Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 89

 This story is for Miranda Kate's weekly flash challenge. This is from Miranda's post:

This week's prompt photo I found online, probably through Twitter, but I can't find any results on its origins online on any searches.

Here's a link to the prompt photo

This is Part II of the story Ave Maria from an earlier Patreon post.  It's sort of cheating, but, hey, it's my post...  

Please note that anyone can join in with a story up to 750 words. Mine has 640 words for those who are counting.

Ave Maria, Part II

    by K. R. Smith

I took a sip of my coffee and kept one eye on Maria. They were both hot. But Maria had been too quiet, so I decided to start up a conversation.

"You said you had a disagreement with Tony about the money. So, how'd you work things out?"

"Does it matter?"

"Maybe." I took another sip. This wasn't going to be easy. "Yeah, I know. You're a great negotiator. First, you make eye contact—"

Maria shot me a look that made the back of my head hurt.

"I told you not to worry about that."

"Oh, sure. Everything's fine." 

I looked away, but I could see her rubbing her leg out of the corner of my eye. There was enough light to see the burn marks on her calf from a rope.  

"I, uh, guess you've been wearing your pantyhose a little too tight, huh?"

Maria ignored me. If she didn't want to talk, there wasn't a power on Earth that could make her. 

"Look, Maria, I know I'm nothing special to you, but that doesn't mean I want to see you get hurt. I just want to know what's going on, if that's not too much to ask."

Marie set her cup on the counter and turned towards me. "Of course, you're special. If you weren't, I wouldn't be here, would I?"

"You tell me."

"Look—I'll make it short. Tony's a greedy guy. When I said I wanted my money back, we had a difference of opinion on the terms. I wanted half, and he wanted it all. And a little more for his trouble. Thought he could get a bit extra by sending me to an associate who runs, well, let's call it a home for wayward girls. He didn't want me to spoil the deal, so he made sure I couldn't leave. Tony has a thing for rope, it seems. He needed to leave for a while, so he called his friend to come and get me. Then he left."

"Jesus, Maria! What happened?"

"I was in a house. Houses have kitchens. Kitchens have knives."

"So, you cut your way loose. What about Tony's friend?"

"I waited for him."

"What? Are you crazy?" The barista looked up at me. I took a deep breath and continued in a more subdued tone. "Why not leave?"

"I wanted to see what I was worth."

"Really? It might have been worth your life."

"Well, we had a good time."


"We played a little game. I have to say, he didn't want to play at first. Shy, I suppose. But I managed to persuade him."

"I'll bet. Cards? Monopoly? What?"

"I call it 'Noose and Stool.'" Maria shrugged. "We had a lot of rope."

"You mean you left this guy hog-tied and standing tiptoe on a wobbly stool with a noose around his neck?"

"Around his neck?" Maria's eyebrow raised. "I suppose that would have worked, too."

I was taking a drink when Maria laid that one on me. I think the coffee shot out my nose. I reached for a napkin. Right after that, the barista came over with the bill. Maria grabbed it before I could even make an attempt.

"You finish cleaning up. I'll take care of this."

She reached into her cleavage and pulled out a wad of bills that would choke a horse. A big horse.

"No wonder you never let me near there."

She smiled and tossed a note for twice the amount on the counter.

"Keep the change."

"You know, we should probably make ourselves scarce. I have a feeling you might have upset some very unfriendly people."

"Probably. Besides, I'm bored." Her eyes narrowed a little as she smiled. "Let's do something exciting for a change."

Those words scared me more than anything I'd ever heard in my entire life.

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