Meet My Imaginary Friends: Vivienne & Veronica Quinn
Vivienne Lang Quinn is a force to be reckoned with. She is skilled in multiple martial arts as well as street fighting. More than a few people out to cause trouble have learned the hard way not to mess with her. However, since the birth of her baby daughter, Veronica, Viv has learned to be more cautious. In this scene from The Crazy Old Lady's Secret, an overly ambitious kid challenges her and intervention comes from an unexpected source.
Viv pulled into her parking space, lifted out Veronica in her carrier, and locked the car. She was halfway across the parking lot when she saw the boy lingering at the corner near her condo. She stopped, took a deep breath, and thought briefly about returning to her car, but Veronica was stirring and Viv knew she would want to be changed and fed soon.
She hadn’t talked to Joe, or to anyone, about this problem. As discreetly as the police had handled the death of Linus Lindgren and her role in it, word got out. In the martial arts community people knew—or at least surmised—that she had ended Lindgren's life. The rumors spread like wildfire. She was lethal and now there were those who wanted to challenge her. So far she had managed to avoid fighting—the last thing she needed was some foolish, gunslinger-wannabe kid, but her baby was beginning to fuss.
“Don’t worry, baby girl,” she said softly. “Mommy’s going to take care of you.”
The boy watched her. He was an average size kid and didn't look like he could be more than eighteen but he appeared strong and agile and, as she crossed the street, he sauntered toward her.
“Hey,” he said.
Keys in hand, she fixed her eyes on the door and kept walking, but the kid approached with a cocky, ambling gate, his head tilted back.
“Hey,” he repeated. “You're Viv Lang, aren't you? I'm talking to you.”
When she pushed a button on her key ring the front door clicked as it unlocked. She shifted the baby carrier to the side away from the kid without looking at him.
“Don't ignore me,” he said. “I hear you're supposed to be a hotshot fighter.”
She wasn't afraid—that was what always surprised her, being in a tense situation and feeling nothing but calm. She pushed the door open with her hip and, turning sideways to protect the entrance, she placed the baby on the floor. Viv was about to step inside when the kid lunged toward her, hand outstretched. She spun intending to use his forward motion to hurl him to the ground, but before she touched him the boy jerked backwards and seemed to levitate off the sidewalk.
“What the hell?” he gasped.
“Hey, karate kid,” a raspy voice snarled, “sweep the goddamn leg.”
There was a wild laugh as an enormous figure materialized out of the shadows. The boy struggled, kicking air and writhing, but held aloft he could find no purchase. He managed to twist his head only to shriek at the sight of the monster grasping him by his belt and the back of his jacket. The boy's legs churned and his eyes widened at the sight of a scarred and terrifying face surrounded by a mass of grizzled gray-streaked hair. The monster grinned at him, gave him a hard shake, then, as casually as he would toss aside a banana peel, pitched the boy away from Viv into the street. The kid scrambled to his feet and took off running.
Viv turned to the huge man. “Brother Maksim,” she said, “I am very, very happy to see you. What are you doing here?”
“I’ve been thinking about you,” the monk said, folding his big arms across his chest. “I figured it was time I got to see that baby of yours.”
Viv laughed. “You couldn’t have picked a better time. Come in.”