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THE DINER WAS dingy, grimy and dirty. He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped the chair down before carefully sitting in the booth.
Alessandra had run, but he would have her. Soon.
He shifted in his seat. His feet clung to the sticky floor and he grimaced. Carefully using two fingers, he opened the menu then couldn’t bear to hold the germ-infested plastic in his hands. He rubbed the table with two napkins to protect his skin from touching the filth.
“Are you going to order or keep cleaning?” A young woman with streaked blue hair and a tattoo on her neck stared down at him, chomping her gum.
He focused on the table, gripping his trousers. She was rude, but she was probably rude to everyone. He should ignore the urge. He had more important work to do.
“Come on, buddy. Either order or get out. I ain’t got all day.”
He pasted a smile on his face, but inside, his head throbbed, pounding at his temples. “Coffee. Three sugars. Cream. Not creamer, cream. The kind that comes from cows.”
“Freak,” she muttered and snagged the menu from him.
He clenched his fists and watched with an irritated gaze as she grabbed a cup, poured coffee into it and carelessly dumped in nondairy creamer.
As if he couldn’t tell.
The waitress practically dropped the cup on the table. Coffee sloshed over the edge. She didn’t even bother to wipe it down. She sashayed away to another booth where a smiling young man winked at her.
They ignored him. They always ignored him.
She wouldn’t ignore him for long.
Abandoning the coffee, he stood and walked out the door. He took a half dozen steps and waited, an alley situated strategically behind him.
The girl ran out of the coffee shop. “You can’t leave without paying!” she shouted.
“And you need to learn some manners.”
He smiled and grabbed her neck in a calculated pressure, using twenty pounds per square inch directed at her carotid artery. He wanted her weak, not unconscious.
He dragged her behind an industrial waste bin out of sight. Car horns honked, but no one saw. They ignored. Everything. Everyone.
Her eyes grew wide. She whimpered, trying to break his hold.
“I don’t think so, girl.” With a smile, he slipped a knife from his pocket. “You’re very rude,” he whispered, pressing the knife against her side. “You must be taught a lesson.” With a quiet move he slit her shirt on the side and flicked the sharp knife through a layer of skin.