Jimmy keeps his eyes fixed on the woman in front of him as he cups his hand to light a cigarette.
"Let's say - hypothetically speaking - I can help you. A service like this does not come cheap."
The woman returns his gaze.
"I'm not stupid," she answers, "And I'm not offering peanuts. How much are we talking about?"
Jimmy shrugs, "The guy's no one famous. He's easy to find. And if it's done right, suspicion shouldn't fall on anyone known to him."
He gestures to a deep-cleavaged barmaid for a pen, writes for a second on a napkin and hands it, folded, to the woman. She opens it and her eyebrows disappear into her fringe as she reads the contents. Her blond hair falls in long straight locks over green eyes as she stares down at the paper.
As she reads, Jimmy's gaze runs over her face and slips down over the rest of her slim body. He takes a long drag on his cigarette and pulls his eyes away from her as he speaks.
"Listen love. It's like this. Your boyfriend's pissed you off-"
At this, the woman barks a laugh and Jimmy stares at her perfectly white, small teeth. There is no humour in the sound.
"Or whatever," he continues, "You want your revenge and all, but this isn't something you do lightly. The price tag means you've gotta be sure about this. It's a lot of money."
The woman's tight smile disappears as he speaks. "I am sure," she insists with a long glare.
There is a short silence. Jimmy holds her gaze as smoke curls in layers on the air between them, until finally she looks away.
"This guy must have done something pretty bad. What he do? Sleep with your mother?" Jimmy says, putting out his cigarette into an overflowing ashtray.
When the woman answers, her voice is low and hard.
"That would have been easier to deal with. At least my sister's attractive."
The woman lifts her head and for a second, thrusts her chin forward. Jimmy almost laughs, but her brightly shining eyes stop the sound and the urge in his throat. He motions again at the barmaid and orders two shots of vodka, which are quickly placed on the bar. Moments later both glasses are empty and two more replace them.
"Wanna talk about it?" Jimmy asks, lighting another cigarette. Without asking she takes one from the packet and slips the lighter from his hand before he has the chance to offer.
"No. Not really."
Again, she thrusts forward her chin as she lights her cigarette, as if daring him. Jimmy takes a step nearer and her eyes widen slightly. He lowers his voice.
"If you say this is what you want, this is what you want. God knows, I'm nobody's guardian angel," he grins, "But I know a lot of people tougher than you, however angry you think you might be, and I'm telling you something here for your own good. You want this done? You really want it? You got to be sure. This is not a reversible procedure, you understand?"
She opens her mouth as if to speak, her breath coming too fast, her eyes bright from the vodka and emotion. Her shoulders suddenly drop and she closes her mouth and starts to cry as she stares at the bar. Jimmy sighs.
"He utterly humiliated me. You understand? Sa-" she breaks off, "This bloke. Has run off with a fucking geek for fuck's sake. She's a teaching assistant from St Mead's. She's no one! And he's left me for her.
Again, she makes a sharp humourless sound.
“He left me. They were carrying on in front of me. And everybody knows. Everybody! He's the head barman in my fucking local – so everyone knows. And I mean,” she raises her eyes and sweeps her hand over the length of her body, “Look at me."
Jimmy nods and obeys, eyebrows raised.
"What would he see in her? She doesn't wear make up. She doesn't even work out-"
Her speech abates into quiet, furious sobs. It takes all Jimmy's concentration not to laugh. Instead, he pulls her to him, feeling her body at first tense and then collapse into his embrace. He lowers his face into her hair for a brief moment and lets her cry.
"He's got to pay," she insists into Jimmy's shirt.
"Yeah, sure lovely." Jimmy's voice is tired. "They've all got to pay. But are you sure you do?"
She raises her head and steps back, brushing carefully at her eyes. "What do you mean?"
"I think I may have another idea," Jimmy answers. "You want another drink?"
A week later, the two of them sit in the quiet corner of a busy pub. Although the pub is almost full, a strange hush hangs over the crowd. Local regulars dart surreptitious glances their way, no one seemingly prepared to stare openly at the sight of the tiny blonde, nestling in the embrace of the local Mafioso. To each other, many of the locals whisper – though not within earshot of the scowling barman - that they have never seen Lucy look so happy.