I don’t recall much of what happened while I gazed at that painting. It all kind of runs together. What does stand out in my mind was the way Hiromi rifled through my pockets and purse, while the enchantment held me captivated. I realized that she had no intention of keeping her end of our bargain. She, like everyone else in my life, was using me.
I realized what a dangerous mistake I’d made in going to see her. Hiromi found the cellphone and the folded image in my purse and was exultant. Seemingly from miles away, I heard her crowing over them and then her tone become livid, when she realized that I had tricked her. Hiromi grabbed my hair and yanked my head back, effectively tearing me away from the forced contemplation of the hypnotic painting.
“What the hell is this? You promised to deliver Plum’s cellphone and chit!”
“And you promised to pay me,” I retorted.
“Stop wasting my time! Do you have them or not,” she snapped.
“Yes, I have them.”
“Then hand them over,” Hiromi demanded.
“Do you really think I’d be stupid enough to bring them with me?”
“You said you were bringing them. Why would you lie?”
“I wanted to see if you would keep your promise and pay me. Looks like we’re both liars. I’m not going to give you a damn thing, until you pay me!”
“I’m not going to wait forever. You know what, forget it. I don’t even want the damn things anymore.”
“Well, then I guess I’ll just leave.”
“Oh no you don’t Patricia. You’re not getting off that easily. Do you know why I wanted those things in the first place?”
“To get back at Plum.”
“That’s right and I fully intend to do just that, with your help.”
“You said you didn’t want the cellphone and chit.”
“No, because I don’t need them now. There are far better ways to get even with her.”
I didn’t like the nasty gleam in her eyes. Warning bells were ringing again. I tried to heed them and walk away, but Aki grabbed me from behind.