Reggie waited confidently by the river. There was no point chasing Vanna. The coin would bring her to him. She would know it was their fate to meet and interact. Reggie was sure she would think he was on the run, afraid of her and the coin. But she would not know this was a trap. The coin would not warn her in time. Reggie knew the coin had powers over people and Vanna controlled it. That’s why she would be overconfident until it was too late.
Reggie had a secret. The coin’s powers would work for Vanna while it was in her possession unless….someone had control of the rest of the coin collection. Fortunately he still had the collection and it was nearby, locked in his car. He The collection was nearby so the powers would be stronger. She would walk right past it and never know. When she was least expecting it, the coin’s powers would be turned against her.
Reggie stayed in the shadows where he was less likely to be noticed. He wanted to surprise Vanna. If she was accidentally alerted by someone, Reggie wasn’t sure how she would react, or for that matter, how the coin would react. The situation could get ugly.
Two young men loitered by a bar on a nearby street. Reggie wondered if they were looking for an easy mark, someone tipsy or alone. He hoped they would leave soon and be out of the way. If not, he would have to take matters in his own hands.
Vanna arrived later than Reggie expected. He was tense and irritable and eager for a confrontation. The two men were still there, apparently unaware of him, staying close to a streetlight. Reggie was tired of waiting and ready to make their lives uncomfortable.
He had almost given up and was sliding out of the shadows when a bus stopped at a corner two blocks away. A woman got off and the bus pulled away. Reggie knew it was Vanna even before she turned and walked towards the river.
A woman alone was easy prey. He could feel the men’s excitement increasing. He wasn’t worried because he knew she had the coin and at any time she could unleash its powers against them. He was uneasy about letting others crash his party, but he decided to relax and enjoy the show.
Vanna stopped and talked to the young men. That was unexpected. They didn’t follow her which also surprised Reggie. They stood there for a few seconds surveying the scene, trying to determine if they were being watched or followed, before disappearing into the darkness. Reggie decided the coin had worked its magic and they wouldn’t be a problem.
Reggie was concentrating on Vanna and the coin because its power was zeroing in, challenging his authority. Because his attention was diverted the sound of breaking glass never registered, and he never dreamed that the two young men would ransack his car.
Vanna stopped a few yards away and called out, “Reggie! I know you’re there. Come out! Don’t make me use the coin’s powers.”
He laughed. ”Vanna, you don’t have as much power as you think. The coin is mine and will do anything I demand of it.”
Her knees were weak and her stomach was churning. The coin was vibrating and she felt her control weakening.
“Just like before, Vanna. You’ll do what I want.”
She stared at him for several seconds and then began slowly gyrating, dancing to music she remembered from before. Reggie urged her on. “Keep going, baby. Feel the rhythm.”
She wanted to resist but resistance was futile. Unbuttoning her blouse as she danced, she watched Reggie. There was no change in his expression but she could feel his hatred turning into indifference.
At first she was chilled by his expression and the cool breeze coming from the river. Then a strange warmth began in the pit of her stomach. The warmth came in waves, each wave increasingly invasive. She hated him and yet she was beginning to want him, feeling love in spite of her hatred of all he had done. She continued to dance for him until she stood before him naked and waiting, obediently ready his next command.
The coin, still clutched in her hand, began to vibrate. She took several steps back and pressed her hands to her head. The trance was broken. Suddenly she looked up and defiantly said, “Where are your powers, Reggie? Did you lose them?”
Reggie stared in disbelief. “Don’t even try, Vanna,” he snapped. “Do you really want to challenge me? Vanna,” he ordered, “go jump in the river. It’s time for you to go.”
She ignored him and began getting dressed.
Reggie was losing his self control. “What did you do? Where is my collection?”
He noticed the two young men standing nearby. “This is your chance!” he shouted. “I won’t stop you whatever you do. She’s yours for the taking.”
“Reggie,” one man said, “you don’t have power over us anymore.”
Reggie’s eyes narrowed as he recognized one of the men. “Karl, where is my collection?”
“I put it in a safe place for Vanna. I trust her. She is in charge now,” Karl responded. “She can answer your questions.”
“Vanna, give me my collection and I’ll let you go,” Reggie gasped.
“Reggie, it’s too late for you. You won’t hurt anyone ever again. Karl found the collection and it’s in my possession. You wanted me to die in the river. I’ve decided you can take my place.”
Vanna rubbed the coin. Reggie backed down the levee bank and stood ankle deep in the water. “Vanna, please,” Reggie begged.
She rubbed the coin again. Reggie’s hands gripped his throat and he fell to his knees. He gasped twice and then pitched backward into the current. He was visible only for a moment before he sank into the darkness.
Vanna turned to her brother. “It’s over, Karl. Now you’ll have to get your life in order. You can’t continue being with a gang and living on the edge. The coin will turn against you if you forget. Now you and your friend go home. No more trouble. Understand?”
Karl knew she was right and he knew he had no options. She would be in charge and life would be different.
When she returned to the apartment there were several messages from George. She didn’t want to deal with his probing questions or even to talk to him. She didn’t feel the same towards him. Yet George was persistent and one evening she found him waiting at her front door.
“You don’t want to see me, George,” she warned. “I’m not the same person you knew. So much has changed since I last saw you.”
“I don’t care,” he insisted. “Whatever you’ve done or wherever you’ve been does not matter to me. I don’t want to know unless you want to share. All I know is that I can’t live without you. I love you, Vanna. I always have and I always will.”
His arms surrounded her but she pushed away. His arms were too confining and reminded her of the humiliation and torture she had endured and the conflicting moments of pleasure. Could she forget any of that? Could she ever be a good wife and mother? George would expect life to be orderly and under his control. She had gained her independence and it was too soon to give it up.
She looked into his eyes and said, “I’m not ready to make any commitment. Give me some time. You deserve someone special.”
“Vanna, you’re the one I want. I’ll take care of you. Get those silly notions about being independent out of your head. I’m disappointed that you don’t want to have a life together. You’ll change your mind.” He grabbed her arm and pulled her towards the door. “You’re going with me to the priest right now and we’re going to say our vows. You’ve been brainwashed by someone. You’ll be straightened out in no time.”
“Let go of my arm!” Her tone got his attention. “I said, let go of my arm!”
“You’re different,” he said, “but you’re mine and you’ll do what I tell you.”
She rubbed the coin and George fell to the floor temporarily paralyzed. “Don’t ever touch me again without my permission. You don’t own me and you never have. I’m not a possession. Stay away from me unless I decide you can be in my life. Do you understand?”
Perhaps the only way he could learn was a simple jolt that would shake him to the core. She waited a few moments before releasing the power that held him.
“Go, George. Someday we might work as a team, but for now I have my doubts.” She would have preferred a less harsh way of dealing with him. That door to her past was closed and George was probably gone from her life.
Vanna knew her life would be going in new directions. She was not timid or obedient anymore. She was ready for excitement and with the coin in her possession she would turn her neighborhood around and make it safe again for families. For now, she had much work to do.