Delicate Touch

Chapter 10

Hung was really getting tired of abandoned warehouses. But she had to admit that for a criminal on the run, an abandoned warehouse usually couldn't be beat.

She sat alone in the driver's seat of the rental car. The dashboard clock read 8:53.

Hung's stomach was in knots. Any time she'd ever seen action, she had felt only an adrenaline rush, a knowledge that she was really good at what she did and that she was putting bad people away. But now it was personal, and she was a mess inside. She took deep breaths, forcing herself to remain calm.

She wanted a cigarette so badly. But it felt so wrong to light one up while the woman who wanted her to quit was in such terrible danger.

For about the tenth time, she picked up Sue's camera and thumbed the menu back to the other video she had found on it. She knew she really shouldn't, because all it accomplished was to shred her heart all over again, and she needed to focus. But she also needed something to do while the minutes dragged by, and she couldn't help herself.

She pressed "Play," fast-forwarded a few seconds, and pressed "Play" again.

"Today's the one-month anniversary of moving in with Hung. It's mostly been pretty smooth. I've got Hung on these special herbal cigarettes to help her kick the habit. We haven't had a real argument about that yet, but it's coming. Except for the cigarettes, I think we're okay. It's just...I don't know...Hung isn't a very emotional person. Or maybe she is, but she thinks showing it is a weakness. There's a side of her that's afraid of letting emotion show, or she's embarrassed by it. It definitely makes her feel uncomfortable. And because of that, I'm so afraid to show my own emotions around her. I don't want to say or do anything sweet or sentimental, because I'm scared she'll feel contempt for me and push me away. I guess when you become so close to someone who's that scared of emotion, you have to hold them with a delicate touch. She hasn't actually said, 'I love you,' yet. I think she's afraid to. I really wish she would."

Hung stopped the playback. She took a deep breath, set the camera aside, and wiped away a tear.

She wanted to play the video again. This time, she forced herself not to. She closed her eyes. Focus.

Her eyes drifted open. It was 8:57.

She got out of the car and started walking.


Xiao Huang He stomped out another cigarette. "Lady, you are one crazy bitch," he said.

"My money's just as good as any sane person's, so what's it to you?" Mu Jing asked.

"You said this was a kidnap and ransom, but it's actually about revenge. You want a fight. You want to go out in a blaze of glory."

Mu Jing lifted her chin. "Is that a problem?"

"Goddamn right it's a problem! Me and my boys signed on for a kidnap job! You didn't say anything about murdering a cop!"

Chang folded his arms. He tried to seem casual about it, but it was painfully obvious he was putting his right hand near his gun. Alex looked on with apparent disinterest.

Mu Jing walked up to Xiao and stuck her face in his. "I needed men to help me guard this bitch and keep me safe while I take out her girlfriend. You and your men are common street thugs, and taking money and following orders are what you do best, and I'm paying you very well. So if you want to see the second half of your fee, I suggest you shut the hell up and do as you're told."

"All the money in the world don't bring a person back from the dead," Xiao sneered. "You wanna play suicide by cop, that's your business, but don't make it ours."

"Oh, yeah? And who says I'm gonna lose?"

Xiao didn't answer.

"I'd have thought you'd be thrilled to kill a cop," she continued.

"I'm thrilled when the people I do business with tell the truth."

"Look, lamebrain, it's not that big a deal. The cop shows up, we kill her, we kill her girlfriend, you get paid, and we all live happily ever after."

Xiao looked at her appraisingly, then finally said, "All right, crazy bitch. We'll fight for you. But we are not gonna die for you. You got that?"

"That's all I need."

Two gang members entered the warehouse. "She's here," one of them said.

"Is she alone?" Mu Jing asked.

They nodded.

Mu Jing turned around, a smile on her face. "Positions, everyone. It's showtime."

Chapter 9 Chapter 11

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