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Chapter 1

A Stripe of a Different Colour - REVIEW THIS STORY

Written by Alexandra Nigro
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 1

Bakersfield, California

October 8, 1931

"Damn it, woman! When ya gonna get out of that bathroom? I'm hungry!"

"Jus sec, sugah. Ah'm almost done." Sabine gingerly twisted the door handle and slid out of the bathroom, still clutching her prized fall issue of the Ladies Home Journal. She tiptoed gently into the kitchen and stood behind her husband. "So ... what do ya think?"

"Christ Almighty, Sabby, what in God's name have ya done ta ya hair?"

Sabine's face fell. Not so much from her husband's use of the nickname she hated, but his disgusted glance at her cosmopolitan triumph. Nervously, she ran her hand through her brunette locks and caught a glance at herself in window's reflection. As per the instructions on page 42, Sabine had cut her hair into a shoulder length bob and fastened it with a barrette above one ear. As the crowing touch, she had gently mixed equal parts bleach and water to give herself a bright white stripe just off center. "Ya don't like it?"

"Ya look like a goddamed skunk."

"It's all the rage in Paris." She held up the magazine by way of explanation.

Cody Roberts ripped it from her hand. "How many times have ah told you not to read that garbage? Ain't nothing sillier than havin' a wife runnin' around tryin' to look like a foreigner." He threw the magazine into the trash with a lazy toss and slapped his trooper's hat down on the table. "Don't tell me ya ain't got dinner ready."

Sabine hustled over to the old iron stove. "No, hon. It's right here." She dragged the meatloaf out of the oven with a wadded rag and bit her lip to keep from crying. For a brief, beautiful afternoon she had turned the Victrola up as loud as it would go and sauntered around the house like she was a movie star living in Los Angeles -- and not a state trooper's wife living on the outskirts of Bakersfield. She dished Cody up a generous portion of the meatloaf and an even more generous portion of the cheap scotch that still strained their budget. He was meaner when he was drunk -- but he went to bed earlier.

"You ain't eatin'?"

"Ah ain't hungry." When he didn't reply Sabine opened the kitchen screen and stepped out into the backyard.

She could hear her husband's yell behind her. "Don't you go wandering, girl. Damn Oakies get bolder everyday."

Without answering, Sabine grabbed a burlap sack stashed under the woodpile and took off at a dead run for the orange orchard.

Sabine Roberts buried her face in her knees and sobbed. Nothing had turned out the way she had planned. After the war things had seemed so bright in Mississippi. Yes, her father had been killed in the fighting, but she had been too young to really remember him well. Caldecott County had been on the verge of an economic boom and her mother was lucky enough to be employed. She had had some schooling, but nothing inspired her like the day her childhood sweetheart had taken her into town to see her first silent movie. Ever since then, her only dream was to see Los Angeles and make it famous. Cody had been different then. Since the day he had kissed her at the church picnic, he treated her more like a girl than a best friend. They had dated throughout high school -- and at homecoming of her junior year he had gotten her pregnant. Panicked, she had sobbed into his arms on his back porch and begged to know when they were getting married.

Cody had seemed rather amused. He had been considerably less amused when Annie Hickman had shown up during Sunday dinner bearing her husband's old hunting rifle and an ultimatum.

Mr. and Mrs. Cody Roberts were married the following Saturday at the First Baptist Church of Our Savior with only family attending. They were still living with his family when she miscarried three months later. In a brief moment of tenderness, Cody had asked her for her greatest wish. She asked for the only thing she ever really wanted -- to move out to California.

Wishes don't always work out. The economy had crashed, leaving the Roberts with almost no money to grant the departing couple. Blaming his wife as much as most people blamed the president for his new found poverty and a lost chance to attend university, Cody had taken a job with the Bakersfield's sheriff department. Sabine helped out, taking in laundry for whoever could pay, but married life was nothing like she expected. The Cody she now slept beside was sullen and selfish. He drank, and though she couldn't prove it -- she was certain he was having an affair. That last thought caused her to smile wanly. What would be a disaster in most marriages was a blessing in her's. His touch had brought the worst heartache she had ever experienced. It was so bad now that a simple brush of his fingers caused her to flinch. But there was no leaving a man like that -- she had no savings of her own and a lone woman in these desperate times was bound to become (as her mother would so delicately put it) "a tragedy".

Stuffing her treasured magazines back into the burlap pouch, Sabine began the hike back to her house.

"Ah'm gonna be late tonight."

Sabine pressed a damp towel against her eye and forced a cheerful voice. "That's alright sugah, ah'll leave somethin' in the oven."

"Nah, don't bother. Ah'll get something in town." Cody grabbed his pistol belt off the hat rack and slammed the door behind him.

Secretly, Sabine sent up a prayer of thanks to whatever piece Cody had going on the side. "Somebody else can feed that bastard." She glanced again in the mirror and winced at the blue and yellow bruise spreading over her right eye. A dropped plate, a wrinkled shirt -- it really didn't seem to matter anymore. She sat on the edge of the bed and fingered the letter on the side table. Her mother had begged for her to come home for Thanksgiving. Cody had thrown a fit, citing the expense of the travel and the loss of her wages. Loneliness and rage had prompted her to argue back, earning her nothing more than a fist and the prospect of another holiday season without family or friends.

Throwing on her only coat, she scooped up the covered laundry basket and stepped out into the chill November air. Usually she loved the walk, the fresh California air made her feel free and powerful. But today, the mountains surrounding the San Joaquin Valley felt oppressive. After nearly an hour lugging the laundry she reached the one home in the Bakersfield area that could really be termed an "estate". Walking up the tree lined drive, Sabine always felt like some kind of servant. "Well, ah guess ah am," she thought wryly. She dropped the basket to the porch and rang the buzzer. After what seemed an eternity, the heavy oak door opened and a low, feminine voice greeted her.

"Please, won't you come in, my dear."

On any normal day, the invitation would have given her a thrill. Today she simply felt annoyed. Still she had to admit as she stepped into the parlor, it was an amazing place owned by an amazing woman.

"Ah've finished the wash, Ms. Darkholme."

"Just leave it there, child. Someone will attend to it." Raven Darkholme was a legend in her own time. Rumor had it that she had been the wife of a rich German count that had fled with his wife to America during the war. Raven had become a cinematic sensation before a scandal with some producer forced her into retirement and exile from Hollywood. Growing up, she had been Sabine's favorite actress -- it was said her talent was so astonishing that she could literally become anyone she wanted to. "Child," looked down at Sabine appraisingly. "Whatever happened to your eye?"

Sabine stiffened. Where she came from, polite folks didn't go nosing in other people's business. She decided to give the black-haired beauty a taste of *real* directness.

"Mah husband knocked me in the face."

She had intended it to shock but Raven Darkholme just hung her head back and gave a peal of laughter. "Pity. Did you "knock" him back?"

Now it was Sabine's turn to look shocked. "No ma'am."

"An even greater pity. Men are beasts, darling, and should be treated as such. And completely interchangable."

Sabine had never participated in such a conversation in all her life, what was worse, this strange, alluring woman seemed to know it.

"Oooh. I'm being rude. Won't you come a sit down? I have an excellent brandy." Without waiting for an answer, Raven breezed past her into the living room.

She debated quickly. Her husband would kill her if he knew she was socializing with this woman. But how would he know? She followed her hostess into the plush living area and sunk into the dark velvet loveseat with a sigh.

Raven tilted her head against the back of the Queen Anne's chair, showing a long expanse of black-gartered leg and studied her guest. "Yes, I love that seat too. I once seduced my very first director there."

Sabine gasped and resisted the urge to jump up. But strangely, she found herself smiling instead. This woman was exactly the kind of person that had been held up to her as the depth of sin all her life. Why was she starting to enjoy her company? "Ya don't believe in marriage?"

"On the contrary, it's very useful -- up to a point. Marriage is one of the few ways a woman may acquire wealth and position in our society. But after that, it's tedious." Then almost as an afterthought, "do you?"

"Well ... ah ... ah mean ah believe in love."

Raven stared at the girl seriously. "Sometimes one has nothing to do with the other."

Sabine fidgeted nervously. This conversation was going in dangerous directions. "Ah guess we all live with our mistakes."

Raven Darkholme crossed the room to face Sabine. "I make it a point never to live with my mistakes." She lowered herself down so her mouth was a mere inches away from Sabine's ear.

"And if they won't go away ... I make them."

Sabine rushed home late that afternoon, her conversation with the outrageous Raven Darkholme still spinning in her head. Her cheeks were still pink when she rushed through the door, breathing a sigh of relief when she remembered Cody would not be home for hours. She crossed the room and opened the cabinet doors to reveal her favorite possession: an ancient Victrola that had been a wedding gift from her mother. Gently lifting the needle onto the record, Sabine let herself smile as the sultry sound of southern jazz filled her living room. Hitching up her skirt, she struck a seductive pose against the battered couch and mimed her best impression of the ex-star.

"Do come in child, I have an excellent brandy."

Lifting her arms in the air, Sabine closed her eyes and began to dance with an imaginary partner. She was rich, beautiful, and the darling of Hollywood society. Anything was possible, she was fast, she was strong, she could even fly if she really wanted to. She danced like that well into the evening, never tiring of the fantasy. It was only when the thunder broke and fat raindrops struck the window that reality ripped her from her dream.

"Oh damn! The laundry!"

Not even stopping to grab her coat, Sabine raced out the back screen and squelched into the already softening ground. The bedsheets and shirts had already begun to whip in the wind and were threatening to tear loose from the clothespins. Cursing in a fashion that would make a lady blush, Sabine ran from sheet to sheet, desperately trying to gather them before they were sullied by rain or mud. Arms full of bedding, she froze completely when a filthy hand clamped around her mouth from behind.

"I don't suppose, cherie, dat I could trouble you for one of dose shirts?"

Sabine felt her heart ricochet in her chest. Was this one of those Oakie drifters that her husband always warned her about? Would he hurt her? Terrified and angry, she acted on impulse. Dropping the sheets to the mud, Sabine twisted in the strangers arms and shoved with all of her might. She was unable to keep her balance and fell backwards onto the ground at the same time as her attacker. But he was quicker -- twisting to his feet like a cat, the man grabbed her arm and yanked her roughly to her feet. He hadn't even begun to speak when a pistol cock silenced him.

"Get your goddamed hands off my wife." Cody stood, gun outstretched in front of his wife and her assailant. "Sabby, back away from him."

Stunned, she did what she was told. The stranger glared at Cody with barely contained fury but stood still and raised his arms.

"Now, Sabby, I want you to go into the house and call the sheriff, understand?"

Not trusting herself to give a coherent answer, Sabine fled into the house. She dialed frantically, trying to ignore the sounds of fists landing wetly as Officer Cody Roberts administered his own, private brand of justice.

She woke the next morning feeling happy and a little confused. After the sheriff had loaded that drifter into his car, her husband had become a completely different man. He had picked up the muddy laundry himself and made her a cup of tea that she could drink in the bath. When he tucked her into bed, she could almost believe that he was the boy she had fell in love with in Caldecott County. Perhaps this was a sign that things were changing between them?

Humming a soft jazzy melody, she threw on her robe and walked into the kitchen. Glancing over the sink piled with dirty dishes, Sabine was surprised to see he had cooked himself breakfast and left for work early. He hadn't left anything for her, but still, it was a start. A smile crept across her face -- things were definitely getting better. Resolved to seize the opportunity, Sabine set to making herself up to go into town. Perhaps if she brought him a home-cooked lunch they could sit outside together the way they used to when they were teenagers.

Swinging a picnic basket, Sabine hitched a ride of the back of a farmer's truck going into downtown Bakersfield. Her precarious encounter the night before made her aware of the strange sights along the road. Huddled in small groups, whole families lived out in the open. By constructing make-shift lean-to's called "Hoovervilles" they braved the elements while trying to find work on the farms of the valley. Sabine stifled her pity -- her husband had warned her these people were dangerous, just like animals, and given her experience she didn't feel inclined to disagree.

Bakersfield was barely more than a few streets crossed together, but it boasted a hotel, several restaurants, and its own jail and courthouse. Sabine slid off the back of the truck and waved good-bye to the driver. Opening the door to the jailhouse, she was met by the startled glance of Deputy Marty Peeler.

Peeler, bald and slightly fat, knocked over his coffee cup when his boss's wife sauntered through the door. "Jesus, Mrs. Roberts, what are you doing in town?"

"Ah just thought ah'd surprise Cody with a little home cookin'" She held up the picnic basket and smiled. "Is he around?"

Peeler, still fumbling with the coffee-stained papers, started to stutter, "Oh well, I mean, I don't..."

A mocking Cajun drawl rang out behind her. "I t'ink de good monsieur jus' left wit' de blonde. Don' expect him back to soon, cherie -- some folks jus can't seem t'wait f'de sunset."

Sabine whirled on the voice. The stranger who had attacked her in her backyard was lying across the bunk in the single jail cell. Studying him closer, she could she he was well-built, but thin. Still shirtless, the man was a roadmap of bruises and cuts.

"Shut your mouth, trash!" yelled Peeler, turning a little purple. He turned apologetically to Sabine. "Don't worry ma'am -- he don't know what he's talking 'bout."

Sabine felt a little sick. It was one thing to suspect, but another thing entirely to be humiliated in public. She sat down firmly in the chair by the door. "Well, then -- ah guess ah'll just wait here 'till he gets back."

Her proclamation was met with more snickering from the cell.

Sabine glanced coldly at him but said nothing.

"Uh, ma'am -- I'm not sure that's a good idea. I was just about to leave for lunch and I don't want to leave you alone with trash like him."

She smiled stiffly. "He certainly isn't going anywhere. 'Sides there's a bailiff next door if ah need anything. Don't let me keep ya."

Peeler grabbed his hat and coat and practically scurried out the door, thankful not to have to deal with the political dangers of entertaining his boss's wife.

Sabine tried hard to ignore the prisoner, but couldn't shake the feeling of his glittering eyes.

"Looks like Remy ain't the only body dat cop took a hand to."

She turned abruptly, face reddening, as her hand unconsciously rose to the still-yellowing bruise above her eye. "Ya don't know nothing about it. You're jus' some thief."

"Oui. Dat ain't no secret. But I never hit a femme."

"Well, ain't you a saint." She rose from the chair and crossed her arms. "Mah husband has a hard life -- things are real tight. Ain't no surprise if his temper gets the best o' him."

The man who called himself "Remy" brushed his lanky auburn hair away from his eyes and smiled bitterly. "Hard life? You ain't got no idea 'bout your husband, do ya chere?" He leaned forward on the bunk, wincing slightly. "You see all dem people by the side of the road? Dey lucky to be there a week. Your husband runs 'em out of town with a night-stick and a gun. Burns what dey have."

Sabine remembered certain things her husband had said at the dinner table and couldn't force the flush to leave her cheeks. "Those folks are dangerous. Why ya even attacked me in mah own back yard."

"I didn't "attack" you chere. 'Sides, if I remember, you took de first shove. All I needed was a shirt. And don' go confusing dose poor folks with me. Ah ain't no farmer, ah jus' a thief. But dose folks have lost everything dey have. Folks like your husband try to even take dere pride -- without pride a body ain't no more den an animal."

"You take things, too."

"Ah ain't never took anything from any homme dat didn't have plenty already."

"Oh and ah suppose ya jus' gave your shirt away?"


There was no pithy answer to that, so Sabine steered the conversation back to Cody. "So ah guess mah husband runs those people out cause he's a bad person?"

"Mebbe. Mebbe not. The way dis boy sees it, folks get real scared and angry when things be bad all over. Some folks -- de weak ones -- make things alright by beating on folks who can't or won't fight back ... ain't dat right, cherie?"

His words had the uncomfortable ring of truth, and Sabine couldn't bring herself to look the strangely handsome thief in the eyes.

As if in deference to her discomfort, his voice lost the mocking tone. "De only reason he could take a piece outta me is 'cause I ain't eaten in three days. Still haven't."

She looked up in shock. "That's illegal!"

He just shrugged gingerly. "What's legal and what ain't legal depends on what homme make de rules."

Without trusting herself to answer him, Sabine reached into the picnic basket and pulled out the chicken sandwich she had made for her husband. She slid it through the bars of the cell. "There ya go ... Remy, ain't it?"

He picked the gift up with an expression of surprise. "Dat's right. Does my angel have a name?"


"Dat's French, non?"

"Ya well, mah momma had fancy ideas -- but all the kids at school called me Rogue."

He gave her the first genuine smile she had seen from him. "Remy likes dat name even better."

Gathering her stuff, Sabine turned for the door.

"You ain't gonna wait for your husband?"

She answered him without turning back. "Ah think ah changed my mind."

Sabine spent an agonizing evening waiting for Cody to return. Wait could she say to him now, knowing what she did? Instead, she created wild fantasies where she just packed a suitcase and headed out for Hollywood. Near eleven, she found herself sitting dejectedly on the couch. Cody wasn't coming home that night -- oh he'd be back, but not soon. And she would never leave him. It was one thing to dream about it, but some risks were just too terrible to take.

A knock at the back screen nearly made her jump out of her skin. Rushing into the kitchen, her heart nearly stopped to see the thief Remy standing on her back porch, dressed in her husband's clothing from the laundry line.

"T'ought I'd knock dis time. Pay my respects for de sandwich ... and mebbe cage one for de road."

"Are ya crazy? How ya get outta jail?"

Remy smiled rakishly and performed a slow, mock bow. "Dey ain't never built de jail dat could hold Remy LeBeau."

"Mah husband would kill ya if he saw ya here."

"Las' time I checked, your husband had a room at de hotel."

She let that pass and abruptly opened the door to let him in. "Ah must be outta mah mind."

"No, chere -- mebbe you finally got de right idea."

Sabine shifted her footing nervously. "So how does a lady entertain a thief in her own home?"

"Guess dat's up to you." His voice had taken on a deep, husky quality that only served to emphasize his Cajun accent.

She deliberately misunderstood. "Do you like jazz?"

Grinning, "Was raised on it."

Sabine set the Victrola to playing the same song that she had dreamed to the day before. The Cajun held out his arms to her and without thinking, she began to dance with him. She leaned a little closer to him then was considered proper, but Raven Darkholme's words about taking what you wanted chased her reservations away. His body heat was intoxicating and she was careful not to rest her hand too heavily on his bruised shoulder.

When his hands began to wander, all her doubts came rushing back and she stiffened.

"What's wrong, chere? You don' like de touch?"

Sabine stepped back from him, trying to gather her wits. Did Raven Darkholme ever feel this scared? Probably not. "It's jus' ... well, ah think ah'm gonna burn in hell just for having ya here."

He cupped her chin gently and drew her back to him. "Hell's a mighty warm place to be."

He was going to kiss her and Sabine surprised herself with how much she wanted him to. As his lips pressed against hers she found herself idley wishing for a red velvet loveseat. Remy wrapped his arms tightly around Sabine and tilted her gently against the couch. Her mouth opened to his hungrily and she pressed even tighter against his lean form.

"Are we right to do this?" she begged when she could get a breath.

"No. Do you want me t'stop?"

"Oh mah God, no."

The record had finished and skipped along the edge in a soft beat to his caresses. Remy lifted her in his arms and set her back gently against the wall. With eager hands, he cupped her breasts through the thin cotton fabric of her dress and sucked gently on the tender skin of her collarbone. Gasping, she let her hands slide underneath his stolen shirt, careful not to hurt him. In response, he wrapped one hand around her waist and lifted her several inches off the ground. Sabine wrapped her legs around his waist, causing him the cry out.

"Oh god, ah'm hurting ya, aren't ah?"

Remy took a deep breath. "Not too bad, chere. 'Sides, it's worth it." With that, his mouth rejoined its assault on her neck as his free hand began undoing the wooden buttons of her dress. The tight beads resisted his fingers, and frustrated, he ripped the dress to her waist and the lacy chemise underneath it.

Sabine gasped. "Careful."

"Dis ain't de time to be careful, chere." Eyes flashing, he covered her mouth with his and let his hand slide up the skirt of her dress, exploring the soft skin above her garters.

She almost asked him to stop when a delicious warm feeling exploded inside when his insistent hand slid even further.

Why had it never felt like this before? Sabine locked her palms behind his neck and rested her chin on his head. She began to shiver violently as his fingers stroked her to the edge. Opening her eyes, she cried out as she felt herself tumbling over.

She had a perfect view of her drunken husband standing in the front doorway.

"You fucking whore."

Sabine wasn't sure if it was actually possible to die of shock and fear, but it seemed a distinct possibility. She slid bonelessly to the floor as Remy dropped her and whirled to face her husband. Cody took two running leaps across the living room floor and smashed his fist into her lover's gut. Remy doubled over with a moan, still not healed from his previous beating.

"Cody, stop it!" she screamed, trying to pull herself out from underneath Remy's crumpled form. It was a tactical error -- ignoring the thief, Cody launched himself on Sabine.

"Ya bitch, ya bitch! After everything ah've done for ya!" In a drunken rage, Cody pummled his fists against her.

A tanned arm wrapped around her husband's neck from behind and hauled him backwards. Wiping the blood away from her lip, Sabine looked on in horror as Cody used his one free hand to fumble at his side holster. Every instinct in her screamed for her to run for the door, but instead she launched herself at Cody's waist, proppeling the trio against the wall.

Sabine fought Cody desperately for control of the gun. Sliding in out of the holster, she backpeddled as quickly as she could away from his flailing arms.

Seeing his wife with his gun stroked Cody to a new height of rage. Slamming his elbow backwards into the Cajun's ribs, he smiled garishly at Sabine. He hadn't taken two steps when she was shocked out of her terror by a deafening noise.

"Mon Dieu."

Ashen, Sabine realized the source of the noise. Blood stained the back wall by Remy's head. Blood that had carried from the bullet wound that had ripped through her husband's neck. Cody lay flat on his back, twitching unnaturally as frothy bubbles broke on his lips.

The gun slid heavily from her hand. "Oh mah ... oh mah..."

Remy LeBeau moved as fast as his aching gut would allow. Flipping over the dying man, he ripped off his leather trooper's jacket and wrapped in around Sabine's shoulder's - careful to cover her ripped bodice. Sliding the gun into the waistband of his pants, he fished for the keys to the truck from Cody's pockets and hauled Sabine to her feet.

Sabine moved stiffly, like a doll. "Ah killed him."

"Water under de bridge, cherie. We have to leave -- now." With one hand firmly planted on her back, he pushed her out the front door and down the driveway towards the parked pick-up.

"Wait ... ah..."

"Whatcha need, chere?" Sabine still looked like she was trapped in a nightmare.

"I need to get mah magazines."

Remy shook his head and lifted her into the passenger's seat.

"Don' need 'em chere, not now."

Remy reversed the truck roughly out of the dirt driveway onto the road, thinking frantically.

"Orange Blossom Road."

He looked at her nervously, she still didn't seem too aware.

"Ah know someone, someone who can help us."

"Gonna need t'give Remy directions."

"Ah will."

Remy whistled low as Sabine slid out of the truck, firmly wrapping the leather jacket around her. It was a beautiful house. He didn't know how she would have these kind of connections, but he was never one to look a gift horse in the mouth. Trying to hide the pistol under his shirt tails, he followed her up the path to the oaken door.

A beautiful woman opened the door and took in the scene for a long minute. "Get in."

Remy followed Sabine into the darkened hall, his bruised stomach muscles tightening involutarily. Somehow, the decor reminded him of a spider's web.

Sabine lifted her head up and launched into a strange, disjointed confession. "Ah did what you said ... but it didn't go right ... ah din't mean it ... he's dead and ah don' know what..."

Raven Darkholme cut her off sharply. "Upstairs." She barely looked at Remy. "You stay here."

Remy watched uncomfortably as the woman led Sabine up the stairs.

Sabine waited until Raven had firmly shut the door to start shaking in earnest.

"Don't wear yourself out yet -- there is a great deal to be done before today can end." She looked over Sabine's dishelved state with an air of calm, finally resting on her torn dress. "Did your husband do that?"

"No ... it was ... ah mean ... Remy did."

"Excellent. A little truth will make this easier." She sat down at her dressing table and leaned back. "I'll have one of my men hold that drifter in the back shed. How was your husband killed?"

"A gun. Ah shot him."

"Irrelevant. Where is the gun now?"

Sabine shook her head in confusion. "Ah think ... ah think Remy has it."

"Excellent. You will take the truck into town and go directly into the sheriff's office. Do you think you can manage some tears?"


"Never mind, we can work on that. You will tell the sheriff that the drifter excaped from jail, followed you home and tried to rape you." She snorted in amusement, "It certaintly looks like it. Your husband came home, a fight ensued, and that man killed your husband. You escaped, came here, he followed, my boys overpowered him. Any questions?"

Sabine sat down heavily on the edge of the bed. "That's not what happened!"

"It will be by the time it reaches the newspaper." Raven leaned forward and put her elbows on her knees. You're a very lucky girl, you were right to come to me. Not every woman has the opportunity to design her own reality -- and with no witnesses! Clean girl, very clean." She stood up and crossed out to Sabine, placed her hands on her shaking shoulders.

"Remy saw what really happened!"

"And no one will be believe a word of it, don't worry."

Sabine roughly shrugged off Raven's touch. "That's not what ah'm worried about! What you're saying is wrong! Ah'm not gonna let him hang for what ah done!"

"So you would rather feel the rope?"

Her hand flew up unconsciously to her bared neck. "No ... ah did it in self-defense."

"They aren't going to believe a word of that either."

"Then there has to be another way."

"My way."

"No. Ah won't lie."

Raven's tender look turned to one of contempt. She walked back to the dresser and sat down again. "You would have made a terrible actress, my dear -- you have no courage."

"And ya ain't got no honor." Furious, Sabine wrenched open the door and practically stumbled when she nearly ran into Remy.

Raven didn't seem the least bit concerned that he had overheard the conversation, instead she grinned from ear to ear.

"C'mon cherie. I doubt we got much time ... and dis ain't good company to be in."

Firmly zipping up her leather jacket, Sabine led the way out.

They sat quietly together, parked by the side of the road.

"Dere gonna call it murder."

"Ah know. You ain't responsible."

"Dere's no way Remy's gonna let you swing after de way you told off dat spider-lady." He looked softly at her. "No one's ever done dat for me."

She smiled with little humor. "Then how about you figure a way out for us? Somewhere to go. Ah never had to make a decision like this." She looked sadly out the window. "Ah've never had to make any decisions at all."

"Contraire. You made a big one today. But as far as places ... we could go to New York, mebbe even further dan dat. You wanna come with Remy?"

What did she want? "Yes. At least for now. Ah can't think beyond tomorrow."

"Dat's de only way to live, chere. But you got to make de call."


"Serious? Dat gonna take allota money."

"You're a thief and ah'm a murderess -- ya saying between us we can't even get outta the country?"

"Bah." He crossed his arms. "I t'ink we can get it. Do you want t'take dat chance?"

She looked at him seriously. "Ah want to take whatever ah can get."

He was a little disappointed that she didn't know how to drive. "Dat's de first t'ing Remy needs t'teach you," he had said. It was a huge risk, neither one knew if Cody's body had been discovered. They waited until the beginning of the work day to make their move.

Waving Cody's stolen pistol in the air, Remy charged the bank with Sabine close behind. The terrified tellers froze when he screamed the classic demand for money. Oddly, Sabine could barely keep from giggling. Some of it was delayed hysteria, but a large part was the feeling of being in her own movie -- with her as the star. She stuffed the money into every open pocket until her jacket was bulging. A terrified whimper from one blond teller jerked her back to reality. Was this the girl Cody had been with? Did she know he was dead? Sabine hadn't even realized that she was staring until Remy touched her arm.

"Chere, we need to go now. Dere's action across de street."

Remy wrenched open the truck door at the same time as Sabine lept into the passenger seat. Gunning the ancient engine, his palms began to sweat as two black and white police sedans wheeled onto the main road.

"Sugah, I think we got company."

"You want to drive, cherie?"

"Not a chance."

"Den be quiet and hold on."

The battered truck took off in a peal of dust as Sabine grabbed for the dashboard. People ran from the bank to watch the beginning of the chase.

Remy began cursing in broken french.

"Something ya wanna tell me about?"

"Look like your husband gon' get his revenge. Dis truck ainıt never gonna outrun de police." Sabine looked out the window in fear and frustration. This whole series of events had played out beyond her control. Watching the faces of the homeless drift by on the side of the dirt road, she wondered if they too felt battered by the whim of fate.

Remy looked over in confusion as his erstwhile parter-in-crime slid the top half of her body out the window.

"Chere, where de hell do you t'ink you're going?"

"Be back in a flash, sugah."

Sabine was sure that if she stopped to think, she would never go through with it. Bracing her hands on the roff of the cab, she gingerly pulled herself out on top of the truck, ignoring Remyıs yells of protest. Skirt whipping in the wind, She balanced herself into a standing position and unzipped the leather jacket.

Peeler made a furtive grab at his partner. "Don't shoot you idiot! She may be trying to get away!" Wrappong both hands around the wheel, he gassed the sedan, trying to close the distance.

Sabine pulled two fistfuls of cash from her pocket and broke the paper binds. Raising her hands like she intended to launch herself in the air, Sabine let the money flutter down into the road like a ticker-tape parade.

The effect was immediate. Swarms of people dove for the money, grabbing at what seemed a benediction from heaven.

Peeler barely hit the brakes in time, lurching forward as the rear sedan smashed into the back. "Jesus H. Christ!"

Remy LeBeau stared at the rear view mirror in shock. "You coming down now, cherie?"

All he heard was the sound of laughter.


"Sugah, ah ain't never coming down!"

Remy smiled, and kept the pedal to the floor.


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