“What the Hell do you want, Garber?” Morena barked. Considering that the thug in question had a gun pointed at her, Nick was stunned at her indignant tone.
The thug waved the pistol while his charming companion practiced squeezing the bouncer’s throat with his cowboy boot. “Don’t play dumb, bitch. Your uncle was an old-timer and got by but you, you’re all sorts of wrong, trying to keep my associates from conducting their business here and abouts. That’s un-American.”
Nick saw how Morena’s knuckles turned white as she held the edge of the bar. Her face turned completely calm, though, eyes went flat, with no emotion. That didn’t seem at all good.
“This will be your last warning. Get out and never come back,” she spoke, quietly, controlled.
Garber laughed, turned to his companion to mock her. It would be his first, albeit not last mistake.
Morena flipped over the bar, black leather stiletto boot flying in the air catching Garber directly in the face, even as he swung back to her.
Nick used his five seconds of martial arts training and threw his beer mug at the other guy, who stumbled back for a second. It was all Husky needed to grab his leg and twist. The guy screamed in high octave.
The bullet hitting the bar two breaths from his shoulder brought Nick’s attention back to Morena. She had grabbed Garber’s arm and twisted his wrist so the gun finally fell away. A chop to the throat and a knee to the groin and he was moaning on the floor.
Sudden movement behind her caught Nick’s eye just as something hard hit him from behind. Apparently, these guys had the local riffraff on retainer. Two former patrons sprang behind Morena just as some guy dressed like a chef stepped from a back room brandishing a meat cleaver. The other guy driving into Nick, he didn’t know where he’d come from so Nick just fell forward, letting the guy’s momentum cause him to crash into the bar headfirst. He wanted to check that the guy was down but the meat cleaver coming at him commanded attention and Nick couldn’t keep his eyes off it. Was that a Messermeister?
Nick turned in Morena’s direction, hoping he could maybe grab another stein from the bar.
In three efficient, effortless, and beautiful moves that probably had sacred names like “Slippery Serpent,” “Tiger Claw,” and “Monkey Nuts,” she escaped one attacker and leveled him.
While Nick was transfixed, she turned toward the second attacker, dark hair sweeping back in super slow motion, and just as he thought the guy was going to bull rush her, she grabbed the man’s shoulders and let his forward progress help her knee slam even harder into his solar plexus and he dropped like a laundry bag. A smelly, stinky laundry bag even a mother wouldn’t touch. She turned her gaze on Nick and their eyes locked.
He was enjoying a moment of strange erotic euphoria when steel pricked his skin. Oh yeah. That.
“I’ll cut you up, noodle boy.”
Morena, looking more than an Amazon goddess than any video game would ever capture, froze. Her lip curled menacingly. She leaned forward, looking like she’d twisted an ankle, hand going down to her boot.
“Now, darlin’, I know that blue blood ex-government agent in you won’t let an innocent bystander die for something simple like this.”
Nick wanted to be staring at Morena, but there was a small matter of a shiny, hard piece of stamped steel cutlery touching the back of his neck. He’d never been very good with aggression, the very reason why he’d kept to the kitchen instead of the alleys with the other boys. He’d done enough to get by and talked himself out of most disagreements before things turned physical. And being able to bring a bowl of udon as apology for whatever imagined offense didn’t hurt his charm.
It was because of all those hours honing his craft in his family’s restaurant that Nick knew the weight and balance of a meat cleaver, no matter how sharp, would require a good swing to do any real damage. So he closed his eyes as the metal prick fell away, sank forward a little, and sucked in his breath before readying himself to make the dumbest move of his life.
Bang. Thud. Clatter.
He opened his eyes and Fuckin’ Frank lay in a heap on the floor, his cleaver next to him. He had blood starting to pool just below his shoulder.
Morena stepped over Garber and picked up his gun while holding her small pistol ready. As he looked up at her, holding his wrist, she kicked him unconscious with her shiny boot. She put the safety on the gun, checked it, and then put it in her waistband before tossing him a look.
It was almost with a feral grin that she said, “Class is over.”
Nick swore then and there, he was in love.
“Fat lot of help you were.”
Or maybe just lust.
She kneeled down to help Husky, got him sitting up. Nick was thankful; she seemed not to have heard the first post-adrenaline thing that had popped out of his dazed mind. When she got Husky into a chair, a police officer came running in, took ten seconds assessing the situation, and then shook his head. “Ah, Morena, I’ll call it in.”
Nick touched the back of his neck where the skin had been sliced open. It was bleeding a lot more than he expected. He put a hand on the bar and sank back onto the bar stool. Another cop filed in and Morena wasted no time handing him Garber’s gun and pointing to him on the floor. She then handed over her small pistol he supposed to avoid any misconceptions. She then turned toward him and sauntered over.
“Well, just so happens, you happen to duck very well. You gave me a clean shot.”