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Chapter Three

Kiki put on her hoodie and grabbed her backpack from her locker. After taking one last look around to make sure she didn't forget anything, she pushed open the back door that led to the stairs which would take her down to the underground garage. Employees actually had to park out in the back lot, but Millie the club manager gave the dancers special permission to park in the garage so they don't get hassled. 

Kiki hugged her hoodie tighter around herself and took a deep breath before going down the dimly lit aisles to find her car. Usually, only the valets had access to the garage since the club only offered valet parking. There would be no random drunks wandering about looking for their car or a couple arguing about who gets to drive because one of them is drunker than the other. 

This was why when she came across a group of large men pointing guns at a few Japanese dudes who also had guns and about five or six women crying at their feet all tied up, she completely froze. A few feet from the other group of guys was a man face down on the concrete with a pool of blood surrounding his head. 

Goddamn gangsters. They hadn't looked her way yet, so Kiki was pretty sure she could just sneak away, but that was before one of the Japanese dudes looked up and pointed a gun at her. "Hey bitch, come here. Don't make me ask you twice."

Kiki's blood ran cold. She told herself to be cool like the Fonz if she didn't want to be found floating face down in the puddle that was the LA River three days from now. She had a pepper spray in the pocket of her hoodie, but a lot of good that would do against ten angry men with guns. As she got closer, she realized there was a blond woman kneeling next to a squirrely-looking Japanese guy wearing a red leather jacket. He was holding a gun to the back of her head. 

"It didn't have to go down this way, you Guido fucks," snarled the guy in the red leather jacket. "But one of you is a goddamn rat. That's why one of my guys got dead and another is in the clink."

The frightened, crying women were huddled together like kittens out in the cold. Kiki was not in a rush to join them but the guy with the gun pointed at her was a little insistent and things that pump out bullets were great motivators. 

When she was within a foot of the women, she was told to take off her backpack and hoodie and toss them on the ground. She was also ordered to put her hands on her head and keep them there as she slowly knelt down to join the women. In her probable hysteria, she thought about her cat Mushu and that no one was going to be able to feed him tonight. Oh man, he's going to be pissed off and shit in her shoes. 

"Awww, this one is nice," says the guy holding the gun on her. "She's not all cracked out like the others. Looks like Asian Rocker Barbie or some shit. Would probably fetch a hefty price. What do you think, Dom? Good enough substitute for the black bitch who offed her bitch-ass self in transit?"

The guy named Dom was a tall, wide-shouldered man with black, slicked-back hair and bulldog features. He was wearing a matching black suit jacket and trousers with a blue shirt underneath, but no tie. "Top shelf, Johnny. Not sure about the pink hair, though. I can tell you that the carpet won't probably match the drapes."

Kiki gritted her teeth as the man and his goons laughed. She was not going to cry, she was not going to cry. She furiously blinked back her tears. Great, just what she'd always dreamed of, to be sold as a sex slave in the black market. How the hell was she going to get out of this one. 

She was trying very hard not to look in the direction of the dead guy, so she could keep her cool. She really wanted just an easy evening tonight. Call her dad up for a quick chat, check in with her manager maybe for some updates, feed the cat, watch a few stupid videos on YouTube, and then go to sleep. Seriously, that wasn't too much to ask, was it? 

Well... maybe the sleeping part wouldn't have been so easy. Guillaume Esposito was the first man in years to touch her that way and had her all fired up. And then to brush her off like dirt? It was his fault she was in this position. If he hadn't summoned her to his table, she could have gone home earlier. But then she wouldn't have been able to feel... feel what, exactly? He didn't even kiss her. What did that say about him? Right, you didn't kiss whores on the mouth. 

Kiki, now's not the time to be worrying about this, if ever. The hell is the matter with you? 

"Look, Kinji, we're square, all right?" said Blue Shirt. "We'll take Rocker Barbie. Just let Heather go. She's got nothing to do with this."

Kinji tightened his grip on the back of the blond's shirt collar and spat on the ground. "Fuck you, Guido, we ain't square with shit. Your brother fucked us and that's why he got dead. Did you know that his little cunt girlfriend--" He tapped the girl's head with the barrel of his .380. "is connected up the ass with cops? Her entire family is in the goddamned police." He glared at Kiki. "The fuck you lookin' at, Rainbow Brite? Eyes down!"

Kiki shifted her gaze down momentarily, but after a quick, furtive scan of her surroundings, found a large convex mirror right across from her, mounted about five feet above the mobsters' heads. She could watch what's happening there. 

"Johnny, you better put a leash on your puppy before I shut him up for good," growled Blue Shirt. "The fuck is this psycho doing here, anyway? You know this trigger-happy dickhead always fucks things up."

Kiki studied the other guys with Blue Shirt. They were Red, Green, White, Striped, and Orange. What the fuck? Who did they think they were, Menudo? They were all about the same height and olive-skinned, Italian-looking. Green Shirt had a tattoo of some kind on his neck and Red Shirt wore horn-rimmed glasses. Six, she told herself. There were six of them. 

"Get fucked, Dom," Kinji snarled. "He brought me as backup because he knew your greasy ass couldn't be trusted. Why you gotta bring five of your guys to a simple transaction, huh?"

"Are you fucking with me right now?" Blue Shirt cried incredulously. "You goddamn fish-heads kidnapped my brother's girlfriend then killed my brother! What the hell do you mean, I didn't need backup, you lazy-eyed psycho?"

Kinji lifted the gun from Heather's head and jabbed it toward Blue Shirt. "You talk too much, Guido. I'm getting sick of your flapping piehole."

As though she were locked up in a pressure cooker, Kiki could feel the tension ratcheting up. She could smell it, too. Piss, sweat, and rotten food. Within five minutes, if shit didn't get resolved, someone-- or multiple someones-- was gonna get eighty-sixed. She eyed the SUV to her left and wondered if she would be fast enough to get underneath it the moment everything went to hell. 

All six of the rainbow shirt guys now had their guns out and pointing them at Johnny's crew and all the women. Kiki saw that the hands of Orange and Stripes Shirts weren't too steady. They were as nervous as virgins on prom night. Good golly, if this wasn't their first night out, she'd eat cat food. She whimpered quietly. Was this really how she was going to exit this world? 

"Johnny, we can all still get out of this alive, all right?" Blue Shirt said in a surprisingly calm tone. "Just give us Heather and you assholes can keep the money and the hos."

Johnny started to say, "All right, now you're speaking--"

But Kinji was done with diplomacy. He'd already set his heart on killing someone and nothing was going to stop him. He had his fingers on the trigger and was all ready to murder somebody. 

Kiki saw the men in dark suits headed toward them in the convex mirror before she heard the sharp ping. Suddenly, Kinji crumpled to the ground because half of his head had exploded. The women screamed and cried and clung to each other. 

Two more pings took down the other guys in Johnny's crew, but Johnny himself remained standing. He tossed his gun on the ground and put his hands on his head. 

Blue Shirt's face brightened when he saw the newcomers and then he and his goons switched to a respectful and reverent mode. "Capo," he said. "I didn't know you were in town."

"Just got in this afternoon," said the frosty English accent. "Quite a mess you've made for yourself to clean up, Dominic. I do so hope that this is your first infraction."

When Kiki heard Guillaume Esposito's voice, the teenage girl inside her shouted, "Weeee!!" But the joy was short-lived when she realized there would be clean-up time. She, the women, and Johnny were witnesses to this massacre and thus destined for the wood chipper.

"Yes, sir. It won't happen again, sir," Dominic said with his head bowed down. 

"See that it doesn't," said Guillaume. He had been looking at the women and the dead bodies like a detective searching for clues for a few minutes, but now he had stopped right in front of Kiki and parked himself there. 

"What should we do about the witnesses, Capo?" asked Blue Shirt. "You want us to get rid of them?"

Kiki was shaking uncontrollably. Was it fear from the prospect of getting baked into a pie or because Guillaume was near? Ugh, I'm sick, I need help. 

"The cattle are useless. They're out of their minds on dope forever and there's no coming back from that." Guillaume made a sound of disgust. "Dominic, if you tell me you paid some exorbitant amount for them, I will strangle you with your own tongue while your crew watches. Do you understand?"

Blue Shirt gulped audibly. "Yes, boss. And Johnny Saito, sir, what should we do with him?"

Kiki looked over her shoulder at Johnny who had a handgun jammed against his throat. His captor was a tall, beautiful brunette who looked like a badass female action star. She was half a foot taller than Johnny. 

"Stick him in a holding cell in the warehouse. Feed him twice a day," said the big boss. "Don't hurt him too badly. I think Mr. Saito might prove very useful to us."

"What about Rainbow Brite, Capo?" prompted Blue Shirt. "She saw everything. There's no way she's not going to snitch. She looks like the kind of person who puts everything on Twitter and Instagram."

Kiki glared at him and had a brief fantasy about skinning him alive. The asshole sneered. You're dead. 

"I'll take care of her," Guillaume Esposito pronounced. "No one will be touching Miss Chow but me."

Kiki looked up at him and dared to meet his gaze. What she saw there immediately alarmed her, but admittedly also thrilled her a tiny bit. The guy was as serious as dysentery. He meant to own her... and lock her up with him forever.

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