She was so excited, her skin tingled.
She could feel her own heartbeat as she listened to the murmur of Friday business being conducted around her.
As she waited in the roped-off line, she bounced on her toes and gazed up at the tall glass façade of the front wall and entrance to the downtown Buckhead bank. Ten minutes ago she’d marched through those doors, her first paycheck tucked in her pocketbook under her arm.
Well, it wasn’t her very first paycheck.
She’d worked all kinds of jobs back in Austin. She’d waitressed in dives, cleaned houses, even tried a little panhandling. But she’d gone to school and taken acting lessons for the past eight year, and all that effort had finally paid off.
She was in a real movie being filmed in Atlanta.
She was about to deposit her first check from the production company.
Okay, she wasn’t a star yet. She was only an extra, and the part was only supposed to last a few days. But the second assistant director seemed to be taking a liking to her. He’d asked her to stay on another week, and she thought he might give her a line in one of the upcoming scenes. Who knew where that could lead? She was on her way. She could feel it. The sky was the limit. Someday, she would be a star. She always knew she would be.
She couldn’t stop smiling.
Bouncing on her heels with excitement, she glanced around at the other customers waiting in line and the busy bank clerks behind the counter. The place was crowded and felt close. She could smell the colognes and body washes of the customers near her. One large man in a suit grumbled impatiently. She should have expected the bank would be busy on a Friday just before noon. Everyone was here to cash their own paychecks and go out for a good time.
She wasn’t in a hurry.
She was done for the day and didn’t have plans for tonight. She’d be heading home after this stop. So why was she suddenly feeling so anxious? Maybe because Drew had promised he might stop by later.
She’d only known him a week, but she really liked him. She’d met him back in Austin and he’d asked her out. When she told him she was trying to get into the movies, he said he had some connections and might be able to get her something in Atlanta if she was willing to start at the bottom.
At first she’d thought it was a come on line. But there was something about Drew that made her trust him. But leave home and go all the way to Atlanta with him? It might have been risky, but she’d decided to do it. And it had worked out. Drew hadn’t been lying. Here she was, cashing her first paycheck.
She felt a hand on her shoulder. As if he’d materialized from her own thoughts, Drew appeared at her side, wearing that heart-stopping smile of his.
“Hey,” she breathed in answer.
He was so handsome. Tall and broad-shouldered, dressed in jeans and his leather motor-cycle jacket, his thick black hair tousled as if he’d just been on a ride. His face was to-die-for. He was part Asian and his dark exotic eyes always made her knees feel like jelly.
“Cashing your check?”
“Making my first deposit.”
“We need to go out and celebrate tonight. My treat.”
She bounced on her toes again. Could this day get any more perfect?
Drew touched her shoulder again and she caught a whiff of that sexy aftershave he always wore.
It smelled like honeysuckle and cinnamon—and something else she couldn’t quite identify.
The man behind her stepped a little too close. Feeling suddenly claustrophobic, she glanced around at the crowd. She was uncomfortable, antsy. She started to perspire. The A/C was on, but her skin felt like it was on fire. There were too many people in here.
She heard a voice calling to her.
Looking up, she saw the clerk standing behind the counter. A fuzzy red haze surrounded her.
The clerk beckoned her forward. “Can I help you ma’am?
Awkwardly she stepped toward the window.
“What can I do for you?”
The clerk was wearing a ridiculous smile. She reminded her of Emmy Holt, a girl in high school who’d always made fun of her.
Suddenly, she hated that clerk. Who did she think she was, anyway?
“Would you like to make a deposit?” The woman prompted.
“Deposit?” She put a hand to her forehead and tried to think.
She couldn’t remember what she was here for. She opened her pocketbook and stared down at its contents. There was a check, but she didn’t remember putting it there. She saw lipstick, tissues, a cell phone—and tucked neatly beside the phone was a small handgun with a pink handle.
How did that get in there?
“Ma’am?” The clerk said again.
The red haze grew dark. Blue and purple clouds began to form around the edges of her vision. She felt dizzy, sick.
“Ma’am? Are you all right?”
And all she wanted was to make that clerk shut up. She reached into her purse, pulled out the gun, and fired at the woman.
The clerk crumbled to the floor as a collective scream rose from the crowd of customers.
She spun around flailing the gun at the sea of terrified faces. Suddenly, she knew exactly what to do.
“All of you,” she growled. “On the floor or you’ll be next.”