The face looking at her from the darkness of that room almost knocked her on her can. Not quite struck completely dumb, she managed to whisper, “Miles?”
Miles smiled, “Hi Stiletto. I would have preferred to see you under different circumstances, but John’s son made a mess of everything. It was too much for me to take care of myself.”
“Miles,” she shook her head, “what are you doing here?”
“We don’t really have time for that right now,” he replied. “I will say this much, there are many things that I never told you or your dad. It wasn’t that I wanted to withhold anything. I just felt it would be safer if neither of you knew. John Rosatti was married to the woman I fell in love with. He killed her when he found out that your dad wasn’t his son.”
Shelia didn’t reply. The look on her face – squinted eyes and slight frown – as her head dipped slightly to the right asked the question. There was no need for words.
“Yes,” Miles’ smile widened, “Jack was my son.”
Memories flooded Shelia’s mind drowning it like a valley beneath a broken dam. Little bits of her life swirled around her consciousness like scenes from an old movie, the kind she would watch with Miles while her dad was away with Rufus on business. Hundreds of questions fought to be among the next words that came from her mouth. None of them could beat the sober statement that left her lips, “They killed Matt.” She didn’t need words to leave the blame for that at Miles’ feet. Her tone handled the accusation.
Miles’ eyes widened as quickly as his smile fled. Before anything audible could accompany the frown that was feverishly working around silent words, a faint ding from the other end of the hallway grabbed the attention of the two glistening orbs his eyes had become.
Shelia followed the gaze as she spun and trained the barrel of her gun on the elevator door at the other end of the hallway. It took her a second to place Sergeant Pat O’Malley, pride of the Brookfield Police Department. She didn’t recognize the guy with him. “How the fuck?” she asked mostly herself. By the time the words had left her lips, both men were aiming guns back at her.
Shelia couldn’t tell which one of them yelled, “Freeze!” She was too distracted by Miles shouting at her, “Don’t shoot. I guided them here. They’re here to help.”
“Ms. Ramsey,” there was measured tension in O’Malley’s tone, “please put the gun down. We’re here to help.”
Shelia paid far less attention to Sergeant O’Malley than she did to the other asshole with him. That one wasn’t trying to hide his tension at all as he said, “Fuck that. Both of you drop your weapons.”
“Detective Huft,” Miles replied before Shelia could, “you would do well to avoid a shootout with this one. I know that you are an exceptional police officer, but you may as well be standing between an angry mother bear and her cubs.”
“Cub,” Shelia corrected without looking back at him. “Those bastards have already killed one of my babies.”
“Pat, if you have any influence over your friend…” Miles words were cut short when the door next to the room that Matt’s dead body was lying in busted open.
The suit that spun toward Shelia never had time to take aim. Shelia squeezed her trigger and left a hole just a hair above the bridge of his nose. The shot he got off as he stepped back before falling forward onto the carpet hit the ceiling just to her left. She held what would have been her next shot as she watched the other suit lean back and fall away from her toward the elevator. Intense looks of some twisted form of satisfaction on both O’Malley’s and Huft’s faces assured her that both of them had fired and both of them had hit their shared target. Shelia allowed herself a few moments of similar satisfaction as she watched the two suits bleed out onto the already red carpeting amid involuntary twitches here and then there.
Then the world slowed. Mario stumbled out of the room. Shelia hadn’t seen that man for about fifteen years. The depth of the connection she shared with him was just beginning to come together as she shuffled through the memories of the darkest period in her life prior to the one unfolding around her. He was more than just a blood relative of her daughter, a grandfather to be specific. He was also related to Jack in a fashion that had nothing to do with blood. Finally the answers were clear. In that split second – infinitesimally small compared to the years that had passed since she first killed for the Rosatti family – every piece of the puzzle fell into place. Everything made sense. Her dad was Miles’ bastard, and no matter what kind of monster Big John Rosatti had been, Jack Rose – or Rosatti to state it more correctly – was the result of betrayal. She was the result of betrayal. That is why Mario was coming so hard at her. Revenge for his son’s death was one piece. Pressure to wipe a black spot from the family name just added to the fire. Sure, years had passed, but Mario was just like his father, the kind of man that doesn’t forgive and never forgets. All the time that had passed obviously did nothing to cool that flame. He wanted her dead to avenge his son, and his dad wanted her dead to erase any living memory of Jack Rosatti. The aha had barely faded into just another bit of known information when Shelia realized that the fact that Alyssa was Mario’s granddaughter might not be enough to keep her from being one of those bits of Jack that needed to be erased.
That new, stifling fear didn’t even have time to get a good grip on Shelia’s spine before she saw that last little bit of Jack stumble out of the room behind Mario with a large hunk of her hair wrapped around his knuckles. The master of the puppets that had been gunning for her was a mere ten feet in front of her and she couldn’t pull the trigger. His feet were all tangled up in Alyssa’s and the shot just wasn’t clean enough to risk it. Her finger remained tense on the trigger as she kept her barrel pointed at the maestro that orchestrated the massacre of her family. All the hapless pricks that had died for destroying nearly everything that meant anything to her were merely following this slick fucker’s orders. He was the one, the real target, the mystery, and the sonofabitch was finally within reach. One bullet would end it all. Unfortunately, the one person left in the world that Shelia gave two shits about was too wrapped up with that target – that could be so easily wiped from the face of the earth – for her to get a clean shot.
It took every bit of resolve that Shelia had left in her body to stay her trigger finger and keep it from firing a slug into that prick’s head. If it were anyone else on the planet she’d be ending that piece of shit with a little hunk of hot lead. Her focus had grown so intense over those brief moments that she never saw the gun in Mario’s right hand aiming at her. Neither did she flinch in the slightest when that .45 belched a bullet in her direction close enough that she would have felt the heat of the slug on her cheek had she not been so absorbed in Alyssa’s struggle to free herself from the animal’s grip. Then something registered. Before another bullet could fly out of Mario’s gun, Alyssa’s hand shot out like a snake toward Mario’s neck. Shelia’s eyes widened as Mario’s big body slammed into the wall with Alyssa’s tiny form pushing against it. Blood pulsed out of Mario’s neck as Shelia’s sweet angel – that seemed so much bigger than she had moments prior while struggling in Mario’s grip – climbed onto his chest and slashed toward the elevator splashing the ape’s blood all over the wall, the carpet, and herself.
Shelia’s gun fell at her side. All of the effort it took to remain still became instantly unnecessary. In fact, now she really wanted to move. She wanted to run to her daughter, scoop her into a tight embrace, push her blood-streaked and matted hair away from her face, and tell her that everything was going to be okay. Despite all of that desire, shock kept her motionless. Instead, her eyes widened as she watched her sweet, caring angel covered in blood, screaming in the face of a dying man, and pounding the little knife in her hand repeatedly into his chest, arms, and face. A tear streamed down her cheek as the horror of watching the birth of an assassin sunk into Shelia’s soul. That lone tear carried the innocent spirit of her daughter away. The last person in the world that she loved was gone. She could do nothing more than sit and watch her die as the person she would become continued to release her rage long after her first victim had expired. Alyssa was dead, and someone new had taken her place, someone dark and cold with a lifetime of experience earned in a handful of days.
“Put the knife down, sweetheart. Everything’s going to be okay,” Pat’s voice was enough to snap Shelia out of her shocked state.
She glanced up. O’Malley and his friend were far too close to Alyssa. “Back off,” she shouted. “Both of you stay the hell away from her.”
Alyssa stood and turned the knife toward the approaching officers, slowly swinging it back and forth between them as she continued to scream wildly.
“I said get the fuck away from her,” Shelia shouted again with more vigor.
“We’re just here to help, Ms. Ramsey,” Pat’s tone failed to convey the calmness his words would suggest.
Shelia shook her head as she stood and aimed her gun toward them, “Everybody’s fucking dead. We don’t need any more help. My daughter and I are walking out of this place. You’ll never see us again.”
“That’s not going to work, Stiletto,” Huft replied.
“I’m sorry to hear you say that,” Shelia said quietly as her stance tightened.
“Wait,” Pat shouted. “Steve, I’m sorry. This is personal for me now. They’re going to walk out of here, and you’re not going to try to stop them.”
Huft’s arms fell to his sides as he looked toward the ceiling and sighed, “Come on, Brookfield. Are you fucking kidding me?”
“I’m not,” Pat shook his head. “Ms. Ramsey’s a victim here. She did what she had to do. If we take her in, she’s not going to be treated like a victim. You know that. She’ll be put away, and Alyssa will be put into foster care.” He paused, scratched his head, and added, “Besides, she cracked the case and killed all the bad guys. I know you hear those sirens too. We can still get the hell out of here and not lose our jobs over this.”
There were sirens, and they were getting close. Huft’s face tightened up as he clenched his teeth, forming silent words for a few moments before saying, “Fuck! Fine, let’s get the hell out of here.”
Shelia finally moved toward Alyssa who was still slowly swinging her knife back and forth and shaking. She had finally stopped screaming. “Alyssa, sweetie,” she said. “It’s okay now. We have to go.”
Alyssa remained silent as she dropped her knife to the floor and slowly turned.
Shelia forced a smile to her face, a smile that desperately wanted to flee the gory sight that Alyssa’s face had become, and whispered, “Come here, honey.”
As Alyssa slowly melted into Shelia’s embrace, the tears came. Her body heaved as she buried her face into her mother’s shoulder and wept. Shelia remained silent as she stroked her daughter’s bloody hair and watched O’Malley and his jackass friend retreat back toward the elevator. That prick was lucky to be more than another well-blended stain in the red carpeting of the hallway.
“Let’s go ladies,” Rufus’s deep voice beckoned from the room behind Shelia, “I’ve got Matt. We need to get the fuck outta’ here quick. This place is gonna’ be crawling with fuzz in a minute.”
Shelia glanced back, this time suppressing her smile, and replied, “I knew you’d come. We’re still going to deal with this shit, though.”
“I know,” he replied through a sober expression.
“Miles?” Shelia leaned her head back over her right shoulder.
“Miles ain’t here, babe,” Rufus answered. “We gotta’ go.”
“He was,” Shelia’s tone matched her confused expression.
“Well he’s gone now, and we need to be too.”
Shelia nodded at Rufus. Then she gently pushed Alyssa back to arm’s length and said, “It’s going to be okay, sweetie. But we have to go now. We’ll get all of this out once we get someplace safe.
Alyssa didn’t say a word. Though her eyes were staring back at Shelia, they were somewhere else. Nobody was home. That vacant stare was all too familiar. The same expression sat on her own face for weeks after her first kill, and she had been prepared, trained. Alyssa’s first kill was full of passion and feeling, more than just a contract or a target. This kill had meaning. That scar might never heal.