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He leaned forward, maybe a bit too much. I forced myself to stay in place, maintaining a placid expression. He smiled at me, eyes that shone with sky blue intellect through impossibly long eyelashes. “You’re a smart one, aren’t you? Figuring all of this out.”

How he could tell that I was able to make out his plans in my head, I had no idea. I held my expression in place and he looked a little disappointed he couldn’t elicit a response. “Playing cool and collected, I see.”

“I’m not playing anything,” I said in between gritted teeth. “I just realized how far your morally corrupt mind goes.”

“I’m a businessman.” He said nonchalantly. His coldness matched mine.

I stopped the scowl from twisting my face. “You’re a criminal.”

“Isn’t that what I just said?” He replied swiftly, unbothered as he unstuck the boning knife from the desk. “I advertise. I sell.” He twirled the hilt of the knife at me, as if pinning me in place. I didn’t move, my eyes solely focused on his weapon. “I take a look at greedy, credulous men and pick out their flaws, their wants, their needs.” He chuckled as he leaned forward even more, letting his hand holding the knife droop. He looked at ease, but the tenseness in his shoulders and tight veins running up his arms told me otherwise. “I pinpoint their Achilles’ heel.”
The sentence didn’t sit right with me, but I didn’t have enough time to think about it twice before I heard the familiar swish of the metal against air. I barely had enough time to dodge it by side-stepping and twisting my shoulders to the side.

The boning knife was deeply embedded into the ridiculous painting behind me. The thinly crafted canvas was nothing that a shredded mess in the middle. I jerked towards him.

He had a mischievous smile on his rosy lips, staring at me like I was a puzzle he needed to solve. “Just like that,” he continued without a hiccup. “Though you seem at least a bit brighter than other men. Tell me, what brings a low-life vermin here?”

I wasn’t offended because he wasn’t exactly wrong. “A deal.”

He raised one perfectly groomed eyebrow. “A deal? What would a girl like you want from a man like me?”

“Woman,” I replied, letting a small smile settle on my lips. “I’m a woman, Mr. King.”

“A rat,” he corrected, equally if not more confident than me. His disdain matched mine and I didn’t like for the first time in a long time, I was standing at a stalemate. “Don’t think I haven’t heard of your achievements in the city. Ladies love to sing songs about your little band of heathens,” He bared his teeth like a monster. “And what do you do, Ms. Skye? Nothing of importance, I presume?”

“Do not call me miss. I’m not a lady,” I bit out. Everyone knew the history with my feminine side was long and messy, leaving a trail of torn skirts and broken jewelry behind. I rested my hand on my gun, reminding myself to stay collected. His eyes immediately went to my fingers wrapped around the trigger. “I steal.”

He laughed, a dark sound that was as ungenuine as it was dry. “So do I.”

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5 Mar, 2021
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