I wasn’t sure whether to kill her or kiss her.
The job called for bringing her in alive, but after the stunts she has pulled over the course of our return trip I didn’t feel like the money was worth it. Here I was, one of the top rated bounty hunters in the country and this woman had pushed every button and worn down every nerve. I had never dealt with someone so difficult or angry.
Being one of the only female bounty hunters meant dealing with some of the worst of the worst, the women. The guys hated going after the girly ones, they were almost always worse than any man, no matter what his crime.
The men might fight at the beginning, and if they were bigger, smarter, or gutsier than you, they could give you a real run for your money, but once they were caught they usually gave up. The men knew when you had them. They knew when the game was done.
The women never knew they were caught and so, the game of cat and mouse never ended. They never stopped fighting you. You couldn’t turn your back on the women. You couldn’t trust the doe eyes and the meek demeanor, they were always looking for their chance. They knew we were limited in our ability to use force and they knew we would only resort to lethal force. They pushed you.
The men were mad at first but during the cold nights camping in the desert or trekking across wastelands, you could talk to them, you could get to know each other and become something like friends for a while. Oh of course with me they were crass. Of course, they made grotesque comments but they were predictable. The women were wild, you stayed on your toes with them.
The job was for a Jasmine Quinlin. She was small, she appeared delicate and feminine, but she was wanted for murder. She was beautiful so I was surprised boys turned it down and since I didn’t have a job at the moment she was mine.
Took me months to track her down, which isn’t unusual for someone who knows they are wanted. It took me weeks more to catch her. She was adept at finding unusual hiding places. It doesn’t help that there are so many abandoned buildings and cars to sleep in either.
But I got her and now we needed to start the long journey back. She kicked and screamed, she bit me and fought me. She wasn’t bigger or stronger but she was fast and ruthless and fought with everything she had. All women did. I fought too, I was a woman after all, and I matched her blow of blow, and beat her in experience.
So there we were. After many such brawls and almost nightly escape attempts, we were both sleep deprived, injured, and angry. I was out of bandages and because I had to watch her I couldn’t find food. If we kept it up we might both die out here and I know she didn’t want to die. No one who fought that much wanted to die.
We couldn’t fight anymore and I couldn’t keep going like this. I watched her over the fire and she watched me back. I asked her with my eyes if were going to be fighting again tonight. She answered with her own that we would just have to wait and see. I sighed and settled down for sleep. If she tried an escape tonight she just might make it, I couldn’t subdue her again.
I drifted off thinking momentarily of the stories I heard of the life that used to flourish here before everything died. I slept lightly and my mind swam with memories of the places and people I’d known. And the hardship and the suffering we’d all seen and inflicted. These were my nightly thoughts, and just as I was going to give up on real rest, I heard the jingling of chains and held my breath to listen.
I felt the warmth of a body near me and I wondered if she was going to strangle me or worse. I didn’t move, though. If she tried there were ways to put her down and I would be justified. I couldn’t keep going like this. It had to be over, I would find a new job, one that didn’t look at me like she wanted to gouge my eyes out.
I held my breath and waited for her hand on my throat, what I got was her head laid gently on my chest. Her hair smelled sweet and she felt warm in the cool desert air and for just a second I relaxed and forgot who we were and why we’d been thrown together. It’s been so long since I had been this close to a human being who wasn’t trying to harm me.
When I snapped out of it I opened my eyes and looked down at her. I silently asked if this was a ploy, if she meant to hurt me. She answered with a raised eyebrow, daring me to find out.
So I asked the question of myself, do I kill her or do I kiss her? Because I can’t go on without doing one or the other. We had a long way to go and if something didn’t change we both might die.
Do I kill her or do I kiss her?
She didn’t give me a chance to answer.
Author’s note: The plan for this challenge was to post small pieces of fiction that read more like excerpts rather than stories with a true beginning, middle, and end. I think instead, these have turned into something in between, some more, some less. Please bear with me, these are my first attempts at writing fiction. You can find them all under my AtoZ2016 tag.
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