Even before she was certain that she would lose the heavy case, Pauline had been worried. She never liked traveling with that kind of cargo especially when she knew she was being trailed.
There hadn’t been much of a choice, however. The train was leaving and she needed to be on it. Either that or she would miss the rendezvous and all the work of the past few days would be lost.
She had suspected the dark figure, hurrying down the station had been the same one that had lingered in the alley when she had left the bank. Of course, she hadn’t seen his face until now.
In her minds eye they were all heartless brutes with hard eyes, stern square jaws and nothing but a malicious sneer etched onto their lips. She found this man softer than she had thought possible. He had a sadness in his eyes that she would never have suspected in a member of her long time foe. His voice even carried a heavy weight.
“I’m sorry to have to do this.”
He continued to point his silenced barrel at her while his free hand worked at the shelf above the train cabin’s seats.
“Right,” she slurred.
The gun stayed steady, aimed at her stomach, but she doubted even its wielder thought the weapon was really necessary. His surprise ambush through the adjoining cabin had caught her off guard. She, foolishly, had been watching the public corridor and he had struck with surprising efficiency through the slim doorway.
Flecks still wavered before her eyes from the blow he had landed on the side of her head. More than sweat dribbled down her cheek.
Now, her arms were beginning to burn from the tight straps binding her wrists. The muscles in her back had also begun to flare from the awkward position he had tossed her into between the twin rows of facing leather seats. As her fingers started to grow numb the chill of the metal floor on her skin ebbed.
He hauled the square plastic case with its two wheels down from the shelf. It landed heavily on the ground with a dense thud.
She let out a hoarse sigh.
“We need it,” she murmured.
“So do we.”
“You don’t understand…”
He slipped out the handle tucked into the top and pivoted the case so it sat ready behind him. “No, I’m afraid you don’t.”
Pauline widened one of her eyes, the one not wincing around a crimson droplet as the trains bouncing light glistened off the closing barrel.
“Please,” she said again.
He seemed to understand the resignation in her voice. The barrel tip rose to aim between her eyes. At least that way, when the flash and deadened pop sounded, her failure would have a swift ending.