The bass from the club could be felt even as they parked nearby. A line of clubrats waited in vain, wrapped around the block to get into a club they'd never see the inside to.
Lyla walked up front to the door like she owned the place, acting like the bouncer wasn't even there. There was no question about who she was, he just let them through.
The crowd was dense, the music bumping. As Simon looked around, he found that he hated pretty much everyone in the damn building. The pair of them ascended the stairs to the mezzanine, catching Cotter surrounded by a kiss-ass chorus of sycophants. The stocky crime lord was bent over a table, snorting a line of white powder.
He rose up, eyes wide and dilated, letting out a whoop. ?God DAMN!? He bellowed. When his eyes met Simon, he opened his arms.
?Heh-heh-heeeey! Look at this mother ****er!? He pushed through, completely ignoring his wife (not that she could have cared less) roughly throwing his arm around Simon?s shoulder. ?How you doin? kid? Come on, do a bump with me.?
Simon fought the urge to punch him in the face, moving through the crowd. ?Nah. I'm good.?
?Ahhhh ya pussy!? Cotter chuckled. ?Get this prick a drink!?
As soon as he could, Simon broke away, glass of bourbon in hand. Lyla was already 3 or 4 shots and a few pills in, surrounded by a gaggle of low lives. That was a woman sprinting towards an early grave if he ever saw one.
He didn't like this place. Too many bodies, flashing strobes. It made it difficult to watch for an attack. Plus, finding someone acting suspicious in place where 80% of the inhabitants were high as kites and trying desperately to get laid was no easy task. He leaned forward upon the railing overlooking the crowd when a figure sidled up beside him.
Lyla stared at him, her hip pressed against the railing and her arms crossed in front of her. A disapproving look on that perfect little face. ?Are you going to just stand here looking miserable all night??
Simon turned to face her. ?Not my scene.? he responded, taking a sip from his glass and glancing over to the crowd. ?Besides. Not paying me to have a good time.?
She rolled her eyes. ?You always this ****ing dire? Or only when you?re drinking top shelf liquor on my husband?s dime??
He wanted to say so much. That working for her husband was as much fun as a forced colonoscopy. That this wasn?t a vacation for him. That he could care less if the scumbag and his entire organization burned. That if he had the choice between this club and having his balls jabbed with red hot pokers, he?d go with the pokers. Instead he just grinned and turned back to the crowd.
?Dance with me.? Lyla demanded.
Simon furrowed his brow, glancing her way.
?Don?t stare at me like I just asked you a rudimentary math problem, I said dance with me.? Lyla shot at him, grabbing the man by the arm and tugging him away. But Simon didn?t budge. He just looked at her under his brows.
?I?ve seen what happens to men who flirt with Cameron Cotter?s wife. No thanks.? He said.
Lyla?s teeth clenched hard, the muscle in her jaw rolling beneath the skin. ?What if I told him you touched me in the car? ?I begged him to stop, Cammy, but he kept on going!?? She said putting on a sweet innocent voice.
?You really think I?m gonna let you blackmail me?? He asked her, that unreadable thousand yard stare on his face that gave even her the chills.
She sighed, the smart-assed game dropping. ?Look. Just one dance. He?s not gonna care about a dance, alright??
He remained silent for a moment.
?Please?? Her tone seemed genuine, despite the drugs and liquor in her system. Simon glanced Cotter?s way and the man raised a glass, grinning that golden toothed grin.
He sighed and turned to her. ?Fine. One.?
She grinned big ?Yay!? Suddenly, she grabbed him by the arm and lead him down the stairs and through the crowd onto the dance floor. Her arms rose and hips swayed seductively to the music. The woman had a natural grace to her even now. Her arms reached out, grabbing Simon by the open jacket as she worked her way toward him. For a moment, he was lost. Only aware of the bass seemingly coursing through his body, the way he moved in rhythm to the beat, and the proximity of Lyla Cotter to himself.
He snapped back to reality as he caught the glimpse of something out of the corner of his eye. A man in an immaculately tailored suit was watching them *very* intently. He looked to one side and found another. And then another toward the back exit. Finally, he and the first man caught each other?s eyes. The two reading each other for what felt like hours, but was actually seconds. It almost happened in slow motion, what came next. The man reached behind him, drew a .45 1911 and pointed it at them.
?DOWN!? Simon yelled out, pulling Lyla close and dropping low just as the weapon was fired. The bullet missed Lyla?s head by millimeters, but burst through the skull of a bystander behind them. Even as the bystander?s head burst in a mist of red, Simon pulled a glock from his waisband and opened fire, but the hitman was already diving for cover. Immediately the place was in a panic. Simon used the crowd, yanking the inebriated woman to her feet and disappearing in the throng. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Cotter?s kiss asses smuggling him out a side door upstairs. The cowardly son of a bitch didn?t even put up a fight.
The hit men were shoving through the crowd looking for their targets. Simon kept his head low and Lyla behind him until the nearest thug was within arm?s reach. He lashed out quickly, redirecting the gun upwards and lunging forth. His forehead slammed into the man?s nose, snapping his head back. Simon wasted no time, putting two to his chest and one to his head.
His weapon empty, he threw away the gun, protectively covering a panicking, INCREDIBLY high Lyla as they pushed on. Suddenly a pair of hands grabbed him from behind. Simon spun himself around , the hitman?s grip remaining on his suit coat. Simon just put his arms out, slipping out of the jacket and roundhouse kicked the man in the chest. Before the man could recover, he grabbed him by the back of the head and simultaneously pulled him down and drove his knee into his face.
The men at the back turned their automatic weapons on the crowd and just opened fire, indiscriminate of who they hit. Simon immediately tackled Lyla to the ground, his lips going to her ear. ?Stay still. Do not move.? He ordered her, sliding her underneath two already dead bodies. He play dead, keeping eye contact with her. The fear he saw there was something he never thought he?d see in the woman. Maybe it was the drugs, but any facade she usually carried around was gone, and he saw her for who she really was.
Footsteps approached as he clutched an object tightly in his hand. ?This is him. This is the son of a bitch.? he heard a voice say. A strong hand gripped his shoulder and rolled him. Immediately, he flicked out his switchblade and stabbed, backhanded right in the jugular of the thug hovering over him. Blood burst from the man?s lips as he gasped, coating Simon?s face in a spray of arterial crimson. He withdrew the knife roughly and shut the man?s mouth permanently, driving the blade through the bottom of his jaw and up through the roof of his mouth.
One hand gripped the gun as the other pulled him down, using the body as cover. The last hitman opened fire, the bullets absorbed by his musclebound former friend. Simon pulled the trigger, but one handed, the bullets weren?t well aimed, but the spray managed to catch him, ripping through the hitman?s clothing and torso in a bloody, violent series of bursts.
Lyla lay there on the ground hidden beneath the bodies of innocents who were killed by bullets meant for her. Tears rolled down her face, marring that perfect make-up. As the bodies were pulled off of her, she let out a scream and started lashing out like a feral creature until Simon grabbed her wrists. ?HEY! HEY! It?s me!?
Eventually she calmed, clinging to him tightly as she struggled to control her breathing. ?Come on. We need to get out of here.? He told her. Lyla stared up at him wide-eyed, a look of appreciation and admiration...actual warmth on her face toward him. And right then, in their perfect moment together...the cops burst into the club.