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Stone Cold – Ashby Crime Family
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I’ve already killed one man for her and I’ll do it again if I have to.
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This was what my life had come to. Just a few weeks ago I was a bright-eyed college graduate, a young woman on the cusp of success. I started to pile up the things I wanted for myself. I was a good Catholic girl with a boyfriend I wasn’t crazy about, but at least back then I had someone.
Now I was all alone.
Well, not technically. It was impossible to be alone at Bullets & Beer where every night the beautiful people gathered to bump and grind and sin every which way but up. And tonight, like every night for the past week, I was one of them, only my sins weren’t as interesting as the chick I watched getting finger banged up against the wall last night. Did I say everybody was watching? Or the girl sandwiched between two guys who felt her up on the dance floor. Though my parents and my priest would call it sinning, I could admit that she looked…blissful. Like she was having the time of her life.
Like she felt good. It was a feeling I couldn’t even summon anymore.
Even now, with four gin and tonic cocktails in my system to numb the pain, I still didn’t feel good. Or numb. I felt like what I’d always imagined hell would be like. Hot and sticky and uncomfortable, but most of all, lonely.
That was one miserable thought too many. Tears welled up in my eyes, so I polished off my drink because there was no way I’d get lucky like my best friend Maisie Nilsson. No, she had a super sexy gangster with a heart of gold. I knew no one would ever come to my rescue, so I wiped a tear off my cheek and practically ran to the ladies’ room. It was surprisingly quiet inside except for the low hum of a woman touching up her makeup at the wall length mirror. I flashed a semi-friendly smile, enough to show I was no threat, but not so much she might feel the need to engage in friendly bathroom chatter.
Normally, manners would have forced me into casual small talk, but lately, I wasn’t too big on the things I’d been taught growing up. At least that was what I told myself as I stared at my reflection in the shockingly unflattering lighting.
Tonight my reddish orange hair had been tamed with a flat iron, at least as much as the thick waves wanted to be tamed. The color was still too bright for my pale, nearly porcelain skin. My eyes were technically hazel but most days they were a lighter brown with a smattering of brown and yellow. Nothing spectacular, just too much of all the wrong stuff and not enough of the right stuff.
Story of my life. A sniff surprised me and the humming woman stopped in her careful lipstick application to look at me.
“He ain’t worth it, honey. They so rarely are.” She flashed a friendly smile to go with the hint of southern still in her accent. “Here, have some booger sugar and forget all about him. Maybe get under somebody else if you know what I’m sayin’.”
I’d have to be deaf and blind not to get what she was saying.
“What is it?” I suspected cocaine, but as Maisie was fond of reminding me, new drugs came out all the time.
“It’s just a little feel good powder, hon. Take a little bump like this.” The woman flicked her blonde waves off her shoulder, dumped a small pile of white powder on the back of her hand, lowered her nostril to it and inhaled it into oblivion. “Easy as.”
It did look easy, and the woman didn’t seem to be in any pain. Her face was beautiful, but her skin was clear and her eyes were as wide as her smile.
“I would like to feel better and alcohol doesn’t seem to be working,” I said hesitantly.
“Just like I did it. Go on,” she said with an encouraging smile. Suddenly I understood that not all peer pressure was like the PSA’s from school. Some of it was benign, barely even enough to be considered pressure. This woman, just like the devil, came wrapped in a pretty package, bearing a smile rather than a sneer. And today I wanted—no I needed—what this beautiful devil was offering.
So I took it. Exactly like she did, taking a deep inhale until the powder disappeared up my nostril. Before I even let out my breath, I felt better. Warm and relaxed. Good. Like everything was right in the world.
“Wow,” I said as the magic hit.
“Exactly,” she said with a satisfied smile. She smacked her lips together, gave her reflection one last glance and headed for the door.
“Hey, what’s your name?”
“From one sister to another,” she said and shimmied out of the bathroom into the constant throbbing pulse that was the exact distraction Bullets & Beer had become for me.