Deal

November, 2017

She plucked the cigarette from between his curled lips and drew a long, deep drag. The smoke that poured in plumes from her mouth was slow, soft, steady and rose in a sleepy cloud above their heads. The ghost of her breath joined its cousins to rest against the ceiling in a fog of gloomy gray and the haze of red from the blinking neon seemed dimmer for it, though he knew that must be a trick of the eye.

"You got cash, I got the rest," she hummed through worn red lipstick that did not cover the scar clumsily cut from cupid's bow to chin. A sizzling stream of ash and a sigh and she handed the spent cigarette back.

"What if it doesn't work?" he muttered even as he counted one crisp bill after another into her outstretched palm.

She licked a thumb and shifted the bills far more quickly than he'd seen anyone before. Seemingly satisfied, she pocketed his payment and handed him a black velvet bag that pulsed and purred against his callouses.

"Well," she told him as she stepped back into the corner of the bar, "you'll be dead and I'll be rich."

He slipped the warm sachet into the deep pocket of his coat. When he turned to thank her, she'd already floated out with the smoke.

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