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The crashing of furniture resounded in the small apartment, as the stocky man found himself thrown through a glass table, landing with a painful thump on the floor.
Panting he desperately struggled to catch his breath, spitting out the stringy blood in one violent exhale, before raising tortured eyes to the two burly men ominously looming over him like an impending storm.
“You were warned this would happen if you didn’t have Mr. Rayne’s cash.” The taller man sneered in what sounded like a British accent. He was well over 6 feet tall and almost as wide as his height, with bulging muscles that were covered with questionable tattoos. He ran a hand through his jet black hair before grabbing the prone victim by the scruff of his collar and hauling the smaller man to his feet.
“Well? Where is his bloody money?” His voice was raspy and low, enough to chill anyone to their bones.
‘Bloody money’…more like ‘blood money’.
“Come on, tell us, Hank. Stop fucking around. Time for playing is over. It’s do or die time now.” His compatriot barked out a scoffing laugh, lighting a cigarette and leaning against the doorjamb.
Hank Summers swallowed noisily, trying to find his voice.
Pleadingly he raised his gaze to the two men.
“Please, don’t kill me! I can get the money. I just need…a little more time.”
He knew that he was really on his last life right now. He never should have borrowed a cent from lowlife scum like Ethan Rayne, but his gambling and drinking had gotten out of control, and with a motherless 17 year old living under his guardianship, he felt like he’d had no choice.
However, a string of bad bets and the ensuing alcohol binges had whittled away the money in a matter of months, meaning he no longer even had the initial capital to repay to the loan shark, never mind the extortionate interest that Rayne was demanding.
“There’s no more time, Hank.” Bulky spoke up, his lips peeled back in a grim mockery of a smile. “Ethan gave you an extension last time, and that was your last bloody chance. It’s over, done, finished…and so are you.”
Dropping Hank to the floor Bulky cast a meaningful glance to his companion. Smoky, as Hank had come to think of him, was almost as impressive in size as Bulky, but not quite so talkative, which did nothing to reassure Hank.
Hank Summers knew that he was not a brave man. Courage in the face of danger had eluded him ever since some of the bigger boys decided to pick on him in sixth grade.
But when he saw Smoky reach into his trench coat pocket and retrieve a wicked looking pistol, he felt his entire life flash before his eyes.
“Wait!” He begged, feeling like the world was in slow motion as Smoky raised the gun and took aim as his pallid face.
The shrieking, almost womanly cry from the man halted Smoky, and his aim faltered a little.
“What’s a buffy?” asked Bulky.
“She’s my daughter. She…she would be worth more than what I owe…in trade.”
“You’re offering us your daughter?”
“Yes…yes! Take her! She’s 17, beautiful. A man like Ethan could have some fun with her. More than he could have with 20 measly grand.”
Bulky seemed to take a moment to think it over, before turning slowly back to Hank Summers.
A genuine smile split the large man’s face, and Hank felt relief wash over him at the gesture, and even more so at the next words.
“You know, I think we will take the girl.” He strode over to where Smoky was standing with the lowered gun hanging by his side, almost laughing at Hank’s audible sigh.
“It’s funny,” Bulky continued, “A lot of people would probably call me and my boy here scumbags, bastards, probably even lowlife. But nothing…nothing…in this world could make me sell my own flesh and blood.”
All of a sudden Hank felt a cold feeling of foreboding settle in the pit of his stomach.
“What…?” His stuttering words clogged his throat.
“See here, Hank. It’s funny because, what this is, is a win-fuckin'-win situation for us. We can take the girl…and ...we can kill you too.”
“What? No! I’m giving you her in exchange for me.”
“Sorry Hanky old boy.”
Almost robotically he stumbled backwards, the glass from the broken table crunching unnoticed under his boots.
His eyes were solely trained on the gun.
While he heard the shot, strangely enough he didn’t feel it tear through him destroying his organs in the blink of an eye. It was as if he was outside of his own body, watching one of those old news reels.
However, agony brought the world crashing back to him momentarily and he did feel the blood bubbling up in his mouth, spilling out in tiny rivulets that ran down his chin staining his old shirt.
And he did hear feminine screams coming from a voice so familiar to him.
She must have arrived home. Poor girl. Watched her mother waste away from cancer, only to see her last living relative murdered. If it wasn't so tragic, and he wasn't dying, he might have laughed.
But it didn’t matter anymore, because darkness was fogging the edges of his vision, and his mind was dimming.
He’d always thought death would be stunningly painful, but it turned out that for Hank Summers, death was more peaceful.
A tumultuous mind finally laid to rest.
His body was barely cooling before his teenage daughter was dragged away by the men who now owned her. Men she had no idea even existed.
He didn’t see Bulky clap a hand over her mouth, while restraining her flailing wrists behind her slender back.
Nor did he see her dragged down several flights of stairs and cast into the back of a black van like a discarded piece of litter.
Her cries only fell on dead ears.
No, he didn't know any of it, because for Hank Summers, a lifetime of torment and pain was over.
But for Buffy Summers, it was only just beginning.
Chapter End Notes:
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