Looking out the window of her flat, Pauley wiped at the rime spiderwebbing across the glass. Steam rose from the radiator under the sill, melting ice from the bottom panes.
Pauley shrugged off her jacket, switching hands so she could still stare at the postcard from Vivian. A life in The Family made sudden name changes easy for her to accept. Only when she was angry did the name Millicent enter her memory, or when she went out of her way to dress provocatively.
Her closet now held names like Armani, Versace, and McCartney, replacing Levi, Mossimo and White Stag. Her short time with the psycho chemist was both exhilarating and infuriating. She’d never admit it to Millie, but she gained a new self-confidence she never would have otherwise.
Dressing the part of a cosmopolite was more comfortable, but Pauley still relaxed like a teenage boy. Sitting on the arm of her sofa, she slid back, flopping on the cushions, feet in the air where she could shuck her still wet boots.
New York winters were frigid, wet and dirty. The pristine, warm sands of Brazil were more alluring than ever, just what Pauley needed. A break from the bleak weather, and the overtime Stanley was hellbent to throw at her, would be heaven.
Since getting back to the States from her impromptu vacation-slash-kidnapping, Pauley was making up for lost time, accepting every job her new boss sent her way.
She had a nice stash of money, and nothing on her calendar. A real vacation, one she planned, may just be the thing.
The stack of catalogs Mrs. Arcozelo gave her at the post office was lying on the coffee table. Reaching out, she grabbed the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book. Maybe there was something Gail and Butch would like more than a sampler basket from Hickory Farms.
A piece of white paper fell from the magazine as Pauley picked it up from the table. Thinking it was just a subscription card, she was surprised by the short note written on one side. The perfect small loops, the smooth and purposeful penmanship, instantly put her into killer mode.
Grabbing her cell phone from the floor where she dropped it earlier, she punched in Stanley’s speed dial.
“Hey, I’m going to take some time off.”
“Nothing’s wrong. I have some downtime and just not feeling New York in winter. I need to get away to a warmer clime.”
“I’m thinking Sao Paulo. Yeah, I know, I’ll be careful. Besides, you’ll know I’m there if anything goes wrong.”
“Thanks for the offer, but taking the company jet would get me attention I want to avoid. I’ll keep you posted.”
“Sure, I’ll bring you back some coffee.”
Slipping in the boutique’s rear door, Pauley could hear raised voices in the front of the store. Unsnapping her Walther p22 from its holster hidden on her hip, she leaned against the door jamb, listening. She couldn’t help but smile at the ‘kiss my ass’ attitude of the shop proprietress toward the not-so-subtle attempt to intimidate her.
Smoothing her flowing skirt to cover the handgun, Pauley quietly left the storeroom, and made her way outside to the store entrance.
Strolling through the front door like Millicent had taught her, Pauley made her presence known. Her old friend saw her and smiled.
“Viv, you alright? I got your note.”
For the backstory on Pauley and Millicent, the main characters in the summer series, “Dead Money,” read their tale of murder and mayhem in the link in the top nav bar. My writing partner, Lance, of My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog, and I can’t seem to leave well enough alone and keep bringing back our lady killers. This chapter takes up where Lance’s final chapter ended, “Hello, It’s me.” His latest installment, is “Trouble.”