses and resumes her position against the wall.  When we hear Max cry out in pain, I finally shout, “What do you want?”

“Gabriel, they want us dead,” Anna says through clenched teeth, in a ‘duh’ tone.

“Maybe they just want to talk,” I say hopefully, desperate to somehow help my cousin.  Oh, and that woman he brought up here earlier tonight. 

When an object whizzes past us in the air, Anna grabs me again and pushes me into the bathroom.  Just around the corner in the bathroom, I am in the process of falling into the tub when there’s an loud explosion and a blast of heat whooshes through the bathroom.  Annabelle falls on top of me when I land in the tub, so glad I can cushion her fall. 

Grunting, she pulls herself off me, “Told you so.”  I help push her onto her feet and climb up and out of the tub.  Anna is breathing hard, looking me in the eyes, “I’m going to have to shoot our way out of here.”  We’re crouched against the bathroom wall, listening to the sound of heavy footsteps coming closer when Anna unexpectedly elbows me in the forehead, “Stay here, Gabriel.”

The force of her blow causes my head to whip back and hit the wall.  Before I have the chance to recover, she’s throwing herself out of the bathroom and against the wall in the bedroom, two shots ringing out before she’s even hits it. 

She disappears from my sight and I peek my head out of the bathroom, barely able to contain myself from rushing out there.  I should have taken the gun from her and insisted on being the one to save the day, no matter how much better prepared Anna is to be the hero.  It’s not like I haven’t taken martial arts and practiced at the shooting range .  The room is now empty, except for the dead body that’s fallen against the bed, half on the floor and half off. 

Now, that electrical fire starting in the exposed wall, near where the grenade must have hit doesn’t look too good.  I can’t imagine what my hotel bill is going to look like.  Oh wait, Max booked the room with his credit card.  Guess the hotel bill isn’t my problem, then. 

Not able to take it any longer, ignoring Anna’s command, I slowly creep out of the bathroom, running into her at the bedroom door, meeting at the dead body.  Her on one side of it, me on the other.  She grins, “That liar.  He was the last one left.”  Pulling out her clip, she quickly looks at it, then pops it back into her gun. 

“Max?” I ask, almost afraid to know.

“Right here,” he comes up behind her.  Then his eyes go wide, “Woah, fire.”

Anna looks in the direction of the heat behind me, raising her eyebrows, “Huh?”  She smiles again, “Oh, well that’s convenient.  I didn’t even have to start it myself.” 

I step back into the room, around the dead body, jumping the still growing pool of blood, to grab my wallet, passport, phone and the book I was reading earlier, shoving them into my pajama pant pockets.  The fire is moving fast and as I’m leaving the room, the bed goes up in flames.  When I get back to the living room, Anna looks down at the book sticking out of my pocket, grabs it and throws it back into the room on fire. 

She laughs and, ignoring my mock look of outrage, walks over to where Max is dragging the body of the woman out of his room.  Damn, that sucks.  Poor woman.  He’s now fully dressed, with a grim expression on his face.  She halts him with a hand on his back, “Don’t, Max.”

“She’ll burn,” he answers with a grunt while eyeing the guy who bled out from his throat wound. 

“And that’s a good thing,” she says with a grimace.  “I’m the assuming the room is in one of your guys name.  The fire will take care of the bullet-ridden bodies.  Sorry about your date, Max.”

He places the body carefully on the floor, looking like he’s about to cry.  Max has always had a soft spot where females are concerned.  He’ll blame himself for this.  But, knowing him, he’ll turn to another girl for comfort.  Like an addict.

“I think we should leave before more of them show up,” I say to grab their attention, and distract Max. 

Anna is already walking to the door, without turning around, she says, “You know, you two may not be able to return to France after this.”  As she opens the door, she turns around, tucking her gun into her jacket pocket, keeping her hand in therewith it.  “Unless you use an alias, of course.”

Max and I follow her out the hotel door, shutting it behind us.  At the end of the hallway, Anna flips a fire alarm, then heads straight to the door that says, ‘Escaliers’.

People from floors below us start to show up in the stairway, taking the same route out of the building.  Without deliberating, as soon as we get out on the street, I see a taxi and open up the back door, ushering Max and Anna inside.  “Tell him your address, Anna.”

She speaks a few words in French and, at the end, I recognize the address she emailed me.  Sitting on the other side of Anna, Max takes in a deep breath, letting it out on a shocked, “Holy Shit.”

“Yep,” Anna says and pulls out her phone, putting it up to her ear.  Pulling it away a minute later she says, “Shit.”  Then hits a couple more buttons and puts it back to her ear.  Pulling it away once again, she mutters, “Typical.”  Finally, she tries the same routine again, this time with success, “Brent.  Where are you?”

A short silence is followed by, “I’ve met with a problem.  Simon and Jackson aren’t answering their phones.”  From there she switches to what I believe may be Chinese.  Max meets my eyes over her head, and I give him an ‘I dunno’ look. 

Isn’t it always annoying when big dudes with guns and grenades try to kill you and then your girlfriend keeps you in the dark by speaking Chinese?  I take the time to finally bend down and tie my still-unlaced boots.

Anna gets off the phone, looking agitated. 

“Soooo?” I prompt her. 

“Wait till we get to my place,” she murmurs. 

“We can speak Spanish if you’re worried about the driver knowing English.”  I suggest, wanting to know what the hell is going on. 

She just ignores me and starts texting like crazy on her phone.  Irritated by her silence, I turn my head to stare out the window and watch the stone buildings pass.  It takes what seems like for-freaking-ever to get there.  I’m surprised that Anna and Jackson’s apartment here is so far from the tourist area of Paris.  I had imagined her having a view of the Arc de Triomphe.  Instead, the area seems to be more residential, like for middle-class families. 

I slip the driver a bunch of euros, not bothering to count them, and step out of my side of the cab, feeling grungy and retarded in my pajama bottoms, white tank top and boots.  Anna gets out behind me and Max steps around the car.  He looks worse than me, wearing basketball shorts, a ‘Paris’ souvenir shirt that was meant for his mom and loafer-style dress shoes. 

He notices my perusal, looking disgruntled, so I let out a long, “Nice.”  My smart-aleck comment just riles him up more. 

Anna is already opening the heavy door to a three-story gray brick building.  I catch up to her and hear the rap of Max’s dress shoes on the sidewalk behind me.  She holds the door open just long enough for me to grab it and starts climbing up a narrow stairway. 

Once on the third floor, there are two doors, one to the left and one to the right.  Pulling out a key, she unlocks the deadbolt at the door on the left.  Her place must take up half of the top floor.  Seeming still preoccupied, she leaves the door wide open for us and I turn around to tell Max, “Lock the deadbolt.”

When I turn back to talk to Anna, she’s gone.  Barely registering the homey decorating as I go through a large living room, I go down a hallway, following the sound of Annabelle banging around.  When I reach her, she’s moving a distressed white bed, pushing it against the far wall of a bedroom. 

After all the hotels, it’s surreal to be with Anna at a place she actually calls home.  Makes me want to make love to her on that bed.  Instead, I watch as she starts pulling up the cherry wood floorboards that the bed had covered up.  They weren’t nailed down, so their removal is effortless.  Moving closer, I peer down to what’s underneath.  Before she has the chance, I grab the large black duffel bag that seems to be half-filled with something heavy.  Probably weapons. 

Stepping around the hole in the floor, where’s she’s replacing the floorboards, I place the bag on a dresser.  Then, without asking, I start moving the bed back into place for her.  When I go over to where she’s standing, Anna has already has the bag unzipped and is pulling out guns and knives. 

I take a couple for myself, not knowing where to put them, then ask Anna, “Does your brother have clothes here?”

She was thinking so hard that I think I startle her, “What?  Oh yeah, the bedroom at the end of the hall.  Take Max with you, he looks horrible.”

Figuring I’ll get answers from her when she’s ready to give them, I find Max looking dazed on a large couch and motion for him to follow me.  Jackson’s room is bare of anything but a small dresser and bed.  Seems like maybe Anna spends more time here than him.  Going through his clothes, I make sure to throw lots of them on the floor in my search.  Finally settling on jeans and a hoodie for me and handing Max jeans and a sweater, we get dressed.  I quickly shut the top drawer of his dresser when I find underwear in there, then pull out socks for both myself and Max from the second drawer. 

Anna is waiting for us in the kitchen, drinking a glass of water.  Looking at me, she looks upset, “You and Max need to get out of France, like now.”

Leaning my back against the fridge, I slip my hands in the hoodie pocket, feeling for the gun and knife I stuck there.  “What about you?”

She’s quiet for a moment, just staring at me, then she breathes deeply, “Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine.  Obviously, whoever is after me followed me to your hotel.”  Looking away from me, she has a thoughtful expression, “I have to assume that they don’t know the location of this place, otherwise they would have come after me here.”  When she turns back to me, her eyebrows are drawn in concentration, “Somehow, they found out about you and used you as bait.  Just waiting for me to show up at the hotel so they could make their move.”

“Who do you think is after you?” I ask, enraged at the thought of anyone trying to hurt her.

She laughs humorlessly, “Could be anyone.  Anywhere, really.”

“Um,” Max cuts in warily, “What if we go back to the U.S. and they come after us?”

Placing the now empty glass in the sink, Annabelle answers him, “Because they want me.  I have no plans to return to the states anytime soon, so you guys should be safe.  Far away from me.”

“Wrong,” a new voice enters the conversation. 

Pulling the gun out of my hoodie pocket, I automatically point it at the intruder.  When I see that it’s Jackson, I keep it up, grinning.

Anna walks over and pushes my  hand down, lowering the gun.  “What are you talking about, Jackson?  And what the hell is going on?”

Ignoring her, Jackson invades my space, “What are you doing in my house?”

“I invited him,” Anna leans one hip against the counter, crossing her arms, obviously ready to have it out with her brother. 

“I thought you were done with him,” Jackson is still looking at me like he wants to start something. 

“Marie gave him my email address.”

Finally turning to Anna, Jackson has a look of mock astonishment , “And he was able to learn our home address from an email address?”

Ignoring his sarcasm, Anna says casually, “We were attacked at his hotel.  This was the safest place to come.  Plus, I need to load up on weapons.”

Pointing at me, Jackson says, “All you need to do is ditch him.”

“What are you talking about,” Anna’s casual demeanor turns to perplexed. 

Jackson looks very satisfied at what he’s about to say next, “Well, little sister, it’s not you they’re after.  Someone has put a hit out on Gabriel.”

Max, who has been quiet in the corner, makes a choking sound from behind me.

“Well . . . .” I begin, at a loss for words, “ . . . doesn’t that suck for me?”



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