Troubled Nights Ch. 02byDaniellekitten©
The alley's quiet was shattered by the crash of trash can lids.
A small girl, her blonde hair tied back with a ragged red ribbon, held out her hands, squatting down on her thin legs as she looked behind the battered tin cans. "Bubba? Come here kitty, kitty." Her little voice was sing song high as she peered into the shadows. Her clothing was just as ragged, tattered dress barely covering her thighs, a ratty coat covering bony arms. "Bubba? Where are you, kitty?"
"Does she belong to you?"
The little girl twirled so quickly around she almost fell and caught her balance against one can. Her eyes were huge in a thin, pale face as she stared at the small red haired woman in gray leather who held the tiny orange kitten she'd been hunting for.
She nodded, uncertainly, afraid to speak. Rayne held the kitten out to her, pulling her back for a moment when the little girl stepped forward.
"Do you live around here?"
"My...my momma said I shouldn't talk to strangers, lady." She eyed the pretty woman holding her pet, leery but wanting her kitten back. "Can I have Bubba?"
"This is Bubba?" Rayne stroked the soft orange fur, listening as the kitten started a deep rusty purr. "She doesn't look much like a Bubba to me, she's much too pretty. More like a ..." she watched the little girl carefully, "Lily, maybe?"
"That's my name," the little girl smiled coming closer and losing some of her wariness. "You think it's a pretty name?"
"Oh yes," Rayne said, finally handing over the kitten to her tiny owner. "Very pretty. And so are you."
Lily cuddled the kitten in her thin arms. "Who are you?"
"My name is Rayne, Lily." She squatted down, getting closer to the little girl's level. "You shouldn't be out by yourself this late at night, honey. Where's your momma at?"
The little girl turned and pointed behind her. "She's down there. We got us a box and a sleeping bag," she said proudly.
It almost broke Rayne's heart, hearing that this little scamp lived in a box with her mother. "Wow," she managed to say.
"Yeah, and my momma's gotta job for tomorrow. She said that if I'm good and stay in the box while she's gone, she'll buy peanut butter for me."
How do you respond to something so sad? But at least there was something she could do. Rayne's head tilted, her ears tuned in. She smiled again and turned the little girl around. "Your momma's calling you. Is her name Tammy?"
Lily nodded, looking down the alley where she could see the shadowed figure of her mother.
"Okay, Lilly. I need you to do me a favor." She waited until she had the child's attention. "Can you give this envelope to your momma? You've gotta be a big girl and not lose it though." She handed the thick envelope to the little girl and then gave her a gentle push in the direction of the worried parent.
Lily ran, the white envelope clutched in one grimy fist, her other hand curled carefully around the orange kitten who's head bobbed with her every step. "I'm here, momma. I'm here," the tiny girl said, holding the envelope out to the drawn, worn looking woman who stood with one hand at her throat.
She took the envelope automatically, not glancing at it as she crouched down to her daughter's level. "Baby, you know after dark you have to stay close to me. Those men, the bad ones? They're out at night, baby. You scared momma." She hugged the little girl, careful of the tiny kitten that purred and curled deeper into the child's embrace.
"I saw a pretty lady, momma. She told me to bring that envelope to you and helped me find Bubba cause he runned away again."
Her mother glanced down at the envelope, noting her name upon the now grimy surface. She pealed back the flap with all the care of a woman opening a package of scorpions and looked inside.
"Oh!" she gasped, staring down at the thick stack of green bills. She pulled a few out with shaking hands, unbelieving what she was seeing. "Who gave you this, Lily? Where's the lady?"
Lily pointed behind her then turned to look at the empty alley. "She was back there, momma. She was real pretty. And real nice."
Tammy stared down at her daughter and then back up the alley, guilt telling her she should find the "pretty and nice lady" and return the money to her. She ran a finger through it, mentally counting the bills and calculating quickly in her head. With what was in there and what little she'd been able to save from the few jobs she'd managed to pick up, Lily and her could buy bus tickets back home to Michigan and leave the Big Apple behind. There would even be enough left to start them over somewhere, back home, with an apartment.
Quickly making her decision, she turned, glancing behind her once and took Lily's hand, leading her away from the filth of the alley that had been her playground for years. With tears in her eyes, of thanksgiving, she headed towards the box that had been their home for the last few months to wrap up what few possessions they'd been able to keep. They were going home.
Rayne stepped quickly from the shadows she'd concealed herself in, feeling a warm glow settle inside of her. One more debt paid, one more off the list of burdens she felt. This money for Tammy and Lily had been hard won, taking more time then the last. The street people were becoming more aware of her activities, the "marks" not quite as susceptible or easy to spot. And Tony was becoming a menace.
Tony Delgato was a shark in more ways then one. He had his fingers in most of the illegal activities in this end of the city, from real estate scams to money laundering, drugs to prostitution, Tony hadn't found a business yet that he didn't enjoy. As long as it wasn't quite on the up and up that is. Even half of the cops on the beat were in his back pocket.
He was a big man, with a huge belly that he covered in cheap knock offs of the expensive designers. Dark hair that was always slicked back with hair oil from out of the fifties, he had a baby face that he tried to toughen up with a pencil thin mustache. His pudgy, doughy cheeks almost hid brown eyes that shone with lust whenever money was involved with what he was doing. Thick lips smiled when he heard the screams of the people who were late on their "payments" as they were reminded forcibly that Tony was not someone to ignore.
Rayne had seen him more than once. She'd even been close enough to smell the over powering stench of the cologne he used to cover up his strong body odor that came from too much garlic and too little washing.
He held on to his empire, not only through the money that he made illegally, but because of the loyalty of one man. Jeff Gantry, known more by his street name of Angel. He wasn't called Angel because of his blonde hair and blue eyes and almost eerie good looks, but because those who saw him perform Tony's orders say he acted with the icy calm of a Dark Angel of death. The name stuck.
Rayne had crossed the big man too many times for him to ignore. Could she help it that one of the people she'd been moved to "finance" their way out of the hell their lives had become was Tony's best pony and favorite punching bag? Was it her fault that the girl had wanted out of the nightmare of her existence to the point she was willing to do almost anything to get away from him, including taking the money that Rayne had stolen, buying herself a bus ticket and getting the fuck out of Dodge?
The girl had been terrified, jumping at every shadow. And Rayne had stayed with her during it all, finally loading her on the bus and watching as it pulled away from the curve. She'd gotten a Christmas card from her, postmarked from somewhere in Oregon, no return address. The girl was getting married and blessed Rayne for her help.
She grinned, cockiness showing in her attitude and the glint in her stormy gray eyes as she thought of how she had thwarted Tony then. She turned up the alley to head to the park, thinking about stopping at a coffee shop along the way. A good jolt of caffeine to wake her and she'd be ready for the rest of the night's adventures.
Two figures stood just outside of the glow of the street light, their hulking forms shadowed against that beam. Rayne stopped, bending quickly to yank her butterfly knife from it's sheath at her ankle. She hadn't heard them. The thought scared her. She'd gotten sloppy enough that she hadn't heard them coming.
"Come on, bitch. Tony wants to see you." The bigger of the two stepped forward, his hand held out to grab Rayne's shoulder.
Her thumb loosened the clasp at the bottom of the handle and with a quick flip, she had the blade out and slid it easily through the leather covering the man's arm, slicing into flesh. He jumped back, and Rayne crouched, keeping both men in her eyesight as she prepared to fight. "I ain't coming that easy. Tony can go fuck himself."
The men circled her, making it more difficult for her to keep an eye on them. One would make a move, reaching out and jumping back just as quickly as the silver blade flashed in the dim glow of the street lamps. They were playing with her, she knew it, they knew it. And when it got serious, should could be in for some trouble.
Tony had never sent two after her before. He'd always been confident that one man could handle the petite beauty in leather who was haunting his streets. She'd always managed to evade or fight her way out of any confrontation. But with these two, she knew Tony was getting serious.
"Are you guys through fucking around yet?" she taunted, flipping her knife around to try to lure them in. If she could hurt one bad enough, she might have a chance. "I ain't got all night, you know."
"Yeah, we've heard what you've been doing. Tony's been getting complaints. Your robbing his patrons and causing him loss of revenue, little girl." The big man with the blood slipping down his arm chuckled evilly. "He and Angel ain't happy. Especially that Angel."
"How nice for him. Maybe he just needs to get laid." Rayne kept her gaze steady even though mention of Angel made her nervous. She couldn't let them get to her, she couldn't let them get the upper...what?
She felt the nudge, a slight shift of consciousness and cursed roundly. Not now! She fought it, even as she tried to keep her eyes on the two men. Oh, God, not now. She felt herself fading.
Tara stared down at the blade she held in her hand. It had blood on it, looking black in the dim light of the alley. She looked up in confusion at the two men standing one in front of her, the other behind her and just off to the side. She could see blood running in rivulets down the arm of the bigger of the two to drip on the ground.
"What?" Confusion creased her fine features as she tried to figure out where she was. Fear erupted in her stomach. She'd done it again, she'd left her apartment and this time, she'd hurt someone.
The knife slipped almost unnoticed from her hand, clattering loudly to the cement. She looked down at the noise and noticed her outfit, the tight gray leather that fit like a second skin, the gray leather half boots with the sharp pointed toe that seemed made for her feet. Even the three inch heel was comfortable.
"What am I doing here?" she muttered to herself then screamed as one of the men jumped forward and grabbed her.
He wrapped her in his arms, holding her back to his front. She was pinioned against him, unable to move from the waist up, her arms trapped to her sides. "What are you doing? Stop it! Help!"
"Fuck, I thought this bitch was supposed to be tough." The man laughed over her head as the other one bent over to pick up the knife, flipping it closed before shoving it in his pocket. He walked up to Tara, slapping her across the cheek just hard enough to get her attention.
"Shut up, bitch. No one gives a shit, this is Tony's territory. Ain't no one gonna help you here."
Tears streamed down her cheeks as she stared at the man in front of her. The last thing she remembered was giving Chance a hug and then going into her room and climbing into bed. She'd felt safe for the first time in weeks because she'd known he'd watch over her.
As if thinking about him had conjured him up, she heard a bellow, her name being hollered loudly and then saw him rushing toward her.
"Let her go," he yelled.
Tara was held tightly and she screamed when she saw the man in front of her turn, his hand coming up, a gun held steadily and aimed at Chance. "No!" she shrieked, kicking her heels into the shins of the man holding her.
Chance stopped, staring warily at the gun.
"You don't want a piece of this, man. Just turn around and walk away. Our boss just wants to talk to the lady and then she'll be home."
"Tara?" Chance glanced away from the gun to where she now hung limply in the second man's arms. She was unconscious. The man holding her shifted his grasp, letting up a little on the pressure he had on her body, allowing her to slump in his arms.
"She's fainted," he laughed.
He loosened his grip just enough. Rayne kicked her leg forward catching the man with the gun in the wrist with the pointed tip of her boot. The gun went flying, skidding behind a dumpster full of smelly garbage bags. Before he even had a chance to bellow, she threw her head back, catching the man holding her in the nose with the top of her head. She felt the cartilage break with a satisfying crunch before he dropped her.
"Get out of here!" she shouted to Chance, throwing her body around in a spin kick that took the first man in the chin. He flew backwards but stayed on his feet. She backed up, putting herself between the two men and Chance. "I want my knife back," she growled to the man holding his nose.
He looked up, blood pouring over his mouth from his busted nose. A sick, sadistically twisted smile grew beneath the trails of red. "Come and get it, bitch."
Rayne couldn't even glance back to see if Chance had done as she had told him and run. She knew she could take one of these two, and with a little bit of luck, both. But not if she had to worry about what he was doing. She knew Chance, had seen him the few times she'd been able to push Tara aside. But she didn't know what he would be like in a fight, especially one destined to be unfair, if she knew Tony's goons.
The attack came quickly, as she had expected. He rushed her and she pushed herself backwards, timing her back flip so that as she kicked her feet up, they caught him in the jaw, knocking his head back and sending him flying. He hit the dumpster hard enough to leave a small dent, sinking down against it as his head connected solidly.
As she crouched to get into position for the next guy, she heard the thwack of a fist connecting against flesh and a grunt. Startled, she looked up and saw Chance, his fist bloody, standing over the first man. With both of them down, she bent quickly and took her knife back from where she'd seem him stash it in his pocket, then kicked him solidly in the ribs.
"Tell Tony he can go to hell. He ain't scaring me out of here."
Then she grabbed Chance's hand and pulled as she started out of the alley. "Come on," she yelled. "We don't want to be anywhere around here when they get up."
They raced down the street, Chance amazed at Tara's speed.
She wove her way around the few people still on the streets at this early hour and then ducked down another dark alley, pushing him against a brick wall next to another green stained and dented dumpster.
The force of her push knocked the breath from his lungs. Tara was a tiny thing, he didn't think she knew the things that he'd seen her do tonight, or was capable of taking down a man the size of the ones she'd fought with him. He knew if he hadn't been there, she probably could have handled the other one just the way she'd done the first.
"Tara, what's gotten into you?" he asked, panting as he caught his breath.
"My name's not Tara, it's Rayne." She pushed her hair away from her face, flipped out the blade on her knife and cleaned it with a corner of someone's old tablecloth that was still relatively clean in the dumpster. She knew before morning that it would end up being used as a blanket, or even as a door on someone's new home, a box or a crate that was scavenged from somewhere else. It was the way of the streets. Looking out towards the streets, she kept an eye out for pursuit.
"Rayne? Tara, what the hell are you talking about? I've followed you most of the night until you lost me about ten minutes before I caught up with you again."
Rayne turned, ready to lay into the man until she saw the blood on his hands. He'd gotten himself hurt trying to help her. "Let me see those," she said, moving closer to grab his hands, holding them up to the light to see if she could find where he was cut. "That's a lot of blood."
"It's his. I hit him in the nose you'd already broke." He reached out and took her shoulders, holding her attention. "Tara, you've got to let me help you. What have you gotten yourself into?"
She sighed deeply, an amazing feat to watch as her breasts almost overflowed the tight neckline of her vest. "My name is Rayne. Tara's a wimp who can't handle breathing on her own. I'm surprised a man like you hasn't seen that." She shrugged his hands off her shoulders, stepping a little closer and pushing him back against the wall again with one hand on his chest. "She's never tried anything with you, has she? Even though I know she wants to."
Chance stared down at this woman. He could smell her scent, a light spicy fragrance enhanced by the slight sheen of sweat that covered her skin. The leather of her vest brushed smoothly against the soft fabric of his shirt, the contact erotic in its simplicity.
"She wants to?" So many things were whirling in his head, including the heated pulse of desire that was trying to blot out all others. Maybe Tara was playing these games to get his attention.
Her hands slid up his chest, one foot kicked his feet slightly apart so she could step even closer. She wound her slim fingers through his damp hair, pulling his head down and lifting further on her toes to meet his mouth.
There was nothing innocent, sweet, or naïve about this kiss. It was not about firsts, it was about heat and passion. She twisted her lips against his in a move meant to enflame his already overloaded senses.
She heard him moan and laughed wickedly, felt him tremble under her fingers and her desire soared. His tongue pushed into her mouth and she met it gladly, dueling with it until his hands grabbed her waist, flipping her around so that she was pressed between the wall and his hard body.
Her feet came off the ground and she wrapped them around his waist, her legs hugging his hips and letting him support her weight. Chance's mouth devoured hers, then left it abruptly, using one hand to pull her head to the side. His lips blazed a heated trail down her neck, his teeth nipping against the taut flesh. He licked at the tiny drops of sweat gathered along her collarbone, tasting the salty sweetness of her. Her scent, the taste of her, the way she felt wrapped around him was almost too much to bear.
"Tara," he groaned against her skin, his hands searching out and slipping loose the buttons of the vest until her breasts tumbled free. He lifted her higher then gathered the rounded globes in his hands, his eyes avid upon their beauty. Her nipples were rosy and firm, standing out from her pale breasts as if begging for his lips. "Oh, God, Tara, you're so beautiful."
She felt his mouth wrap wetly around one taut tip before his words cleared her consciousness. The pleasure he sent soaring through her was almost enough to cause her to ignore the name that she so despised, almost.
Rayne fought her way free, feeling a strange, perverse need to cry as his mouth let loose of her flesh. She dropped her legs and pushed him back, her hands automatically coming to the buttons of her vest and covering herself with gray leather once more.