Hell Comes to Breakfast

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[Original prompt courtesy of Indies Unlimited and Stephen Hise: The good-looking guy on my right is Valentin Karmanov. He’s an FSB agent and my best contact in the Russian intelligence community.

Lately, the information he’s gotten for me has turned out to be not so good. Our station chief thinks maybe the Russians are onto him.

I was concerned as well. I should have been more concerned. I did not make the older guy in the shades to my left, but I saw a reflection in Valentin’s sunglasses of the guy making a move for his gun.

The station chief always insists there be no gun play in public venues. Sometimes you don’t get what you want.]

I knew, one day, I was going to get myself in over my head. But at the time, I couldn’t get work as an actress, not even in local plays. So the ad for an audition came at the perfect time. And really, is gathering information anything more than intuitive improv?

I’d always been able to talk or flirt my way out of difficult situations. This, clearly, was different. I knew Valentin had to be seeing this as well. Why wasn’t he saying anything? Had he set me up? Or was he sitting there wondering the same things I was? Those damn mirrored shades made it impossible to read Valentin’s expression.

I was nothing more than a lowly courier. Had I tripped over something big, bad, or deadly? Would I ever know?

They say you see a rewind of your life in your mind’s eye before you die. Would I have enough time to duck a bullet? was the only thing going through my mind.

Suddenly, the man with the gun stood. He was huge – like hockey player huge. Valentin didn’t flinch. It didn’t make any sense. He was the seasoned pro – shouldn’t he be doing something?

And the woman – well, she was beautiful – and she appeared out of nowhere. Her voice was smooth and confident. “What’s the matter, Valentin, seeing a ghost?” she nearly purred.

None of it made any sense. The man – well, he was drop-dead gorgeous – and unlike her, he had a Russian accent. “Valentin, you turdy little squirrel…”

A smile formed on his partner’s lips. “Aleksey, I keep telling you – it’s squirrely little turd.”

“I like my way better.” He shrugged his enormous shoulders, then pulled Valentin onto his feet so he could cuff him. Valentin didn’t resist.

The woman looked over her sunglasses at me. “Go back to acting, kid.”

And like that, the three of them were gone.

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