Kit reentered the casino, leaving Tara to her fate in the square. In time she could help her, but not until the worst was over. Kit sat her silver case on the counter at the cashier cage and handed in her slip to collect her winnings. The cashier made a slight attempt to get Kit to take the winnings in gambling chips, undoubtedly some unwritten policy discouraging employees from handing out too much cash to a customer. Kit didn’t take the bait.
“Just the cash,” she said.
The cashier nodded and then paused looking at her computer screen. Kit’s heart skipped a beat and then stopped beating all together. Her imagination placed her in the pillory outside, naked, spanked and crying like the poor woman, Tara. The cashier didn’t notice the concern creeping onto Kit’s face when looking back at her.
“Did you want the casino to sell the cargo ship and transfer the funds to your account?” The cashier asked.
Kit started breathing again. She shook her head. “No, I’ll take the ship as is. Just cash out my chips please.”
The cashier nodded. “I could do that or I could set you up with a line of credit and a complimentary suite in the hotel.”
Kit grabbed hold of the edge of the counter and leaned in toward the cage. “I just want my cash and the ship.”
The cashier shrugged, “If you insist.”
“I do,” Kit said.
“For a small fee, the casino can provide you with security for anywhere you’d like to go within the city,” the cashier said.
Kit raised her voice to be heard by other gamblers in the vicinity. “Are you trying to tell me you don’t have the cash to pay me for my winnings?”
Heads turned toward Kit and the cashier. “Of course not, I’m just doing my job ma’am,” the cashier said.
“Then quit trying to sell me your kitchen sink and pay me,” Kit said.
The cashier pulled stacks of cash from a hidden drawer beneath the counter. “Would you like to verify the funds yourself or shall I have the machine do it?”
Kit looked up at the glossy ceiling and shook her head. “Are you going to charge me to have the machine do it?”
“No, ma’am,” the cashier said, “it’s a free service provided by the casino.”
“Then I suppose the machine’s count is good enough for me,” Kit said.
She looked around the casino while the machine sorted through the individual bills counting their total value. Everyone had gone back to their gambling and were no longer interested in her drama at the cash cage, but the earlier attention drawn had been dangerous. Someone might remember later, and if LX was looking for their money, it could lead them to her. Especially if someone recalled the silver case. She should have tossed the case and replaced it with something less conspicuous as soon as she’d traded the last of the cash for chips. It hadn’t occurred to her until it was too late and that was because her plan had never included LX finding out about the theft and having someone convicted of it before she had left the casino.
With the money counted, Kit stuffed it neatly inside the case and sealed it closed. The cashier pushed out an electronic tablet onto the counter and a plastic stylus. She said, “I’ll need your signature on the top, confirming receipt of your funds and your thumbprint on the bottom to complete the transfer of the Griffinscape’s registry.”
Kit signed and pressed her thumb in the indicated box. “Can I change the ship’s name here?”
The cashier shook her head. “Sorry ma’am, you’ll have to do that with the port authority. I can call you a taxi to take you there, but I don’t think they’re open for business for another hour or so.”
Kit nodded. “That’s alright, I’ll handle it later.”
“Very good,” the cashier said and handed Kit the remote to the ship.
Kit smiled and slipped the remote into her inner jacket pocket. “Thank you.”
Outside, Tara was getting her second set of ten swats when Kit exited. Kit paused a moment at the scene realizing she’d look conspicuous if she didn’t wait to leave the area until the paddling was over. All eyes were on Tara, still claiming her innocence at the top of her lungs. Every echoing crack of the paddle, rippled inside Kit making her more and more ashamed.
Consequences aren’t just for other people, Jade’s voice whispered in Kit’s ear.
The spanking ended. Tara sobbed in place, supported only by the restraints keeping her on display. Kit turned away from the scene. Distracted by guilt, she walked away from the casino without a guiding purpose. Windowless walls lined the walkway and the overhead lights flickered on and off, blinking darkness around Kit.
A soft click echoed against the walls behind her. It was followed by the unmistakable hum of an energy pistol charging. Kit tensed to run but first threw a glance over her shoulder to look for the source of the noise. Rex stood too close to miss with his pistol aimed at the center of her back.
He cleared his throat, shrugged, and smiled. “I’ll be taking my ship back and I might as well confiscate your case full of money while I’m at it.”