It couldn’t possibly be true – it was the mark. Miss Angeline Dearborn, chorus-girl turned socialite, and one of the twelve richest people in London, had briefly been in love with him. He was due to rob her tomorrow night – that is to say, later on today. This was either a golden opportunity, or a disaster in the making. Given his luck this long, long, night, he was prepared to bet on the latter. Patches could see this entire gig ruining his reputation; he’d better figure out a plan, and quickly.
Angeline noticed his startled expression and botched recovery. “Something wrong, sugar-dumpling?” Both eyes and tone were dour.
“Why are you still – ” She cut him off, mid-flustered-sentence.
“It’s easier to just keep in practice, honeylump. Thanks for your time; I wish I could say it’s been fun.” Hips swaying like a cartoon metronome, she sauntered back to her taxi, about, no doubt, to go into hiding. Patches could see his chances slipping away.
“What – you snatch me off the street to do you a favor, and you’re going to just leave me here?”
“Looks like it. If it helps, you can just think of me as a heartless bitch. Bye-bye, Bubeleh.” He could barely hear her last words over the squeals of rubber and road. He quickly realized that his satchels were still in her cab – no help for it now. He transformed into his fleeter four-footed form, flying as fast as his feline frame could flit. Reaching the road, he jumped through the open window of her moving car – luckily, traffic had slowed her getaway long enough for him to catch up. After transforming back, he was still winded. Angeline slammed on the brakes at his abrupt appearance; Patches’ head slammed into the dash.
“What the hell are you doing in my cab, peaches?”
He glanced sidelong, feeling very much like he was addressing a modern Mae West. In his best Humphrey Bogart voice, he drawled “I forgot something in your car, you crazy dame.” She slapped him, right where the welt from the dashboard was starting to show. “Watch it, Acushla. The wacky old-time film thing is my bag.” As an afterthought, she spit “Pudding-bear” in his direction.
As calmly as he could, he returned “I’m just here for my things. I thought it might be a courteous move to make sure you have some place to go after that crazy story you fed me, but since you clearly never want to see me again, I’ll just take my things and go.” He reached for his bags in the backseat – the one containing his payment was sitting open, the cash in plain view. Without surprise he felt it; turning back around in his seat, his eyes confirmed that there was a pearl-handled derringer firmly pressed against his side. Also visible, thanks to a convenient slit in her skirt, was the garter holster where it had been stowed, as well as a mile of shapely alabaster thigh.
She winked, and in the sweetest voice he’d heard her use yet, she purred “Now, dream-pumpkin, this is how the fuck things are going to go.”