It was a Makarov IJ-70. Soviet-era, heavy. She’d chosen it for the five-point star on the handle— which reminded her of her home state—and the image it evoked of a war-hardened military commander who, surely, would have fewer second thoughts than was she. She didn’t much want to admit it, but she’d also chosen it for the 16-pound trigger pull. Her brother had told her she could carry it safety-off with no trouble; she just wished she didn’t have to carry it.

Joey had never seemed like the type to go crazy at the end. Especially given that he was the one who had cheated on her in the first place, she thought bitterly. All she’d done was leave him after she found out—why did he have the right to flip out now, when this was his fault in the first place? Why hadn’t he just been faithful after she had been so good to him?

She pushed those thoughts from her mind and continued her trudge back home, breath white in the frigid January night air. He had broken into her home before—to steal back that necklace he had given her for Valentine’s Day two years before—and it didn’t sound like he would have any problem breaking in again, especially now that she didn’t have the added security of three roommates.

How does one go about shooting an ex-lover, anyway? You’d think that after everything he had threatened, everything he’d done, finding him in your house would be reason enough…but sometimes she still believed in people more than they deserved. Her brother, a combat veteran, had given her wisdom in that area.

“When you pull that gun out, you don’t think: you just shoot,” he had said. “And when you shoot, you shoot to kill. Period. You wouldn’t pull it out if your life weren’t in danger in the first place, so there’s no reason to hesitate. Your life depends on that. And every time you get scared, or you dream about him, you pull that gun out, look in the mirror at yourself holding it, visualize his face, and you practice.”

She had taken that advice. Who knew…the next time she came home and the cat smelled of his cologne, the time for second-guessing may be long past.

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