You know that feeling when you know something is off but you just can put your finger on it? Thats exactly the feeling Louella had as she ended the voicemail for the umpteenth time that day. She knew this happened a lot but why did this time feel so different?

Well, you can brood on stuff you don know the answer to, she decides and shoves it out of her mind, for the time being, she can create any number of scenarios to explain the silence later. At the moment she needed to get going or stand the risk of a full-on temper tantrum.

Louella is a beautiful half-caste woman. Long curly brownish black hair, light hazel brown eyes, averagely tall and curvy in all the right places, she has men swooning after her even though she doesn know it. She pulled on knee-high boots and an overcoat and headed into the bright afternoon.

She was going to see her close friend Terra.

As she left the hotel, she switched on her google maps, since she doesn live here her guess is as good as yours which way is north and which is south, so why not let google do the work for her?

Engrossed in her maps and in getting where she needs to go, but not oblivious to the area around her, she jumped suddenly and stared around.

There was nothing abnormal about her immediate surroundings. The only things that had passed her were a man and someones dog. She shrugged and continued walking.

She got to Terras soon enough to avoid a tantrum. She was visiting Terra and her boyfriend, so it was bound to be awkward, luckily, she came prepared with a bunch of movies.

”Louella! Im so glad you made it! ”, she yelled hugging her friend half to death. Her boyfriend came up behind her. He was handsome, she could give him that. She smiled politely at her.

”Good afternoon Louella. Im James, pleasant to meet you ”, he said stretching out his hand

She took it and grinned, ”same can be said for you James ”

After she got settled on one of the big couches, she turned to him and said, ”So what exactly do you do for a living? ”,

”You know, whatever puts food on the table ”

Louella just nodded. But she didn push further.

A little later they began watching the movies. About halfway through James stood up and went into the kitchen. A little later, Louella, gathered their cups and went to refill them.

”…just send me their location and Ill kill them as soon as possible ”

She stopped dead. Listening hard.

”Look I understand, just send their locations already ”, he snapped into the phone.

She sensed he was about to put down the phone so she quickly backtracked and came in again. Making a whole lot more noise than before, he looked up phone still in hand.

”Oh, I forgot you were here. Terra asked me to bring refills ”, she said with a false grin.

He narrowed his eyes at her briefly, ”Right… excuse me ”, and he went back to the living room.

An hour later James rushed out leaving the two ladies to their own devices. Louella broached the topic of his employment again.

”What did you say he does? ”, she asked

Terra giggled, ”Hes always so secretive about that! ”

”So, you don know how he gets money for…all this? ”

”Oh, you know boys! ”, Terra laughed and Louella joined in, halfheartedly.

Not long after that, she leaves too.

Louella ended up deeper in thought than she was when she came. First the thing with her mother and now she believes her friends boyfriend is a potential killer! Her line of occupations leads her to believe there is no such thing as a coincidence.

Suddenly jerking back into the now, she looks around her. The light of day is fading and she is one of the few people left out on the normally busy streets. Looking around her she took into account two couples, a lone man and a street vendor closing up for the day. The two couples were laughing and talking with their significant other, the vendor had his ears plugged into the radio, but the lone man was just…walking.

It shouldn have seemed odd but it did. Coupled with the feeling she had seen him somewhere before. She couldn shake it off. He was rather tall, with his hands in his pockets and his jacket slung over his shoulders. A minute later she turned around and continued to her hotel.

The next day, Louella ventured out a little earlier than was normal. Dressed casually in a simple blue t-shirt tied over her stomach, a pair of blue flare jeans, and, her favorite gladiator boots and blue headband, she walked to the nearest coffee shop, determined to bury her work senses and enjoy herself this morning. After all, she was on holiday.

Upon entering the coffee shop, the first thing that caught her eye was the man at the counter. She could have sworn he was the same one who bumped her yesterday. She stood a minute to take in his features. Averagely tall, slightly hunched fit for his age, yes it was the same man. pushing aside assumptions, she took her place at the counter.

”Good morning ”, she greeted easily.

”Mhm ”, was his only response and then he hurried out. Odd.

Louella took her coffee to go as well as a yummy-looking doughnut, all inside one bag. She was on her way back to the hotel when she turned right back around and walked back up the street, headed for a café right after the coffee shop she just left.

She walked up to a man seated reading a newspaper on a table for two. She sat opposite him a scowl on her face.

”I know you
e following me ”, she said

He looked up at her then and she lost her train of thought for a minute, he was damned handsome. His face was a solid diamond shape with invitingly high cheekbones, complemented by thin lips and deep-set round eyes which were a beautiful Frisco gray. His hair was the perfect shade of champagne brown. He had on a black turtle neck and a similarly colored jacket slung over his shoulders, the same as yesterday. Louella squared her jaw and focused on his forehead.

”Do I know you? ”, the man said slowly. His voice was deep and clear, like a warning would sound.

”I said; I know you
e following me ”, she repeated.

”I heard you the first time ”, he said dismissively lowering his eyes back to his newspaper

”Why are you following me? ”, she asked

”I don remember saying I was following you ”, he replied vaguely

”I saw you ”, she paused as he looked up, ”Day before last; you were in a store, about sixty feet from me. I saw you yesterday too, twice for that matter. And now Im seeing you again. Tell me exactly how are you not following m? ”, she hissed leaning across the table.

”You sound like you sprung a leak. You should go take a look at that ”

”I didn spring a leak! You know Im right! ”

”No, I mean you should go ”

Louella glares at him for a while longer but she doesn seem interested or doesn just care enough and continues to read his newspaper. Defeated she stood up and walked away. Even as she walked away, she could feel his eyes on her back.

Proof. He just needed a little bit more proof. Standing up he took out his little black notepad and wrote down;

A suspicious person is seemingly involved with the target. Suspect under review.

It was tiring to set up false leads just to gain evidence of association. But it needs to be done, Gawd knows he was just itching for a kill.

What confuses him, however, is the pattern. Work- hotel- coffee place- hotel, repeat. The only interesting thing about this case was the reaction of the target every time the suspect walked by. While thinking of what scenario he could create next for them to cross paths, he looks down at the table he was seated on and smirks. Scenario found.

The suspect had left her breakfast bag after interrogating him. How annoying of her to come to him directly, but in the end, her useless questioning proved useful, for him anyway.

He grabbed the bag and walked away choosing the next street over to examine its contents. One hot coffee, black, and one plain doughnut. The woman is even simpler than she appears. Finally, he finds what he was looking for, the receipt with her address written. He had already ascertained she was staying at the hotel, this only confirmed it. The same hotel in fact that the Midnight Murderer is always lodged at. Coincidence? Not likely.

Only requiring a little manipulation on his side, he deposits the bag with the wrong room number in front of the targets door. This should be interesting. He tapped into the hotel cameras to watch the progress of events.

As expected, the Murderer takes the bag to the right room, presumably to keep his cover as an ordinary citizen. When he gets to the room and she opens the door, he freezes for a whole two seconds. Too long to be normal, Murderer. He hurriedly thrusts the bag into her arms and doesn even wait for her to finish saying hank you before he hurried away.

Waiting for her reaction, he zooms in on her face expecting to see fear or confusion. What he doesn expect is for her to suddenly look up around her, as if searching for something. Finally, she zeroed in on the camera and walked up to it, glaring pointedly at it. Not daring to move the camera again he waited, when she was done, she walked away as if nothing happened and threw the bad in the dustbin. Odd.

But the event has been successful, he was now positive that she was somehow involved with the murderer. All that remained was to give the official order.

Nothing would compel her to have drunk that coffee. She only stayed idle for half an hour longer while trying to figure out the relationship between the course of events. Then she remembered she was supposed to be on holiday.

Sometime later when evening had set in, she put on her coat and decided to go get another coffee. She looked over her shoulder several times but found nothing suspicious. Not the weird men from earlier or anything of natural curiosity. She goes to the coffee shop.

The first thing she noticed upon entering was the odd number of people in the usually busy shop. The second was that the counter was empty. She took a good look at the three men seated at different tables and turned right around. Instinct told her these men had a rough agenda that night.

Sure enough, a few minutes later she saw them come out as one from her hiding place in an alley between the shop and the next one over. She stepped to and drew her gun.

”I would advise you three to leave me alone ”

They all held up their hands in an I surrender fashion and she heaved a sigh of relief too soon it seemed because the next moment she felt a gunpoint to the back of her head.

”And I would advise you to comply with orders ”

Louella turned around slowly gun in hand and meet the face of an entirely too accurate man, she knew her instincts were accurate. One of the three other men came over and took her gun from her, she didn try to hold on to it. She glared at the man.

”I should have known you were a part of this, James ”, she spat.

He only smiled, ”Get moving ”

She knew, from experience that they weren going to let her be conscious when they were taking her where ever, so when she felt the sharp jolt in her neck, she didn try to fight it and let her subconscious take over.

He was watching from the sidelines and had to admit. He was impressed. When she entered the coffee bar, he expected her to either panic and sit in fear or run back to her hotel room, where he had at least four more subordinates stationed along the way. When she walked out in the opposite direction and entered the alley, he was surprised by her boldness, even more so when she pulled out the silver pistol from her coat.

He thought it a good idea to send James. To send someone whom she has met previously was bound to induce fear in the victim, wasn it? He was only slightly disappointed when she showed no sign of fear. And was it his imagination or did she have a small smile on her face when she was knocked unconscious? Surely not, no one would be that bold. He just needed to rest and good grief when this frustrating girl was dead, he would get it.

Sighing at how unpredictable this particular suspect was, he took out his notebook and wrote;

Target proved to have a relationship with h suspect. The suspect was quired and taken in for questioning and further disposal.

The suspects name; is Louella Rossi.

Louella knew from experience that when you are being held hostage and youve been locked up, its best not to open your eyes but to give yourself over to your other sense. So as soon as she regained consciousness, she listened as hard as she could.

”Whats with the wounds James? ”, she knew that voice. But she couldn put a name on it.

”Si-sir, she woke up sometime during when we were transporting here ”

”And how does that relate to the wounds? ”

”She, err- she took us on sir. ”

”You can be serious James. One measly girl against eight of you and you come back with black eyes and bruises? ”

She almost broke her cover and laughed out loud.

”Get out. Ill think up an appropriate punishment for you all later ”. Louella paused almost visibly. What sort of punishments could this criminal be thinking of?

The sound of footsteps indicated James had left the room. And after a long heavy sigh from the unrecognizable voice. He speaks up.

”I know you care conscious, Rossi ”

Louella snorts, ”And why would I care if you know? ”.

He did not find it funny. What is wrong with the world these days? What happened to the good old days when you kidnapped a person and they trembled in fear and begged for their lives? Why in hell was she arguing with him? And why was he arguing back?

”Because I could kill you. ”

”Much better than talking to you ”, she spat back still not raising her damned head.

He stood up annoyed, ”Can you shut up? ”

”If you didn want to hear my voice you shouldn have asked me any questions! ”

”Fine, will you shut up now? ”, he asked. If he had this expression on his face when speaking to a normal person, they would at least be trembling.

”No ” Die, woman

He cursed under his breath. remind me, why do I have to interrogate this brat again? Ah, yea. The murderer knows her.

”What do you know about the Moonlight Murderer? ”, he asked completely changing the course of the conversation. This was a good tactic; it throws people off and leaves them vulnerable to interrogation.

She looked up then and his breath failed him, for a moment he could only look at her and his jaw nearly dropped. From her dark chocolate brown hair, down to her large hips and slim waist, back up to her cognac-colored eyes and small rounded but full lips, and down again to her full chest and finally completed with her bronze-colored skin. The woman, hostage or not, looked like a runaway model. He focused on the ropes binding her hands and legs and the furious glare she had aimed at him.

”Who on earth is the Moonlight Murderer? ”

”Im the one asking questions, Princess ”

She scowled at him, ”Don call me that, psychopath ”

”Ill call a hostage whatever I want, Princess ”, he informed her.

”Look, I don know who this Midnight murderer is- ”

”Moonlight ”, he corrected

”- and even if I did, I won tell you ”, she said looking back down. He wanted to continue looking at her face but said nothing

”I think… either you
e good at lying or you actually idea who this is ”, he said eyeing her.

She groaned, ”So you were following me, weren you? ”

He laughed, truly enjoying himself, ”I don remember saying that. ”

”But you were! And its all because of the stupid murderer! ”, she asked glaring up at him.

He stopped grinning then. Gods this woman talks a lot. What would it cost her to just be scared like every other worthless female he had questioned before her? But who doesn love to play with their food before they eat it? Or in this case, their hostage before they kill them? He does.

He walked out, leaving no answer behind.

The next morning, Louella woke up to find one of her hands untied and a tray of food in front of her. How careless of whoever brought it to her. Did they believe her gun was her only weapon? Ha! Shed have her head laughed off at work if it was.

After making certain that no one was going to barge into the room unannounced, Louella stuck her free hand up her coat arm and pulled out a small dagger. Slicing quickly, she cut her second arm free and made quick work of removing the ropes around her legs. She stood up shakily and examined the tray of food. It looked like rations, but it was edible, how was she going to carry it? How convenient, a paper bag was lying at the other end of the room. She quickly stuffed the foodstuff- which consisted of water a slice of bread and some mush- into the paper bag and crept to the door.

The corridor was empty what kind of hostage was she if no one stood around to check on her? Just as she walked around the other end, James showed up. He backed away and she grinned.

”How did you get out? ”, he yelled- obviously so someone would hear him and rush with backup.

”Please you doubt my skill. And its amazing what you can do with one hand ”, she said airily.

She could already hear the sound of footsteps coming up from behind her. She needed to make her escape quickly or she won get another chance at it. She didn make it through; she was recaptured by some big dude who held her hands behind her back. From behind her, the Psychopath that was interrogating her walked up, only stopping to throw her a look of pure and clear disdain which she returned with full force, (Avoiding his eyes and focusing on his jaw) before he continued to James.

She winced when he received a blow in the gut, sending him to the ground coughing up blood, ”Thats twice youve been incompetent, don let it happen again ”

”Well, maybe it has something to do with your incompetence! ”, she burst out. Jeez, Louella might be bold but even she knew she had gone too far here.

He paused with his hand still suspended in the air where he had punched James. ”Say that again ”

”Gladly, maybe your subordinates won be so incompetent if you were any better yourself ”, she yelled out hoping her fear did not leak into her voice.

Without any warning, he took out his gun and shot her in the leg. She winced but remained standing, it was only to be expected. And besides, this won be her first bullet wound.

”If I were incompetent, Rossi. I would be dead ”, he hissed. Then spoke to the men behind her. ”Take her to the intense care unit and put her in a better cell. Don waste my time ”, he snapped

They half dragged her away, all the while their glares never leaving each others faces. He looked away first and walked back down the hallway, passing a still withering James on the way out.

He regretted it as soon as it happened. Why had he let her get under his skin like that? At the moment he couldn even tell why he had reacted like that. Okay, that was a lie. He knew exactly why her words had triggered something. A host of memories all buried deep in the empty shell that still pumped blood around his body and therefore was still classified as a heart. That night in particular…

XxX

Mommy is dancing again. The men all watch her. I can , watched she looks different. Baby starts crying where we are hiding. I put my hand over the babys mouth, but she keeps crying. The men heard us.

”What was that? ” his voice sounds weird, and the baby keeps crying.

”Its a baby guys, ” another says and I am shaking.

They open the door and drag me out. They start beating me and I look for mummy crying. She doesn do anything. She just stays there.

Its not her fault, Marco. She couldn help you. Its not her fault.

XxX

He closed his eyes and sighed, that had nothing to do with her. She was right to some measure. She was still wrong though, but so was he- the last time he shot out of anger he was just beginning this life. How had she managed to trigger that kind of basic reaction in him? After so long? He got a call from the I.C unit.

”S-sir? ”

The tremble of fear in his voice comforted him somewhat. ”What? ”

”The hostage situation, Sir ”, he stood up straighter, ”She is blatantly refusing to take any treatment ”

”What does that mean? ”

”Sir, she says she wants to bleed out ”

He cursed under his breath and sped down the corridor. Racing across the grounds and heading straight for the IC unit. He burst in, his face a carefully arranged mask of intimidation.

”Sir ”

”Where is she? ”

The nurse pointed behind a closed area and I followed him there. He yanked away the shielding screen to the obvious dismay of the doctor. The impossible woman screamed and yanked the hospital gown she had been given tighter around her body. That didn help matters, he could just see her curves better now.

”Get out you! ”, she groaned at him.

He saw the shock flitter against the doctors and nurses faces and decided he couldn let his subordinates see any more of what was bound to happen.

”As a matter of fact, no. I won get out. What can you do about it? ”, he said folding his hands across his chest, his eyes looked on her face and he almost sighed. So alike, but completely different. She imitated the movement and his eyes flickered down for a moment before focusing on her angry little face. Why did that make him want to smile?

”If I had my dagger or my gun you wouldn be talking ”, she snapped

He nearly laughed, ”You can do anything to me with a dagger, or a gun ”

”Shut up. Why didn you just kill me, psychopath? ”, she grumbled

”Because princess, you have the information I deem important ”, he said

He watched her eyebrows come together and her lip jut out as she tried to think of what to say, ”and what if I don have any information that would be useful to you? ”

”Then, princess; your very life is of importance to me ”

She narrowed her eyes at him and glared with renewed force. That face, ”What happens if I die? ”

”You won die. That Im certain of ” I won let that happen girl, and not just because of your information.

Louella saw it in his eyes, he truly knew she wasn going to die. She knew it too, the pain in her left thigh was already ebbing away. This is not going the way she hoped it would. Time to change course.

”Tell me exactly what it is you want from me ”, she said.

”I want information on the Moonlight Murderer ”

”I can say that name is familiar. A picture? ”, she asked, going for the diplomatic approach.

He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a photograph. Jeez, does he just carry around photos of his victims with him? Talk about a psychopath.

She took it from him and recognized the body structure quickly. The same hunch back and averagely tall man stared at her. The one from the coffee shop. But what information could she possibly have on him?

She handed him back the picture, ”I met him a couple of times, but I have no idea who he is. He seems vaguely familiar though ”

He nodded. He didn seem to believe her though so she tried her luck and asked, ”Can I go now? ”

He laughed, ”Are you mad? After youve seen this much. Never. ”

”Then what now? If you lock me up, Im just going to break out ”, she warned hoping the note of warning was audible in her voice.

He only laughed and did that annoying thing where he walked away without leaving any answer. She cursed under her breath and watched his retreating figure. What was she going to do now?

He wasn going to let her go anytime soon, what could she do? Was it possible to strike a deal with these guys? The idea was not appealing, she had seen the way they treated people here, punishments, and whatnot, could she handle that? Of course, I can! Why not, Im as capable as any of them. I have to be if not Id have died a long time ago. She made up her mind to ask soon.

Unto the next issue, what is this organization? What exactly is it? She decided to put together the pieces she had gathered over the last two days. Continuous stalking, kill threats, ruthlessness, and a special psychotic behavior in one them in particular. She sighed; these signs were not new to her. It was obvious this organization was illegal, if they were government workers, or public officers there would have been no need for the fear she saw written on the faces of each person who interacted with that certain psychotic weirdo.

One word came to mind; Illegal enterprise.

Now, what exactly was Mr. Psycho? He answers to someone if not she would not have been as bold with him as she was. But he is no doubt on a higher level than the rest of the people around. Hmm, someone who is not the boos but not just a worker. She tried to use an analogy from a normal company and then the title hit her.

The Psycho is an Executive.

Now… what type of illegal enterprise requires executives- the psychopath cannot be the only executive in this kind of operation- and a big boss, all ordering themselves and their subordinates around? Ahhhh, this was a mafia. Things just got a whole lot more interesting.

Now back to the original subject. Is she still going to suggest an alliance with these guys? What would that mean for her? Psycho was right, she knows way too much, no way they would ever let her go. The way mafias work, shell eventually need to die for one reason or the other. If they wanted this Moonlight Murderer so badly, perhaps she could bring her freedom into the negotiation.

She stood up shakily. After he left, she agreed to some forms of treatment and now her left thigh hurts like hell. She hobbled to the door of the deserted ward and peeped out. Louella had to be more cautious now that she knew, after all, they could know she knew. And that would just be plain bad.

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