"Payback" - Part One

Franco Bianchi, Righetti family consigliere, stood in the middle of the Red Dog's back hallway near the rear entrance, hands folded in front of him, and looked at us from beneath bushy eyebrows. "We have a problem, ladies," he said.

I felt the hair on my arms prickle.

Just another day in the life of a ronin. Street mercenary. Gun for hire.

Me. Name's Kat.

I traded looks with Mouse, my partner and fellow ronin, then said, "Is this going to get ugly?"

"It might," said Bianchi.

"With the Family?"

"Not us. Vittorio."

I was about to say something when Franco held up a hand.

"Daniela Vittorio," he said.

I shook my head. "Impossible."

Two months earlier, Daniela Vittorio, posing as Deborah Kelly, tried to take over AstraNova from owner and CEO Phillipe Renaldi on behalf of the Vittorio Family. She kidnapped Renaldi's daughter to use as leverage. Except her mooks grabbed Mouse instead. When the smoke finally cleared from the ensuing argument of flying lead, Deborah/Daniela had taken six rounds and gone down.

"She's dead," I went on.

Bianchi shook his head. "No. She's alive. And she's put out a contract on you both."

"How in hell did she survive six shots to the chest?" Mouse said.

"What does Don Vittorio have to say about this?" I said.

"He's washed his hands on the matter," said Franco. "As far as he's concerned, this was all Daniela's doing."

"Throwing his own daughter to the wolves?" I said.

Bianchi nodded. "It appears so."

"And Don Righetti?"

"Don Righetti agrees with Vittorio's assessment. There's been no breach of the agreement. But he did ask me to pass on the information and to let you know the shooters have arrived."

"Shooters?" said Mouse. "As in more than one?"

"Four, according to our information."

Mouse leaned against the wall. "Sonofabitch."

"Grazie, Franco," I said.

He gave us a quick nod, turned, then went out the rear door.

Mouse looked me. "Four of 'em," she said.

I nodded.


My phone chirped.

Specs. Everyone's favorite info broker.

"Did you know there's a hit on us?" I said.

"What the fuck are you talking about?" Specs said.

I told him about Bianchi's message.

"Shit," he said. "News to me. I was calling to see if you had time for a second run today."

"Maybe," I said. "Unless we get greased on the way to this one."

"Other one's at 15:00. Call me when you finish and we'll set it up."

"Thanks for the concern, Specs."

"The kind of people you two have taken down? Four shooters is bupkiss."

"Is the other run worth being out?"

"Ten thousand up front."

"I'll call you. And find out about the hit."

"Will do," Specs said. "Watch your ass out there."

I hung up.

(to be continued...)

Part 2

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