Status: Setting up for the next act.

All out and Over

Chapter Fourteen: Walking the Tight Rope.

Malory sat, waiting with barely scathed patience. How can you be late again, you stupid tart! In the last two weeks, she saw her little flame betraying her trust time after time again. Cara had gone to the mystic man. Each time the whore left his tent she seemed to glow. Malory wanted to carve that glow right off her skin.

If I didn't need you, firecracker, I would've doused your lights long ago. Too bad youth and beauty are wasted on the naïve.

Her hand lingered over the bowl of fresh white and red grapes she received from a client earlier in the day. They were ripe and juicy. Sweetness washed over her tongue giving her a momentary pleasure.

She glanced up from her spot in the bleachers of the large show tent. The tightropes were freshly strung and the dancers were testing them, just as they did every week. Malory loathed predictability almost as much as she loathed the corddancer's perky asses swaying high above her audience. This crowd ate out of the palm of my hand, believing every insignificant lie as if it were god's truth.

She even convinced herself of small things, but those things were proven in time. The slutty flame spread herself thin and pulled away from their share desire to take something that didn't belong to her. She saw the disappointment on Dimitri's features as his passion fled his touch.

Cara took refuge in a much more dangerous place, refuge and a love that belonged to Malory. She could almost see their bodies intertwining. The little girl's sweat dripping down mingling with the magician's. Juice ran down her arm as she crushed a handful of grapes. She almost believes that bastard, but she refused to let that stupid, dwindling flame go rogue.

Malory didn't hear the rusty squeal of the bleachers, or feel Cara's weight rock her seat. She knew nothing of the tart's presence until she plopped down, filled her mouth with grapes and said, "Did they fall yet?"

"I haven't been paying attention," Malory answered with a sigh. "You're late." How many times did he please you to make your cheeks flush like the burning end of a cigarette?

"I bet 5." She retorted, spraying grape juice over the seats before her.

You filthy... "No, you're wrong," Malory said bleakly. "Lacey twisted her ankle yesterday, see she limps when she walks; Shannon falls every time; and of course, Tiffany is flirting again. If Ryan doesn’t topple over it will be a surprise to us all.” She wipes her mouth before pointing out the tiny-wasted, Asian girl.

“But what if one falls twice,” Cara tried to correct. How am I supposed to take you seriously with grapes juice running down your chin and neck? “Wouldn’t that count twice?”

“Forget it!” Malory growled under her breath. “Just wipe your face and watch the show.”

One of the rail-thin boys fell from the wire as he memorized every inch of Tiffany’s barely clothed body. This place was becoming more depressing by the moment rather than a nice laughing session, as it usually was. Malory watched Cara mindlessly eat one after the other grape. She moved the bowl, not able to bear another sloshing chomp from the flame.

“Hey!” She yelped. “I was eating that!”

“How long are you going to lie to me, Firecracker?”

“I’m not lying! You saw me chewing?” Cara huffed.

You disgusting twit! Only caring about what goes into your mouth and not what comes out! Malory grabbed her by the elbow and hauled her out of the show tent. She snatched Cara out so quickly one of the rods holding the entranceway steady almost broke. Her grip tightened one last time before the pushed the girl’s sticky elbow from her grasp.

“I know where you’ve been, Little Flame. I don’t like you going to the magician when there is someone else looking for your attention.” Malory’s sharp eyes locked onto Cara. She circled the girl as a predator circled its afternoon snack. You will not lie to me again! No one will lie to me…

“You don’t understand!” Cara cried.

I understand you enough to know what you’re rosy cheeks and damp forehead mean.

“Xavier is helping me…”

“NO!” Malory snapped. “He is making you think his pretty words and fancy potions are something you desire. I know his tricks better than you, Firecracker.”

“It’s not like…”

“Listen to me!” Malory growled. Cara’s shoulders slumped as she stepped back. Malory smoothed her famous striped dress as she moved forward. “I know you missed your meeting with Dimitri last week. He is thankfully still chasing you, but do you want him do become distant. Do you want him to distrust you as he loathes me?” She pulled the girl’s chin up until their eyes met. “What are you trying to do, Little Flame?”

“I just needed some stress relief.” She whispered. “Xavier is a good man. He helps me…”

“The magic man had never been entirely good. I promise you he has an agenda, now tell me what it is!” Tell me what you’ve told him, Idiot, so I can try to fix this. How much damage control am I going to need?

“We don’t talk!” Cara half yelled, but her boldness flitted away in Malory’s smothering gaze. “He gives me Molly; he has the best Moly!”

“It’s not Molly, silly girl! I know you’ve said something.” Malory shook Cara’s face, squeezing her chin until red lines appeared just above her fingertips.

“I swear! That’s all we do. He’s a good man. He wouldn’t hurt us.” Cara squealed.

“You don’t know him like I do,” Malory hissed. “Don’t go to him again! I don’t care about your pity parties or your stress! If you’ve told him the wrong thing we will both lose everything we’ve worked for.” She released Cara’s face. I won’t tolerate her ignorance for much longer. This has to be done before she gives us away.


“Go! Dimitri is primed for you, and I need to find out what you’ve done.” Malory’s dressed swayed around her ankles as she turned swiftly, taking a few steps before looking over her shoulder.

“Don’t worry, Firecracker. This mess will be over soon. We will be happy once again.” She smiled sweetly before continuing her walk. Malory knew she needed to reel it in, but the anger consumed her, the memories ate her soul.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” He shouted. Steven, her husband, never yelled at her before, and yesterday she would’ve said he wouldn’t dream of cheating on her. She saw it…

“ME? I’m not the one screwing a baby in my wife’s bed!” She growled at him. Her trembling hands ran through her hair. Sweat clung to her hands, so she wiped them on her black and white corset. He’d just given her the outfit two weeks ago.

He stood with frightening speed. His hand flew across her cheek before she knew what was happening. “You need to get your act together! Mal, you’re too damn old to be acting like a petty bitch.”

Her hand held the bruising cheek as she stared up at him. His bare shoulders were broad and strong, they once felt like home, but now she cursed them. Malory circled the sweating pig, closing in on their bedside table. His cheeks blushed from his excursion and embarrassment probably. She stopped just as her back met the table, slipping the drawer open. “You married me, remember?” she shot at him. “If I’m such a petty bitch, Steven, why’d you do it?”

“Because you were young, dumb, and everything I wanted. I don’t want you now!” He threw his hands up. She married him because he was handsome, kind, and everything she thought a man should be… he was everything her father wasn’t.

Malory reached into the drawer, touching the cool hilt of the gun a clown gave her. “That’s okay…,” she whispered, pulling the gun. Holding it in front of her chest, the barrel pointed at his head.

“Wait, what the… Malory! Where did you get that?” He moved off the bed and stepped gingerly toward her.

“Does it matter?”

“Malory, honey! I’m sorry. You know, I didn’t mean it.”

“That’s okay.” She nodded her head as she smiled at him. “I don’t want you anymore either.”
♠ ♠ ♠
Balancing can be very difficult and fire eaters are not made for tight ropes. How many will have fallen by the hands of the Queen of Hearts? How many did she push over the edge?

Better not look down...

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