“Everybody on the motherfucking ground! Palms on the floor by your shoulders. Anybody moves a fucking muscle and she’s dead first. Then I’ll get the rest of you one by one.”
The sharp cold of the polished concrete floor bit into my cheekbone as I slammed to the ground on my stomach. I made sure I landed with my face turned toward Tommy so that I could see both him and Emi. If she’d seemed scared when she came into the studio, she looked petrified by this point.
The color had drained from her beautiful amber skin and her pupils were startled pinpricks. I was sure it was from the adrenaline coursing through her veins, rather than a mind-altering substance. She didn’t seem like the type. Not only that, but I knew for a fact that she hadn’t taken anything in the last few hours at least, because she hadn’t been out of my sight since she’d walked into the studio.
The unfolding situation would terrify anyone. A gun pointed at her head, wielded by her deranged boyfriend. Tommy had his arm around Emi’s neck, crushing her windpipe in the crook of his elbow, clearly enjoying seeing her struggling for breath. If she didn’t do as she was told quickly enough for his liking, or grappled at his arm as she had a few times in an attempt to get more air, he just squeezed tighter to remind her who was boss. I didn’t doubt that he would kill her, either by strangling her or by sinking a bullet into her brain at point-blank range.
An image of the gruesome scene that would ensue if he did lodged in my mind, and I gagged on the bile that rose in my throat. There was no way I would let that happen. I’d take a bullet before I watched him do that to her.
I began running scenarios in my mind like football drills, ways I could take Tommy down and avoid anyone else getting hurt. I didn’t mind him coming to harm, but I didn’t want the rest of us to suffer more than we already had.
As though reading my mind, Tommy tightened his choke hold on Emi and walked farther into the room. “Nobody get any funny ideas or she’s gone. I mean it. This is not a drill, and don’t think I won’t end her. I’ll do it and not even think twice. She means nothing to me.”
Hate wasn’t a word I could ever recall using and actually meaning it. Sure, as a kid, I’d hated this or that trivial thing, or this person or that one. As an adult, I never used it, because it was an emotion I couldn’t connect with. But lying on that floor, watching Tommy pace around us, hearing Jorja’s faint sobs and sniffles, and watching the waterfall of tears silently cascade down Emi’s face as she struggled to fill her lungs, the muzzle of his gun creating a dent where he’d shoved it against her temple, I hated him with a ferocity that shocked me. Even under those extreme circumstances.
Maybe Tommy and I weren’t so different. I liked to think we were, that we were literal worlds apart, but with all that anger, hatred, and adrenaline-fueled power coursing through my veins, I couldn’t say that I wouldn’t stoop to behavior every bit as evil as his, if the situation called for it. But the difference was, I would only go there if there was no other option, no other way to help someone else. And I wouldn’t take the decision lightly. I didn’t consider hurting people a sport like Tommy seemed to.
Rough Ink Series