Eighteen minutes later, deputy Sergeant Caleb Reynolds stood outside the door of the director's office, watching them through a crack. It had taken him slightly longer than expected to get everything in place, but he felt good, confident, about how it was all going to play out. Especially now seeing the two girls in the Bee's Roller Derby outfits, tight little skirts and tops, even had the wigs and masks on. They were identical except one of them was in blue, the other in white. Like little dolls, yeah, he liked to think of them that way. His little dolls.

Expensive dolls.

The blue doll saying, "Are you sure the fact that you want to kiss him isn't getting in the way of your judgment, Miranda?"

And the white doll saying, "Who says I want to kiss him? You're the Kissing Bandit."

"Who says I want to kiss him?" the blue doll mimicked. "Please. You should really learn to have some fun. Live in the mo."

"Maybe I will as soon as I get rid of you, Sibby."

The blue doll stuck out her tongue, almost making him laugh. They were cute together, these two. Blue doll said, "I'm serious. How do you know we can trust him?"

"He has his own agenda," the white doll explained, "and it works with ours."

Then he really did have to stifle a laugh. She had no idea how correct she was. About that first part.

And how wrong about the second.

He pushed the door open and saw them both turn to him with you-are-my-hero expressions in their eyes.

"Are you ready, Miss Cumean?"

Blue doll nodded.

His little white doll saying now, "Take good care of her. You know how important she is."

"I will. I'll get her settled and come back for the second part of the operation. Don't open the door for anyone but me."


He was back less than a minute later.

"Was everything okay? Is Sibby safe?"

"It went perfectly. My men were exactly in position. It could not have gone smoother."

"Okay, so how long do we wait before I run out?"

He walked toward her, backing her against the wall. He said, "There's been a change of plans."

"What, you've added a part where you kiss me? Before the part where I pretend to be Sibby and lead the guards into the SWAT-team trap?"

He liked the way she smiled when she said it. He reached up to caress her cheek and said, "Not exactly, Miranda." His hands slid from her face to her neck.

"What are you tal-"

Before she could finish, she was pressed against the wall, hanging a foot above the ground, his hands around her throat. He tightened them slightly as he said, "It's just you and me now. I know all about you. Who you are. What you can do."

"Really?" she choked out.

"Yes, really. Princess!" He saw her eyes get wide and felt her swallow hard. "I knew that would get your attention."

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"I know about the bounty on your head. Miranda Kiss wanted, alive or dead. My original plan had been to leave you alive for a while, bring you in after a few weeks, but unfortunately you just had to interfere. Should have minded your own business instead of mine, Princess. Now I can't run the risk of your getting in the way."

"You mean in the way of what you're doing with Sibby? So you were the one who wanted the money. You betrayed those others and made them think you were part of their cause, just like you betrayed us."

"Such a smart girl."

"You kill me, kidnap her, and collect money? Is that it?"

"Yep. Just like Monopoly, Princess. Pass go, collect two hundred dollars. Only in this case it's more like fifty million. For the girl."

"Wow." She looked genuinely impressed. "And how much do you get for me?"

"Dead? Five million. You're worth more alive; apparently some people think you're some teen Wonder Woman, have superpowers. But I can't take the chance."

"You already said that," she rasped.

"What, are you bored, Miranda?" He tightened his grip a little. "Sorry this wasn't more of a storybook ending," he said, smiling at her, holding her eyes with his own as he choked her.

He could tell she was struggling to breathe now. "If you're going to kill me, can't you just get on with it? This is kind of uncomfortable."

"What, my hands? Or the feeling that you're a failure-"

"I'm not a failure."

" - again."

She spit in his face.

"Still got some fire. I really admire that about you. I think you and I could have gotten along nicely. Unfortunately, there just isn't time."

She gave one last fight, clawing at him with all her remaining strength. It was inspiring how hard she worked. Finally her little fists fell hopelessly to her sides.

He leaned in close to her face. "Any last words?"

"Three: Listerine breath strips. You really need them."

He laughed, then tightened the hands around her neck until they overlapped. "Good-bye."

For a second, his eyes burned into hers. Then there was a sharp crack and something heavy came down on his head from behind. He staggered forward, his hands letting go of the girl as he fell to the ground unconscious.

He never knew what hit him, the blue doll thought, still gripping the clock she'd used to knock him out. Or who.