LADY BLOOD - CHRISTINE RAINS
They called her Lady Blood.
I ran my hands through her red locks and it did not remind me of blood at all. She was the fire that burned me, but if anyone had truly seen death as many times as I had, they would know that the true color of blood was a sickening ruddy brown. There was nothing sexy about it. It was a color to churn even the strongest man's stomach.
I slipped my hand into my jacket pocket in slow motion. She was a predator and she would bite if she felt threatened. I drew out my cigarettes and lit one, sucking back the rich taste into my lungs.
“Light one for me, lover.” The Lady's voice was moonlight over her curves.
I lit up a second cigarette and stretched forward, holding it out to her between my thumb and index finger. I didn't get too close to the gun she pointed at me. The bullet had my name written on it, and I only wanted to enjoy one more puff.
She shifted and took the cigarette butt to return to her lounging position on the hotel bed. The sheets whispered under her nude body as if they could soothe my fears. The Lady inhaled and let the smoke seep out from between her ruby lips. “You should have stopped digging when you were warned. I don't relish having to blast away your pretty face.”
“No one's going to miss my ugly mug.” I knew it as well as she did. “I was helping you.”
“I was helping myself, Detective Ruhl.”
So we were back to being professional. That name wasn't the one she growled such a short time ago. The echo of the sensual rumble still trembled within my ear.
“Your husband is-” I leaned forward, and she made a sharp gesture with the .38, forcing me back in my chair.
“I know very well who my husband is, or, well, was. It's after midnight. The job should be done.” Lady Blood took one more drag on the cigarette and stubbed it out in the ashtray on the bedside table. It sizzled with unfinished business. “Your gun will be found in a gutter, and witnesses will see a car very much like your beat-up jalopy fleeing the scene. It's a shame you got in too deep, but convenient for me.”
I snorted and shook my head as I forced the smoke out from between my teeth. “Every man's a convenience for you, doll, in one form or another.”
I stared at her, trying to be hard and cold as she made me feel. The problem was that there was still too much heat in my eyes. The dame knew it and gave me a tight smile. Even that stirred up something in me that I'd rather keep buried.
I took another drag and held the cigarette between my lips. I pushed the chair away from the bed to give me enough room to bend over and reach under the edge of it. She was suddenly on her knees with the gun in both hands.
The sheet fell away from her body. A jolt of hot desire went through my traitorous body. Though she was built for temptation, the gun kept me sober. It was too bad that she hadn't flashed the metal earlier in the night before she entranced me with her act. I held up my empty hands. “I'm just getting my shoes. At least allow me the dignity to die fully clothed.”
Lady Blood relaxed back, resting her rear on her heels. “Get on with it then. I have to go play the grieving widow. Tears never came easily for me.”
I slid my feet into my heavy shoes. I tied the laces in double knots and looked up into her dark eyes. “Not for any of us, doll.”
She tossed back her long hair like a magician's crimson cape and leveled the gun at my chest. “You were the best man I ever had.”
Even as I saw her finger twitch, I leaned back in my chair and swung my legs up thrusting my feet towards her. The bullet hit the hard sole, but it didn't stop. It embedded itself in my left foot with a searing pain. My legs kept the momentum as I fell backward, and I kicked at the gun. Her arms weren't locked and her pretty face met with the metal. There was the nauseating crack of snapping bones, and she fell limp onto the bed.
I righted myself on the floor and took another long drag on my cigarette before standing to limp out of the room. If I were truly the best man she had ever had, it was only because I didn't flick my still burning butt onto the bed on my way out.
BIO: Christine Rains is a geek, stay-at-home mom and writer. When she's not playing games with her son, she's playing games with her friends. She has four degrees which do not help at all with motherhood, but all that knowledge makes her a great Jeopardy player. Christine has fourteen short stories published and one forthcoming. She is a member of RWA. Her writing covers all genres of dark fiction, but she loves to lose herself in paranormal romance most of all.
Music from 1964: EVERYBODY LOVES SOMEBODY
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