Dead End Job: A Louisa Hallstrom Novel(66)

By: Ingrid Reinke

Things were going fine until we reached Martin’s cube. Suddenly he stopped, walked over to his desk, and plopped down the stack of reports he was holding with a concerned look on his face. The greenish light from the kitchen illuminated his pale, blotchy face as he looked down at the papers with consternation and frowned.

“Are you sure this is everything I need?” he asked, still shuffling through the papers. “I just want to be sure. Maybe I should call the person at Guy Farner and ask.”

“Oh, no,” I said, my voice cracking in a high squeak. This was no time to lose my shit. I swallowed my panic and made myself speak in a calm, low voice. “I’m sure that you’re fine. You have all of the financials from the legal department. Everything from Elaine’s files. That’s got to be what they need. See? I started with the very first one from January and there is each month going forward.”

I leaned over his shoulder and started going through the paperwork, hoping to assure him that he had everything he was after. But as I shuffled through the papers, instead of following along with what I was pointing out, Martin seemed distracted. His desk drawer was open and his left hand was shuffling around for something. I figured he was trying to find a paperclip. I tried to ignore it, and stuck with my self-appointed task, until Martin slowly turned his head to look up at me. “Lulu, I’m really sorry about this,” he said, quietly.

A chill flowed through my body. I quickly pulled my hand away from the desk and stood up. “Everything’s fine Martin,” I said, even though I didn’t believe one word of it. “We can go now, have a drink, and I’ll forget that this ever happened. You don’t have to hurt me, we’re friends.” My body shook from fear and adrenaline. I backed up carefully. Martin followed me slowly.

“I know, Lulu,” he whispered. “We’re friends, you know, and this is hard for me, but you have to understand, this is part of the deal. Guy Farner won’t let me work there if anyone knows about this little deal that we had. I’m sorry that I had to get you involved in this. I tried to keep you out of it, I really tried! I wanted to you leave this company, but those other dumb bitches couldn’t get me what I needed. First Sarah, then Maya. I told them what I needed, but they could only give me some bullshit reports that no one cared about. You know that Elaine doesn’t even know how to access those reports. I realized that you’re the only one who could get me this stuff. You know it’s true, Lulu, so I’m sorry, but this is the only way.”

As we spoke I had backed all the way through the kitchen; we were now in front of the double glass doors. Martin stopped walking and slowly lifted his left hand up from behind his back. In it was a dark grey, shiny, pistol.

“No Martin,” I whimpered. He was going to shoot me at point blank range, and I was going to die, right here in the entrance of the Merit office.

“I said I was sorry, Lulu.”

I dove as fast and as far as I could toward Martin, screaming. I saw a bright flash. I didn’t hear the shot, but I felt like someone had socked me in the left shoulder, hard. I fell backwards. My ass hit the ground, followed by my shoulders and finally my head, banging against the glass doors with a loud ‘thud.’ As I laid there on the carpet, I heard Martin breathing heavily as his large body stood over mine. I stayed as still as I could and didn’t open my eyes. I didn’t know if he was going to shoot me again. I didn’t know if I would die anyways from the first wound. I did know that I fiercely wanted to live, to fight him, to stop him from hurting me more, but I couldn’t move. I felt paralyzed. I was begging my body for action, and opened my eyes in the same instant that he was lifting the gun, aiming for my head this time.

BOOM. The glass door above me shook violently. My head rocked back and forth against the hard surface. BOOM. The door that I’d been leaning on was suddenly gone. My head crashed to the ground as the door shattered into a million pieces. My arms instinctively flew up around my face as shards of thick glass fell onto my head and body. BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM. Four more explosions rocked me.

In the silence after the last explosions I heard a voice calling my name. “Louisa! Louisa! Are you OK? No! No! Oh my God, Louisa!”

His hands were on me within seconds, wiping away shards of glass, lifting my head up off of the floor and holding me close to his strong, warm body. The smell hit me before anything else: that comforting, sexy, familiar cologne: Rocky.

I cowered towards him, shaking. He lifted me up like a rag-doll and carried me away from the glass towards the elevators, where he gingerly laid me back down on the ground. I was still hugging myself, but Rocky pulled my arms away from my body. “You have to let me see Louisa, Sweetheart, you’ve been shot,” he reasoned.