A Stranger's Request

“Mind if I have a smoke,” she asked, but it came out more like a command than a question, and before Simon knew it, he was handing Blake’s box of cigarettes over to her.

“Simon, be careful,” Blake warned him, and Simon suddenly realized that she was using mind control. He recoiled as though the woman in black before him were predatory, with fangs and claws at the ready. And maybe she was. One couldn’t be too sure, in this day and age. Simon fingered the dagger in his pocket and felt empowered by its cold steel.

The woman sat down opposite Simon and lit her cigarette. She examined the two men over the flame, inhaled sharply, and blew out smoke that was almost the same color as her lifeless husband.

“You boys need to help me.”

“We don’t owe you a goddamn thing, lady. We don’t know you,” Blake snapped.

“Does the name Arthur mean anything to you?”

“Who the frak are you and how do you know Arthur?”

But the woman in black only smiled in response. Simon noticed that the smile failed to reach her gray eyes.

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