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'SCUSE ME WHILE I KILL THIS GUY
By Leslie Langtry
Average 4.2 STARS
YOU CAN'T PICK YOUR FAMILY...
Death by Chocolate is her favorite dessert. And those knitting needles aren't just for craft projects. To most people, Gin Bombay is an ordinary single mom. Then again, they don't know she's from a family of top secret assassins. Somewhere between leading a Girl Scout troop for her kindergartner--would nooses count for a knot badge?--and keeping their puppy from destroying the furniture, Gin now has to take out a new target.
BUT YOU CAN PICK THEM OFF
Except this target has an incredibly hot Australian bodyguard who knows just how to make her weak in the knees. But with a mole threatening to expose everything, Gin doesn't have much time to let her hormones do the happy dance. She's got to find the leak and clear her assignment...or she'll end up next on the Bombay family hit list.
“On a large enough time line, the survival rate for everyone will drop to zero.” ~Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
No one really liked family reunions. I got that. But when I listen to people complain about it ’round the water cooler, I couldn’t help rolling my eyes. I mean really, try it when you come from a family of assassins. Kind of gave “avoiding Aunt Jean’s potato salad” a whole new meaning.
That’s right. Family of assassins. I came from a line of murderers dating back to ancient Greece. Mafia? Puhleeeese. Ninjas? Amateurs. Illuminati? How pedestrian. My ancestors had invented the garrote, ice pick, and arsenic. And Grandma Mary insisted that the wheel had actually been devised as a portable skull crusher. I’d tell you the names of some of our famous victims through history, but I’d had to sign a confidentiality clause in my own blood when I was five. So you’d just have to take my word for it.
I turned the engraved invitation over in my hands and sighed. I hate these things. We only held them once every five years, but for some reason, this time, the reunion was only a year after the last one. That meant someone in the family had been naughty. That meant one of my relatives was going to die.
As I stroked the creamy vellum paper, for a brief moment I thought about sending my regrets. But only for a moment. After all, it wasn’t an option on the R.S.V.P. card. Unlike most family reunions with sack races, bad weather and crappy
T-shirts, where to refuse to go only meant you weren’t in the ridiculous all-family photo, to turn down this invitation was death. That’s right. Death. Any blooded member of the family who didn’t show was terminated.
Now, where had I put that goddamned pen? I rattled through the “everything” drawer, looking for the onyx pen with the family crest engraved in gold on the side. It may sound pretty calloused to throw a centuries-old family heirloom in with tampons, fishing hooks, batteries, and ten-year-old packs of gum, but I didn’t exactly have the usual family sense o’ pride.
I found it behind some broken cassette tapes and dusted it off. The coat-of-arms practically glowed on the cold, ebony surface. Crossed sabers entwined with an asp and topped off with a vial of poison. Lovely. Really sent that warm, homemade chicken-soup kind of feeling. And don’t forget the family motto, carved in Greek on the side which translates as, Kill with no mercy, love with suspicion. Not exactly embroider-on-the-pillow material.
The phone rang, causing me to jump. That’s right. I was a jumpy assassin.
“Ginny?” My mom’s voice betrayed her urgency.
“Hey, Mom. I got it,” I responded wearily. Carolina Bombay was always convinced I would someday skip the reunion.
“Don’t use that tone with me, Virginia.” Her voice was dead serious. “I just wanted to make sure.”
“Right. Like I’d miss this and run the risk of having my own mother hunt me down.” For some reason, this would be a joke in other families. But in mine, when you strayed, your own family literally hunted you down.
“You know it makes me nervous when you don’t call the day you get the invitation,” Mom said, whispering the words the invitation. It was a sacred thing, and to be honest, we were all more than a little terrified every time we received one. (Did you ever notice that the words sacred and scared differ only by switching two letters?)
“I’m sorry,” I continued lying to my mother. “I just popped the R.S.V.P. into the mailbox on the corner.” And I would too. No point taking any chances with my mail carrier losing it. That would be a stupid way to die.
“Well, I’m calling your brother next. I swear, you kids do this just to torment me!” She hung up before I could say good bye.
So, here I was, thirty-nine years old, single mother of a five-year-old daughter (widowed – by cancer, not by family) and still being treated like a child. Not that my childhood had been normal, by any means. You grew up pretty quick with the ritualistic blood-oath at five and your first professional kill by fifteen.
To be fair, Mom had a right to be nervous. She watched her older sister, also named Virginia, get hunted down by Uncle Lou when she had failed to appear at the 1975 reunion. That really had to suck. I’d been named after her, which kind of jinxed me, I think.
In case you hadn’t noticed, my immediate family members were all named after U.S. states or cities (Lou was short for Louisiana, much to his dismay, and Grandma Mary was short for Maryland). It was a tradition that went back to our first ancestors, who thought it would be a cute idea to name their kids after locations, rather than actual names. My name was Virginia, but as a kid I went by Ginny. Of course, that had changed in college when everyone thought it was a real hoot to shorten my name to Gin. That’s right. Gin Bombay. Yuck it up. I dare you.
Bombay had been the last name of my family since the beginning. Women born into the family weren’t allowed to change their names when they get married. In fact, the husband had to agree to change his name to Bombay. You could guess what happens if they refuse.
Non-blooded Bombays were allowed to miss the reunion, as were children under the age of five. Bombays had to let their spouses in on the “family secret” by the time the first reunion in their marriage rolls around. It wasn’t exactly pillow talk. And of course, you weren’t allowed to leave the family once you know, or well, you knew what happened.
Most of us didn’t even tell our spouses until the first five-year reunion. I guess I’d been lucky, if you could actually call it that. My husband, Eddie, had died of brain cancer four years into our marriage. And even though I’d seen the lab results, I still eyed my cousins suspiciously. And while I’m fairly certain we haven’t figured out a way to cause cancer, with my family, you never know.
Roma, my daughter, had been born one month after Eddie died. I’d given her the traditional place name, but rebelled against the state thing. I called her Romi. I smiled, thinking about picking her up from kindergarten in a few hours. She was my whole life. All arms and legs, skinny as a stick, with straight, brown hair and big blue eyes, Romi had given me back my laughter when Ed passed.
My heart sank with a cartoon boing when it hit my stomach. Romi was five. This would be her first reunion. She would have to be drawn into that nest of vipers that is the Bombay Family. Her training would begin immediately after. And in a couple of weeks, she’d go from playing with Bratz dolls, to “icing” them. Sh*t.
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