Here is your first look at “The Huntress” by Theresa Hissong
**Unedited & Subject to Change
My eyes scan the dark road, waiting for my chance to pounce. There are no sounds from passing cars; not even a whisper of the wind. No sounds of the night to hide me, but I do not need that to do what I came here to accomplish. He doesn’t know I am in the shadows, patiently waiting to take him down. His world is about to be thoroughly changed when a female gives him a taste of his own medicine.
His name is Joshua McMillian, and he is wanted for domestic violence. He will be arrested and charged after I spend a little one on one time with him. Once the police pick him up, he will be in no better shape than his wife. She’s currently in the ICU with a breathing tube down her throat, because this fucking waste of space thought it’d be a good idea to strangle her after she served his dinner late.
My name is Morgan Rayne, and I have a reputation for being the one nobody messes with in this city. No one knows exactly who I am, what I do, or where I came from. And I want to keep it that way.
Joshua looks over his shoulder nervously as he fumbles with the key to his Mercedes. The light that shines on his car is bright against the darkness of the night. His face looks tired, and I can actually see the sweat beading up on his forehead from my position across the street.
Now is the time for me to make my move or he will flee. I’ve seen it too many times before. Men like him know they’ve done wrong and fear getting locked up. So, they run and hide. Usually the ones with loads of money fly away to a place they cannot be found. I have a feeling Joshua is one of them.
“What a pussy,” I snarl under my breath.
I see my opening when he drops the keys, cursing when they slide underneath his car. My heart races and my fists clench at my sides. The adrenaline pulses through my system as I take off at a dead run. I take aim with a rock I picked up from the neighbor’s yard and throw it with accuracy, hitting and shattering the light as I come within feet of him.
He has no time to react as my fist makes contact with his jaw. The asshole stumbles back as if he can’t believe that he is the one being hit. He doesn’t speak, and that’s okay, because I have plenty to say.
“How does it feel to be on the other end of a fist, Joshua?” I goad, taking another swing. This time, I land a direct hit to his left eye. The sting from the contact barely registers as I bounce back and forth from foot to foot.
“Who are you?” he demands, spitting blood on the concrete at my feet.
“I’m the one who is going to teach you a lesson,” I reply, swinging my fist again, connecting with his stunned expression.
I expect him to at least swing back…maybe protect himself, but he doesn’t. He continues to look everywhere but at me, the woman who is giving him a beat down. Ole Joshua is boring me.
“Your wife is fighting for her life, because of you,” I swing again, hoping to get some reaction out of him. My blood is pumping, and I need him to engage me in some sort of fight. This one sided shit annoys me. “I’m here to give back what you gave her.”
With that, I round on him, delivering a well-place kick to his jaw, sending him to the ground. I only have a second to land on top of him and wrap my hands around his throat. As soon as the pressure registers, he begins to squirm.
“Please, stop,” he gurgles.
“Is this what Stacey said to you, asshole?” I growl, increasing the pressure. I know exactly how much strength to use to cut off the oxygen to his brain, but not kill him. He will eventually pass out, and I will be on my way.
“You bitch!” Ahhh, there it is. The real Joshua I was hoping for when I came in search of him.
Joshua struggles beneath me. He’s an average sized male, six foot two and probably two hundred pounds. He may outweigh me by sixty pounds, but I’ve been training and lifting weights since I was brutally attacked at the age of seventeen. This man is no match for me.
“Shit!” Sirens wail off in the distance, signaling that someone may have seen me and called the police. My little plan is going to be cut short.
I nail him one more time, relishing in the sound of a bone breaking in his jaw. The jackass starts crying, making me laugh one last time. “Have fun in jail, Joshua. I hope they treat you real good.”
I push off of him and stand, rearing back and kicking him between the legs so that he doesn’t try to move. He squeals loudly and rolls to the side. Blue lights bounce off the homes down the street, and that is my queue to go.
My feet are light, almost soundless, as I run around the side of his home, jumping the neighbor’s fence. I’ve already planned my route of escape. In fact, I planned several. I know this city like the back of my hand and can find my way out of any situation. I’ve been doing it for years.
My car sits in a driveway of a home that had a for rent sign stuck in the yard when I arrived hours ago. I’d tossed it to the side, ensuring that no one would get suspicious of a vehicle sitting in the driveway of an empty home. I always make sure that my every move is covered. In my line of work, one slip up could be deadly.
I slide behind the wheel of my car and crank it, wasting no time in backing out as calmly as possible despite my rapid heartbeat. As I turn on Maple Street, a police car passes me with his lights blaring. I wait until they are gone before I carefully return to my home. There is blood on my hands, and the last thing I need to do is to be driving recklessly and get pulled over by the cops.
My job for the night is done. I’ve delivered the message from Joshua’s soon to be ex-wife’s father who hired me, and now it’s time to move on to the next asshole on the never ending list.
Unfortunately, there are several. It never ends.
* * *
Sun heats my skin as my eyes blink to clear the few hours I have slept. My blinds are drawn, but I don’t remember doing it the day before. I keep my eyes closed and listen for any sounds. When I find none, I roll to my side, cursing when the broken spring in the couch imbeds into my side. I always live in fear that I will wake up and one of my targets will be sitting there waiting for me. If it wasn’t for my body’s natural instinct to sleep, I would go without. Being deep asleep is one of the biggest mistakes I can make.
My apartment is small, but that’s all I need. I’m never home anyway, preferring to live in as much solitude as I can. It only takes me a few steps until I’m in my tiny kitchen, scooping up coffee grounds to pour into the maker. I haphazardly fill the machine with water, spilling some on the counter. As soon as I press the button, I stumble toward my bathroom while my morning breakfast brews as slow as humanly possible.
Grabbing up my phone, I return to the kitchen and lean against the counter, looking to see if I missed any messages during my three hour nap. It doesn’t take long before I find the news article talking about Joshua’s arrest when I scan the local newspaper’s websites. His mug shot makes me cringe.
Under the cover of darkness, you don’t notice much of a person’s face. Now that it’s in bright colors, I actually feel a little bad for the beat down I gave him the night before. The article goes on to say that the suspect seemed to have been in scuffle right before he was arrested at his residence. There is no mention of me, or my little visit.
Good boy, Joshua.
I flip over to my bank’s online access and see that Stacey’s father wired the money for my services. I refuse to even look at the current balance, but it does register that there are six figures sitting there collecting dust. I don’t do this for the money, but the families who find me through…well, less than appropriate channels, seem to use my payment as some sort of closure. I use only the minimum amount of funds to live, and the rest I will donate anonymously to a charity of my choosing later on in the year.
I flex my right hand as I hold my coffee in my left. There are bruises forming on my knuckles, but that’s just part of the perks to what I do. I’d hoped to make it to the gym today to spar with my trainer, but he would just turn me around and tell me to go home when he sees the damage.
With a heavy sigh, I climb to my feet again and make my way toward the freezer. I dump the ice tray into a plastic bag and tie it closed. Cursing, I place the pack over my knuckles and twist a clean dishrag around it, holding the bag in place. I hope it will work over the next few hours, and I can go into the Quarter without any signs that I’d been in a recent fight.
My phone rings as it’s sitting on the couch next to me. I set my coffee aside and pick it up. The caller is listed as unknown, but I already know that it will be another possible client. I do not have friends, and even if I did, I’d know their numbers by heart. Another bad decision would be to have people who know me programmed into my personal phone. That’s like a road map to my whereabouts…and I don’t want to be found.
“Yeah,” I mumble into the phone.
“Um,” the shaky female voice on the other end says. “I’m looking for an exterminator.” The underground calls me all sorts of things; exterminator, cleaner, huntress.
“I can help you,” I reply, leaving the line open for the person on the other end to give me all the details.
“My daughter was attacked and left for dead,” the female continues. She sniffles a few times as she composes herself to continue. “The man responsible has gone missing, and I hear you can help me find him.”
“Tell me what’s going on,” I urge.
“Brooke has been seeing this guy,” she begins, the nervousness in her voice changes from scared to angry within seconds. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that a mother will do anything to protect her child. Too bad my own mother wasn’t around to protect me. “He’s a piece of shit. She left with him last week, and we hadn’t heard anything until the police showed up at our door at midnight. She’s at the trauma center. He…he violated her and tossed her body off in a ditch outside the city. I want him taken out.”
“I’m so sorry,” I answer. The stories of these women are almost always the same. The same as mine, but I have to push my memories away and focus on what needs to be done. “Give me his name.”
“They call him Vyper,” she answers. “I don’t even know his real name, but he is part of the security team at Club Phoenix on Bourbon Street.”
“I know where that is,” I cringe. Vyper is a part of the biggest club in the French Quarter. I can find him, take him out, but I’ll have a hard time getting through the goons who watch over the place he works. Club Phoenix is notorious for the copious amounts of drugs that filter through the place on any given night. The man who owns the place is just as allusive as I am, and I’ve never seen him, but I know he’s there every single night, watching over his gang of muscled security. Those men are brothers by the blood they beat out of their clients who don’t pay up when the drugs are sold.
“I’ll pay you a million dollars,” the mother says through gritted teeth. “I don’t care what you do as long as he is no longer a problem.”
“I’ll send you the information.” I hang up and look in the bathroom mirror. My tired face stares back at me, knowing that I have to prepare to go on the hunt again. I don’t even bother asking her for money up front. I would do it for free if it gives the victim a sense of peace knowing the man who violated her wasn’t breathing anymore.
This time, I gather my keys with dread and walk out the door, knowing that one of these days, I will die doing what I can to avenge those who are speechless.
I shake off the visions that creep into my head, reminding me of the hell that made me who I am today. It doesn’t matter, because I have dedicated my life to saving the women in this city…the ones who have been victimized. Just like a vampire, I hunt in the dark, stalking the monsters and calculating the perfect time to strike.
This is who I am…This is what I do.
I am the huntress.
Copyright @Theresa Hissong 2018