Risky Choices: Chapter Four

Vi buried her mouth and nose in her elbow as her eyes began to water. Her white blazer didn’t do much to block out the gas, but it was better than nothing. Nearly blinded by tears and the onslaught of a coughing fit, Vi stumbled in the direction of what she hoped was an exit. Before she even reached a perimeter wall, a SWAT team barged in and began canvassing the warehouse for stragglers, but Big Tony and his boys were long gone. One of the heavily armed  men grabbed Vi by the arm, shoved a gas mask over her face, and led her from the building. She was grateful for the mask but jerked her arm from the man’s grip so she could limp along with some dignity.

Outside, Vi tore off the mask and sucked in gasping lungfuls of fresh air.

S.H.E. waited impatiently, leaning against the hood of a police cruiser.

“Are you finished?” asked Steven Hammond-Everett. Not waiting for a response, he barked, “What the hell was that, Violet?!”

The DA’s face was an unhealthy shade of scarlet , and a vein bulged in his neck, but Vi couldn’t bring herself to care. Eyes still streaming tears, she checked herself for injuries. She was surprised to find herself unscathed, but she glared at the bullet hole she discovered in the left side of her white suit jacket, poking her pinky finger through to be sure the garment was as ruined as her eyes made it out to be.

Go straight to hell, Tony, and don’t you dare pass GO, she grumbled to herself.

“Are you listening to me?” the DA demanded. “You promised me that laundering fraud Big Tony on a platter, and he manages to escape before my team has him under wraps. I’m beginning to think you tipped him off. Need I remind you, the only reason you and your darling husband remain free of charges is because you are supposed to be aiding us in putting Tony away for good!”

Vi looked up from her musings, frowning at the DA, her dark eyebrows knit, suddenly glad the DA didn’t know the half of it (the half involving the heroine, that is). “I delivered Tony to your proverbial doorstep. How can you blame me when it was your men who let him escape?” Vi asked, one delicate eyebrow raised. She sighed. “I can’t keep playing this game, Steve; Tony isn’t dumb enough for me to pull the wool over his eyes and live to tell the tale. Hell, I got lucky this time,” Vi said, finally removing her little finger from the hole in her suit. “Tony thought I was a rat before; now I know things that are sure to get me killed.”

The truth was, Vi hadn’t needed to rat out Big Tony at the start of all this; the DA had been hot on his trail for a while, and Vi was just a means to an end. Tony wanted Greg gone, and the DA wanted Tony behind bars. The setup had seemed simple, but the DA was making quite the mess of things. Vi had hoped that following their orders would get her out of a sentence of her own, for she wasn’t keen on trading her tailored pant suits for tacky orange jumpsuits or her french manicures for dirt under her nails, but she could see now that the DA would be much less help than she’d originally hoped.

The only person who could truly help her now was Greg, and God knew he’d stay as far away from her as possible after what she’d done. She had no doubt he had survived. Survival was something they had in common.

He’d run to Little Toni, that’s what he’d do. Greg thought Vi didn’t know about that vile woman, but boy was he mistaken; the notion that Greg could keep such a secret from her almost made Vi smile. Almost, but her lips stayed firmly pressed in a grim line when she remembered that he had somehow kept the heroine to himself. Probably in an attempt to protect her, Vi thought, and her heart softened a bit.

But Little Toni was easily bought. By Big Tony who wanted his money. By the DA who wanted answers. And by the Maple Gang and Mable Swan who wanted…Vi wasn’t sure, to be honest. Money? Power? A monopoly? All three?

Vi put thoughts of the Maple Gang from her mind, returning to the task at hand: the matter of Greg and Little Toni. Little Toni had been the one to squeal, Vi was almost sure of it. She was the only other person beside Vi herself who had a connection with both Big Tony and the DA. And if Vi was right, then Greg was in danger.

The DA was saying something, but Vi cut him off mid-sentence. “I know you have a tail on Greg and a contact named Toni. Tell me where Greg is, give me Toni’s address, and I can fix everything,” Vi bargained.

Vi’s glare swallowed up the DA’s lame attempt at scorn, and the man gave in. “Wallace, what’s the status of the mark?”

It was so that Vi, armed with nothing but information and her rapidly growing rage, arrived on Toni’s doorstep in the wee hours of the morning. That bitch didn’t know what she had coming.

Elena Marie Ball


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