Like fall in love with the bombshell he was sent to kill….
As he caught his caving breath, he scanned the street and spotted a bargain clothing store a few shops down. He rushed in, grabbed a pair of jeans off a shelf, a hoodie from a rack, and went straight to a dressing room. Once he transferred his wallet and cigarettes into his pockets, and removed the reading glasses, he stepped out of the dressing room like a new man. “Ah, just what I need.” With calm only a man used to a life of chaos could have, he strolled over to a row of baseball caps and fitted the nearest one onto his head.
The cashier stared at him with wide, unbelieving eyes, before her nervous gaze shifted to the street. Two hospital guards and a few cops stood outside hitting up pedestrians for information. Sam smiled at the girl. She looked barely of age, probably only in the work force for a few months. He’d bet a grand she was about to pee behind that counter.
He lifted his hands to reassure he didn’t have a weapon. “You have nothing to fear from me.” With one hand still raised, he reached into his pocket with the other, pulled out a few bills and gently placed them onto the counter. “This is more than enough for the clothes, and a little extra for you.”
She nodded despite the shimmer of tears in her eyes. “I won’t say anything. Just promise you won’t hurt me.”
Sam smiled again, positive she wouldn’t alert the cops. “I promise, and I appreciate your cooperation. It’s not what you think.”
He knew she didn’t believe him. “Whatever you say, mister.” Sam headed toward the front door. “You—you’re gonna go out there? There’s cops everywhere,” the girl said, her eyes wide with surprise, her mouth curved up in a do it, I dare you grin.
Sam couldn’t help a low chuckle. She may be scared, but like a typical kid, she was thrilled by the chase. He headed for the door again, but paused to say over his shoulder, “If I were you, I’d treat myself to a night out with that money. It’s Saturday, the best day of the week.”
The cashier blushed and pocketed all of the money. “We don’t have cameras in here. Stuff goes missing all the time.” She shrugged, obviously more comfortable now that he was leaving, and maybe because she had made a few bucks for keeping her mouth shut. She grinned. “Have a good day, sir, and good luck.”
Sam winked and walked out of the store, right in front of the men in uniform. He knew he wouldn’t be recognized with a new outfit and a baseball cap. He plastered an expression of concern on his face. “What’s going on?” He stood next to one of the officers, withdrew a cigarette and his lighter from the case. As he lit the end and took a long drag, one of the cops turned to face him.
The officer gave Sam a good once-over and nodded. “We’re looking for a man who just escaped from the hospital.”
“You mean a mental patient?”
The cop shook his head. “No. All we know at this time is that he was wearing grey slacks with a white button-up shirt, glasses, and he looked to be of mixed descent. Average height and build.” The cop glanced at him again from shoes to baseball cap.
Sam hid his amusement as he sucked in another deep drag of his cigarette. Mixed descent could mean anyone this day and age. He was often confused as being Asian or Native American, or a mixture of the two, and he enjoyed keeping people guessing his true African-Irish origin. “I see.”
Another officer joined them. Sam recognized him as one of the guys connected to the McCoys. They often called upon him for Intel: when patrol would be going by, or to make tickets and profiles disappear, or to dig up background on a person. He was also among the badges at Colton’s funeral. As they made eye contact, Sam kept his expression passive. “Well, I hope you find him. We don’t need criminals running around these streets.”
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