Home > Vicious (Sinners of Saint #1)(8)

Vicious (Sinners of Saint #1)(8)
Author: L.J. Shen

The roar of honking traffic on a Friday night filled my ears. The problem with jaywalking in New York City was that the drivers were New Yorkers too, so they didn’t mind running you over if it came to that.

Or soaking your clothes, for that matter.

“What the hell, Millie?” Rosie coughed into my ear on the other end of the line. She sounded like an asthmatic dog. My sister hadn’t left her bed all day.

I would’ve been jealous had I not known why.

“A taxi driver just splashed me on purpose,” I explained.

“Calm your tits,” she soothed in her own, special way, and I heard her shifting in bed, groaning. “Tell me what they said again.”

The signal turned green. The animal kingdom that was New York’s pedestrians almost ran me over as we all rushed to the other side of the street, ducking our heads under the scaffolding above us. My feet screamed with pain in high heels as I rushed past food vendors and men in pea coats, praying I’d get there before the staff meal in the kitchen was over and I missed my chance to grab something to eat.

“They said that, while they were happy that I was taking an interest in the advertising industry, I was paid to make coffee and file stuff, not to make suggestions in creative meetings and share my ideas with the design teams at lunchtime. They said I was overqualified to be a PA, but that they didn’t have any art-intern positions to fill. They’re also trying to ‘trim the fat’ to stay economically lean. Apparently, I’m just that—fat.” I couldn’t help but let out a bitter laugh, as I’d never been skinnier in my life—and not by choice. “So they fired me.”

I blew out air, forming a white cloud. New York winters were so cold, they made you wish you could show up at work wearing the quilt you’d rolled yourself up in the night before. We should’ve moved back to the South. It still would be far enough from California. Not to mention the rent was way cheaper.

“So you’ve only got your job at McCoy’s left?” It was Rosie’s turn to sigh, and her lungs made a funny noise. Worry colored her voice.

I couldn’t blame her. I was supporting both of us for now. I didn’t make much as a PA, but dang, I’d needed the two jobs. With Rosie’s meds, we weren’t making ends meet as it was.

“Don’t worry,” I said as I sprinted down the busy street. “This is New York. There are job opportunities everywhere. You literally don’t know where the next job will come from. I can easily find something else.” Like hell I will. “Listen, I gotta go if I don’t want to lose my night job, too. I’m already three minutes late. Love you. Bye.”

I hung up and stopped at another crosswalk, fidgeting. There was a thick layer of people ahead of me waiting to cross the street. I couldn’t lose my job at McCoy’s, the Midtown bar I worked at. I couldn’t. I glanced sideways, my gaze halting on the long, dark alley sandwiched between two huge buildings. A shortcut. It’s not worth it, a little voice inside me said.

I was late.

And I just got fired from my day job.

And Rosie was sick again.

And there was rent to pay.

Screw it, I’ll be fast.

I ran, my spine vibrating every time my high heels hit the pavement. The cold wind slapped my cheeks, the sting like a whip lash. I ran so fast it took me a few seconds to absorb the fact that someone had yanked me back by the courier bag slung over my shoulder. I fell flat on my ass. The ground was wet and cold, and I’d landed on my tailbone.

I didn’t care. I didn’t even have time to be shocked or get angry. I clutched my bag close to my chest and looked up at the offender. He was just a kid. A teenager, to be exact, with a face dotted with popped pimples. Tall and lanky and in all probability as hungry as I was. But it was my bag. My stuff. New York was a concrete jungle. I knew that sometimes, in order to survive, you had to be mean. Meaner than those who were mean to you.

I shoved my hand into my bag, hunting for the pepper spray. I just planned to threaten him—he had to learn a lesson. The kid yanked my bag again, and again I pulled it closer to my middle. I found the cool can of Mace and pulled it out, aiming at his eyes.

“Step back or go blind,” I warned in a quivering voice. “I say it’s not worth it, but it’s up to you,”

He flung his arm at me, and that’s when I pressed the nozzle. He twisted my wrist violently. The spray missed him by inches. He backhanded my forehead and shoved me away. I felt my head spinning from the blow. Everything turned black as I went under.

A part of me wasn’t too eager to come back.

Especially when my vision cleared and I realized my hands were empty. My phone, wallet, driver’s license, cash—two hundred bucks I owed my landlord, dang it—were all gone.

I pushed myself to my feet, dirty pavement digging into my palms. The heel of my cheap shoe had snapped when I fell. I grabbed it on my way up. Catching sight of the retreating silhouette of my mugger in the distance, my bag clutched between his fingers, I waved the wooden heel in his direction with my fist and did something that was completely out of character. For the first time in years, I cussed out loud.

“Well, you know what? Fuck you too!”

My throat was burning from screaming as I limped my way to McCoy’s. There was no point crying, though I did feel pretty sorry for myself. Getting robbed and fired on the same day? Yeah, I was definitely going to sneak a few shots when my boss, Greg, wasn’t looking.

I made it to McCoy’s twenty minutes late. The only sliver of solace was that the grouchy owner wasn’t here, which meant that my neck was safe from getting fired for the second time that day.

Rachelle, the manager, was a friend. She knew about my financial struggles. About Rosie. About everything.

The minute I walked in through the back door and met her in the hallway next to the kitchen, she winced and brushed my lavender hair away from my forehead.

“I’m ruling out kinky sex and placing my bet on clumsiness,” she said, shooting me a sympathetic frown.

I exhaled, squeezing my eyes shut. I opened them slowly, blinking away the mist of unshed tears. “Got mugged on the way here. He took my bag.”

“Oh, sweetie.” Rachelle pulled me into a tight hug.

My forehead fell to her shoulder, and I heaved a sigh. I was still upset, but the human touch felt nice. Comforting. I was also relieved that Greg wasn’t there. It meant I could lick my wounds quietly, without having him shouting at all the waitresses with foam bubbling from his mouth.

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