March’s short story is a 2,300 word fantasy for Patreon subscribers called “Mr. Skin’s Heart.”
Two of Manny’s bodyguards kicked the door to my shitty, off-the-strip motel room door right off its hinges. I was waiting for them by the peeling door jamb with a taser. I jammed fifty-thousand volts of electricity into Paolo’s neck and two hundred pounds of meathead dropped to the floor with all the grace of a bag of cement.
Jaqi, the other bodyguard, turned to me, exasperated. I dropped the taser when she punched me in the jaw so hard my vision flickered in time to the neon vacancy sign looming over the motel’s parking lot.
“I don’t like to hit women anymore,” she said, reaching out a hand. She had a shotgun cradled in her other arm like it was her kid. “So quit messing around.”
I groaned as I wobbled up to my feet. Jaqi, an aging medium-weight boxer, famous in her time for her vicious combinations, looked bored as she pulled a chair over for me.
I obeyed like a trained dog. Ass in chair.
“You know why we came,” Jaqi said, pulling another squeaking desk chair over. She sat down across from me, the corners around her gray eyes wrinkled with crow’s feet from the Nevada sun and etched with a weariness that made me want to apologize to her for making her day more complicated than it had to be.
“I can’t pay it back,” I told her, the truth leaping from my lips instead of the lies and pleas I’d spent the last two nights developing.
“Two hundred grand.” Jaqi lay the shotgun across her lap. It made a point. “Manny can’t overlook that kind of debt.”
“I had a system that always worked when I ran tests,” I said. I idly wondered if I could grab the gun from her.
Then I patted the numb side of my face. No way to run away from this.
Hell, Vegas was where I had run to.
Jaqi ignored what I’d just said. Too silly to dignify. Everyone had a system that worked, until it didn’t.
“Manny has a way you can pay him back,” Jaqi said.
“You’re not all that, college girl,” Jaqi interrupted me, anticipating my next words. “Not for two hundred thousand. No one can work off that much that way. No, Manny has another use for you.”
I could feel my heart hammer at my chest. I licked my nervous, dry lips. “What does he want?”
Jaqi leaned over as Paolo started to stir and groan. She petted him on the head. “A small piece of your soul,” she said to me…
The story can be downloaded in PDF, RTF, ePub, and MOBI (for Kindle) at Patreon for all subscribers.