‘Damn!’ Bonnie swore as she looked at the dashboard. She was supposed to meet Kevin in just half an hour to go over their presentation, and she didn’t want to stop right now and try to find an air pump. But it would be stupid to ignore the indicator and risk a flat.
Bonnie drove a bit more slowly now, looking to left and right as she went. It wasn’t a very good section of town, and Doug never liked her taking this route. ‘You could get hurt, or worse,’ he said. But she’d never had a problem. After about half a mile, she saw a familiar sign. Thank God – a 7-Eleven. They’d have an air pump she could use, and she’d probably be safe. It was just after seven in the morning, and she’d only stop for a minute. She’d even get some fuel, too, although it was more expensive there. She pulled up to the air pump, glancing at the dashboard clock just before she turned the motor off. She still had twenty minutes, and that would probably be enough time.
Bonnie got out of the car, being careful to lock it as she did. Her heels clicked softly on the litter-covered pavement as she went towards the 7-Eleven. Soon, she heard footsteps behind her. It was a young guy in a dirty white T-shirt and jeans. He was too close for her liking, but he didn’t say anything or try to touch her. Still, she’d be very glad to be out of here and on her way to the office. She went directly to the counter and asked for the air pump to be turned on. The clerk nodded and Bonnie went back to her car. T-shirt Guy was still in the store, so she felt a little better. Wishing she hadn’t worn her new blue suit and pink blouse for this dirty job, she gingerly squatted down and uncapped the valve on the left front tire. The air pump hummed to life and she checked the pressure. Just as she’d thought; that was the one that needed air.
Crack! It sounded a little like a firecracker, but must have been a gunshot. Bonnie stayed crouched behind her car, holding onto the air pump as though it would do her any good. Then she heard running footsteps coming her way. She stabbed at her key, and the lock opened with a quiet snick. Glancing around, she dove into the driver’s seat, locked the doors and drove off as fast as she could. She though she heard the ding of a bullet hitting the car as she left.
Three blocks away, the scenery changed. The buildings were nicer, and the area was a little more upscale. Bonnie pulled into the parking lot of a grocery store and stopped, waiting for her fingers to let go of the steering wheel. After a few minutes, her breath came more evenly and her hands and knees had stopped shaking. She swallowed a few times and sat up straighter. Doug had been right about that area. He always warned her not to stop, and she should have listened to him. Well, she’d have one hell of a story to tell Kevin when she got to the office. Kevin! What time was it? It was hard to believe, but the whole thing had taken only six minutes. She might still get there on time.
When Bonnie got to the office, she parked, took a few more breaths, and then got out of her car. She walked around it. She’d been right; there was a dent on the right rear passenger door. Feeling a little queasy, she went upstairs, greeting Kevin as she passed his desk.
‘You OK?’ he asked. ‘You look awful.’
‘Yeah, I’m all right,’ she said. ‘I’m just going to go to the ladies’ and then I’ll tell you all about it.’
After a few minutes, Bonnie came back from the restroom, pale but more composed, and stopped again at Kevin’s desk.
‘So, what happened?’ Kevin asked. He glanced around, then reached into his bottom drawer and pulled out a bottle of whisky. He poured a little into each of the two mugs he kept on his desk. ‘Here,’ he said. ‘Tell me while you drink this. You look like you need it.’
Bonnie took him up on his offer. She had a long sip, then told him what happened.
‘Oh, my God, that’s horrible!’ he said. ‘I’m just glad you’re not hurt. Did you call the cops?’
‘What can they do? I didn’t see who was shooting.’
‘You could at least report it. Then they can talk to the clerk or whatever.’
‘Yeah, maybe. For now, let’s just go over the presentation. The meeting’s at ten, and I want to be put together by then. If we get this account, that’s a big bonus for both of us. And it’ll take my mind off of everything.’
‘All right, if you’re sure.’
‘I am. I’ll go get the memory stick with the presentation on it, and we can use your computer if that’s all right.’
‘Works for me.’
Kevin watched Bonnie as she went towards her own desk. As soon as she was out of earshot, he pulled his telephone out of his pocket. He punched in a number and waited.
‘It’s me,’ he said in a low tone when the call was connected. ‘She’s here…yeah, right now…I don’t know! You were supposed to let some of the air out… Well, it didn’t fucking work! Look, I have to go. I’ll call you later and we’ll figure out what to do next.’
He slipped the telephone back into his pocket just as Bonnie came back to his desk. ‘Ready to rock?’ he asked.
‘Let’s do this,’ she said.
Doug pushed the ‘End Call’ button on his telephone. This was going to be a problem. He’d been sure everything would work. Kevin was greedy enough to get Bonnie to the office at the right time in exchange for a cut of the inheritance. And Bonnie was stubborn enough to take the shortest route to work no matter what he said. It was a perfect setup. Must have been that stupid kid he’d hired. The old saying was true: if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. He’d take care of it, and without any help this time. They always looked at the husband first, but he’d figure something out. Come to think of it, he’d have to deal with Kevin, too. That sneaky bastard wasn’t above blackmail. Well, Bonnie and Kevin were due to go on a client visit in a few days. There were always accidents…