“I’d love to, babe, but my phone’s just about out of juice!”

Vince pressed the red button on the cell and held it up for her to see. Sweat seeped from his palm as he gripped, afraid to drop his last bit of hope.

The woman rapped her free knuckles against the window of the limo. The car floated gracefully out of the alley.

“Very good, Vinnie,” she said without wavering her aim. “Now take out the battery and SIM card.”

He forced himself to look past the barrel of the gun. The woman was severe in appearance, though feminine and attractive in her own way. Dark makeup, short shoe-polish black hair, and more facial hardware than he thought possible.

“Now,” she said. Her voice was soft and stern.

Vince complied in the fumbling manner of a man with a gun pointed at his head. “Please don’t kill me.”

“If I wanted you dead, Counselor, we wouldn’t be having this pleasant exchange.”

He handed over the phone and its disemboweled bits. She didn’t take them. Instead, she pressed the switch to roll down the window.

“Toss them.”

He did and they rode along in relative silence, her weapon never straying from its target. The muted roaring hum of the highway was hypnotizing. Vince often fell asleep during any ride longer than fifteen minutes. No danger of nodding off this evening.

The quiet unsettled Vince and compelled him to fill the dead air between them. “I’m thirsty.”

She wordlessly passed him a bottle of water from the open cabinet. He nodded his appreciation and drank.

“Where are we going?” he asked.

She ignored him. The car turned right onto a dirt road. The ground was irregular, but the limo continued to smooth out the wrinkles. He looked out the darkened windows and could make out only tree-shadows in the fading light.

The wheels crunched on loose gravel and the car braked, then stopped.

“Please,” he said. “You gotta give me something.”

The limo’s door opened and the woman waved her gun for him to exit.

“Ask your wife,” she said.

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