KUMIR, Chapter 11: Playing the Sides

Jason was glaring at her before she even opened the glass door to the Hellas Café. In one of the booths Alec was finishing off dinner with Joey, and Jane gave the boy a playful wave of fingers as she walked quickly to the counter. He leaned aggressively towards her, frowning. “Who the fuck was that woman you –” he began, and then stopped as she laid two fingers against his lips. He smelled sandalwood and a kind of clean, oily aroma underneath. It was a familiar smell to him, but he couldn’t remember where…suddenly his eyes widened as he realized she had gun oil on her hands. Jason swallowed, and met her green eyes, focused intently on his.

“No time, boyo. I’m on a very tight schedule. Her name was Nastya. Did my note make sense?”

“Yeah,” he grudgingly allowed. “She’s upstairs sleeping in your room. I gave her some hot cocoa, as you suggested.” His scowl returned. “And I took it off your tab.”

Jane was unfazed. “Good. My kit?”

“Right here.” Lifting a rectangular black hard case from under the table, he looked at her quizzically. “Not to pry, but that looks just like a portable bar kit I once had. Shaker, shot glasses, mixing tools…”

“Right the first time, my sexy barista.” Jane seemed inordinately pleased that he’d recognized it.” She flipped open the case, revealing neatly coiled lengths of rope where the bottles would normally go, and a dizzying array of stainless steel blades, iron clamps, and brass chains neatly arranged under leather straps. “Works remarkably well as a tool kit, as you can see.” She looked over the collection with a critical eye, reaching out and rubbing a smudge off the dark mahogany handle of a butterfly knife. She tapped her chin thoughtfully, and finally seemed to come to a decision. “Hmm…Yes, this’ll work.” She snapped it shut with a satisfied click of the latch, and noticed Jason’s expression, somewhere between confused and worried. “What?” she said, a little defensively “It’s my rope kit!”.

Jason just stared. Jane sighed, setting the case down again. “You haven’t been to many kinky play parties, have you?”

He smiled wryly. “No, I keep my sex where it belongs, between me and my partner and God.”

Jane looked sharply at him, and opened her mouth as if to say something, but then closed it again. “I would explain, but as the Spaniard said, no, eet ees too mush. Lemme sum up.” She took a breath, and held up a finger as if giving a lecture. “Ego-driven attention whores such as moi who do frequent such parties –  ” she pirouetted, eliciting a round of applause from Joey in the far booth. “- have kits like this full of our tools. These are a few of my favorite things.” She tapped the case. “Nipple clamps. Blades, for sensation or cutting. Needles and sutures and chains, oh my!” Despite his best efforts, Jason was beginning to smile. “A few carabiners, my graspin’ brass ring for suspension, and about two hundred feet of Twisted Monk Nutella Rope.”

At that, Jason’s grin changed into a shocked O. “Twisted…what? Nutella…rope?” he gibbered.

“I know, can you believe it?” She grinned like a kid who’d scored a prize baseball card. “I couldn’t believe I got two hundred feet of it, but there was a problem on his site and for a change he didn’t sell out of the color of the month for almost two weeks! I was so fuckin’ happy I almost creamed my kneeler – er, chair, that is, right there.”

He was still staring. “But…why is it called…Nutella? And what the fuck is a twisted monkey?”

She tsked at the befuddled man behind the counter. “Twisted Monk, dear ignorant man, and it’s who, not what. Look him up, he’ll teach you a thing or two there at the Abbey. And as for the other – ” she quickly unlatched the case again, opening it and pointing at the dark tawny rope in neat bundles under a leather strap. “What would you call that color.”

Jason looked down at the rope for a moment, then back up at her, eyes resigned. “Nutella,” he allowed. He looked up at Jane. “Want to tell me what’s going on with the Incubikers? I take it if you need this, it’s actually going well?”

Jane smiled and patted his cheek. “Well, if I wasn’t having to teach you kink toys 101 right now, I could tell you, dear man, but now I’ve really run out of time.” She picked up her case and headed back towards the front door. Over her shoulder, she called. “If anyone asks about me, tell them that Nastya is helping me get all dolled up for my audition.”

“Your audi-“ Jason said, following it with “And where will you actually be?”

Jane paused at the door and dimpled a wicked smile at the barista. “Doin’ what I do best, of course. Stirrin’ shit up.” Then she was gone.

Jason exchanged a long look with Alec, still seated in the booth with Joey. The little boy looked from his father to the barista and back. ”I like her! She’s cool, like Mommy!”

Alec smiled at his son, ruffling his hair. “I hope she is, Joey. For her sake.” He glanced back to Jason behind the counter. “Because she’s got a wolf by the ears and a snake by the tail, and I don’t know…” He shook his head. “What do you think, Jason? Can she actually pull it off?”

Jason shook his head as well, echoing his friend’s worry. “Oh…I dunno, Alec, but damn, I hope so. She’s…got a spark, alright. I only hope that she is close to as competent as she is cocky.” He paused a moment, then seemed to come to a decision. “Regardless, I think I might just arrange for a little insurance.” Pulling out his cel, he began punching numbers.

Kitten LaRue sighed with a phlegmy, bubbly sound as she stepped gingerly into the clawfoot tub. She’d been hard at work, “inspiring” the girls as she put it, which usually consisted of threatening, berating, and occasionally slapping them around. The men tended to need more “encouragement” than the women, she reflected sourly, weaker sex my ass.

Sinking her body into the bubbles, she hummed softly to herself starting to relax. It took a moment for her to realize the single point of discomfort was at her neck – in the form of a knife point pricking just over her jugular vein. Kitty opened her mouth to scream just as a dark bundle of rope was shoved rudely between her lips, turning her shriek into a muffled groan. She felt a small, strong hand twist into her hair, forcing her head back.

Looking up, she saw the gamine face of Jane looking benevolently down at her. “Hello, sweet pussy,” the woman purred. “I just don’t have much time, and I wanted to be sure that I had your complete attention. Where’s the button to call Tony? Just show me with those pretty eyes.” Kitten’s eyes rolled wildly for a moment, then came to rest at an intercom mounted next to the tub. Jane stretched out her boot and tapped the red button. “Good. Now, while we wait for him, just listen.” Jane began talking in low, urgent tones.

Tony came in the bathroom door swearing with the gusto of an Australian born and bread. “Goddamnit, Kitten, don’t you fockin’ think I have betteh things to do than deal with yoh silly cunt –” His words transformed into an inarticulate gargle as Jane grabbed him by the hair, yanking his head back. She wrapped her other arm around his throat, pulling him further off balance, and as she dropped to her knee his ass hit the floor, one arm braced out to the side. His eyes bulged as he struggled to breathe past the iron bar that was her arm. Jane let go of his hair and snaked her hand around his supporting arm and he let out a squeak as he fell face first towards the tile. Eyes scrunched shut, he braced for impact…but then realized he had stopped, suddenly, nose inches from the floor. He hung there, frozen in Jane’s chokehold. His eyes were getting blurry, but he could clearly see the tip of a curved knife, blade richly inlaid with swirling patterns, slide in front of his nose. Abruptly the pressure around his neck loosened. Jane stood, letting the tip of the blade lead Tony to his feet as well. As he slowly got to his feet the man’s eyes nearly crossed with the intensity of his focus on the  on the near-invisible edge.

“Sorry about that, Tony m’love,” Jane said, her tone placating but the knife never wavering. “Man comes into his wife’s bathroom and finds a little nympho dyke has jacked his entire security system, he might can get a bit cantankerous.” She carefully laid a large folding buck knife that he recognized on the small counter next to the tub. His eyes widened as he realized Jane had removed it from his pocket. Then he noticed his wife sitting on the edge of the tub, naked, toweling her hair with a bored expression.

Somehow, the banality of that familiar action helped Tony finally find his voice. “Kitten? Are you alright? Why the fock are you just standin’ there when this –”

“Give her $1500, Tony.” Kitten didn’t even bother looking at him as she cut him off. “Now.” His mouth went wide with shock. Jane looked at the man and decided the immediate risk to herself was over, and made her knife disappear. Kitten continued, in a matter-of-fact tone. “She’s been spying on the IncuBiker’s for us, Tony, and she’s about to figure out what the fuck Theo got from New York that has him all balls-heavy.” She looked at Jane, who stood silently, waiting. “She can’t stay long. But she had some information that just couldn’t wait.” She gestured, and Jane finally spoke up.

“I was there when your girls were taken today,” she began. Tony’s face darkened, but she quickly continued. “I saw something that Theo and the others missed when they took down that truck.” She paused, waiting to see if Tony was listening, but he just glared at her. “That truck was a pretty new one – it had a hood-mounted camera system in it, as well as one up by the rear-view mirror, so the owners can make sure the drivers aren’t poppin’ pills and picking up hitchhikers.” Tony’s expression changed, the anger slowly replaced by understanding. “You see where I’m going with this? That truck has footage, date-stamped and untamperable, that would inextricably link Theo – and the whole IncuBikers gang – with human trafficking. Hell, since the women came from Russia, Homeland Security could probably slap their asses into Guantanamo.” Tony was smiling openly now, and rubbing his hands together. Jane smiled back at him. “Thought so. Glad you’re so happy. $1500 and I’ll tell you where the truck is.”

Tony’s hands froze, and he looked at his wife, then back at Jane. “$1500? Just for an address?”

Kitten snorted with disgust at her husband. “An address that can take down Theo Doukas, you shortsighted schmuck, and possibly more. An address with an expiration date, as well – Jane’s figures the brothers will figure it out any minute.” Jane nodded solemnly, and Tony grimaced, eyes narrowed and glancing around like a rat looking to escape a maze. Suddenly Kitten reached out and slapped him across the face, shouting “Give her the motherfucking money, you cheap Aussie bastard!”

“Fine!” he roared back at her, pulling out his smartphone and punching some buttons. Jane unfolded her tiny silver ring strip into her palm, but he waved it away, muttering “I’ve got you in the system, shela, I don’t need that hocus pocus any more.”

A moment later the green gem on Jane’s wrist flared to life, and she smiled. Tony’s cheek was still red from his wife’s slap as he looked at her with angry expectation. “The truck is being held at Central Avenue Auto Parts on Warren Street. It’s the only big truck on their lot, so it’ll be easy to find.” Tony nodded and began texting furiously on his phone, arranging for some out-of-town help.

Jane tipped an imaginary hat to them both and began to turn, then paused. “Kitten, darling? I don’t suppose you’d have something naughty and sheer I could borrow? I think the boys over there are expecting something more than denim and leather tonight.” Kitten looked confused, and Jane laughed, heading towards the bedroom. “Oh, don’t worry, dear, I’ll just help myself. Don’t worry, I won’t take anything too pricey – Goddess knows my tits could fit into one of your bra cups and still have room for Tony’s balls.” She winked saucily at the man as he looked up from his phone, vaguely aware he’d been mentioned. “But just barely, darling.” Jane gave a final wink. “Don’t worry, dearies, I’ll see myself out.”

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