Author Topic: Black Puma – Cat’s Claw Chapter Three — There’ll be Hell to Pay  (Read 720 times)

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January 14, 2019, 11:10:26 AM

Offline MillieDynamite

Black Puma – Cat’s Claw
Chapter Three — There’ll be Hell to Pay

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Three o’clock in the morning, the fires still burned in the collapsed structures on one dismal block in Shabby Heights. The flames climbed into the night sky, lighting up the clouds hanging over The City. The big black SUV slipped silently through the ratty neighborhood. Running without lights, the vehicle sped toward the fires dancing skyward in the dark. Two black Lincoln Town Cars followed. Likewise, they drove with headlights extinguished. There was no way to see inside, with the window tinting obscuring the occupants from prying eyes. Without warning, one of the Town Cars pulled around the SUV and led the way. Finding their destination, a T intersection where the walls came tumbling down, the cars and SUV stopped in front of massive piles of bricks. The glow from the fires west of them cast eerie shadows while patches of light danced on the vehicles and piles of rubble from the destroyed buildings.

Four burly men jumped from the two cars, setting straight to work, digging down in one of the piles of bricks. The men wore clothing made from the same material that covered Puma’s body. Covered head to toe, each man hoped the protective gear was an unnecessary precaution, but each felt more secure with it on. It took time, but soon they were removing each brick cautiously, being careful not to step on those bricks which covered the Cat. Rising, one of the men stopped the digging, then raised his hand toward the SUV, motioning to the men.

The driver, a short, thin man exited the car and ran to the quartet of diggers. He looked down at the figure, while one of the men knelt beside her in the rubble, his hand under the tattered costume at her neck. Turning his head upward he stared at Steven, then pulled his mask up to reveal his smile plastered face.

“The Cat breathes,” he exclaimed.

“Cover your face,” Steven told him, while his heart hammered with relief in his chest. “Bring her to the van. Careful now, don’t make her condition worse.”

“Wait,” a voice from near the car said, “use this.” He brought a spinal board. “Strap her down tight when you get her on it. As soon we get her there, I’ll have to get her out of that suit.”

“I’ll do that, and I’ll cover her face with a different mask,” Denton said.

“Steven,” the Doctor started to speak.

“Doctor…do not look under that hood. These conditions are not negotiable.”

“I may need to use a respirator, might need…”

“You’ll be able to, but the mask stays on,” Steven Denton told him. Denton had surmised Puma’s identity only brief hours before, when her crazed young lover called him. Once he knew Lacey Barton’s name, all the pieces fell into place. They had been photographed together several times. He hoped she could be saved, while guilt nagged at him for not making the suit better, more protective. Shaking off the guilt, his mind began to work on the mystery of how to make her gear more durable and still light weight. It was not an option that she would not survive.

Steven Denton’s mind never ceased from its labors. It wasn’t uncommon for him to go bed with a problem and wake with the solution. He could sure use a few hours of sleep, but that wasn’t going to happen for some time yet. As the group of men moved Black Puma, she barely clung to life, yet with slashes all over the suit, it surprised him how little blood there was. As the men carried her past him, Steven Denton heard a loud wheeze and gasp as Puma breathed with hard, deep rasp. Her eyes opened, and her head turned to him. A weak smile crossed her face.

“I fucked up, little man,” she said, “these guys my cubbies?” She didn’t hear the answer, as she fell back into an unconscious state. With care, the four men slid the board and Puma into the back of the SUV. The doctor jumped inside and began to look at the injured woman.

“Do not look under the cowl,” Denton warned him again.

****

Bright lights blinked in shades of blue, red, and green, bouncing off the spinning ball hanging from the ceiling. The shards of light cast a bright shimmering radiance of vibrant colors on the merry makers on the dancefloor, bathing them in a festive glow. Bodies rolled and twisted as they bounced to the rhythm of the music. Several of the women held their arms high spinning their bodies as the Ecstasy moved through their veins.

The revelry broke out minutes after the fire department and police fled the battle with their tails tucked between their legs. The news spread like wildfire among the mob’s crew of Shabby Heights. The Cat was buried under a massive pile of rubble from a fallen building. The Black Puma was dead. Let the debauchery begin.

****

A sharp pain stung her arms, waist, hips, and legs. Darkness engulfed her. A foggy darkness with even darker shadows moved around her. People wavered in and out of focus, while whispers off in the distance called to her. Familiar voices speaking in hushed tones, warning her of dangers—there be monsters here.

Other voices celebrated her achievements. Her parents. I’m proud of you girl, her father’s voice praised her. She could hear an announcer speaking in hurried, excited voice, Yet another grand slam win. And what a victory it was! She wanted to scream at him, it’s only a game. But try as she might, no words came from her mouth.

Then other voices broke in, and Puma’s eyes fluttered open to a blinding bright light, painfully stinging her eyes with its brilliance. Attempting to lift her hand to cover her eyes, it didn’t respond. A mask descended toward her, mercifully blocking the light momentarily while hands raised her head. Fabric was slipped over her head, covering her face from nose to crown.

“Remember this one?” Steven asked.

“The one I made,” she whispered. Steven’s soft hand touched her cheeks gently as he stroked her face. In his other hand, he held her new but damaged mask.

“Sorry, I didn’t design the suit well enough,” he told her quietly, tossing the mask to the side.

“Bullshit,” she croaked out, “Saved my life.”

“Doctor,” Steven called.

The doctor came in and stood over her. “Little stick,” he said.

Shawanda felt a light prick on her arm just below the bend of the elbow on the inside, “Can you count backward from 100 for me?”

“Yeah, sure…” she said, “Hundred, ninety…ninety-nine…ah…ninety…ninety-eight…ninety…ninety-something,” Shawanda went under, her head again swimming in darkness.

“Okay,” the doctor said, “we have seven wounds in her flesh. I removed five pieces of metal already. Those were relatively shallow, but these two are deeper. One in her left leg the other…well that one is problematic.”

“How so?” Denton asked.

“It’s almost touching the heart,” the doctor explained, pointing to x-rays on a computer monitor. “It didn’t penetrate the pericardial sac, however, I’m not at all confident in my ability. I’m afraid I’d do more damage if I extracted it. So, I propose we call in another surgeon.”

“Is the wound track straight?”

“Yes, it’s just the proximity to the-”

“Doctor,” Steven broke in, “it’s metal, right? What about an electromagnet? Could it pull it out without doing more damage?”

“I don’t have an electromagnet,” the doctor told him.

“I do.”

****

The jarring music faded as the pair made their way down the corridor. Through a hidden door, they passed into another set of hallways, making their way to an elevator. The man put a card in a slot and doors sprang open. The woman moved into the elevator rolling her hips in rhythm to the distant music. The man followed, like a wolf on the prowl.

Jason Griggs reached out and pushed LL10. The elevator gave that little dip letting the pair know it had begun its decent. As the elevator dropped to the lower levels, Griggs stared at the woman. Being a whore, his gaze shouldn’t have bothered her. She blushed and felt nervous. Griggs position as the Boss of Bosses intimidated her.

His handsome appearance and sinister smirk unnerved her. Fidgeting with her purse, she stopped looking at him. The palm of his hand slashed across her face, a powerful reminder he was the boss.

“Look at me bitch,” he ordered, hitting the stop button. As the car lurched to a stop, the girl stumbled, grabbing the handrail to steady herself.

“Sorry,” she said, in a soft, weak voice. The back of Griggs’s hand stung across the other cheek, knocking her to the floor of the elevator.

“That’s a right, good place for you,” he said. She wiped a small trickle of blood from under her nose. “Look at me, whore.” Her eyes rolled up to him.

“Why are you here with me?” he demanded.

“You want to fuck me,” she said. Grabbing her face, Jason squeezed, pushing her lips out of their natural shape.

“Not till you get me hard. So, get over here and suck me, bitch. Get me hard.”

She positioned herself in front of him, on her knees. Unzipping his pants, the woman fished his pecker from inside his trousers. It hung limp inches from her lips, and the woman went to work kissing, stroking, and licking it to awaken the monster. 

His prick shuddered, thickened, and grew. The girl put her tongue in the way to block him putting it in very far. Grabbing the back of the whore’s head, he bucked into her mouth hard. The cock head lunged into the back of her mouth. Inches remained, and twisting her hair, Griggs yanked her head closer to him, simultaneously thrusting his hips to drive his prick into her throat. Copious amounts of slobber leaked around his fat prick, running down her chin, before trickling to the hard tiles.

He bucked into her mouth hard, yanking her head closer as he drove inside her throat. With a violent rage, he fucked her face. Her open hands slapped at his legs in desperation. His aggression stunned and hurt her. She needed him to stop.

“Stop that,” he yelled at her, then fucked her mouth even harder. Pinching her nose, he forced his dick further into her mouth, until his balls rested on her chin. He resumed fucking her face hard, belittling her cock sucking skills. He stopped, pulling his pecker from her throat and back into her mouth, and held it there.

“Jack me bitch,” he ordered.

The young woman reached up and started pumping furiously. “Going to blow in your mouth and you’re going to eat every drop. If you don’t want to lick it off my clothes and the floor you better not lose a drop.”

The girl wanted to pull it out of her mouth. Cum disgusted her, but she knew it would be suicide for her to resist. The velocity of the spray caught her off guard. The first thick spew hit the back of her mouth, sloshing into her throat. Another, and another. Her mouth filled. She couldn’t suck it down fast enough.

There was too much, and it oozed out from around his cock, leaking down on his shoes, her knees, and the floor. Coughing and spluttering when he pulled out, she dipped her head, the thick globs on the floor and his feet clearly visible. Yet without question, the whore dropped to the floor and ate it up, then licked his shoes and her own knees clean.

Rising, she saw it - stiff and still annoyed - and realized this wasn’t over. Not yet. In response, her mind went to a faraway place where the man she loved made tender love to her. Reaching for the figure in her mind, her body reacted as if he were truly there. That’s how she always got through her work, pretending it wasn’t her work. Pretending she wasn’t a prostitute. It was almost enough, but not quite. She was still a whore.

He grabbed her, dragging her to her feet hard and fast. Her mind swam in a sea of confusion. She had thought it was over, but it wasn’t. Throwing her against the back wall of the elevator, he pinned her against the wall, holding her there with the weight of his body. He hurt her, poking, and prodding her body with brutal abandon. Pressing his lips to hers, he shoved his tongue into her mouth as he mashed her breasts.

The young woman wanted to kick and punch him. But wanting wasn’t sufficient. She was helpless. He was stronger than she, fighting off his intention would be foolish. She was the whore and he was the boss. As his brutal lust exploded, he bit her lip, twisting it cruelly in his mouth. One hand mangled a tit while the other ravaged her pussy. His firm grip dug into the tender flesh, sending pain and shame mixed with pleasure.

It was too much. She had to get away. For a brief moment, she struggled in vain, attempting to pull her face away. He bit harder, then stopped, with a steely glare. He clutched her shoulders and bashed her against the wall. Her head stuck the wall, sending flashes of color through her sight, but it was the brute force he had used that frightened her more. His hate filled eyes glowered at her.

“You’re a fucking whore.”

“Yes,” she whimpered, resigned to what he would do to her.

“This,” he said, grabbing her pussy, squeezing her with his vice-like hands, “belongs to me. Not you, bitch.”

Letting out a shrill screech, she gasped for breath. Her eyes locked on his face, as Jason Griggs hateful glare made her tremble. Whatever he wanted, he was going to take. He could do anything.

Grabbing the girl’s shoulders, he lifted the young woman, slamming her against the back wall of the car. Bringing her legs up, he wrapped them around his waist, pulling her short skirt over her ample hips to reveal her bare crotch to him. In a quick, fluid motion he stabbed his cock inside her snatch. With a hard-deep thrust, he pounded himself into her. The girl ran her hands over his body, whispering encouragement as he savaged her.

She wanted him to finish, to end this nightmare. She had been thrilled that the Boss had shown an interest in her. Airhead that she was, she believed he liked her. In certain ways, all whores are the same. They dream of Richard Gere saving them from their life. The reality was, no one cared enough to save them.

He fucked her with a wrath, oblivious to whether she enjoyed what he did to her. Once he finished, he withdrew, stepped away from her to let her plummet to the floor. Jason Griggs returned his penis to its proper place inside his pants. Gaining her feet, the girl adjusted her own clothing as the car returned to its journey. The doors slid open, Jason Griggs stepped out and turned to the girl, shoving her out of the elevator.

“Get your ass on the streets and make me some fucking money.” The doors slid shut with a small thud behind them. The girl slumped against the wall. She wanted to cry, but didn’t dare. Not yet. Not in front of this man. Her hopes of escaping this life were dashed as the reality hit home with devastating finality. That she’s only a cheap whore.

****

Janice Griggs grabbed her phone as soon as it buzzed, stood, and rushed to the bathroom. As the phone continued to buzz incessantly, she checked each stall, and once satisfied she was alone, slid her finger over the screen.

“Steven,” she exhaled, “you shouldn’t be calling me right now. It isn’t safe for me.”

“Why didn’t you warn me?” Steven said.

“Didn’t know,” Janice said. “I swear to God. I didn’t know. Is…Steven is she…alright?”

“What do you think?” he answered her question with his own.

“Don’t tell me she’s dead…this can’t be the end.”

“Who set this up? Who’s responsible for what happened to her?”

“She’s dead then, is that what you are saying,” she said, panic rising as her body trembled in fear.

“No, Puma didn’t die. She’s badly hurt and might still die, but for now she clings to life,” he said, then refocused on the question at hand. “Tell me who did this,” he ordered, the barely restrained anger evident in his tone.

“Bryson Hildegard,” she said. “He’s flying back to Empire City on an 8:00am departure in his private Centurion jet…from the International Airport. That’s all I know.”

“I’m disappointed in you, you have let me down three times lately. That ordeal two blocks out of Shabby then the meeting with Palmer, and now this. It appears you have been out of the loop, or your allegiance has shifted back to your brother,” he spat the words at her.

She started to answer him, then realized that he had already hung up on her.

Janice Griggs was an attractive, fit woman. Walking out of the bathroom she made her way through the revelers on the dance floor, sauntering to the table where her brother’s top lieutenants sat together. They were in a good mood, congratulating themselves on how well their plan had worked. Janice stood there, staring at one of the men. At first, he was unaware of her presence, bragging that it had been his idea to call Hildegard. One by one, the gangsters realized that Janice scrutinized the group. Their attention shifted to the woman, each hoping she wanted them, but each knowing she only had eyes for one of them, her brother’s second in command, Charles Martini.

Her slender, enticing body called to them as she stood before the racketeers. Hips twisting as though she prepared to move away, still her eyes bore holes into Charles. He continued to babble away, unaware of her presence until one of the men nudged him Turning, Charles eyed Janice and stopped talking, simply staring at her. Everyone saw the look, deeper than lust. And almost reverential gaze. They knew she owned him.

“Now,” Janice said, turning, and gliding away from the group, her body slivering not unlike a snake.

“Boys,” he said standing, “gotta go.” Like a lost puppy, Martini licked his lips, adjusted his tie, and followed her. Soon it would be morning and they would all be watching for the news. But for now, it was the dead of night and in the cool of the evening, passion runs deep.

****

The darkness of the room surrendered under the soft glow from the candles; three small lights flickering in the darkness. Turning Janice looked at him, held the match to her lips and blew. The blaze resisted momentarily, then vanished. A small wisp of smoke hung in the air, then dissipated. Reaching behind her she tugged at the zipper. Charles heard the distorted fast clicking sound as she unzipped the dress. Pushing it from her shoulders, the black, slinky designer dress slid to the floor in a slow dance over her tight body. Charles reached for his crotch at the sight.

“No,” she ordered. “Sit on that stiff-backed chair, hands to your side.” Charles complied with great anticipation. His cock stood up in his pants, rock hard. “Music,” she said, “Something, slow and sensual.” A bluesy song began to play, and Janice’s hips began to sway as she reached up behind her and unfastened her bra, letting the strapless lingerie tumble down her tight curves to the floor. In a slow, relaxed manner, she moved toward him, hips rolling. She worked her panties over hips, sliding them down her legs. Stepping out of them she continued to her man.

Turning her back to him she descended to his lap, her ass against his crotch, rubbing him with her motion. He pushed his head back, and after a few moments, let out a long, deep moan.

“Oh, shit baby, I’m gonna lose it,” he said.

“Yeah, you are,” she said putting her hands on his to prevent him moving. “In your pants,” Janice ordered. The burst of semen soaked through his underwear, then the silk suit trousers. She sustained her movement until his cock finished convulsing and went limp. Standing she moved away from him, looking over her shoulder sternly. “You got spunk on my butt. Clean it,” she ordered, before lying face down on her bed.

Two hours later the couple lay together, spooning. Charles lay with his back to Janice, her arms wrapped around him. Her tongue ran around his ear as she whispered to him. He would answer her questions with, “Yeah, baby that sounds so fantastic.” Or, “Oh, you’re going to make me hard again.” He felt, more than heard the moment Janice turned cold toward him, asking the question that haunted her.

“Why didn’t you tell me,” she asked.

“Tell you what?”

“About the trap,” she said, her anger building inside her tight frame.

“I didn’t know…honest, he kept me out of this.”

“It was your idea to involve Hildegard,” she insisted.

“That was an act…I didn’t think he would bring that loon into the mix.”

“But he did,” Janice purred.

“Yeah, but he didn’t tell me had,” Charles admitted.

Biting his ear hard she drew blood, ignoring his quick exclamation. Pushing up, she reached down between his legs and tore at his crotch. She licked the blood from his ear while digging her fingernails in deep.

“I don’t want this if it isn’t connected to a real man,” she said. “We have waited long enough for Puma to do our work. I want you to kill him tonight.”

“Baby,” he protested.

“Do not argue with me, Charlie.” Janice wrapped her finger tighter around his manhood, digging her long nails into his tender flesh, “or I’ll rip it all off, and make you eat it.”

****

Bryson Hildegard stood at the urinal, dick in hand as the stream of piss tinkled into the bowl. As he shook his pecker, a sharp pain hit his back. A deep sting, akin to a bee attack. Letting out a small yelp in surprise, he turned his head, but only saw a man’s back as he exited the restroom.

“What the fuck?”

After washing his hands, he headed straight to his private plane. Sitting on the runway waiting for them to take off, his back smarted from the sting, while a warming sensation grew at the site. The guy in the restroom must have hit him by accident with something as he passed behind him. His stomach grew uneasy and his throat felt scratchy. Maybe he was coming down with something. By the time the plane reached altitude, he felt a churning deep inside his guts. Something wasn’t right.

“Crap,” he said to his personal flight attendant as he took the bourbon from her. “I think I got the damn flu.”

****

Checking the stitches, the doctor admired his handiwork on his hooded patient. He’d done as instructed, had not removed or even peeked under Puma’s head covering. He checked the wound on her left breast, then gingerly pressed on each of the injuries. No sign of infection. She should recover fast and could be on her feet in a day or so. Even so, it would be weeks before she could return to her nightly excursions.

“You need to refrain from any undue exercise for about two months,” he told her.

“Can’t,” she said. The doctor removed his hands from her body as she stared at him from under the small mask.

“You can,” he replied, “and you will be rewarded for your efforts.”

“Your services are no longer required,” she said, before rising, covering the pain it caused. Getting out of the bed she searched for clothing.

“You need more rest,” he insisted.

“Yes, I know, Doctor. But, despite that, I must show them I’m still alive. You may go.”

“Doctor, leave us,” Steven said. “I’ll see she doesn’t go back to her work too soon.” The doctor left the room, shaking his head as he exited. Pulling the mask off, she turned to Steven.

“Well, it would appear I have no secrets from you anymore.”

“I’m sorry,” he said.

“It’s okay,” she said pulling on the jeans he had gotten her, followed by the shirt.

“I’m nearly done with your new suit.”

“Good, I need to find the bastard that did this,” she said.

“I dealt with him,” Steven admitted. “It’s been four days. If he is still alive, he’ll be hanging by a thread and in great agony.”

“How?”

“I injected him with Ricin,” he told her.

“You did that?”

“Yeah, they hurt you. I told you I can help.”

“Well, that’s ruthless. I had no idea you were capable of such a callous act.”

“I have my moments,” Steven told her. “I had to act quick. He was on his way out of town.”

“I guess,” Shawanda said, “We need to be pitiless in our quest. I just never thought you had that type of vengefulness in you,” Puma said.

“They already suspect you aren’t dead.”

“And I’ll prove their suspicions soon enough,” she told him as she zipped up her jeans.

“Well, now we are handicapped.”

“What happened?” Shawanda said sinking into the chair behind her.

“According to one of our spies…”

****

“Welcome, everyone. Black Puma was removed from the rubble during the night. I don’t know if she was alive or dead. I fear alive,” Griggs admitted. “Even so, she’s got to be fucked up but good,” everyone erupted into applause and laughter.

“The reason I have asked you here is to place credit where it is due.” Jason Griggs walked around the room, stopping behind his seated sister. “For some time, I have suspected that this cat, this Puma woman had an accomplice in our organization.” As he spoke, three men brought in a member of the crew, bound tightly in ropes. He struggled in a futile attempt at escape, throwing a look of sheer terror toward Janice, throwing her off guard. He was a friend. A man, hardly more than a boy, whom she had used to get the message out when it wasn’t safe for her to talk.

“Hard to believe a kid like this can cause so much trouble,” Griggs told the gathering, approaching the young man as his men held him still. “You’ve been a bad boy, Rico,” Griggs told him. Holding a knife to the boy’s throat, his intent to slash it obvious, he paused. “Hey sis, you want to do the honors?” he turned to her, holding the knife out for her. She stood, taking two steps toward her brother. Reaching for the knife, her brother grabbed her wrist and twisted her around, pulling her to him in one swift, harsh move. The knife went to her throat.

Jumping to his feet at the sight, Charles reached inside his coat pocket, but Grigg’s other men were quicker, grabbing him and holding him by his arms. In an instant, one took Charles own gun from its holster, pressed the barrel to Charles’s forehead between the man’s wild eyes, and pulled the trigger. Traveling through Charles’s head, the bullet sprayed blood and brains all over the wall and the face of the man holding him, passing by his ear, it impacted in the wall behind them.

“See what you have done, Sis?” Griggs asked. “You have killed not only this boy, but Charles, your lover. And you! Now I must admit, killing you is difficult, terribly hard,” his hand wavered for a moment, as Janice stared at him in horror. “But, ever so necessary.” In one clean slice, he slashed the blade across her throat, spilling out her life’s blood down her white blouse. Letting her go, Janice Griggs dropped to her knees, clutching at the rip in her neck as warm blood poured everywhere.

Crawling away from her brother, the blood gushing between her fingers, she was unable to make a sound through her ruined larynx. Her limbs twitched as the blood flooded away from her across the floor. Falling face first into the pool of sticky blood, she lay as her body jerked uncontrollably in its death throes. Soon, the convulsions ceased as the blood covered the floor around her, spreading toward the stunned onlookers. They moved back, one step at a time, as the blood neared them.

Barely giving his dead sister another look, Griggs turned to the terrified boy, stabbing the blade into his torso repeatedly. The boy’s screams were soon silenced as more and more holes pierced his body, finally puncturing his heart. As his heart beat its last, the men dropped his tied form to the floor. Griggs turned around the room and faced his employees, covered in blood, still holding the dripping blade. Looking at them one by one, studying their faces, he reveled in the terror and shock in their eyes.

“You’re all scared of me. That’s good, you should be. There is nothing to fear from Puma. She’s one of the good guys. I, on the other hand, will cut your heart out and eat it as you watch me with your dying eyes.” He paused, letting his words sink in. “No more information leaks out of this place, or you’ll be joining these three on the floor. If that bitch is alive, I’ll kill her myself. If you rat on me, I won’t hesitate to kill you. Are we clear on this, people?” A few nodded. Most stood stock still. He surveyed the bloody corpses around him. “You think this was messy? Cross me, and this will be like a Sunday school picnic. Got it?” More nodded slowly at his words. Satisfied, he sauntered to the exit, bypassing the blood pools. Stopping, he turned back to the room.

“Now, get to work and make me money,” he shouted at them. He strode down the halls to the elevator, before descending to the bowels of his lair. Into his office, he marched, flinging the knife into the wall where it embedded in a dull thud.

Dropping on his knees, he pulled his blood-soaked hands to his face and wept bitter tears. He felt his sister’s anguish. He had experienced her pain. He had known she was the one betraying him for months.

Even so, to kill one’s twin—was to kill one’s self.

****

The two women watched as Bryson Hildegard lay dying in his bed, as Lucinda attended to his every need. The rattle in his throat had started hours before. The end was near, and both women knew it. He gazed at his mistress, pleading with his eyes. Tatyana observed his torture with an odd excitement, anticipating, almost enjoying, his painful death. Moving to him, she knelt next to his bed.

“Does it hurt, my love?” she asked, her voice ripe with anticipation.

“Yes, you must be…in ecstasy,” he croaked, managing that even through the pain.

“Da, I’m sorry, I can’t put you out of misery. I just can’t do that. But I promise, someone will pay,” she told him.

“I don’t … know how…but…it’s…Pu…ma,” he said. His eyes beheld her, the last person he saw on this earth, then they glassed over as his final breath left his body. Touching his eyelids, she closed them, then kissed his cheek.

“We need to head there,” Lucinda began to cry, “right after the funeral.”

“Nyet,” Tatyana said.

“Why?” Lucinda asked.

“All things in their own time,” Tatyana said. “Do not touch him. It might not be safe, and I’m not ready for you to die. Not yet anyway,” she said, cold and hard to the other woman. Standing, she moved to the door of the room.

“You kissed him,” Lucinda said.

“Da, his pain was too beautiful for me not to acknowledge it,” touching her lips, Tatyana wondered, or perhaps worried for a moment.

“Should we call someone?” Lucinda asked, at a loss what to do.

“Nyet, I have needs,” she said wagging a finger. “Come satisfy them.”

“But Bryson is dead,” Lucinda insisted.

“Da, and he not coming back. Remember our deal, You’re my slave. Now let’s go to my room.” Tatyana moved her hands over her body as she stared at the other woman.

****

“What have you found out Mr. Shui?” Griggs asked. He paced around the office murmuring something so quiet it was inaudible.

“Little,” Shui said, his hands folding together in front of his face, sitting comfortably in the armchair.

“I didn’t bring you from China to find out little or nothing,” Jason snapped at him.

“I didn’t say I found out nothing,” Shui replied. “She’s alive and recovering,” Shui told him.

“Where?”

“If I knew that, she’d be dead already,” Shui told him. “I have ensured she will return soon. I killed the last of her masked collaborators an hour ago,” he looked at his watch, “By now she is aware that her cubbies are all dead. I have a spy of my own, and it will tell us when she returns.”

“Are you sure?” Griggs asked, before continuing his incoherent, paranoid mutterings.

“Yes,” he said, “Puma can’t send a text or talk on the phone and me not know about it. I will know all we need to know,” Shui told him.

“She killed my sister,” Griggs said in an absent voice while he played with the large knife he used to slit his sister’s throat.

“I heard you did that,” Shui said.

“Well, yes, but she made me do it,” Jason said. “That bitch turned my sister against me. She got Bryson Hildegard also. I can’t believe I paid him the full amount before I knew she was dead. Even so, she got him.” His tone darkened. “If you don’t kill her, I’m dead, you’re dead, my men are dead, the whores will be running the show, and she’ll be the boss. That’s what this is all about. She wants to destroy me and make herself the boss of bosses. You just can’t trust anyone; everyone is out to be the boss.” He took a long draw from the bottle in his hand before resting the bottle on his desk, looking at Shui with an odd smile.

“Shit man, she gets everyone. You’ll be no different. My God, she survived that damn explosion. Turned two city blocks and eight buildings, no wait, nine buildings, into tons of rubble and the fucking bitch survived.”

“Yes. But now I will get her,” Shui said.

“Yeah, you’ll get her. Sure, you will. What good does that do me? I still have my sister blood on my hands. See it?” he said, turning his palms toward the man then showing the back of his blistered pink hands. “Won’t come off. I scrub and scrub, and it won’t fucking come off. See it?”

Shui didn’t see any blood, but instead saw an opportunity. Griggs mind was slipping. And if it slipped away from him in dribs and drabs, he could find a way in. Shui could take over the operation himself. But first, he would deal with the Black Puma. After that, well, Griggs was teetering on the brink already. Let nature take its course, or in this case, insanity take its course, and it would just be a matter of showing Griggs he was the new boss.

Picking up the bottle again, Griggs stood and walked around the room in a nervous frenzy. His bodyguard watched him, as if wondering what new screw was about to fall from his head. “She caused my sister’s death. There must be a reckoning.” Griggs said, as he drank down a copious amount of Scotch straight from the bottle, then turned to Shui. “Are you sure you’re up for that? You’re not a big guy,” Griggs observed.

“My body armor is as effective as hers. Once we’re through with the guns it comes down to these,” he said, holding a hand up and clenching it into a fist. “No one has ever beaten me.”

“But you’re not very big,” Griggs repeated. “Hell, she pounded the biggest, baddest, strongest guy I have ever known to a bloody pulp and then castrated him.”

“I hope you’re not fond of this man,” Shui replied, turning to a messenger standing beside Grigg’s personal bodyguard. Shui Ki bowed to the messenger.

“Sorry,” was all he said, before with one swift blow, he struck the man in the center of his chest. A loud snap filled the room as Shui’s hand punched through the sternum and then back, breaking the bone and leaving a bleeding wound in the man’s chest. Startled and in agony, the messenger crumpled to the floor, gasping for breath as blood flowed from the wound.

“Wow,” Griggs said.

“I burst his heart,” Shui told him. “He’s dead already, he just doesn’t know it yet.”

“Yeah, maybe. You know what Mr. Shui?”

“What?” Shui asked.

“I need a fuck,” he said, picking up the phone.

****

A mile from Shabby Heights the alarm inside a pawn shop blared. Three men moved out of the building, leaving the alarm howling in their wake. Moving with a sense of urgency, they loaded the bounty of guns and money in the trunk of a Cadillac, anxious to return to the safety of Shabby Heights.

“Boys,” a smooth, silken voice said. “Aren’t we naughty little boys tonight?”

The leader turned in surprise toward the woman’s voice. Dropping his bounty, he reached inside his coat but was too slow as her fist crashed into his chin, dropping him to the ground. She moved past the fallen man, kicking the next man in his stomach. With the second goon on the ground, she planted her foot, spun, and struck the third man’s chin with her boot. He tumbled to the ground, out cold. With the three men on the ground, Puma got to work, and was gone before the Police arrived.

As the prowl car pulled up, lights flashing, the two police officers exited the car. One officer pushed his hat up, surveying the scene. One man howled in pain, blood all over his crotch as he writhed on the ground, hands bound behind his back.

“She cut them off!” he screamed.

The other two men were still unconscious, their hands also bound behind their backs.

“Well, well,” the sergeant said, “she’s back. She’ll make them pay for those cop’s deaths now.”

“Yeah,” the other officer agreed, then smiled and hoped she got a dozen or more that night. “Puma’s back.”

“There’ll be hell to pay in Shabby Heights tonight.”