At exactly 10:00, the figure slid into the booth seat at the back of the Harbor Cafe and said, "Who are you and what do you want?"
Sakura looked up from her plate of waffles and eggs and smiled at the short-haired blond in the opposite seat. She was dressed just like in the surveillance shots Simon took. Knee-length black leather coat. Black shirt and pants.
"Hello, Jade," Sakura said. "Have you eaten?"
"I said, who are you and what do you want?"
"Breakfast," said Sakura, "is the most important meal of the day."
"You're wasting my time." Jade slid out of the seat, stood, and turned to leave.
Sakura said, "Kat and Mouse."
Jade stopped, turned back.
Sakura raised a forkful of eggs. "Care for a plate? They're very good."
"I'm listening," said Jade.
"Good. Please. Sit."
Jade looked at Sakura with slitted eyes. After a moment, she slid back into the seat.
Sakura ate her eggs, took a sip of coffee, then said, "There's a hit ordered on Kat and Mouse."
"I know," said Jade.
"You take it?"
"No. But I know who."
"Should I be?"
"I get the feeling you're partial to them."
"They're a pain in my ass."
"But you didn't take the contract."
"Why do you care?"
"If they're a problem, they should be taken care of, right?"
Jade snorted. "They will."
Sakura quirked an eyebrow. "By you?"
"I didn't say that."
"Sure as hell not the guys who took the hit."
"Oh, they're good. But Kat and Mouse are better." Jade put an elbow on the booth table and leaned forward. "Why are you asking?"
"Because I find it fascinating, Jade. For someone who hates Kat and Mouse, you're avoiding getting rid of them. Why?"
"What's it to you?"
"Tell me, Jade."
"You're a busybody, lady."
Sakura shrugged. "Been called worse."
Jade slid out of the booth and stood. "This is a waste."
"A pretty necklace you've got."
Jade gave a start. "What?"
"The necklace under your shirt. It's very pretty. A lion, right?"
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"I know where it came from."
Jade drew pistol from inside her coat and leveled it at Sakura's face in one smooth motion. "Don't start something you can't finish, lady."
Sakura looked up into the barrel of the gun, then past it into Jade's face. "I finish everything I start."
"I'll end you."
"Answer my question."
Sakura fixed her gaze on Jade, saw a tide of emotions flash across the other woman's face.
The gun wavered, then dropped away.
Jade smirked and said: "Because they're not boring."
"I think so, too," Sakura said, and smiled.
Jade sat back down.
Then she began to laugh.
(to be continued...)