KILLING ME SOFTLY - Teenage Assassin - Chapter 43

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CHAPTER 43:

ANNABELLE’S  POV:

Coming out a deep sleep, before I even open my eyes, I realize two things.  One, laying sideways in the cramped backseat of a Mini Cooper is not comfortable.  And B, my head is no longer resting on my backpack.  Since I very much doubt Jackson would be so courteous as to rest my head in his lap, that can only leave one person. 

Turning my head just an inch to the side, I open my mouth and bite down hard on the thigh that my teeth come into contact with.  Grinning, as I yank with my teeth on the bit of jean-covered flesh.

“Ow!  Ow!  Fuck!  Anna, let go!” Gabriel’s plea is music to my ears. 

With one last tug, I release his now slobbery pant leg and turn my head to slowly open my eyes and look up at him innocently.  Stretching, and ‘accidentally’ smacking him in the face with my right palm, I say groggily, “What?  Wow, I was just having the coolest dream that I was a dog.”

As I start to sit up, his hand smacks against my forehead, pushing my head back down to his lap again.  “Uh-huh, sure you were.  Down girl.  I liked you where you were at.”  Since his hand is holding me down by the forehead, I guess I’ll just sit tight. 

“Hey Jackson.”

“Hey Annabelle,” he answers from where he’s driving up front.

“Are we there yet?”  By ‘there’ I mean Bari, a town we’ve been driving to in Southern Italy where you can catch a ferry to Greece.  Why Greece?  Well, Simon has a place in Athens where we can hole up, wait for Porky to send us some fake ids and passports for Gabriel and try to figure out who the hell put the hit on my ex-boyfriend.  Forcing me to spend time with him.

“Almost,” Jackson answers.  “About twenty more minutes and we can get out of this death trap Europeans call a car.”

“I think it’s cute.  And I think you look cute driving it, Jacks.” I taunt him.  “It’s like a Smurf car.”

From where my head’s laying on Gabriel, I can see Jackson’s profile and the mock-horror expression on one side of his face.  “Anna, you really need to get away from loverboy back there.  You’re turning soft.  Like a girl.”  I see one of his eyebrows raise, “I’ve got an idea.  How about we off him?  We’ll get paid for the kill and get rid of him at the same time.  Like a two-for-one deal.”

“I can shoot you in the head from where I’m sitting.  I won’t even miss given that there’s only two feet between me and you right now in this puny car.” Gabriel says in all seriousness. 

“Then we’d crash and all die,” Jackson says matter-of-factly.  “And none of us would get paid for it.”

The hand on my head starts stroking my cheek.  I turn to look up at Gabriel again.  He’s smiling and looking quite satisfied with himself.  My glare says what I‘m thinking without me having to verbalize it, ‘quit petting me, I’m not a dog’. 

His answering look tells me, ‘but, I love you’.

My look back tells him, ‘I don’t believe you’.

His eyes say, ‘I’ll do anything to prove it to you’.

I hope my eyes are saying, ‘you can’t’, and not, ‘please do’.

“Why are you two so quiet back there?” Jackson asks suspiciously. 

“We’re making out,” Gabriel answers without cutting eye contact with me.

“I’ll expect fifty percent of whatever Anna’s charging you.”

“Did you just call me a hooker?” I yell at Jackson and give the side of his face a dirty look. 

He shrugs, “Hey, if the thong fits.”

“That reminds me.  Jacks, remember the time--”

He cuts me off before I can finish, “No.”

“Well, I do.” I tease him.

“No you don’t.”

“You were a pretty little girl,” I say sweetly.

“What is this all about?” Gabriel asks in anticipation.

“I still haven’t forgiven you for that,”  Jackson sulks. 

“And I still don’t care!  It was so worth it!  The look on Simon’s face when he came home!”  I bust up laughing, not able to catch my breath long enough to tell Gabriel the story.  Finally, I settle down when Gabriel starts tapping his fingers on my forehead. 

“Oh my god, Gabriel.  I have to tell you.”  I laugh for another few seconds. “When Jackson was eleven and I was nine, Simon was gone on an assignment and left us alone.  Sooo, I wrote a fake note, supposedly from Simon, instructing Jackson to make himself look like my twin.  You know, practice his disguise skills.”

“Yeah,” Gabriel asks, laughing, knowing where this story is going.

“Simon came home and found Jackson wearing a wig, like my hair color when I was little, and one of my dresses.  It was so funny.  Simon sat him down and had a talk about sexual orientation with him.”  I can see that Jackson is scowling.  “Jackson, I accept you just the way you are, bro.”

“I got you back good for that,” he mutters.

“You did?”

“Yeah.’

“What’d you do to me?”

“I can’t really remember, but I know I did.”

“Then it must not have been as good as what I did to you, if you can‘t even remember your revenge.”  In a sing-song voice, I add, “Lame.”

Changing the subject, he says, “We’re almost to Bari.”

With another stroke of Gabriel’s fingers on my cheek, he effectively brings my attention back to him.  He’s giving me that god damn loving look again.  His eyes are saying, ‘give us another chance’.

I force mine to show him a stern, ‘no’.

Gabriel says aloud, “I’m not giving up.”

“Oh man!” Jackson’s voice is raised.  “Give it up!  Please!”

Gabriel ignores him, bends down and kisses me lightly on the lips. I deepen the kiss all by my big girl self.  This was never the problem.  The spark has always been there, since we first laid eyes on each other at the club.  The problem is the pain we cause each other.  That’s what I don’t trust, that the hurt is over. 

I started it all by lying to him and killing his father.  He retaliated by hunting me down and threatening to kill me.  After a whirlwind of fighting and what I thought was forgiveness, he shot me when his mom committed suicide.  Jackson retaliated for me after that by faking my death.   So the guy mourned me for a couple years?  He deserved it.  And maybe I deserved to be shot, but when I finally shot Gabriel back, I have to admit that it purged some of that past negativity out of me.  But, what’s next?  Would a future relationship between us be nothing but a perpetual cycle of hurting each other?

As if he’s reading my thoughts, Gabriel says softly, “It’ll be different this time, baby.”

Brushing his hand off me and sitting up, I tell him, “Right now let’s just concentrate on keeping you alive.”

“My heroine!”  Jackson says from up front.  I lean forward, only two inches cause this car really is puny, and flick him in the back of the head.

Thank god the car has GPS because it allows us to jet straight to the docks of Bari and barely make it in time to buy three tickets for the ferry.  We’re able to book a cabin for the three of us to share. The trip, with stops at two other ports in Greece before we reach Patras, will take a total of about sixteen hours. 

After boarding, an English speaking ferry worker directs us to our cabin.  Gabriel asks, “Don’t you guys speak Greek?”

Shaking my head, I tell him, “Nope.  It really is Greek to me.”  I’m such a comedian.

The ship is huge, one of the largest ferries that I’ve been on.  Since we never know when more of the bad guys are going to jump out of the shadows, we keep our bags with us when we go to the ferry’s restaurant.  We have nine hours until the first stop at Corfu, Greece, so we’ll pretty much just be chilling out and sleeping until then.  We were one of the last groups of passengers to board, so I highly doubt anyone is lying in wait on this ship.  The first two stops at Greek cities, and especially the final stop for us in Patras, are another story.  By the time we get there, it’ll be tomorrow late morning or early afternoon. 

Jackson pulls a laptop out of his bag and opens it up on the table while we wait for our food.  I’m watching the ocean out the window when he says, “Got an email from Simon.”

That gets my attention, “What does he say?”

“He’s working on finding out who took the hit out on Gabriel.  Doesn’t have any info yet, but has a couple good leads.  He says for us to sit tight and he’ll get back to us when he knows more.  I’ll just email him back a quick okey-dokey.” 

“Okey-dokey,” I tell Jackson. 

“They’re going to bring my food right now.”  Gabriel mutters.  “Okay, right now.  Riiight about now.”

Barely missing a beat in his typing, Jackson grabs a roll out of the basket on the table and chucks it at Gabriel, hitting him in the eye.  “I’m also going to email Porky requesting some fake ids for loverboy, asking him to send them to Simon‘s Athens residence.”  Jackson grunts and Gabriel smiles.  A kick under the table?

“Whatever.  I suppose the big boys will be coming out of the woodwork now, huh?  The money’s good enough.”  Our food comes and we start digging in.  Not bad, but I‘m so hungry at this point, raw meat would probably taste good. 

In between bites, Jackson asks, “So, what’d you do since you’ve been in New York to make someone want you dead?”

Gabriel looks up from the food he’s been concentrating on, glancing from Jackson to me, “To answer your question, absolutely nada.  Unless someone didn’t like the way I slouched in class.”

“Could have nothing to do with you personally.  Could be that someone is out to hurt Anna and plans on using your death to do it,” Jackson suggests. 

I open my mouth to protest, but Jackson raises his eyebrows, so I shut it.  No point in denying it at this point, at least not to him.  I’ll admit it at least to myself, a dead Gabriel would result in a rampaging Anna.  If Jackson’s right, then that really sucks, because there are a lot of people in the world who would want to get a little revenge against me.

That makes me lose my appetite.  I push my half-eaten food away, taking a drink of my water.  Gabriel grabs onto my hand and squeezes it.  Nice, but it doesn’t reassure me of anything but his affection for me.  Back in the  cabin, we all fall asleep in the clothes we’re wearing.  There’s only two seats to lay down on, so Gabriel makes a bed on the floor next to where I’m sleeping.  Other than reaching up to pinch me on the butt once, he behaves himself.

When we wake up hours later, we’re at to the first stop.  Passengers get off and others get on.  From here on out, we’ll have to be more alert.  The next stop is only an hour and a half away and then the ship is on its way to the final destination of Patras. After the second stop of the morning, we make our way back to the restaurant for some breakfast.  We still have six more hours on this boat and kill most of the time out on the deck, checking out the passing scenery. 

It really is beautiful here.  I tell myself that in no way am I to think of this as romantic in any way.  The ferry is taking a route between some of the Greek islands and the view of the rocky shores in the distance is amazing.

Jackson gets off first in Patras, acting as a scout.  Scouting out for people just asking for us to shoot them, while also procuring a taxi for us.  It’s a short taxi ride to the train station.  The train will take us all the way to Athens, where in I will in no way think of me and Gabriel as being on a romantic getaway. 

From the way Gabriel keeps smiling at me and trying to hold my hand, he obviously is thinking of things that way. 

To get his mind out of the gutter and the bed he’s probably picturing in Athens, I announce at the train station, “Jackson and I have decided that we’re charging you for your protection.”

Jackson does a little choke-laugh and I pretend not to notice. 

Gabriel just gives me an unworried look, “Okay.”

“Fifty thousand each,” I quickly say.

He scowls, pointing at Jackson, “In that case, can I fire him?  I’d really prefer to be alone with you and it’d cut the cost in half.”

Smiling smugly at him, I shake my head, “Sorry, we’re a packaged deal on this job.”

“Thank god he doesn’t want to be alone with me,” Jackson jokes.  “I’d have to charge triple for that.”

playlist:  http://www.playlist.com/playlist/21705776395

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