Pomegranate Seed 9

It was snowing when my reminder came. Just like when I was young, except I could watch it from a nice warm room now instead of standing in it with barely any clothes on. It was pretty. I liked my life like this, I thought. No more cold nights on the street. Someday I'd have to do something about this guy, this lovestruck killer, but for now it's alright.

He caught up to me at a meeting that night to prove me wrong.

I was with a potential client at this trendy black and white place downtown – nice dinner, if you can swing it. It was a lady this time, some rich wife who wanted her husband dead. I wasn't sure why, but it wasn't my place to know, as long as they could pay. When the business was done and we were on the dessert course – I could have sworn she hit on me, but I wasn't one to put my neck on the line for a maybe – he showed up. It was quite sudden, and I wasn't sure if I was supposed to act like I knew him or what. I just stared at him, shocked with a strawberry halfway to my mouth. Incidentally, my lipstick was pomegranate red.

"Time's up," he whispered in my ear. He pulled my chair out. I rose, glancing at the client, who looked as shocked as I was.

"It's been a pleasure doing business with you," I said to her automatically, sticking out my hand. She shook it, and that was the deal. He'd be icing her husband tonight or tomorrow morning, and then we'd be a whole lot wealthier. Providing, of course, that my time being up didn't mean what it usually meant when a hitman said it. He didn't even look at the woman as he took my hand in his arm and lead me to the coatroom. As we left I didn't look back either.

He took me right past the coat check, actually, and went to the car idling outside. "My jacket," I said as he opened the passenger door.

"You don't need it," he answered. The hell I didn't – I was wearing a more extravagant version of the black swing dress I'd worn when we'd met, and that didn't leave much to imagine, let alone keep me warm. Too bad he looked like he meant business. I bid my winter coat goodbye and got into the car.

"What's this about?" I asked once we were moving. This smacked of a bad date – the kind that left you breathless if you were lucky, bloodless if you weren't. I'd been in moving cars before, where the end of the road was supposed to be a grave; once it nearly was, 'til I was saved by Gail. He wasn't headed to Old Town now though, and there was no one waiting to save me.

He was driving awfully fast. The Salesman opened his mouth, then shut it. On a regular guy, it wouldn't have shaken me like it did on him. He was unsure again – and that hadn't gone too well for me in the past.

"Hades," he said, finally. "The wife's name was Persephone."

"Took her from everything she knew," I continued, hollowly. He nodded.

"To make her love him. He tried everything, but finally he just had to do it – trick her into coming back every year, even though she hated him."

"That's awful," I said, before I thought about it.

"That's devotion," he countered. "And it's awful. It's making a girl his, against will and emotion, it's proving his place and her place. See?"

It was like fucking her forever and ever; yeah, I saw. It was some kind of nightmare mythology where this was okay, but I saw that it was okay here too. Like Old Town, it's okay to make sex some other thing, like commerce or violence. Or proving your place. In my most naïve hopes, I decided I didn't see how it related to us, on this snowy road in this dark car.

"He rapes her," I said. It came out as a gasp, because I didn't mean for it to come out at all. Ever since I'd met him, I'd been saying things I never intended. Of course he rapes her, of course; why did I have to say it out loud, was I out of my fucking mind?

The Salesman sighed, deeply, and looked over to me in the passenger seat. It was dark enough that I couldn't see his face completely, like the first time I'd been in his car, when he'd tricked me into coming down into the underworld with him.

"Sorry," he said. Then he lashed out with something heavy in his hand, and my head snapped back. And everything went black.

Hey ladies and gents! Thanks again for reading, and as usual I apologise for the oceans of time between updates. Don't be afraid to leave a review - reviews are like crack for fanfic writers.