To be honest, I forgot it was my day to blog and I'm drawing a blank, so here's an UNEDITED snippet of Hitwoman 12. Are you caught up on the rest of the series?
The shaman pantomimed the act of violently snapping the bird’s neck. The action raised the hem of his sweatshirt.
I averted my eyes, afraid to even look in his direction.
The chicken squawked nervously.
“No.” I backed up a step. “I won’t do it.”
“No?” Armani shrieked. “Why not?”
“I promised I wouldn’t hurt her,” I mumbled.
Armani gave me the same look people often give my mother who resides in a mental institution. “Are you a vegetarian now or something? Because if you are, your Aunt Susan is going to be very unhappy with you.”
“Of course I’m not. I’m just keeping a promise. And I promised this bird,” I smoothed its feathers, “that I wouldn’t hurt her.”
“You must kill it,” the shaman insisted.
The poor bird trembled in my arms.
I shook my head. “I won’t do it.”
The shaman squinted at me. “There is no other way.”
The lizard squeaked.
I knew what he was saying. “There’s always another way.”
Bending over, I put the bird down.
“Go,” I made a shooing motion as it scratched the ground by my feet. “Fly away! Save yourself!”
The bird clucked, beat its wings, and fluttered awkwardly, landing with an ungraceful wobble a few yards away.
Disappointment glittered in Armani’s gaze.
A slow, three-tooth smile spread across the shaman’s face.
I cringed inwardly wondering what he’d have me do next. Raising my chin, I put my hands on my hips and waited.
“You have a kind heart,” he declared.
I blinked, surprised. I doubted he’d say that if he knew I’d killed people. For money.
He considered me shrewdly. “You keep your promises.”
“Resonance,” he said.
“Residence?” Armani asked, clearly as confused as me.
“Resonance,” he corrected. “Find the right resonance and you’ll find what you’re looking for.”
“She wants to talk to animals,” Armani interrupted.
The shaman pointed to the chicken, indicating I’d communicated with the bird. Then he held out his hand, palm up.
I stared at him blankly.
“Pay the man,” Armani prompted.
I frowned. “For what?”
Armani shook her head and gave me a look that told me I was embarrassing her. “Pay him. He told you what you need.”
“Resonance?” I didn’t bother to disguise my skepticism.
The shaman kept his hand outstretched.
“How much?” I asked grudgingly.
“Whatever you think is fair,” the shaman replied softly.
That wasn’t helpful. I looked to Armani for guidance, but all she offered was a shrug. So I made the logical choice. I looked to the chicken for advice.
“How much?” I asked the bird.
She cocked her head to the side as though considering my question.
“You’re asking the bird?” Armani asked incredulously.
“It’s not like you helped,” I snapped.
The chicken bawked loudly.
“Twenty. Just give him twenty,” Armani offered.
The chicken ran up to me and pecked at my feet.
“Ow!” I stumbled away, trying to keep my sneakers out of reach of the bird’s beak.
The lizard squeaked.
Even though I couldn’t understand them, I knew they were telling me something.
I watched the bird as I pulled a wad of bills from back pocket, trying to figure out what she wanted.
She looked back at me pitifully and I could tell she was still trembling.
I looked from the bird to the shaman and sighed, knowing what it was she was asking.
“I’ll give you twenty for your....,” I almost choked getting out the word, “help”. I sighed before adding, “And another twenty for her.”
The shaman grinned again. “Deal.”
Handing over two twenty dollar bills, I scooped up the bird, who now let me pick her up without running around like a fool, and stalked out of the yard.
Armani limped after me. “You’re not putting that thing in my car.”
“Good thing I drove then,” I growled.