“I’ll kill them both.”
She stood with the shotgun held loosely in her hands. The dogs at her feet whimpered but didn’t move as we circled around her. The pack kept their distance, and I did the same. My rifle was still slung over my shoulder, the Colts in their holsters.
The dogs had sniffed her out and brought me to her, and there was an undeniable danger about the woman. I had no doubt she would shoot the dogs, but I don’t believe she knew what would happen to her if she did.
“Let them go,” I told her, “and you can go your way.”
She smirked at me. “Who do you think you are to say such a thing to me? Do you believe you have some sort of authority because you run at the head of a pack on two legs instead of four? You’re not even worth as much as a dog is to me.”
I smiled. “Let the dogs go.”
“Discard your weapons, and perhaps I will.”
A low grumble of discontent rippled through my pack as I took off the rifle and the Colts, laying my weapons on the ground in front of me.
“Fool,” she laughed and kicked both dogs, sending them racing off to the shelter of my pack. She brought the shotgun up to her shoulder. “It’s not hard, killing a man.”
“No,” I agreed and sprinted toward her.
The grin never left her face. Not as the shotgun roared, nor as the slug hit me in the breast.
The bullet caught me midstride and turned me halfway round, but I spun the rest of the way myself.
Her smile faltered, fell, and she took a fearful step back as she tried to break open the weapon and reload it.
When she realized she couldn’t in time, she snarled, reversed the shotgun in her hands and swung it at me.
Wheezing, I dipped below the blow, came up close to her and slammed the heel of my hand into her chin. The force of the blow lifted her off the ground and sent her to the earth. She struggled to keep hold of the shotgun, but I kicked it away from her, and she lay still.
“Do it,” she hissed. “Kill me when I’m defenseless.”
“I’m not going to kill you,” I replied, spitting blood onto her dress. “But the dogs will.”
I took a step back, and my pack lunged forward.
They took their time, and that was fine.
She shouldn’t have kicked the dogs.