Chapter 1: Who's In Charge of the Girls?
Rocco sat at his desk, leaning back in his leather chair and taking a slow drag from his cigar. His eyes were closed and he was enjoying the soft classical music that glided across the airwaves to dance gently inside his ears. Every so often, he opened an eye to check his watch, wondering why his dear friend was taking so long to contact him. The job was simple enough, the mark nothing but an underling that probably wouldn't be missed, but the message would be clear nonetheless.
As if on schedule, there came a soft knock at his door.
“It's open." He sighed.
Rocco sat up, slightly surprised to see that it was Ian strutting into the office. The man gave Rocco a small nod before handing over a large manila envelope with a smirk on his face.
“Well," Ian began, “Mary took care of him."
“You sound shocked." Rocco chuckled.
“That's not why." Ian nodded towards the envelope. “Vinny handed those to me. I've never seen that kid so pale in my life."
Rocco arched a brow at his associate as he opened the envelope. The first picture alone made him jump back from his desk.
“Jesus Christ!" He whispered as he sheepishly went through the others. “Was that his...?"
“Yup." Ian grimaced with a nod. “Shoved into his mouth, damn near down his throat."
“f*****g hell, Mary." Rocco breathed.
That was when the boys heard the door open. They didn't bother grabbing their guns because only one person had the authority to do so. The click-clack of Mary's heels on the stone floor sent chills up both the men's spines as it usually did, and never in a good way. Anyone who knew about Bloody Mary knew that if you heard those heels, you had better pray to whatever gods listening that they weren't coming for you. The only one who was ever truly safe from her wrath was Rocco, and even he wasn't sure he was always safe.
“Speak of the Devil." Rocco smirked at his friend.
“I knew my ears were ringing for a reason." She winked, pulling a cigarette case from her suit jacket and lit it, taking a leisurely drag.
“So," Rocco began, almost nervously, “about the mark."
“What about it?" Mary shrugged. “I took care of him."
“Like that, though?" Rocco gestured to the envelope of grisly photos.
"Look! If I have to hear 'I don't usually talk to dark women, but there's something about you, doll!' one more time, I was gonna blow my own damn brains out." Mary took another drag of her cigarette and stared daggers at both men, daring them to say anything else about it.
Rocco threw up his hands in defeat, Ian following suit. “My apologies, kiddo." He quickly answered. “Anyway, the girls were looking for you. Something about some asshole that keeps coming around and bothering them."
Mary nodded knowingly. “On it. If it's who I think it is, he better hope I don't staple his fuckin' sack to his forehead."
Both men visibly cringed at the visual. “Kiddo, please!" Rocco half-whined. “You're killin' me!"
“Not yet." Mary winked before turning and leaving.
The door closed and Ian let out a sigh of relief. “I've said it before and I'll say it again, I am so glad that woman is on our side. She scares the hell outta me."
“How do you think I feel?" Rocco huffed. “And I've known her since we were squirts."
Mary walked through the dimly lit hall and out the metal doors to the Kitty Kat Club, which was full to the brim with patrons spending their hard earned money on gambling, drinks, and “company" for the night. Mary looked around the packed room with a smile as one of the coatroom attendants graciously relieved her of her jacket. She gave the kid a wink and slipped a large bill into his vest pocket. Mary watched the kid scurry off, carefully cradling her jacket, before she continued strutting through the room. She reveled in the way people parted like the Red Sea for her, their anxious whispers floating to her ears like the sweetest music.
“Oh, God! It's her! It's actually her!"
“You know they say it's bad enough when she looks mad. When she smiles, it's even worse!"
Mary allowed herself an almost cruel chuckle as she made her way behind a particular purple curtain. Almost instantly, she heard the frightened squealing of a woman, demanding to be unhanded. Two others that Mary recognized instantly as Vera and Sunshine. The girls ran to her, throwing their arms around her.
“Mary! Thank god it's you!" Sunshine whimpered. “He's back! And he's got Tanya trapped in that room!"
“Go get yourselves a drink. I'll handle this asshole. For good."
The girls let out tiny whimpers, knowing exactly what she meant. They didn't say another word, but walked arm-in-arm away from her. Mary wasted no more time kicking the door open, seeing a particular drunken excuse of humanity with his hands around Tanya's throat. Mary easily pulled him off the poor girl, introducing him to the wall with a sickening thud. She knelt down, making sure Tanya was still alive. Much to her relief, she was breathing fine, but quite shaken. Mary helped her to her feet, just as a few of Rocco's security came in, Ian among their numbers.
“Ian, get her some help." Mary said, helping Tanya lean on him. “Marco, Niko? Help this sorry sack of s**t find a seat, please. Make sure he's nice and snug, too. I'll be back."
Both bodyguards smiled knowingly. Niko went to a secret cabinet of sorts and pulled out a length of rope just as Mary closed the door behind her. She rushed out into the hall just in time to see medics walking into one of the rooms. Mary followed them, watching them tend to Tanya's various wounds and bruises.
“Take good care of her, boys." She instructed quietly. “She's been through hell tonight."
“For you, Miss Mary? Anything." One of them commented, the other nodding in agreement.
“Where's that asshole?" Ian asked standing out of the way of the paramedics.
“About to meet his Maker."
“Handle your business," Ian smiled knowingly. Secretly, he almost felt bad for the guy. Almost.
Mary turned on her heels and made her way back down the hall to the purple room. Outside the curtain stood one of Rocco's boys, Sid, who gave her a respectful nod. She nodded in return and leaned close to him.
“Close the door behind me. No one gets in or out without my say-so."
“Understood. Are we gonna need the Trashman?"
“Most definitely." Mary answered, a wicked smile on her lips. “Thank you, darlin'."
Sid simply nodded once more and said nothing else. Mary patted the man on his shoulder before walking behind the curtain. Just as she expected, Marco and Niko had the bane of her girls' existence tied down to a chair. Niko strutted over to Mary, handing her her favorite bat. Mary gave him a wink before her eyes fell on their guest. She reached into his pockets and pulled out his wallet. She rummaged through till she found an ID.
“Raymond Michaels." Mary announced to the room with a smartass grin. “Well, Raymond, I see life's been treating you well. Your wallet's so full that it could barely fit in you pocket." She remarked, turning to him. “So, is that why you felt you had the balls to abuse my girls?" Mary's smirk sharply fell as she stepped closer. “You think that makes you tough? Think that makes you a man?" She grabbed Raymond by the chin, forcing him to look at her. “I hate to break it to you, sugar, but the only thing that makes you is a little b***h. And now I'm about to show you what I do to little bitches like you."
Mary took a few steps back, handing her bat to Marco while she slipped off her suit jacket. She retrieved her bat, making sure she had a firm grip. “Niko? Make sure Tanya gets whatever is in that wallet. Poor thing deserves that and then some. Tell her to take the next few days off, too. Whatever she needs, get it for her and spare no expense."
“Consider it done, Mary." Niko responded without hesitation.
Mary gave him a wink before winding up and swinging the bat as hard as she could at Raymond. The bat connected, and her victim's head whipped to the side as his neck made a sickening crack that echoed through the room. The gurgling and gasping for air that came from Raymond annoyed Mary, to the point she took her foot and gave the dying man a kick to the chest, knocking him backwards.
“Make sure the trash gets taken out, would ya, boys?" Mary sighed, handing her bat back to Marco.
The gentlemen simply nodded, picking Raymond up, chair and all and taking him to another door hidden in the shadows at the rear of the room. Mary picked up her jacket, pulling her cigarette case from the inside pocket. She flipped it open, but decided against it.
“I should be cutting back, I suppose." She sighed to herself as she put the case away.
She nonchalantly strolled from the room, cool, calm and collected as if she didn't just end a man's life. Mary knew this was what made her so dangerous, made her so feared as well as respected. It was a beautiful existence she enjoyed, with a smattering of busted kneecaps and bullet holes.