Chapter Four: Perfect Scoundrels

Chapter Four: Perfect Scoundrels

The voices follow me into my cabin like a bad case of indigestion.

Those young people we’re carrying are unusual.

I heard some mysterious organization is sending them to the States. They rented out half the ship.

You’d think the girl who is always seasick would be the stranger one, but at least she’s quiet. What’s wrong with the crazy one’s hair today, anyway?

For a bunch of grumpy, uptight, middle-aged voyagers, the people on this ship don’t seem to realize how rude it is to talk about someone while she’s within hearing distance. Then again, I was hiding behind a plant while those two women discussed me like I was nothing better than a half-melted bowl of cookies and cream, so there’s that.

Their idiotically misinformed words swirl through my mind as I lie back on my bunk. Mine’s the top one, since Rose’s undeadness apparently prevents her from climbing ladders, despite her ability to perform all sorts of aerial acrobatics—no problem—on ghost pirate ships. (I’m starting to think the undeadness might have just been an excuse to snag the lower bunk—the nerve of that girl. She’s already dead; what does it matter if she has to climb a few extra rungs to her bed. I’m the one on my way to imminent peril, here.)

I yank my hair back in a braid that should hide how snarled my encounter with Pixie Stick left it, no thanks to the judgmental comments of that little, evidently obtuse woman, and glare at the ceiling six inches from my nose.

Somewhere up on the deck, Rose is probably still talking to that idiot, undead pirate warrior friend of hers while Randy acts all self-righteously angry in his cabin, and here I am, all alone and ugh. The people in my life suck. I should find new ones.

It’s not like it’s even my fault that I can see dead people and nobody else seems to be able to, yet it’s always my responsibility to bail Rose out when she does something crazy. Like freaking pull an Olympic. gymnast. stunt. off the side of an invisible, ancient boat.

I’m not crazy. I swear I’m not crazy.

Oh, who am I kidding. My entire life fits the definition of a psychopath’s. I’m probably not even in a ship on my way home to the most loveliest country in the world, right now. I’m probably locked up in some bloody British insane asylum while some idiot Brit forces “jam” and tea down my throat.

Salt water that unfortunately cannot be blamed on the surrounding ocean pricks the corners of my eyes.

Stupid boat. Stupid dead government dude. Stupid dead people in general.

Why can’t people just die and then stay dead and not bother me anymore? Seriously, it’s harshing my mellow as a working assassin. When you kill someone, you’re supposed to have fewer annoying people in your life, not more.

With a groan, I roll over and flip open the battery-operated mini freezer I keep beside my pillow (and heart) at all times and slip out a pint of rainbow sherbet.

“Oh, Häagen-Dazs. You’re the only friend I need.” I hug the cardboard container to my chest and scoop a mound into my mouth.

The door creaks open. “Mary, are you in here?”

I don’t respond.

Rose groans and closes the door behind her. “I can smell your future cavities from here, Mary.”

Seeing as the jig is up, I scoop more sherbet into my mouth and lean back against the wall, propping my feet against the railing designed to keep me from falling off my bunk during storms (or, you know, sieges by undead pirate ships). Rose’s bunk doesn’t have a railing like this since it’s so close to the floor, so HA!

“Mary,” Rose says in a tone that is annoyingly patient, “did you speak with the captain about porting somewhere more secluded than New York City?”

“Go away, Rose,” I say, dripping red and blue swirls down my chin in a most fabulous of beards.

Metal creaks as she sits on the bunk below mine. “Randy and I simply care about keeping you alive, you do realize.”

“And I don’t understand why you do.” I wipe the melted ice cream from my chin with my fingers, then slurp it off. Rose’s revulsion comes in the form of a shudder that rocks both the bunks. I lean over my railing so my eyes are level with glare, albeit my face is much cooler than hers seeing as I’m upside down. “You’re already dead. Why do you care?”

Rose cocks an eyebrow. “Because if you die, then I will be stuck with you for eternity.”

“Good point.” I pull myself back into an upright position. “Nobody deserves to be stuck with someone as great as I am for that long. You might just learn how to carpe diem on accident.”

“I take it you did not speak with the captain?”

“No, I did. We’re docking at some hub in New Jersey instead. He offered to take us to this cute little port in Rhode Island when I reminded him how much money PWNBEIBER’s paying for him to drop us off in the US, but I figured, why give up a perfectly good opportunity to get a spray tan?”

“Well, that sounds at least slightly better than New York.” Rose’s tone is even less convinced than her words.

“Calm down. If you should be worried about anyone’s actions right now, it should be the Biebs, not me. Did you hear what he did las—”

“Mary.”

“Did you hear how Selena reacted? Crushed the hearts of all the Jelena fans.”

“Stop trying to change the subject.”

“It’s not trying if you succeed.”I dangle the ice cream carton and spoon over the side of my bunk. “Want some?”

Mary.”

I pop my head over the side so I can see her again. Rose sits with her arms crossed, shoulders rigid. It’s weird how almost-normal she looks in the modern clothes. “Look,” I say, “I’ve been an assassin for quite some time now. You and I have been dealing with pixies and aliens and alternate dimensions for long enough to realize that if I wasn’t good at staying alive, I’d be deader than you are by now. So stop worrying.” I roll my eyes. “Keep it up, and someone might mistake us for friends.”

The very corners of Rose’s lips tilt up in what could either be a smile or a poorly-veiled attempt to hide how much she wants to throttle me.

“How long until we port, then?”

“How long until we lose Warrior Boyfriend and Daddy?”

Rose opens her mouth, but as the first syllable leaves her lips, another shudder passes through the cabin—this one larger than the one I assumed Rose had caused. My head whacks up into the ceiling and I fall back on my bunk, spilling delicious rainbow sorbet all down my front.

I shake my fist in the air. “Darn you, Random Angry Boat Movements!”

“Mary, I don’t think the ship is supposed to do that.” Rose’s tone is panicky.

“What do you me—”

A third shudder, and screams rise from another part of the ship. Then a fourth explosion blows our door in.

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