One hundred and eighty thousand pounds. Sterling. Sitting on her dresser, in tight little wads of cash. One hundred and eighty thousand pounds is a lot of money. Hell, before today, one thousand was the absolute maximum I had seen in any one place at one time, and that was in the hands of Stu, the dealer, and he was just flashing it around to show off. One hundred eighty thousand? It damn near crowded everything else off the dresser. And she was just, what, going to leave it there?

"Where's this from?" I asked.

"You know where it's from."...

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100 feet away, and we still couldn't talk. She sat there behind bars on a rotting metal cot while I was wearing designer jeans with a designer purse, just to visit her in jail.

I stared at her through the glass, and she hung her head until the guard whispered to her that someone was there to see her. Slowly raising her head, she looked toward the plexi-glass visitors room; the room where we could watch the prisoners like they were in a zoo or something.

She looked up at me and gave a the smile you give that still...

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She looked at the body of her enemy lying there on the floor. She knew she should feel a sense of triumph, but instead there was only sorrow. Sorrow for the lost years, the million memories that would never be, the milestones both present and future that would never be shared.

For you see, the dead body belonged to her mother.

Her mother had run out on her father soon after her birth, and the girl had wondered all her life what it was like to have a mother. Someone to make sure her hair was perfect on picture...

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He set the plate before her. "EAT!" "YOU WILL EAT!" He shouted at her from behind. He had her put on a blue dress before dinner, like Alice from Alice in Wonderland.

"YOU WILL EAT DINNER LITTLE GIRL!" He knew she was crying right onto the table. Kaley had been handcuffed to the table for around 6 hours already, and she was panicked and truly terrified. Wilson kidnapped her off the street; he dressed her up and made her sit at his dinner table in his basement, decorated like kids' play room.

Wilson crouched down to the side of her...

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"Goddamn it." This is what the cop said when the door first opened.

"It's not what you think. I can explain. See, we were playing a game. Hide and seek sort of thing, and things got a little out of control." He mumbled and shuffled, which the cop always took as a sign of guilt.

"Okay, we need to get him up off the floor. An ambulance is on its way. And you --" The cop pointed at the mumbler. "You need to come with me."

Mumbler shrugged and kicked at the table leg. "I didn't do anything. It was...

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"Your team is to find the contact code-named Scurvy."
"Scurvy? Boy, he sounds pleasant."
"Actually, she's quite humorous and accommodating. You'll understand when you meet her."
"What time should I set out."
"Great, thanks. I'll take my own rig."

At 0800, I landed on the beach where Scurvy was waiting for me. She didn't seem particularly pirate-like in any way. I handed her the documents, she scanned them, then threw them in the air and set them aflame with a snap.
"So why do they call you Scurvy?"
She stopped mid-stride and leered at me. Hilarious, indeed.

"We've got...

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Bombs were the last thing on his mind. If he lost this poker game, it would be his death anyway. The lights flickered, the ceiling dripped and the cigarettes had long since expired. The gaunt janitor across from him wheezed in a satisfied rheumy way. There it is. His tell for a rotten hand.

The girl with the brown eyes sucked on her teeth. The bombs above loosed plaster from the ceiling and it salted her hair. She shook it off like a dog, her brow creased in concentration. She had been squinting the entire game, suffering her near-sighted bet...

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They crouched to peer beneath the stairs.
"Did that blade seriously just nick my ankle?"
Brody grabbed a stalk of grass and shook it in front of the step. A pair of scissors lashed out and bisected the leaf and receded into obscurity.
"It looks like Jiro's back." Myka pulled a long, desperate drag out of her cigarette. "Looks like the girlfriend thing didn't work out."
"Maybe the booby trap is to keep people out as they get it on." Brody coughed as Myka exhaled a noxious cloud in his face.

They skipped the step and carefully ascended the stairs...

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She didn't look at him.
He didn't look at her. They had an understanding. The only way to succeed was if they didn't show the mark that everyone in the room was absolute strangers.

Glasses clinked, the lounge pianist droned his snooty song, polite ladies left to powder their noses, and she stood directly under the chandelier's magnificent crown. In a few seconds, the lights would fizzle out, he would pull the cord, and she would lie dead, crushed by the weight of the crystals and copper.

Or they would make it. They would make it to the mark, take...

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