Shit! The stupid chime signaled the arrival of yet another customer. Cursing herself for forgetting to lock the door when she’d turned the open sign to closed, Andrea plastered on a fake smile and decided to get rid of this person as quickly as possible. She’d already packed the stock in the safe, so there was no jewelry to actually show them anyway. Besides, it had been a very long day, and there was cold mac and cheese waiting for her upstairs.
“How can I hel…” Her words trailed off as she found herself face to face with three men wearing balaclavas. Considering that it was the middle of fucking summer, she took that as a bad sign. Tired, cranky, and maybe not thinking quite as rationally as she should’ve been, she placed her hands on her hips, looked them straight in their blank eyes, and asked, “What the fuck do you want?”
The men—she assumed they were men by their fat beer guts, and because the idea that she was about to be robbed by a gang of pregnant women was just a little too difficult to swallow—gaped at her as if she’d grown a second head.
“Hands up!” the closest one said nervously.
She rolled her eyes, tried not to laugh, and glanced around the room. “Or what?”
“What?” gun-toting-beer-gut guy asked in what appeared to be drunken confusion. Obviously this robbery wasn’t going the way he’d planned. “Or we’ll…we’ll…”
He trailed off and stupid-dick-in-a-ski-mask standing to his left answered for him. “Or we’ll shoot ya.”
“We?” she asked with a half laugh and a smirk. “You only have one gun, so technically that’d be he’ll shoot me.”
Skinny-legs-and-no-ass guy had already decided he didn’t like the way things were going because he started to shuffle back the way they’d come, clearly intent on leaving his friends behind.
“Okay, he’ll…um…shoot you?” She couldn’t help the laugh that escaped as the man somehow made a threat into an uncertain question.
“How about,” she said, stepping closer to the man with the weapon, “you put the gun down and leave the way you came. Seems to be working for your acquaintance.”
Startled, both of her remaining would-be attackers turned to the front door in time to see their fellow robber turn tail and run.
“Aw shit,” gun-guy said, slurring his words slightly. “Stan’s supposed to be driving us home.”
“I reckon if you run fast enough, you could catch up to him.”
Gun-guy scratched his belly, burped, and considered her proposal. “Guessing ya might be right.” He turned to leave the store, but turned back suddenly to hand her the gun.
Of course the stupid walking dipshit didn’t have the safety engaged and the weapon fired. Even knowing the impact came from a bullet, Andrea couldn’t believe how similar the pain felt to when she’d been sucker punched in the gut a few years back. She managed to stay upright long enough for her killer to apologize, hand her the gun, and drunkenly weave his way out of her store.
Angry enough to shoot the bastard as he meandered away, clarity finally returned when her legs wobbled and she slid ungracefully to the ground. She tried to partially roll so that she could reach the cell phone in her back pocket, but her hand seemed less coordinated than her legs.
And then, as her lungs seemed to grow heavy and a metallic taste filled her mouth, she finally realized that she was in a shitload of trouble.
Great. Fucking great.
Eleven years on the police force without a scratch, and this was how her life was going to end? Fate sure had a fucking pathetic sense of humor.
* * * *
Isaac breathed deeply. When he’d planned this mini vacation, stumbling across a victim of violent crime hadn’t been on his agenda, but that was definitely human blood he could smell. He followed his nose all the way to the small jewelry store tucked between a bookstore and a women’s clothing shop.
Curious about the owner—it was a small town, but even small towns had crime—Isaac pushed the front door open, dismayed to find it unlocked. But he was quickly distracted by the overwhelming smell of bleeding human.
He found the woman half-propped, half-slouched against a wall, her hands pressed against her gut as if to somehow hold the blood inside. But blood was everywhere, and his better-than-human hearing picked up the sluggish thumping of her heart as her life clock ran out. There was no way human medicine would be able to help her now. She was going to die.
Unless he did something.
But that was against the laws he lived by. He couldn’t interfere in petty human concerns, despite the curiosity that had brought him into this store.