Slim hoisted Elaine up by the lapels of her jacket and applied a choke hold to encourage her cooperation. The pendant dangled and swayed back and forth from his fingers as he walked her back toward the shattered glass corridor. His booming voice spoke hurried Chinese and the gunfire stopped. Then he spoke his perfect English, “Oh, Jack? It’s time to end this nonsense. There’s nowhere to run. I promise, Jack, it will be painless.” He nuzzled Elaine’s neck. “For the both of you,” he added.

From the darkness, Jack called out evenly, “Let her go. She has nothing to do with us and our business.” He waited a moment, then offered, “A simple trade: me for her.”

“That’s not like you, Jack. You’ve never had regard for hostages before. Why now? What is she to you?” The Chinese man asked, pulling Elaine closer. “A lover?” Looking beneath the bill of her hat, he appraised her sharp features and let a finger trail down her prominent cheekbone. “Yes. I can see that. No deal, Jack.”

Jack emerged from the shadows and reluctantly he surrendered his weapons. If Elaine was disappointed, it didn’t show. She had, through the years of being married to Jack, perfected the most serene of poker faces—and he knew it. Her face showed no fear, but her eyes shone with fury, and not for the man holding her captive.

As they headed east in the corridor of glass, Elaine looked at the profile of her husband and said, “I take it you’re not in reconstructive management?”

He narrowed his black eyes, warning her to cease.

“Are you telling me to shut up with that look, Jack? Well, tough shit, I’m not going to.”

“Elaine,” he warned with gentle measure.

“Don’t Elaine me,” she hissed back. “You and me; we’re going to hash some things right now.”

Jack looked back at his adversary, a defeated smile on his lips. “Women.”

“You can talk on the way, Jack.” Slim instructed.

“Lectured is more like it. She likes to be on top, so to speak. You know, control things.” Elaine was a lot of things; stupid wasn’t one of them, and Jack recognized her ploy and egged her on. “Isn’t that right, darling?”

“I need a little more than a minute before I lose control, Jack,” she shot back sweetly.

That was all the time Jack needed to shove the lone escort into Slim, knocking them over like discarded chess pieces. He tried grabbing Elaine, but she bent over and reclaimed the pendant in front of Slim.

“Mine!” she exclaimed, placing a well polished loafer to his groan, stymieing any retaliation he felt rising.

Like their marriage, each wanted to go a different direction; so they did. Elaine to the south and west, and Jack to the north. Neither hesitated as they disappeared into the fog and light rain. The mist sealed quickly behind their fleeing forms, leaving no trace of their intrusion.

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