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#1 He stepped closer, lowering his chin, giving her a deep stare. His eyes had a depth Andy had never seen before. Knowledge and understanding and something else in those pupils.
“Your black belt won’t always save you, you know.”
Andy turned away. He continued to follow her.
For some reason, that irked her. She thrust a hand to his chest. Rock solid. “Don’t. I could take you down if I had to.”
“I’m sure you could.” He had a cocky grin starting at one side of his mouth, then spreading to the other. “Goodnight, then.” With a salute to her, he marched backwards. When he rounded the corner, Andy found her phone and dialed Carla.
“So what was that all about?” Carla asked.
“Some guy wants karate lessons.”
“Are you sure? I think he was into you. I think this is just a way to get to know you.”
Andy changed the subject. “What did your mom want?”
Right at that moment two men in rubber masks rushed her, sliding up beside her, grabbing her phone and purse. She didn't care about the burner phone, but her weekender tote! Everything she needed was in there!
She was not letting go without a fight.

#2 Hugh shouted, “Let it go. It’s just a bag! It’s not worth it.”
“You don’t understand!” Andy said. The man held tight but still she persisted. “It’s my life, my everything.”
“Girls and their purses! I was talking to the duck.”
Daffy managed to stand, still holding the purse. Andy was too slow to return to her feet. Then Hugh jumped into action. Andy had never seen anyone so agile. He grappled the Daffy around his neck, then crashed him into his knee. Andy recognized the Russian Sambo technique. Even with the rubber mask, the wallop hurt. Daffy probably had a broken nose.
Andy stood still. This was the same man who asked for karate lessons a few minutes before?
Holding his nose, Daffy ran with Bill from the alleyway leaving the purse. Andy retrieved it from the sidewalk.
“So what was that?” she asked.

#3 She bit her lip, her fingers twirling the stem of her empty wine glass, thinking. It was all coming too fast. Andy didn’t know anything about organized crime. “What’s in it for you?” she asked.
“Freedom. I didn’t realize what I was getting into, and I want out. There is only two ways out. Death or the downfall of Imperium.” Now she understood his haggard appearance. “I’d prefer the latter.”
A silence passed between them. Her gaze darted to the other couples seated with hurricane lamps between them, the flames wavering in the open breeze. It was all so ironic. All those years growing up, Brad convinced Sandra and her dad that he was the obedient one, and Andy was the rebellious one. And now she was having this conversation.
Brad broke the silence. “Listen, I’m sure they’re watching me, so we don’t have time. Are you in or out?”
Seeing Brad so scared, so small, so internally sick with fear, made her all the more afraid.
She understood when she replaced her father as Andrew Baker there might be some retaliation from those she exposed. But a lone wolf breaking the law was different than organized crime. This was the mob he was talking about!


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