They take her on her honeymoon.
The wedding was lovely, or as lovely as it could have been with a couple that were more polite acquaintances than anything else and two sets of in-laws as stuffy as a dusty pile of money. They grab her when she sneaks out for a walk one night, two men, beefy, not even bothered to arm themselves. Her last thought before the bag is shoved over her eyes is to wonder how much this would ruin her parents' plans.
She comes to in a small brick room on a sallow mattress, windowless and lit by a cool yellow lamp. There's a man there, standing just outside the barred door.
"Kelly Shale," he says, voice nasally, greasy greying hair half-covering his forehead. She's not sure if it's a question or a statement.
She counts the days by watching the guardsone on day shift, one on night. They're probably the same men who took her, but they stay too much out of her field of vision to really tell. It takes until the third day for the woman to come.
'Meil,' they call her. She's young, plain, dressed in trousers. Her accent is vaguely Eastern European, Kelly hears them saying something about contact, ransom, refusal to pay.
They give her food, water, a blanket when the temperature drops one night. She even gets a bathroom. The worst thing is the boredom, though she has to admit that the previous days spent talking over dress patterns and seating plans weren't really that much better.
Just over a week crawls by before the police arrive, Kelly hears the shouts and smashes from the floor above her head. Meil runs past the room, and the man who she supposes is the boss unlocks the door.
"I only have two," the woman grits out. Her right hand is wrapped around the butt of a revolver. The man grunts, and Kelly only has time to press herself against the rough wall before he's on her, hands closing around her throat. She throws her weight back at him, tumbling them both forward, but the iron band around her throat doesn't let. There's a few endless seconds of need, pain, burningthen an explosion racks down the corridor.
Meil falls through the door-frame, gun clattering out of her hand and skirting across the floor as the man's grip loosens in shock. Kelly doesn't even think before she's wrenching free and heaving forward. There's a bang, louder than she would have expected, but she hardly hears it as her finger tightens on the trigger. The figure before her crumples.
She stands slowly, taking a single step forward before the pistol drops and she collapses back on the mattress. Her vision is still fuzzy, breath straining as blood slowly pools at her feet.
"One bullet left." Meil pulls herself up, wiping at a dripping cut on her cheek as she reaches again for her shooter. "We need to get out of here."
"Aren't you going to kill me?"
There's a moment of stillness before the woman lifts the weapon, pulls back the hammer, and aims between Kelly's eyes.
And then another as the chamber clicks empty.
Footsteps thump out across the passageway, spinning Meil around. She flips the cylinder again and fires out the door, the crack of the gunshot ringing through the small room.
They end up squatting in some ranch outside the city. Kelly hasn't quite worked out where she is, but it couldn't be too hard. It would be simple to slip away down one of those dank alleys, find a law-man, hope he doesn't smell the blood and the burning powder on her hands.
That night she walks up to Meil and punches her square in the mouth. It's not a good hit, she's never been taught to throw her fist. It probably hurt her knuckles more than anything else.
The other woman grins through her bloodied lip, and Kelly grins right back.
Two weeks later they grab the till from a general store. Not that much of an effort, really, Kelly laughs as they walk away from the trembling man curled up behind his counter.
"Yeah, that's a bit of money," Meil says. Kelly snorts.
"No it's not. Wind back time a bit I could have shown you a bit of money."
She grabs a handful of notes and rips them into confetti before scattering them on the dirt ground and tucking the gun into her belt.
They make headlines the first time they hit a merchant bank, two women with a shotgun and bag of grenades, even Kelly doesn't find out until afterwards that they were fake. Meil just laughs when she yells about it back at the inn they're holding in.
"What if someone tried something?"
"Well, they didn't."
"God's sake, we're not immortal."
"We are for now."
Kelly rips off her coat and lets it fall.
"Everyone gets beat, Meil."
"Not me." Meil drops the bag of useless baubles, stepping up and leaning forward to rest her elbows on the windowsill. "No one's ever going to get me. No one. Because if anyone ever does, I'll do it first."
She finds out Meil's last name during one of the quiet times, smoking together in a dingy motel room as they wait out their chasers.
'Clark,' it turns out. "Unassuming, isn't it?" And the accent's fake too, and pretty impressive if she says so herself for a dame born and raised in Brighton.
"Ain't got some sob-story drunk for father, whore for a mother, any stupid thing like that. It was my uncle who got mixed up with the crap. And it wasn't like he forced me or anything. He wasn't even doing that well, any kidnapper who gets himself shot by his captive wouldn't be."
No one speaks for several minutes.
"I'm sorry," Kelly whispers into to the quietness of the room. Meil takes a long drag of her cigar.
"Don't be. Better you than me."
The first time she sees Meil cut a man's throat is something else. The blood is gushing from the torn flesh, body slowly falling limp, and Kelly doesn't really know how to feel.
"I would have bailed you out, you know," she says far too casually. "Could have even done it before anyone realised who you were."
Meil just lets the sheriff's body fall and spits something about men who don't know how to treat a woman right, not even a gun moll, not even one with a knife in her hand.
They're not rich, or anything close, not when they spend like they're watering a bloody garden. Kelly imagines sometimes, what it could have been like if her family had just paid that damn ransom she knew they could afford. She pictures herself sitting in the living-room with her husband, children beside her, the dinner she cooked on the table. Playing the daughter, the wife, the mother, the woman. It would be a easy life, where she didn't have to worry about the next job, or wonder whether or not she'll have a head on her shoulders by the end of the night, or think.
"Why?" she asks Meil sometimes.
And Kelly would look down at the wound she was binding or the cash she was sorting or the gun she was cleaning, and smile.
In the end, they last almost three years.
The police catch up to them as they're cracking into the goldsafe. Meil curses and ducks under a desk, all the hostages are already tied up on the floor and Kelly almost laughs out loud when she realises it was probably the falling shadow that set them off.
She presses her back to the wall, jarring her shoulderstill tender from a jewellery store hit a few weeks back where she'd had to take a jump out a window. Coldness seeps through the soft fabric of her shirt as she shoots her shotgun empty.
They take Meil just as she gets off five. She's only got the six-shooter, using her left and pressing her right against where she's been hit in the side, when the gunfire suddenly doubles. She's dead before she hits the ground.
They're surrounded, Kelly knows. She takes three seconds to throw down her gun and dive across the space, grunting as she feels a shot strike home and shatter her hip. She looks over to where the revolver fell.
"No one," she breathes through clenched teeth.
The grip is already stained with Meil's blood. The guns continue to echo as Kelly presses the cool steel against her temple and flicks to the next chamber.
"One bullet left."
She pulls the trigger.