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Copyright © C.J. Burright 2020. All Rights Reserved, Totally Entwined Group Limited, T/A Totally Bound Publishing.
Kat had signed the divorce papers before dawn. She’d wadded up the envelope the documents had arrived in and tossed it on the floorboard of her SUV before getting out. She’d let Vic, aka scumsack dogface—and not a cute pooch like a beagle or husky, but more of a Mexican hairless—have everything he’d asked for, including the house, the bank account, the twenty-year old Taylor Swift lookalike and her thigh-high boots. Dragging around someone else’s dirty laundry wasn’t her MO.
An hour of blowing holes in innocent targets beat reflecting on her miserable past, and guns were preferable to marriage. Her Colt Python had never betrayed her.
She stepped over the railroad tie that served as a curb and swung open the door leading into the firing range office with more force than necessary. A bell cheerfully announced her entry into the emptiness. Screw Vic. Screw his loyal sidekicks who she’d thought were her friends too. Screw the required leave of absence from her badge and gun. She didn’t need extra time to reflect on an error that would never be repeated. After a lifetime of being subtly criticized, she was fully aware of her every single flaw and knew exactly how to deal with them. Proving that didn’t require time off.
The case in her hand bumped her thigh, a reminder that she wasn’t taking leave of all guns. Her firearms collection was the one personal possession Vic hadn’t dared to touch or request in the split. During her obligatory absence, she’d accepted a temp job as firearms instructor for the local authorities of Graywood, a tiny town with an even tinier police force. A temporary stint in a backwoods village should be demonstration enough that she could handle anything.
The small-time outdoor range was nothing like the indoor luxury she was used to at home, and she liked it more because of the simplicity. A coded, automatic gate allowed members entry into the rural acreage miles from town and citizens, offering both privacy and safety. Beyond the one-room office that was presently unoccupied, a gravel road led to the dozen or so tin-shed shooting bays. It was basic, rustic and minimal.
But minimal was phenomenal. She was absolutely done with big-city pretenses and all the underlying dredges that went with it—the stuff only discovered after it was too late to prevent being slimed.
Kat lowered her gun case to the floor and grabbed the pen beside the login sheet. She scribbled her name and membership number, ready to use her new club benefits for the first time, long overdue for shooting off some steam. It was a shame she’d already destroyed the targets her sister Gia had made specially for her—all blown-up pictures of Vic’s face. Gia was the best sister on the planet.
The ding of another member entering the office echoed as she tossed the pen aside. She grabbed her case, pivoted toward the door and paused.
Son of a jerkface. The man blocking the exit was unfortunately familiar. Roman Farkos. Both times she’d crossed paths with Roman, bad things had happened—first a blow-up with her sister, then the aftermath of a shootout where Gia had been the victim. The fact that he was friends with Gia’s shady fiancé said it all.
Roman had a tendency to get on her nerves simply by breathing. The way he looked at her… It was as if his midnight eyes could see right into her soul and pluck every string that made her want to snap and snarl. No one needed to see her depths.
“Good morning, Katerina.” He slung his holster with his Desert Eagle over his arm. He was wearing all black.
Unsurprising—shady people, shady colors.
“Nice day to shoot something, isn’t it?”
“Is that a rhetorical question?” Kat narrowed her eyes. “Every day is a good day to shoot something.”
“Imagine that. We actually agree on a subject.” Roman leaned one shoulder against the doorjamb, clearly not going anywhere until he was good and ready.
“It was a nice day a few seconds ago, before you showed up—and don’t let our minimal agreement fool you into thinking I’m going soft.” She flipped her long ponytail behind her shoulder and sniffed. “The only thing I like about you is your gun.”
He twitched one black eyebrow and his eyes glittered like a crow’s when spying a shiny jewel in the grass. It didn’t take much imagination to follow where his mind had gone—straight into the gutter.
“I’m referring to the Desert Eagle in your holster, scumbag—not your little gun.” She waved at his crotch.
“How dare you objectify me,” he said in a monotone. “I’m deeply offended.”
“And I’m deeply annoyed. Move aside. I need to shoot until I’m out of ammo.”
“Bad day already?” If he were the smirking type, she suspected he’d be wearing one. From what she’d seen of Roman so far, he strictly controlled his expressions, as if he got a personal thrill from making people guess at his emotions. “It’s barely dawn.”