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She came ghosting down the sidewalk like a cat. She kept in the darkness of the shadows, avoiding being seen for some reason. Whatever, it wasn’t my concern. I was there to kill a man. He was the man who took the most precious thing I had, and he wasn’t going to keep it. He was the man who was fucking my wife. I didn’t want her anymore, but he wasn’t going to have her, either. In fact, he wasn’t going to have anything at all. He’d made a fatal mistake.
They came boiling around the corner, obviously looking for the girl beside my car. She saw them and started to run. She wasn’t going to make it. I wasn’t in my car; I was about twenty feet up the sidewalk in the shadows between two buildings. When she came even with me I snatched her and pulled her in. Shit, the asshole was going to live for now. She fought like a wildcat as I put my hand over her mouth and whispered fiercely in her ear.
“I’m going to help you. Stay behind me and keep quiet no matter what happens or what you see. Nod if you understand.”
Her little curly head nodded. When they ran past, I stepped out onto the sidewalk. They didn’t go far before realizing they’d lost her. When they turned around, they saw me. I had on a black leather jacket, dark pants and a black leather snap brim hat. I was holding a silenced .22 automatic behind my back. She came scurrying out and got behind me. She was doing what I told her. Good girl. They were a little stumped. They didn’t know what to make of me.
“Joselyn, your mother is going to be very angry,” one of them said. “You need to go back home right now.”
“No,” she said. “You can’t make me watch that anymore and I won’t be part of it and you can’t make me.”
“You want us to hurt your Mom?” one of the other ones asked.
She was crying behind me now. I could hear her sobs. “Mister, you said you were going to help me. They will hurt her if I don’t go back. What should I do?”
“These men won’t be hurting anyone,” I told her.
“Why not?” she asked.
“They’re going to be in the hospital,” I told her. “Do you want them dead, or do you want them to live?”
“I want them to be hurt, but alive,” she said.
I shot all three of them in the leg. They went down screaming. I went over and gave them another in the knees.
“Are you hungry?” I asked her.
“Starving,” she said.
“Do you trust me?”
“Yes, you’re helping me. Thank you,” she said.
“Will you let me buy you something to eat?”
“Yes, I’d like that. Where do you want to go? I don’t have any money,” she said.
“That’s okay, I do. We’ll go to the truck stop over on 35,” I told her. “They’re open all night and we’ll get breakfast, okay?”
She nodded and all those curls bounced. I opened the car door for her and we went to the truck stop. After we ordered, we sat and looked at each other for a while. She was a gorgeous little thing. Her hair was a wild mop, all dark curls and about a foot long, standing up and sticking up all over. It framed the face of an angel. I could tell she had quite a mixed racial heritage. There was some black in there, I could tell by the hair, white, and maybe a little Hispanic mixed up in her, too. She was dark-complected, not black but not white either, sort of a creamy brown. Her eyes were huge, almond-shaped and not quite brown. There was a hint of green to them, and maybe a little hazel, too. She had the cutest little nose and full puffy lips.
I knew what she saw when she was looking at me. I was no Adonis or fashion model. My hairline was receding, even though I was only 26. I kept it cut to just stubble. My nose had been broken twice, and I had stubble on my face, too. I kept it there by design. I looked like a mechanic or a machinist or something. Blue collar; that’s me.
“What’s your name?” she asked.
“Matthew Brown,” I told her.
“Okay, that sounds sketchy to me, but okay. Mine’s Joselyn Adams.”
“What was going on back there, Joselyn?” I asked. “Do you want to tell me?”
“Not really, but I’m going to,” she said. “My mother is a whore. Those men were fucking her and making me watch. They said when they got through with her, they were going to fuck me and make me lick my mother clean. One of them told me to get them beer and I ran away.”
Jesus Christ! “How old are you, Joselyn?”
“I’m 17,” she said. “I’ll be 18 in two days. What am I going to do? You helped me tonight, but there’s going to be a next time and you won’t be there.”
“What do you want to do?” I asked her.
“Will you keep helping me? I want to stay with you,” she said. “I want to grow up, go to college and become something. I think I want to be an attorney. I don’t know how I’ll do that, but that’s what I want. I don’t want to be a whore.” Her eyes filled with tears. “Tell me what you were doing there.”
“I was getting ready to do something bad,” I told her. “Are you sure you really want to know?”
“Will you go to jail for it?” she asked.
“If I get caught, I will. güvenilir bahis I don’t plan to get caught. I’m not a good person, Joselyn.”
“I don’t believe it,” she said. “I don’t care anyway. You helped me. I’ll always love you for that. Can I?”
“Can you, what?” I asked.
“Can I stay with you? I don’t have a future unless you help me. Will you?”
“What’s in it for me?” I asked her.
“You get to have me in your life,” she said. “I’ll be very grateful, totally loyal and very responsible. I’ll be the best friend you’ve ever had. Plus, it doesn’t seem to me like your life is very good. You skulk around in dark places waiting to do bad things to bad people. Wouldn’t it be nice to think about coming home to a nice place, a hot meal and a hug from someone who loves you? I’ll make that happen.”
“You make it sound like a good deal,” I said. “I thought I had that a week ago.”
“What happened?” she asked.
“I found out my wife was sleeping with her old boyfriend,” I told her.
She got up and came around to push me over in the booth. She put her little arm around me. “I’m so sorry, Matthew. Are you okay?”
“Not yet,” I said. “I’m going to make him wish he had never been born. When I met you, I was going to kill him. You kept me from doing that. I’ll go back. Then I’ll be okay.”
“Are you still going to kill him?” she asked.
“No, I’ve decided that would be quick,” I said.
“What about her?”
“Her punishment is being what she is,” I said bitterly.
“Are you going to divorce her?” she asked.
“Yes, the papers are going to be served in,” I checked my watch, “11 hours.”
“Joselyn, I’m leaving this city tomorrow. My house is going on the market. I’m never coming back here again. Is that what you want?” I asked.
“That sounds good to me,” she said. “Will you help me get my things from my house? I don’t have much, but I want my birth certificate and my medical and school records. I’m afraid to go there alone. I need my clothes, too.”
“Yes, I’ll help you.” I said. “I could use a friend. Let’s go check you into a hotel and get some sleep. I’ll go back home and pick you up tomorrow. We’ll get your stuff and leave, okay?”
“No, I’m afraid you’ll leave me.” She clutched my arm tightly.
“I won’t leave you,” I told her. “Do you have a passport?”
“Yes, I went with the band to Toronto last year,” she said. “I’ll get that, too.”
“I’ll give you my passport and my wallet,” I told her. “You can hold them until I pick you up. Is that okay?”
“Yes, I’ll do that,” she said. “I swear to God, Matthew, if you leave me and something bad happens to me or I die, I’ll come back as a ghost and haunt you. Besides, if you abandon me you’ll go to hell.”
I laughed. “They’ve been warming up my chair there for a while, kiddo.”
“If you keep me, we’ll trade it in for a cloud,” she smiled. That smile lit up her face like a beacon and I decided I was going to make that happen a lot.
I had started off the evening with a cheating slut wife, a plan for revenge on the asshole she was fucking and a lonely miserable future. Before I knew what hit me, I had a new life to look forward to and a beautiful friend. Maybe it wasn’t going to be so shitty after all. I had a lot to do.
I checked her into the Hilton and went home. I don’t know what time Emily came home because I slept soundly and she was quiet. She slipped into bed without waking me. Emily taught third grade. When I met her and she agreed to marry me, I thought I was the luckiest man on earth. I can be a nice guy when I try, and Emily never saw the nasty side. When she asked me what I did for a living, I told her I was a freelance troubleshooter for large corporations. She never really asked again. I’d taken her with me from time to time to different cities when she was off in the summer, and she seemed to take my work for granted. My description of my profession was not inaccurate, but not complete. I did work for major corporations, but I also worked for rich individuals and occasionally governments. If company A is being left behind in development by company B, my services are available to get the development designs from B to A. If a millionaire has a cheating wife, I can arrange for her and her lover to pay. I can get the dirt for a nasty divorce, injure one or both parties or just make them disappear. I occasionally make business rivals become involved in major scandals or lose facilities or assets. Emily never knew or cared to know what I actually did. I was gone in the morning before she woke up.
She was going to find out shortly. I wondered what she would do when she was served with her divorce papers. We had been married for four years and there were no children, so this would be quick and neat. If she tried to make it messy, there would be no one home for her to fight it out with. I was going to disappear. Just after nine my phone rang. It was her.
“Matt, what the hell is going on,” she asked when I answered. “Are you divorcing me? Why? What’s wrong? Can’t we talk about this like civilized people? Why are you blindsiding me like this?”
I could tell she was hurt canlı bahis and that she had no idea I knew.
“Is there anything you want to tell me?” I asked.
“Tell you about what? You’re being weird, Matt. Is there someone else?”
“You tell me,” I said. “Is there someone else, Emily?”
She was silent for a minute. “You know, don’t you?” she finally said.
“I always knew,” I told her. “I’ve known since that weekend I went to San Francisco.”
“Is there any hope for me?” she asked.
“None,” I told her. “You know that the one thing I am is loyal. I have thousands of other faults. That’s the one thing I have no tolerance for in myself or others. You knew that. If you were on drugs or a thief or a murderer, there would be hope. You chose the one thing I can never get past, Emily. I love you, but I’ll never trust you again. I won’t be back, Emily. This is goodbye.”
“Where will you go?” she asked. “Will I ever see you again?”
“No, and it will be somewhere far away. I’ve left you enough money in our accounts to live on for a couple of years. I canceled everything in both our names. I wish you well with your life. This number will never work again.”
“Wait, Matt,” I heard her sob as I ended the call. The phone went into the trash and I used my new one to call Joselyn. She was up and about and I told her I’d pick her up in thirty minutes. We needed to go shopping and I needed to take her home to collect her things. When I got to the hotel, she was in the lobby and ready to go. She complained a little about having to wear her same dirty clothes from yesterday, but she perked up when I told her we were going shopping. She decided she wanted to go home first, so we drove to her mother’s apartment. It was two blocks from where the asshole lived. I could feel myself tensing up just being in the neighborhood. We walked up to the door and she let herself in. The place was a mess. I’d seen squalor several times, but this place defined the word. There were two used syringes on the table in the living room. Joselyn saw me look at them.
“She uses drugs,” she shrugged. “So do a lot of her tricks. See if you can find a garbage bag that isn’t full.”
I found a couple under the kitchen sink. Joselyn’s room was as clean as mine at my former home. She didn’t have much. She got clean clothes and put them on in the bathroom. She started putting ratty old clothes in the bags and I told her to leave them. We were going to get her new stuff. She took some pictures and an iPhone, the few little jewelry pieces she had and her diary. She had a few makeup things, and she took me to a closet where she found her records and her passport. She left a note for her mother, telling her she was leaving and that she was safe and going to be okay. Joselyn’s new life began as she placed her apartment key on the table.
As we walked away, she looked back once. There were tears in her eyes and she clung to me like I was a rock and a high wind was blowing her away.
“I’m so scared, Matthew,” she said. “Are you going to make me regret this? I’m sorry I’m thrusting myself into your life like this. I’m putting my life in your hands. I think you need me as much as I need you, though. I think your life is ending here, too. If you’re mean to me I don’t know what I’ll do. I told you I’d be very grateful. Are you going to force me to have sex with you?”
“I’m not going to be mean to you,” I said. “It would be like kicking a puppy. I’m not a nice guy, Joselyn, but I don’t go around hurting people for no reason. I don’t let people down who trust me. If you can trust me, we’ll try to make something of ourselves. I’m not going to force you to do anything, much less have sex with me. I’ve got one thing to do before we leave here. Do you want to know what it is?”
“Yes, I imagine you’re going to do something to that guy that fucked your wife.”
“I want you to forget you know that word,” I told her. “It just sounds slutty when a 17-year-old girl says it.”
She looked up at me in surprise. “I’ll be 18, tomorrow, but okay, Matthew; I had no idea you would be so strict.”
“Well, I am,” I told her. “You’re right, though, about what I’m going to do.”
“Can I help you?” she asked.
“If you want to. I won’t put you in any danger. If you could distract him so I can get close that would help. I’m sure he’ll run as soon as he sees me.”
“I can do that,” she said.
We parked close to his apartment and she stood outside while we waited for him to get home from work. He got out of a taxi and I saw her stop him at the door. I got out of the car and got close while he was talking to her. By the time he noticed me, he could see the gun in my hand. I grabbed his arm and we went inside. He babbled hysterically in the elevator until Joselyn told him to shut up. He opened his mouth again and I broke his nose with the butt of the gun.
“She told you she wanted you to shut up,” I said. “My job in life is to see that she gets what she wants. I wouldn’t speak again if I were you.”
He didn’t speak again, and the blood from his nose ran down his face. I took him to his apartment and he let us in. I had Joselyn bahis siteleri look for duct tape. We had to ask him where to find it.
He told us, but then he talked some more. “Please don’t kill me,” he begged. “It was all a mistake. I’m so sorry! We just went out for a drink a few times and she was so hot. She was mine before she was yours! I wanted her back. I got her to come home with me for a drink. I had the pills in my pocket and I just had to have her. She didn’t want to do it after that but I had the pictures. She was just like an addiction. I just had to have more.”
That surprised me. There was more to this story than I knew. This kind of upset things a little. It was going to be worse for him, though. We taped him to a chair and I loaded his computer with the flash drive I had in my pocket. I sent the emails, and his life was over. He’d never work again, even if he got well enough to walk.
“Joselyn, did you hear what he said?” I asked her.
“Yes, he raped her and then blackmailed her,” she said. “Make him pay, Matthew.”
I didn’t think they could ever reconstruct his knees, but who knows? Doctors can work miracles these days. His balls were another story. He wouldn’t be raping anyone else.
When we got back to the car, she wanted to talk. “What are you going to do about your wife now that you know?” she asked.
“I’m going to talk to her,” I said. “I’ll find out what happened and then we’ll go from there.”
“What does this mean for me?” she asked with a frightened look on her face.
“It doesn’t mean anything,” I told her. “Everything is still the same.”
We sat in the car and I called Emily. “Thank God,” she burst out when she realized it was me. “Please let me talk to you, Matthew. Thank you, Jesus! I didn’t think I’d ever get this chance. Let me explain, Matthew.”
“Okay, you have one chance, Emily,” I told her. “Make it count and make it honest.”
“Can’t you meet me somewhere?” She was crying now.
“This is your shot,” I said. “Right now, on the phone, and one shot.”
“I was lonely,” she said. “God, Matt; he’s been after me for years. You were in San Francisco and you’d been gone two weeks. He kept telling me how beautiful I was and how you didn’t deserve me and I was stupid. I listened to him. It was supposed to be just one drink after work. He made me feel wanted and beautiful, and I went back for another. I just kept going. It was so stupid, but I went to his house. I don’t know what happened. We had one drink and I started to leave. I got so dizzy I had to sit back down. I don’t know what happened to me. It was like I was sick or something. I couldn’t think, I was all hot and sweaty, and he said he would take me home. When we got here, he was all over me and I felt all weak and strange. I couldn’t even lift my arms. It was like every nerve in my body was on fire and everything he was doing to me was making me lose my mind. He fucked me, Matt, and there wasn’t anything I could do. I must have passed out because when I woke up he was gone. He took pictures of us, Matt.” She was crying now and I could hear the heartbreak in her voice. “He made me do things, horrible things! He said he would tell you; he would show you the pictures. I wanted to stop, but I couldn’t. I’m so sorry, Matt. I can’t explain it. I don’t know what happened to me.”
“He drugged you,” I told her. “He drugged you and raped you and blackmailed you.”
“Oh, my God! You know that? Is that why you called me?”
“Yes, he told me that’s what he did,” I said.
“What did you do to him?” she asked. “Does this mean… you won’t divorce me? Are you coming home?”
“No,” I said. “It means I know you didn’t voluntarily cheat on me,” I said. “The problem is, you went to have a drink with him. You talked to him and listened to his line. You let him tell you how beautiful you are and how I didn’t deserve you. You didn’t trust me enough to tell me what happened. You didn’t tell me he was blackmailing you. I would have protected you, Emily. Everything you did from the moment you first listened to him and didn’t tell him to go fuck himself was wrong. You’re a married woman and you had a drink with an old boyfriend. You put yourself in that situation. You knew it wasn’t right. You knew you shouldn’t be there. Married women that are faithful to their husbands don’t have drinks alone with men that aren’t their husbands. They don’t listen to assholes tell them their husbands don’t deserve them. You didn’t have sex with him voluntarily, but you were on the cheater’s highway and that was the exit. It is now possible for me to forgive you. That’s what this call is about. It’s possible for you to be part of my life again. It’s very unlikely. It’s possible that we may be friends someday. I doubt that I’ll ever see you again, but you’re young and beautiful and smart. You can have a good life. You have to decide what you want to do. I’m going to divorce you and move far away. I have someone new in my life. She’s not a girlfriend. I don’t know what she is right now, but she’s someone I care very much about. We’re going to think about our situation and you’re going to try to come to grips with the reason you would let someone tell you I don’t deserve you. We’ll talk after you think you’ve got it settled in your mind. Don’t call me until you do. You have this number. I only want one call. Do you understand.”
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