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© 2006

Carmella Maltafano ignored the knot in her stomach. Her high-heeled shoes made no noise on the deep carpet in a hallway lined with holographic images of ancient Greek and Roman statues that towered over her five-foot-three height. She carried a spring-loaded holster with a stiletto beneath the left sleeve of her orange blouse. The tunic- length garment also concealed the bulge of the brass knuckles she carried in a pocket of her tan slacks.
She paused when she reached the door to the office of Sergei "Red-Nose" Kosloff, her father's best friend. She took three deep breaths and forced her mind to think positive; she and Sergei Red-Nose would reach an amicable agreement. Her business, and possibly her life, depended upon it.

Carmella pasted a smile on her face and tapped the door frame three times. Sergei, seventy years old and gaunt, looked up from the Financial Times and frowned.

A false smile replaced Sergei's frown. "Come in, my dear." He waved a hand towards a chair. "And how are you holding up since the dreadful loss of Rocky III?” The window behind Sergei's desk showed New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty.

"I've just about recovered from my father's death, thank you."

"I'm surprised you aren't wearing black to show respect for the deceased."

"Really, Sergei. No one wears a black dress these days unless they're going to a cocktail party."

“Traditions never go out of style. All of us Executives agree on that point."

His cold voice sent a chill through her body. Since when did Sergei and his peers believe in traditions?

To read the entire story, download it here.



© 2008 Hank Quense