Heart to Heart
Theodore slinked in the shadows of food stalls and pop-up booths. The festival was in full swing with many anticipating the fireworks display. With the sky finally clear, the super moon was in full view.
The werecat chalked it up to a mere illusion, but he reckoned the moon boosted his senses and strength in his partially transformed state. The moon was so pretty, and he wished he and Boss continued their impromptu date rather than conspiring a murder.
Boss frolicked with the chief commissioner not too far away. Alexis kept an arm twisted about Boss’ for the majority of the night, only parting when they played a game or needed both hands to consume a treat. Damn Boss used his fan to crank up the charm.
His tail flickered.
Reject him his ass. The werecat had a hard time accepting Boss wasn’t head over heels in love with Alexis. In any other circumstance, the chief commissioner could be Boss’ type. Shorter than him. A positive force in the community. Blonde. Holds a position of power. Green eyes. Deep connection with family…He checked all the essential boxes.
Theodore gritted his teeth.
He identified five other Rift members idly waiting for the signal to ambush the poor man. They really couldn’t kidnap him and send him off to a luxury vacation or bribe him with more money? Boss was good with words; he could convince the man holding Alexis over the fire to…like…not?
He understood why Boss wanted to avoid the extra steps, but killing the chief commissioner left more problems he wasn’t obligated to address. Like his family. Didn’t Alexis have a couple cousins he was watching? What would happen to them?
Theodore hid when a vendor stepped out to restock his food truck’s ice supply. When he no longer sensed the vendor’s presence, he crawled out of hiding and continued to pursue Boss and his marked for death date.
Looking more like a large monstrosity, Theo had changed from his tea date attire into his usual black sweats and hoodie. Shoes wouldn’t contain his snow leopard-like feet, but he concealed his other feline features behind a worn white rabbit mask. Anyone dabbling in crime in Razor city knew the rumors of the White Rabbit. Police only heard of him through cold sweat reports and unintelligible mumblings of survivors who encountered him or those who donned a white rabbit mask.
As much as Theodore would like to leave no witnesses to his crimes, Boss was a sucker for men who told tales. Theo was faster than the average man and could withstand normal bullets fine, so escaping the police was never an issue. Although, he preferred avoiding capture altogether.
Theodore growled behind the scuffed mask. Deliberately being shot and caught for this mission failed to click yet.
The fireworks show began, and Theodore knew it was almost time to take a bullet. He swallowed hard and peaked around the stall to watch Boss separate from Alexis.
The commissioner had stepped out of traffic and leaned against a picnic table. With eyes to the firework lit sky, he was about to eat more of his ice cream until a Rift member walked up to confront him.
Theodore couldn’t discern the conversation from his spot, but Boss informed him that the plants would bullshit about their families being affected by Alexis’ police department or about possible corruption or about stepping down before the mayoral election. The more physical contact they made the better.
Boss’ farce of plan was overly performative and contrived. There were too many moving parts. Something was going to go wrong. Ending it now would save them the hassle. Theodore removed a revolver from his hoodie pocket.
His feline ears twitched beneath the hoodie, and he turned around to aim his gun at the rapidly advancing cop.
“Drop your weapon and hands up!” they ordered as they slowed to a walk. Strange. An undercover cop here? Theodore did as he was told.
“Kick it to me.” He complied without breaking eye contact with the cop. They quaked but held the handgun steady as they bent over to retrieve his.
“Idiot,” he whispered. His ears twitched again.
Did the Rift member draw a gun?
Vendors popped out of the booth he hid behind.
The officer looked conflicted—check on the situation or keep an eye on the suspicious man dressed up way too early for Halloween? Theodore watched them sidestep to get a clearer view of the situation. He didn’t imagine Boss ordering anyone to shoot at Alexis. If he tasked the job to the underlings, why bother asking him?
The moment the officer glanced in Alexis’ direction, Theodore retreated around the booth. Sadly, the commissioner wasn’t clutching his side, cursing the world, and slowly bleeding out. The bastard was gone. He sucked in his teeth and searched the immediate area for Alexis. Boss and the other Rift members were the ones with scents he recognized. Theo never had a chance to memorize Alexis’ scent. Boss rarely visited him smelling like the commissioner. Hunting for the burly man should be a cinch if everyone else retreated from the scene. Alas, Alexis didn’t stay behind.
Only a cop handcuffing a Rift member occupied the vacated area.
Theo knew this was all an act.
Boss would find a way to free him later. The cop and everyone involved in the capture would earn a little something extra. The public will be angry. The cycle starts again.
With his head low and hands in his pockets, he fell back into the retreating crowd. Best to save his energy for the main target.
But where did he go?
A gunshot followed that one.
People tripped over themselves. Some shoved past Theodore as they twirled on their toes and ran in the other direction. This would have been a lot easier if Boss didn’t enlist other men. What was the point? Did he not trust him?
The past few jobs were a bit sloppy, but he didn’t need the handholding to start now.
His nose tingled behind the mask.
Steadying his footing, he searched for Boss. He spotted him pushing back against the last few rows of people. “Stop resisting!” drew his attention. Undercover officers were ganging up and restraining the remaining Rift members. With an unnerving look of calm in his eyes, Alexis aimed his gun at the unruly group.
Was this supposed to be the plan B opening? With a sigh, he charged at Alexis.
“Chief Commissioner! To your left!” warned a voice. Alexis whipped around but lowered his weapon and took a defensive stance as if to brace for a tackle.
One gunshot followed by another.
He raised his gun and scanned the crowd to pinpoint the source.
From the pain at his arm, Theo knew he was shot. Was the culprit Boss, an officer, or a Rift member? Did it matter? He deliberately tripped on his feet and fell forward onto the grass.
“Al!” Boss shouted.
Of course, it was Boss. Despite doing his best, his accuracy was shit. Alexis hadn’t fallen, and here he was faking death.
“The bastards really tried to get the jump on me,” the commissioner grunted.
“Units should be here shortly. Stay alert for any other fanatics.”
“Watch out for this one.”
“Is he dead?”
“I don’t know,” Boss said. “I tried to shoot him. Here. I think this belonged to the gunmen. His prints might still be on there.”
“Just drop it on the ground, sir.”
And move away from here, damn it. Theodore could steady his breath for so long. It’d be hard to spring into action from this position, and he’d like to aim for the chief commissioner. Taking down the two…three cops would be too much work, but back up was also coming. He couldn’t take his sweet ass time.
“Careful. He may just be unconscious.”
“You think he’s one of them boys who sent the death threats?”
“God, look at these hands. Are the claws fake?”
Theodore heard the sirens. He couldn’t wait for the commissioner to approach him. He swiped and grabbed at the nearby officer’s legs, swung them around to build momentum, and hurled them at the other officer.
Spotting Alexis, Theo dug his claws into the dirt and propelled all fours towards the man.
“Stay away!” he screamed. Alexis shot once and sought cover in the stall behind him. Theodore effortlessly pounced over the barrier, yet having overshot his strength, he barreled into the man.
One shot fired into his stomach. Grunting, he pushed through the pain.
“Why? Why me?” Alexis cried, forcing more bullets through Theo’s torso.
Theodore quickly overpowered him in strength and pinned him down.
“Just one more night. Please.” The man’s voice was shaking, but he writhed beneath him, and fire burned in his eyes. He wasn’t giving up.
To force Alexis to relinquish his weapon, Theo twisted his arm outward as the chief commissioner fired his last bullet with a scream.
“Nothing personal,” Theodore said. Reaching into his hoodie pocket, he felt for his revolver. All he got was a paw-hand wet with his own blood. He had forfeited the gun earlier. Damn it.
Alexis hissed between clenched teeth, “I’m sorry.”
“Tell Mord, I’m sorry.”
Theodore didn’t ask who Mord was when he plunged his hand through Alexis’ heart.