“Zerro,” he says.
“Pardon?” I ask in confusion, coming to a standstill.
“Zerro is what you may call me. The maids get paid to clean up after me and my guests. If you were to clean up your mess, then they would be out a job. That wouldn’t be fair, would it?” That is a low blow if ever I heard one - holding one’s job over someone else’s head.
“That’s a bit harsh wouldn’t you say?” Questioning him is a bold move for me to make. I know he doesn’t owe me any answers. I am here purely to save my father, but I can’t help but ask.
“Harsh…” He laughs, but it is anything but a cheery kind.
“I just find it harsh to hold…” My response is cut short as I am gripped by the throat. My back lands harshly against the wooden cupboard, forcing me to stare deeply into pools of blackness. My breath expels from my chest in a rush, and I force more air in. Fear trickles in.
His hold is firm, yet I can still breathe. His other hand skims over my thigh, sending my body into overdrive. My heart rate spikes and the fear melts into something else.
“Never question me, Bree. I could fuck and kill you faster than you would be able to say no. I’m not a good guy. I’m not someone you should be sitting with here, talking and acting as if we’re normal. We are not normal. This interaction between us isn’t normal. You’re merely paying off debt, which makes you about as good as the rest of the money that comes in and out of this house. Keep quiet, don’t ask questions, do as I say, and you won’t be hurt.” His eyes soften, and the tension rolls right off his shoulders as he releases my throat. It throbs where he held it so, I try to rub some of the pain away.
“Come now. You must get ready for bed. I have a couple of things I must do beforehand.” Is he really sending me to bed alone?
I follow quietly behind him, not wanting to draw more attention to myself. I wonder what it was that broke him. What it was that made him so dark and cold. I know he isn’t completely a dark soul because every time I look in his eyes, I see a glimpse of good. Maybe that sliver of goodness will be the one thing that saves me in the end.
“Mack, grab the gun,” I order gruffly as we circle the tied up man who is now lying on my floor. Blood is dripping from his mouth, and I can see the far-off look in his eyes—the one that says he knows he is going to die.
Mack hands me the gun, and I hold it firmly in my hand. A sliver of doubt pools into my mind. I have been doing this since before I was even eighteen. Not once have I ever had a doubt, yet now at twenty-five, I suddenly want to feel sorry for doing this shit.
Turning my gaze to Mack again, I look at him. He is tall just like me and built like a house. Our families have been friends forever, and he is the only person I trust with my life.
He wipes the sweat from his brow as he gives me a bewildered look. I can’t blame him one bit, I am as confused as he is… Why am I still standing here with a gun in my hand? Why isn’t this guy being taken away to be buried already?
“You want me to do it, Z?” Mack questions. His voice is hushed, as to not let the little snitch hear. The man who lies before me is someone who took our stash of drugs, sold them, and then took the money and ran. It wasn’t the first time it had happened, and it most certainly won’t be the last.
“No.” I wave him off. I don’t need anyone to do anything for me. I have climbed my way to the top alone, and I can handle this alone too.
Squatting down, I grab the man by the chin, forcing him to look at me. “Toni, why did you have to go and pull a stupid stunt like this?” There is nothing sincere about my questioning. It is mocking, taunting even. See, I like it when these people try to fight back because it makes me feel that much more powerful.
He doesn’t say anything to me, in fact, it seems as if he is looking straight through me rather than at me, which in turn just pisses me off more.
“Any last wishes?” I ask smirking, the gun cocked and ready. I generally never take this long to put a bullet in someone’s head, but something is off about me tonight. I can feel it.
My mind whispers her name faintly. I grip the gun tighter in my hand. The man says nothing to me, so I take that as his answer. Putting the gun to his head, I kiss his forehead and pull the trigger. The ringing that is generally associated with shooting a gun no longer affects me. I can’t tell you how many people I have killed with this gun alone. After a while, your body just gets used to it.
I stand up, wiping the splattered blood from my dress shirt. I turn around, taking notice of Mack’s eyes on me.