Dangerous Hero Addict Support Group discussion
Writing Challenge > Danielle's Dangerous Hero Writing Challenge Story (Captive/Kidnap): Shadow Tryst
message 2: by Arch (last edited Mar 02, 2010 04:43AM) (new)
You write like an author. You know I always tell you that.
I'm hooked to your story. I have to say that Cop and Alexei have two things in common. They are both 6ft3" and wear black.
Sanjar is 5ft6"
I can't wait to find out why Karina wants someone dead and Alexei to kill that person.
Alexei is fascinated with her neck. Bad boy!
message 3: by Danielle The Book Huntress *Pluto is a Planet!*, Loves 'Em Lethal (new)
Alexei definitely likes her neck. He's probably going to be doing a lot of kissing of her neck. Just a warning. I'll try to write more tomorrow.
message 4: by UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish (new)
Danielle, that's very, very good. I agree, you write like an author. You don't need a bunch of unnecessary words to get your point across, which makes the story flow well.
message 5: by Arch (last edited Mar 02, 2010 04:43AM) (new)
You are welcome Danielle. You know that I love reading your story.
Karina better watch her neck! :)
message 6: by Pamela(AllHoney), Danger Zone (new)
message 7: by Danielle The Book Huntress *Pluto is a Planet!*, Loves 'Em Lethal (new)
message 8: by Arch (new)
message 9: by Danielle The Book Huntress *Pluto is a Planet!*, Loves 'Em Lethal (new)
message 10: by Arch (new)
I probably need to give more descriptions, but some authors describes things too much. Sometimes they can have 2 pages full of description. I don't need that. I want to see the action.
I guess I write a lot of dialogue, because I write more a script than "book story".
But, you do a good job. That's why your stories are more of an author story than mine will ever be.
message 11: by Danielle The Book Huntress *Pluto is a Planet!*, Loves 'Em Lethal (last edited Mar 02, 2010 11:38AM) (new)
message 12: by Arch (new)
Danielle, don't be hard on yourself. Your story isn't boring. Mine is.
Anyway, let me say that you write in book format. Is that better? :)
message 13: by Pamela(AllHoney), Danger Zone (new)
message 14: by Arch (new)
message 15: by Danielle The Book Huntress *Pluto is a Planet!*, Loves 'Em Lethal (last edited Mar 02, 2010 11:32PM) (new)
message 16: by Arch (new)
In the eyes of the reader :)
message 17: by Danielle The Book Huntress *Pluto is a Planet!*, Loves 'Em Lethal (last edited Mar 03, 2010 09:32PM) (new)
Killing a person was an art. It took an eye for detail, methodical execution, and a fair amount of skill. There were thousands of ways of going about such a task. But, a professional killer who was good at his vocation, carefully tailored the execution (literally) to the situation. To complete the assignment that was his latest, Alexei chose a sniper shot.
Alexei crouched on top of an building that was not growing old gracefully, keeping company with gargoyles who bravely held up their role in Gothic architecture gone wrong. Quite frankly, the building had one hell of an identity crisis. The architect apparently had a hard-on for Art Deco, as well as Gothic, and the building was the bastard child of both schools. The good news was, it offered a perfect vantage point of the Finance International Building. When the mark came out, he’d leave this world with one bullet in the head, and one in his heart. And Alexei would be five hundred grand richer. That was his standard asking fee. And people paid it, without wincing. And Alexei was worth every cent.
The target emerged from the building at 4:00pm, a slave to his routine. Alexei had spent a week before the job researching his target. George Fleming should have realized that a powerful man with enemies took better measures for his own protection. His routine was chiseled into stone. He had a trio of bodyguards, and was driven around in a bullet-proof car, but that provided no protection from a sniper.
Alexei lined up the shot, easing his breath, his body supple, despite the pure expertise and muscle memory necessary for sniper work. He squeezed the trigger gently. Twice. Red blossomed from the mark’s chest and forehead. The dead man fell with a thud to the ground, but Alexei wasn’t there to see it. He was gone.
Leaving the scene of an assassination was as much a trick as the actual completion of the job. For that reason, and the vantage point the building offered, that was why he chose the Lambourne Building. It housed a few small businesses, but the traffic was light. He was able to leave the building with no problems. However, when he entered his apartment building on Rue d'Abbeville, he began to realize that his getaway had not been clean.
The sixth sense that had kept Alexei alive a lot longer than his profession suggested, told him that he was being watched. He ducked seconds before a bullet plowed into the plaster wall above his head. His gun was out, and he fired in the direction of the bullet. A dull thud, and a cry of pain told him he had hit his target. More bullets fired in his direction. He dived behind the concierge counter, and his gaze fell on the staring eyes of the concierge. Henri was a good man. He didn’t deserve the bullet between the eyes someone had dealt him. But Alexei didn’t have time for mourning him. More bullets plowed into the desk. And soon, the police would be here. For good reason, Alexei had little to deal with them. He listened intently for the direction of the gunfire. He crawled near the edge of the desk, keeping his head low, and fired around the corner.
A burst of curses told him his bullets had maimed his target. He wasn’t going anywhere unless he was crawling. And he was going to bleed out in a few minutes if he didn’t get help. Alexei bided his time, ducking the slew of ammo that slammed into the desk, and the walls behind it. When the assailant stopped for reloading, he came out from behind the desk, stalking over to the prone man, who lay about eight feet from the front door. A quick glance out the corner of his eyes landed on the other assailant, who wasn’t going anywhere, ever. He focused on the attacker he had deliberately left alive. A pool of blood spread around the man’s perforated legs. He was going into shock, if his pale, sweating face, and dilated pupils were any indication. Alexei walked over and placed a boot-clad foot on the man’s wrist before he could raise it. The man winced in pain. Alexei leaned over and ripped the gun out of the man’s hand. He efficiently and rapidly disabled the weapon, his gaze focused on the man. “Who sent you?” he asked in French.
The man replied with a command that was physically impossible. Alexei put another bullet in his leg. The smile that formed on Alexei’s lips was fiendishly cheerful. “I have more bullets than I have patience, my friend. And you don’t have much time before you’re dead. If you want to survive this, you’ll tell me who sent you.”
The man coughed in pain, clutching at his leg, and groaning. Alexei aimed at this right leg this time. The bullet made the man cry like a baby. “Ask the girl who hired you. She knows. She’s involved.”
Alexei considered the man’s words. Not a believer in conveniences, he found it hard to believe that the comment was a throwaway. “What girl?”
The man said words that a gentleman who kissed his mother would blush about coming out of his mouth. “The girl. She played you. Even now, she’s laughing at your ass. She got you to get rid of a nuisance, and then arranged to get rid of you.”
Rage was something that an assassin rarely allowed himself to feel. It diminished the quality of his work. But it filled him. The sound of sirens filled the air. The police were about to pull up, and he wasn’t about to stay here to say hello to them. Alexei raised his gun and aimed at the assailant’s head.
“You said I would live if I talked,” the thug stuttered out.
“Never trust a killer,” Alexei said, pulling the trigger. He left out the backdoor, and he had a specific destination in mind. He had killed three times today, ice in his veins. Right now, his blood was simmering like lava. No man liked being played a fool. This time, it was personal.
message 18: by Arch (new)
The man told Alexei that the woman -Karina hired hitmen to kill him.Alexei will definitely kiss her neck. I can't wait to see what happens next.
message 19: by Danielle The Book Huntress *Pluto is a Planet!*, Loves 'Em Lethal (last edited Mar 03, 2010 10:20PM) (new)
Although it was foolish of her, Karina delayed her departure from Paris to wait for news of the hit taking place. She checked the Paris news on the laptop she balanced on her thighs. The headline read:
Prominent Multi-National Business Mogul George Fleming Assassinated Outside Finance Bank.
Karina closed her eyes at the powerful rush of satisfaction that filled her. He was dead. And, although she was $500,000 American dollars less rich, she was filled with a sick sense of joy at the death she had paid for.
Karina closed her laptop, zipping it into an ultralight case, that she shouldered. Her only other bag was a backpack. She traveled light, aware that there was always the opportunity to replenish her supplies in the next destination. She figured it was a good idea to leave France. Fleming had been her father’s major adversary in the corporation who arranged his death when he wasn’t willing to play nice with them over his latest invention. She’d never forget the poorly-disguised smirk of triumph the bastard had worn at her parent’s graveside. Now, he wasn’t going to be doing much smiling, unless it was in Hell. She left behind the extended stay suite she had reserved at the Left Bank Saint Germain Hotel on rue de l'Ancienne Comédie. She would miss her cappuchinos at the oldest café in Paris, Café Procope. But there would be more adventures for her, and a sense of lightness that her family was avenged. Perhaps she’d take the Orient Express out of Paris, and see where she ended up between Paris and Istanbul, its end destination. She walked out of the room and didn’t look back. Her mind on her last visit in Paris.
It was a gamble to assume the girl would come back to St. Paul’s Cathedral, but the foolish girl, the woman who had played him for a fool, had done exactly that. Alexei smiled genuinely, as he watched her enter the church. It was the last mistake she’d ever make.
Instead of sitting down for her prayers, she walked over to the bank of lit candles. Alexei allowed her to light one. He figured she’d need help from the Almighty, when he was done with her. This time, he allowed her to know he was coming. She glanced up, nervous like a deer drinking out of a lake. She was dressed similarly as she had been last time, except the sweater was burgundy, and she wore matching knit leggings that showed the curvaceous length of her legs. On one shoulder was a small laptop tote. A backpack was slung over the other shoulder. Her hazel gaze took him in. She wouldn’t recognize him, as she had not seen him last time. But her eyes widened anyway. He was an intimidating sight. And if she had any sense, she would pick up on the waves of menace coming from him. But foolish child, she dismissed her fears a groundless. Chiding herself for judging a fellow pilgrim, no doubt. She stepped to the side instinctively, smiling shyly.
Alexei did not smile back. “You do not recognize me?” he asked the question with no inhibitions on his Russian accent. His tone was more of a growl than actual speech. He could see the recognition dawn in eyes the color of new grass peeking through a loose carpet of leaf litter.
She took a nervous glance around her. No one was here. He was well aware of that fact. He made sure of it. The back entrance was locked. He’d locked the front entrance after she entered. “Did you say I shouldn’t see your face?”
Alexei shook his head. “It’s too late for anonymity,” he drawled in a voice that was utterly menacing. He could see it register on her face.
“What’s wrong? I know the money cleared. You said we’d never meet again.”
Alexei took another step towards her. “That was before.”
The woman eased back, but there was no room. She would back into the candles if she went any further. True fear started to fill her gaze. “Before what?” her question was barely audible in the nervous gasp coming out of her mouth.
“Before you betrayed me,” Alexei answered calmly. He sprayed her in the face with a quick-acting anesthetic used for quick surgeries. She slumped forward instantly. He caught her and tossed her over his shoulder, walking out the same exit he had used a week ago.
message 20: by Danielle The Book Huntress *Pluto is a Planet!*, Loves 'Em Lethal (new)
message 21: by Arch (new)
Although it was foolish of her, Karina delayed her departure from Paris to wait for news of the hit taking place. She checked the Paris news on the laptop she balanced o..."
Alexei is about to go have some fun with Karina. Poor woman appears to be innocent. He's going to try to make her remember the hit on him.
message 22: by Danielle The Book Huntress *Pluto is a Planet!*, Loves 'Em Lethal (last edited Mar 05, 2010 08:16PM) (new)
Content warning: Threatened violence towards a woman, tense scene involving possible torture. Read if you dare!
Karina regained consciousness with a feeling of unease. Deeper than the one she’d lived with for the past two years. She’d never slept comfortably upright, a good thing that kept her awake in even the most boring classes, and on driving trips. And her body position told her she was upright. On top of it, she was half naked, clad only in a bra and panties. And wherever she was had a swift breeze blowing through it.
She shook her head, shaking away the foggy feeling of deep sleep. Her mouth had a bad taste that reminded her of the sedatives she’d received after she’d freaked out, finding her parents dead. The doctors had been forced to keep her sedated because she was so distraught, they were afraid she’d harm herself. When she’d finally been able to accept their deaths, they stopped sedating her. From that point on, Karina never touched another sedative.
Why was she feeling this way? She wondered. Her hair was in her face, instead of in the ponytail she’d secured it in this morning. It was itching her face. She’d never liked having her hair in her face. When she tried to raise her hand to brush it away, she realized she couldn’t move her wrist. Attempting to look down, she realized her situation with a horrible certainty. She was tied to the chair. By both wrists. Trying to move her feet was futile, as her ankles were secured as well.
She couldn’t see anything through the thick fall of hair over her face. But something told her she didn’t want to look. Her mind frantically tried to put the pieces together. But the cottony fog of whatever drug someone had given her made it difficult.
“Think, Karina, think.” No, she thought. That’s not my name. My name is… “Oh, God,” she moaned.
A deep voice tinged in Russian spoke. “You can call out to Him, but He’s not going to be of much help to right now.”
That voice triggered a memory in Karina’s chaotic mind. She moaned, trying to snatch the memory out of the cloud in her brain. She bent her face forward, then pushing it back. Unsuccessfully. She couldn’t see more than shadows through the thick strands of hair that a color she hadn’t become used to seeing in the mirror. The texture. It was different too. Everything was.
A hand reached out and brushed her hair the way. The motion was so gentle. It belied the threat in his voice. “Better?”
Her eyes, finally able to see, fell on a face that was briefly familiar. An angular face with eyes that were so dark they appeared black. Empty but deadly. Longish black hair. A stern jaw with lips that were full for a man with such brutal eyes. He was huge, tall. Not brutish in his build, but with a tautly muscled body in black from head to toe. Everything about him was black, save his skin, which was a light olive.
His appearance, the impact that was tinged with a healthy dose of fear, triggered a memory. “I remember you. From the church.”
He smiled then. The most unreassuring smile she’d ever seen in her life. “Of course you do.”
Her gaze lowered, landing on her body, secured to a chair. She looked around her, seeing little, as it was dark. There was an old-fashioned lamp, throwing out enough light for her to see the man, and a few feet around him. A persistent breeze blew through the room, as though there was an open window nearby. In early April, it was chilly after dark. Not cold enough to cause hypothermia, but chilly enough to be uncomfortable when unclothed. Her body was one big goosebump, and her nipples were embarrassingly-hard.
The man seemed to notice when she did. His gaze lingered on her breasts. She was no light-weight in that area, so there was something to look at. As ridiculous as it seemed, Karina felt glad that she was wearing a bra that offered some modesty, instead of one of those flimsy numbers mainly constructed of lace and wishful-thinking.
She found enough courage to glare at him for his rude and obvious ogling. He continued to smile. Swallowing a couple of times to be able to speak again, she opened her mouth. “What are you doing this to me for?”
He arched a silky, yet thick eyebrow. “Are you going to play the innocent now?”
She didn’t know what to say to him. She couldn’t understand why he was doing this. “I paid you your money. I checked. The transfer went through. I didn’t look at you before. I was no security risk to you.”
“Weren’t you?” He asked, that smooth voice changing not the slightest. But his eyes simmered with an anger that scared her. Karina, or the woman she went by now, was so used to being afraid, she thought herself immured to it. But his eyes, they scared her in a deeper way than she’d felt over the last couple of years. “Well, your friends’ corpses seemed to say different.”
Karina shook her head. Trying to understand. “What friends? What are you talking about?”
He came forward, taking her chin in a way that was not gentle, the way he’d brushed her hair out of her face. “The friends you sent to tie up the loose end. After I tied up the first for you?”
Karina, forced to meet his gaze, shuddered. She was trying to make sense of what he was saying. But there was no sense to be made. Between the aftermath of whatever he’d drugged her with, and the fact that she had no knowledge of what he was saying, she was so confused. So freaking afraid, she shook with it. “I didn’t send any men. I paid you the money, and I was going to leave.”
“Why would he give you up?” He asked. His voice was ice cold. His grip on her chin, relentless.
“I don’t know!” Karina spoke the denial loudly, and it echoed in the room between us.
He stared at her. Then he let go of her chin. “You will know. And you’ll tell me. Soon.” He walked away and towards a toolbox.
Karina’s stomach seized into a knot. She felt like she was going to throw up all over herself. Please tell me he’s not going to hurt me. Her mind tormented her with thoughts of what he would find in that box, and what he’d do with it. It was like some spy movie. He was the torturer. And she was the subject.
message 23: by Arch (new)
lol, what's up with the hero strapping a woman to a chair and Alexei has her half naked. Lusting after her body. He's bad.
So, if Karina didn't send bad men after him. Who did?
Does she has an identical twin? or another woman is trying to have Alexei killed?
(Sorry - that's how I look at stories. That writer, Arch!:) )
I can't wait for the next installment Danielle.
message 24: by Danielle The Book Huntress *Pluto is a Planet!*, Loves 'Em Lethal (new)
message 25: by Arch (new)
That's okay. I can handle this.
message 26: by Danielle The Book Huntress *Pluto is a Planet!*, Loves 'Em Lethal (last edited Mar 06, 2010 08:09PM) (new)
Content Warning: Scenes of potential violence and torture. Some bad language.
Alexei stared at the black-veneered, stainless steel toolbox. He was going to do this. He was going to hurt that woman that he’d tied to the chair. His rage was still simmering away in him. But part of him balked at the action. He didn’t torture people. He ended them, as efficiently as possible. He certainly didn’t go in for hurting women. He’d killed a few in his time, but that was back in his soldiering days. Women who would have not hesitated to kill him, or any innocent bystanders for money, or politics, or whatever the hell made them killers.
It didn’t take any sensitivity to see that she was scared within an inch of her life. But she had enough spunk to chide him with those mossy eyes of hers, uncovered since he’d conveniently lost her hideous glasses. He’d watched her, before she woke up. He’d undressed her, his hands brushing silky limbs, and exposing voluptuous curves that didn’t leave him unmoved, despite the fact that she was his enemy, and had engineered his death. But had she?
Alexei opened the toolbox, exposing well cared for, gleaming instruments. Most of them would be found in any handyman’s garage. Some of them, well, they were used for other purposes. He hated drugs and needles, for good reason. But there was a bit of that here, as well. He knew that he could use the drugs to get her high, or to keep her from bleeding out, or to make her feel like her skin was crawling off. Nothing much moved him. But his mind didn’t like the idea of shooting drugs into her system. But he told himself, he’d do it. He reached for the Markarov PM, one of the first weapons he’d ever used. It held some sentimental significance. If he had to kill her, it would be almost an honor for her die from this gun. Alexei sneered at himself mentally. So now it was if. Did he have the balls to do this or not. He pulled the gun out, made motions of fitting it with a silencer, which wouldn’t do a damn thing to muffle the shot, really. It didn’t really matter, because they were out in the country here, where farmers or hunters would shoot off guns enough that no one would think too hard about it.
He heard her gasp. Looking over his shoulder, he could see her eyes constricted with fear. She was shuddering with it, and from the cold. His gaze lingered on her breasts, mostly covered by a bra designed more for comfort than enticing a man. But with those breasts, she didn’t need much to showcase them. And they told him well enough that she was cold, because she sure wasn’t turned on right now.
Alexei turned back to the box, removed surgical grade wirecutters, and made a show of placing them on a towel to the right of the toolbox. Next, he took out some needle-nosed pliers. He knew from experience, they’d work well at removing toenails and fingernails, although that wasn’t in his plans. He found that the thought of marring that smooth brown skin of hers felt wrong. To man who admitted that he had no use for morals of any kind. He knew a thousand ways to kill her. His experiences back in anti-terrorism had exposed him to hundreds of torture methods. But he discarded most of them. Damn, he was a fool.
“Please,” he heard her breath out, her voice high with fear. Alexei steeled himself against her pleas. It was very likely that she was a pro at pretending to be something she wasn’t. Her former impeccable French accent was now tinged with an American Southern undertone, since fear was breaking that practiced ability to speak a language that she hadn’t spoken from childhood. He realized he didn’t want to hurt her. But he might have to. Violence was old hat to him, as comfortable as slipping on an old pair of sneakers.
He continued pulling out a few tools, making a show of placing them just so, easy access on a medical tray he had next to the table where the toolbox was resting. He rolled it over next to the chair. Alexei walked a few feet away, and picked up the bucket of water fresh from the well. It was icy, having been drawn from deep down in the earth. He put that next to her chair, and dumped a few pristinely white towels in a pile next to it.
He glanced at her, watching her bite her plump lips, trying not to cry out. She was brave, he’d give her that. Some men would be wetting their pants right now. Other than her softly-voiced plea, she was doing none of that. Alexei grabbed the folding chair he’d propped against the wall next to the closed and locked door, and sat down in front of her. “Now we can get started.”
Alexei watched her eyes roll back in her head. He was half-afraid she was going to faint. Maybe that would be better. He could hurt her while she wasn’t awake to stare at him with those soft, accusing greenish-brown eyes. She shook her head. “I don’t know anything. I didn’t do anything. You can hurt me if you want, but I can’t tell you what you want to know.” As much as the words seemed to pain her to say, knowing that she could buy time by lying, and giving up her cohorts, she spoke them, making Alexei wonder if she wasn’t telling the truth.
message 27: by Arch (new)
Poor Karina, she better start telling the truth.
message 28: by Danielle The Book Huntress *Pluto is a Planet!*, Loves 'Em Lethal (last edited Mar 05, 2010 11:12PM) (new)
Content Warning: Threatened violence
He touched her arm, and she flinched. Her gaze shooting to where his hand lay on her arm. Her eyes closed in relief, before snapping open again to watch him warily. “Tell me, what’s your name?” he asked. “That’s an easy question.”
She hesitated. And Alexei registered it. “Karina.”
“Very good, Karina. If that’s your real name.” Exploiting her sensitivity to his touch, her fear that the touch would become painful, he stroked his hand up her arm, feeling the goosebumps beneath his fingers. “How did you find out my services were available?”
She gave him a wary look. “You’ll hurt him,” she said.
Alexei shrugged. “That’s the least of your worries right now, Karina.” He reached up and brushed the floppy strands of her hair back from her face again. For some reason, he made the motion last much longer than it needed to. It had nothing to do with the soft feel of her cheek as his hand drew away. “But if you cooperate, then I won’t have to use these,” he said, angling his head towards the tools on the tray. Her face paled, and she bit deeply into her lip. It was a wonder that she hadn’t drawn blood. He wanted to trace the marks of her teeth in her lip with his tongue. Alexei mentally kicked his own ass at the stray thought.
She hesitated, her eyes closed. “A friend. He gave me a contact email.”
“Hmm,” Alexei said, as if he was considering her words. “And who was this friend?”
“I’m not telling you that,” she said, a burst of rebellion coming somewhere from deep inside of her.
He pinched her arm. Lightly. Not enough to hurt, but to get her attention. “Are you sure about that?”
She shuddered. “Why do you need to know?” Her breaths came out quickly. Alexei rested his fingers against the underside of her wrist. Her pulse was pounding.
“I don’t like being double-crossed. I plan to make sure that whoever was involved with this pays for it.”
“He wouldn’t have done this. He had no reason to.”
Alexei raised the pliers, staring at them with consideration. “There are a million reasons to double-cross someone. A lot of them green.”
It was clear that the girl, Karina was her name, or so she said, registered his meaning. “You might have made the mistake of trusting the wrong person, as well, Karina.”
She shook her head, as if she was trying to negate the possibility. But he continued, the voice of reason. “Think about it, Karina. This trusted ally of yours made sure his henchmen gave up your name, even if it was under duress. There’s no reason to communicate important intel to hired muscle, unless it’s for a reason.”
Alexei had a thought, and he went with it. His gaze fixed on Karina’s he reached down and unsheathed a knife. He watched her eyes widen when they landed on the shiny blade. “This knife is very sharp. I could cut deep into your skin, and it’s so precise, you wouldn’t even feel it at first. Not at first. Then the pain would start, as you watched the blood flow.” To prove his point, he scraped the blade across his chin, removing the days’ growth of stubble with one easy swipe. “Do you want me to prove to you how sharp this knife is, the hard way? I promise you your friend won’t shed a tear for you.”
Tears fell from her eyes at his words, thick, and crystal clear, seeping down her distinctive cheekbones. She squeezed her eyes shut, gasping. “Liam Sullivan. But I promise you, he wouldn't be involved in this.”
Alexei felt a mix of satisfaction and relief. He sheathed the knife. And then he leaned forward, not close enough to allow her the ability to head-butt him. He wasn’t that stupid. “I tell you what. I’ll give you a reprieve. I’ll find this Liam person, and we’ll see if we’re in this together. And when I kill this Sullivan, I’ll let you watch.”
She cried then. And the bastard that he was, he was glad that he’d broken her, and he didn’t have to hurt her physically to do it.
He allowed a little tenderness to enter his voice. “You look cold. How about we untie you and get some warm clothes on you? Hmm?”
Karina stared at him, as if he was a devil from hell. Alexei knew he wasn’t anything close. But he was her worse nightmare if it turned out that she was playing him for a fool, after all.
message 29: by Arch (new)
What is he going to do, dress her?
Danielle, I like this story. :)
message 30: by Danielle The Book Huntress *Pluto is a Planet!*, Loves 'Em Lethal (new)
message 31: by Pamela(AllHoney), Danger Zone (new)
message 32: by Danielle The Book Huntress *Pluto is a Planet!*, Loves 'Em Lethal (new)
message 33: by Danielle The Book Huntress *Pluto is a Planet!*, Loves 'Em Lethal (last edited Mar 08, 2010 06:29PM) (new)
Karina stared at the man who was holding her captive. She didn’t start to breathe again until he put the knife away. Later she would feel complete shame that she’d given away her only friend to this man. Right now, she was too afraid he was going to hurt her. It made no sense that she would be afraid of pain. After losing her parents, what could have been worse? But her mind flashed pictures of her parent’s tortured, mutilated bodies. She couldn’t deal with dying that way. A bullet to the brain was better, wasn’t it?
She blinked away tears that were rapidly falling from her eyes, hearing words come out of his mouth that sounded soothing. But they made no sense, when he was going to cut her to ribbons one minute earlier. Her gaze darted to the scary array of tools. Tools he was going to use to do worse to her. With a blurry gaze, she saw him bending over her legs, and felt him under her ankles. The blood rushed back into her digits and she flinched, biting her lip at the pain. Surprisingly, he took her bare feet and messaged them. It felt good, but Karina told herself not to trust him. He was going to hurt her. He was just waiting for her false sense of security to kick in. Right now, nothing made sense, least of all, the gentle way he was touching her.
Her kidnapper untied her hands and did the same with them as her feet. She wanted to flinch away from his touch, but her body felt so limp with relief, she couldn’t even move.
He took her hand, and led her out of the room. Karina’s gaze darted back to the tools. Maybe she could take one of them, and use it for her defense. Hit him with it.
He seemed to read her mind. “I wouldn’t do that, Karina.”
She glared at him. Hating his ability to read her mind.
He smirked. “It makes sense you’d want to try to get away.” His smile faded. “Don’t. I’ll find you, and I’d make you pay for the attempt.”
“You’re insane,” she told him, her eyes glaring with a strength she didn’t believe she had.
“I’m absolutely not insane. I’m pissed off. Completely different.” He said the words in such a calm manner, it was ridiculous to think he could be enraged. But she remembered the black hell of his eyes. He was a man of absolute self-control. And she had no doubt that he could use his rage as a formidable weapon against his enemies.
Karina took stock of her surroundings as he led her out of the room. The handmade tile floor was cold beneath her feet, making her shiver. Her assailant put his arm around her, pulling her into the warmth of his body. She tried to pull away, but he gave her a warning look. And his warmth felt so good, her body seemed to want to seek it, despite what her mind told her. As they left the dim room, Karina eyes adjusted to her surroundings. Apparently they had been in a back room of what appeared to a farmhouse.
It had an aged look that told her it was several decades old. That and the lived-in feel to it. Lamps scattered around gave a cozy glow to the great room. There was clearly a French rustic style to the house, with its functional and lived-in appearance. The furniture was aged, sturdy and comfortable. And as black as his clothing was, the room had a warmth that was a marked contrast. Her gaze traveled up to take in the brick archway above her, supporting a high, beamed ceiling. The warm glow of lamps bounced off walls washed a pale tan color, until they intersected with pale, ivory flagstones that made up the left external wall. Smack in the middle of the flagstone wall was a massive fireplace, currently unlit. It looked like a room where a family had grown to adulthood, nurtured with food they had grown themselves.
Looking to the right, Karina could see a large kitchen, with a bricked ceiling, and sturdy, wooden cabinets. He walked her past a large, scarred butcher block wooden table that a farmwife had probably chopped hundreds of vegetables for a cassoulet, rich with meat and white beans. Her stomach growled at the thought.
“Food after a hot shower,” he said, against her top of her head. Sure enough, he was leading her into a bathroom. With his free hand he clicked on the lightswitch, illuminating the room. The bathroom was on the small side, with a very large, deep, clawfoot tub with a clear shower curtain that was half-drawn, and a shower head. There was also a freestanding sink . The toilet had probably been replaced at some point, but it was in the antique style that matched the sink and tub. Although the fixtures were old, they were well-cared for. He pushed her to sit on the toilet seat, and Karina watched as he turned on the shower head. Water streamed out of the large head, making a hissing sound as it hit the porcelain interior of the tub. He turned and looked at her expectantly. “Take off your underwear and get in the shower. You need to get warm,” he demanded.
Karina stared at him mutely.
He smiled. Never had she met a man who implied so much with a simple smile. “I’ll be happy to help you get naked.”
She glared at him then. “Leave.”
Still smiling, he walked towards the door, Reaching above the toilet, he opened a cabinet and pulled out an enormous royal blue towel. He sat it on the toilet reservoir, pilling a washcloth on top of it. Reaching under inside the cabinet, he removed a bar of soap, which he unwrapped, and placed on the edge of the tub. “You have ten minutes, or I’m coming in after you.”
Having given his directions, he walked out of the room, closing the door behind him. Karina noted that there was no lock on the door. But her choices were limited. She could sit here, freezing in her underwear, or she could take a shower, warm up, and go from there. Right now, a shower sounded good. So she chose the latter.
message 34: by Arch (new)
Alexei is bad.
Karina better had decided to take a shower. Alexei would have come back, before ten minutes.
message 35: by Danielle The Book Huntress *Pluto is a Planet!*, Loves 'Em Lethal (last edited Mar 09, 2010 09:20PM) (new)
Karina took her time in the shower, scrubbing herself thoroughly. The warm water thawed her out, but her stomach was still clenched with fear. She realized that she was in deep trouble. And she needed to figure the way out of this mess. A voice in her head, probably her conscience, told her that karma had caught up with her. Ordering someone’s murder was a dirty deed, and dirty deed led to dirty things being done back to a person. And that man out there was a living manifestation of her bad karma catching up with her.
She dried herself, and tucked the towel around her. A glance at her underwear had her considering whether she should put them back on. But the thought was unpalatable to her. She glanced down at the towel. Technically she had on more clothes now than she had before. She’d ask him for her clothes when she left.
There was a rap against the door. “Time’s up,” a deep, Russian-accented voice said in French, sparking her curiosity about a Russian assassin who spoke and acted somewhat like a Frenchman.
Karina gave the door a death stare. “I’m coming,” she said. Bolstering her courage, she opened the door to see him standing there. Tall and silent, a dark shadow with eyes that missed little. They traveled down her body, lingering on length of her legs exposed where the bath towel ended. “Can I have my clothes?”
He shook his head. “They’re dirty. I put them in the washer.”
“How sweet. An assassin who does laundry,” Karina heard herself say. She bit her lip, taking a step back from him. Prepared for him to show his displeasure at her sarcasm in a very physical manner.
He laughed. Karina stared at him in complete shock. His laughter was full-bodied, and his face was transformed by genuine hilarity. “Touche.” The laughter faded shortly after, but his features were relaxed, putting Karina at a loss as to how to take him.
“Can you walk okay?” At her nod, he gestured towards the kitchen. “I made dinner.”
Karina had to pass by his big, but trim body, close enough to note that he had a subtle, woodsy smell to him, underlined with the scene of clean male. She moved past him as quickly as she could, giving him a wide berth. He might be doing his Mister Nice Guy act right now, but she didn’t trust him. She ignored the chuckle and focused ahead of her. The tile floor was still cold to her feet, making her walk gingerly.
He said something under his breath, watching her walk. Karina had the impression he was staring at her butt, but she was so wired with nervousness, it could have been paranoia on her part. He let her walk into the kitchen. When she paused at the table, he pulled out a chair for her, gesturing for her to sit. Karina double-checked to make sure her towel was well-secured, sitting down gingerly to avoid dislodging it, with her legs demurely closed.
Waiting for her on the table were two place settings with food dished out already on thick pottery dishes. A big bowl of steaming soup, sat on a plate next to crusty bread generously slathered with butter. On a smaller plate was a vegetable omelet. The food made her stomach constrict tightly, saliva flooding her mouth. She was so hungry, she almost fell onto the food. She glanced at it carefully, then at her kidnapper. He could have drugged it, put something in the food to make her sick or to get her loosened up enough to spill her beans.
A slight smile quirked one side of his mouth up. He reached over, and forked up a bite of her omelet, chewing it slowly. Following that, he took a sip of the soup . Holding her gaze, he washed down the food with some of the water from her glass. “It’s safe.”
Karina fought a war with herself. She had limited choices. She could refuse to eat, but she needed her strength if she was going to get herself out of this situation. Nodding tightly, she said a quick grace and began to eat. After a few bites of food, Karina was sure of one thing. This man might be a cold-blooded killer, but he was also an incredible cook.
Karina mainly concentrated on her food, but occasionally shot discreet glances at the man across from her. He was rugged and fearful in appearance. But, there was no denying the appeal of his looks. With those dark eyes with a slight Slavic cast, and a jawline that was sternly male. And his lips, which were appealing enough, and moreso when he smiled. It was deeply disturbing that she could find him attractive. But physically speaking, he was a good-looking man.
She hadn’t had much time to appreciate men in these two years on the road. And before that, she was more focused on her studies, not interested in casual dating. There were those in her classes that managed to perform their graduate duties and have a busy sex life at the same time. But the girl that she had been before her life fell apart, had believed in true love. Seeing how much her parents still loved each other after twenty-plus years together, and how dissimilar their backgrounds were, she didn’t want to settle for anything less than that. And her few dates were somewhat at a loss at how to relate to someone who discussed Voltaire over pizza, and got excited at dissecting the linguistic elements of the waiter’s foreign accent. Having said that, she was woman enough to appreciate a good-looking man. Sadly, this clearly evil man who was holding her captive, although keeping her well-fed and clean, was probably one of the most attractive men she'd ever seen. Not in a pretty boy way, which held no appeal to her. But in the fully-realized, rugged appeal of a mature male in his prime.
message 36: by Arch (new)
I hope the towel doesn't fall down, when she stands up.
Alexei is a cook.
It's hot, when a hero knows how to cook.
Karina better be happy, her kidnapper feeds her and makes sure she's cleaned.
A good bad boy - that's what Alexei is.
message 37: by Danielle The Book Huntress *Pluto is a Planet!*, Loves 'Em Lethal (last edited Mar 09, 2010 09:23PM) (new)
message 38: by Arch (new)
Yes, he gets points for that.
message 39: by Danielle The Book Huntress *Pluto is a Planet!*, Loves 'Em Lethal (last edited Mar 16, 2010 08:11PM) (new)
She forced her gaze to stay on her food and not him. The whole time, she could feel his eyes on her.
“So tell me, Karina. How did you end up in Paris?” he asked in that smooth, Russian-tinged French accent. The Russian accent was slight, flavoring rather than marring his perfect French. Probably a handful of people would have picked up on it. But Karina had a very keen ear for language. And a fondness for Russian accents. How ironic that her captor was a Russian.
Karina debated ignoring the question. She took a sip of her water, as if plain H20 could give her Dutch courage. She ended up demanding information of her own. With a defiant look, she said, “I don’t even know your name. So why should I tell you any more about me?”
He smiled, as if he was proud of her insubordination. He inclined his head. “Fair enough.” He took a sip of his own water. “Alexei.”
“Does this mean you’ll have to kill me?” Karina asked on the spur of the moment.
“I hope that doesn’t become necessary,” Alexei answered. It was crystal clear that he was dead serious.
Karina’s recently ingested meal churned in her stomach.
“If it turns out you’re as much a target as I am, then I’ll keep you safe. But if you are part of this play…” Alexei’s words faded out. He shrugged in a very characteristically Gallic manner. It didn’t take a translator to realize what he meant.
Her hand trembled so much, Karina had to set her drink down. She felt goosebumps arise on her skin. Again. “I didn’t have anything to do with those men sent to kill you.”
Alexei finished his eggs, tossing his napkin on the table, and getting to his feet. He took his empty plate and set it in the sink. Karina focused her eyes on his wide shoulders. He was very broad there, with an almost elegant tapering into a trim waist and narrow hips. His thighs were surprisingly defined and well-muscled, as were his calves. But no one could call him brawny. Karina knew he didn’t need any more muscle to be the most deadly man she knew.
“L…Liam was friends with my father. I hadn’t spoken to anyone…since..”
Alexei turned off the water he had started running into the sink, pivoting smoothly around to focus on her. His dark eyes missed nothing, taking her in. He walked over with the effortless grace of a jungle cat. Alexei stopped inches from her, compelling her to look up to see his face. “Since what?”
Karina debated how much to say. It was clear that she was in serious trouble, both from this man, and whoever had sent those assassins after him. It seemed like a case of killing two birds with one stone. Get rid of Fleming via her. And then use the pro to get rid of her. It didn’t take a career in espionage to make that connection. She took a deep breath, the air exited her chest in a deep sigh. Karina felt his eyes land on her chest. The towel was enormous, but it had rode down a little when she sat down. From his vantage point of well over six feet, he had a fairly good view of her cleavage, where it swelled over the top of her towel.
She gave him a look that said she didn’t appreciate being ogled. Unrepentant, Alexei stared back at her, challenging her to put her objection into words. He wasn’t going to throw his weight around. He didn’t have to make it any more clear that he was in charge. Fear warred with annoyance within Karina. Foolish of her. The verdict wasn’t out yet about this man. He was a cold-blooded assassin. He might also be a rapist. But on the heels of that thought was the one that told her that he didn’t seem like the type who fed off on gaining power through sexual violence. This was no man out to prove himself. And he wasn’t sloppy enough to let sex get into the way of crossing things off his agenda. And right now, his agenda was revenge.
Pointing at her plate, which Karina realized was empty, Alexei cocked his head questioningly.
She pushed it towards him. He took the dishes, efficiently piling them up and transporting them to the sink. Instead of staying there to watch them, Alexei came back and resumed his seat. He settled back into it, spreading his long legs wide and leaning back in the chair. “You were saying…”
Karina bowed her head. The words came out of her in a rush. “I hired you to kill the man who I believed was behind my parents’ murders.” The pain, never buried deep enough, resurfaced. The intensity of it burned in her chest like acid. When she looked up, the vision of the dark, intent man across from her was blurry with her tears.
“And this Sullivan gave you the contact for me.”
“Yes,” Karina said.
“I assume you’re on the run?”
Karina nodded, and realized after the fact that Alexei spoke his last question in English. She stared at him.
“You’re an American.”
Karina stared speechlessly at him.
“Your accent is good. Excellent, in fact. But it started to slip when you got very stressed. Probably because of the drugs. I was surprised you kept it so long.”
She felt his hand touch her arm. Karina was too surprised to flinch away. “You’re extremely proficient at languages,” he said, as his hand ran over her arm.
She stared at him. The question flowed out of her lips. Instinctive. She was fully on instinct right now. Being touched by him so gently was disturbing in contrast to the knowledge that he would have carved her up like a pumpkin not an hour before. “Why are you touching me?”
“Because I felt the desire to do so.”
Falling into his mesmerizing brown eyes, she heard his words penetrate her ears. “I find I like touching you.”
Fear filled her then. Fear that he would want to touch her more, in other places. Fear that she’d like it.
message 40: by Arch (new)
message 41: by Danielle The Book Huntress *Pluto is a Planet!*, Loves 'Em Lethal (new)
message 42: by Arch (new)
Yeah, he likes her soft skin.
He wants to be bad with her soft skin.
message 43: by Danielle The Book Huntress *Pluto is a Planet!*, Loves 'Em Lethal (new)
message 44: by Arch (new)
I can't wait to read more.
message 45: by Danielle The Book Huntress *Pluto is a Planet!*, Loves 'Em Lethal (new)
message 46: by Arch (new)
message 47: by Danielle The Book Huntress *Pluto is a Planet!*, Loves 'Em Lethal (new)
Fear filled her then. Fear that he would want to touch her more, in other places. Fear that she’d like it. It made her voice breathy when she spoke. “I don’t want you touching me,” she said. And part of her meant it. It confused her. Made her think that he cared for her. That he would be gentle. And then she’d start thinking she could trust him, and turn to him for comfort. What a fool she’d be then.
His dark eyes were riveting. She couldn’t turn away, couldn’t break the connection between them. And he was contrary enough to stroke the inside of her wrist, where she was exquisitely sensitive to touch. Where her wrists were a bit sore from where he’d secured her wrist with plastic straps. That turned out to be a blessing. It reminded her of who she was, and who he was. She deliberately raised her wrist. “When you touch me, it hurts.” In more ways than one.
His eyes looked at the livid welts left by the restraints. If she expected remorse, she was bound to be disappointed. He shrugged. “I must confess, I don’t like the idea of hurting you.”
Karina wasn’t naïve enough to fall for that one. “You would kill me in a second. Don’t pretend otherwise,” she said coldly.
He didn’t break eye contact. “It would take me longer than a second. And when I did, I’d regret that I had to do it.”
message 48: by Arch (new)
lol! That's something a dangerous bad boy would say.
Don't tease me again Danielle. I want more! :)
message 49: by Danielle The Book Huntress *Pluto is a Planet!*, Loves 'Em Lethal (new)
Alexei looked at the woman who was his prisoner, and he felt a burst of admiration. She was vulnerable in ways that he found uncomfortable to contemplate. Almost as if she was too innocent to be let into the world. He laughed at his folly. This was the woman who had paid him to kill a man. He might have set him up to be killed. Not the actions of an innocent. But there was this air of the naïf about her. At the same time, she wasn’t afraid to tell him off. Despite the fact that he had trussed her up like a goat to slaughter not so long ago. Alexei couldn’t help approving of her for that. And that respect was heavily colored with desire.
He wanted her. It had been years since he made love to a woman. But sex was an urge he suppressed, like any other. A contract killer was the most wary of species. An animal too wary to go out to the singles scene to pick up women for a random romp in the bed. And he wasn’t deprived enough to pay for sex, either. So, he did without. Yet, this woman made him feel all those pent up years of desire for a woman’s softness with the intensity of a megaton punch to the gut.
He’d never given a care what others thought of him. But he found he did not like seeing the fear and the dislike for him in her hazel eyes. Dislike and fear weren’t the only emotions swimming around in her eyes. There was a reluctant attraction. Alexei knew, with the certainly of a man used to being at the top of the food chain, that he could get her in his bed. She’d be his. Right now, she was vulnerable. After years on the run, with no one to trust, except for this Sullivan character, who’d clearly betrayed her, she’d want someone strong to lean on. It was only human. Woman loved sex just as much as men. For the earthiest of reasons. But women also used sex as a form of emotional discourse. A random connection in the emptiness of life. Was he monster enough to exploit her?
Alexei catalogued everything about the woman sitting across from him. She was beautiful. She carried herself in a way that showed she was unaware of just how attractive she was. Her body was built to give a man pleasure. She was thinner than he preferred, but she had curves in the right places. He had noticed that more than once. It wasn’t a hardship to have her sitting in a towel across from him. Her lush breasts plumped out above the towel enough to remind him that he liked looking at her. They tempted him to explore the next sense. Just the small amount he had indulged that sensation told him that her skin was soft like silk. Her skin in the intimate places would be even delectable.
Karina’s verdant eyes met his. She looked at him with that fear of a prey animal. As if she could see the designs he had on her. She thought he’d screw her and then kill her. Well, he wasn’t that far gone. Killing her was low on his list of desires. The other one was moving up. Although what he wanted didn’t classify as the emotionless joining of bodies. More fool, he.
message 50: by Danielle The Book Huntress *Pluto is a Planet!*, Loves 'Em Lethal (new)
St. Paul's Cathedral
The church was so ancient, the whispers of the past parishioners, long dead, brushed over her ears in an almost tangible wave. The smells of incense and lemon furniture polish teased at Karina’s nostrils. Her senses had always been acute. She wasn’t sure why. But there was something about this setting, that ramped up her abilities by a factor of ten.
Karina took a nervous look around the church, feeling too exposed, too vulnerable. It was a huge church, and at half past midnight, empty. The candles near the altar cast an eerie, yet comforting light. Karina was a believer. Being in churches always made her feel closer to the Creator. But this church, or something about it, made her feel uneasy. It could also be that feeling of being away from home, and knowing she could never return. It could be that the last time she had set foot in a church, it was to clandestinely attend her parents’ funeral.
Paris, France was a long, long way from Austin, Texas. But she had to face facts. Home no longer existed. Her family was gone. And she had to keep moving forward.
After two years on the run, she was almost a pro at disguising herself. Her mixed heritage made it easy to be whatever she wanted to be. Her light brown skin, and hazel eyes had a look that could easily be taken as Mediterranean, although she was half-African-American, and half-Welsh. Her normally blue black hair was currently a sandy brown, and bone-straight, instead of wavy, and her clothes two sizes too big, gave her body a bulky look that disguised a slim but curvy figure. Thick glasses hid the distinctive cheekbones that reminded her of Aidan Bridgestock when she looked in the mirror, the father who would never smile at her again. He was dead, like her mother. But she had to keep living, for him. For her.
The last act that Karina had taken on American soil, was to arrange for flowers to be delivered on a weekly basis to her mother and father’s graves. The several thousand she had sent as a cashier’s check to the funeral home would make sure that this was done for at least the next twenty years. It was all she could do for her family at that time. That and to keep going.
Karina Fanshaw was the name she’d chosen. She thought it sounded continental. As a former linguistic student, she could do just about any accent on the continent. Although Parisians normally picked up Americans very easily, they thought she was French, although from one of the South coastal towns, exactly like Anne, the TA who had taught her advanced French courses she had attended as an early start college student at the age of sixteen.
Karina walked down the center aisle, sliding into a seat. She bowed her head and said a prayer. For her parents. She told herself she was a damned fool for pursuing this. But she couldn’t help it. She needed revenge. She had more money than she could spend in her life, thanks to the wise investments of her mother, and her father’s patents. And the money was accessible to her, as her father had taken measures to open accounts under assumed names when things started to get dire. Karina smiled humorlessly. She was the quintessential poor little rich girl. Her lush, wide lips firmed into a smile. Well, her money would pay for the revenge that burned in her blood. And then, maybe she could breathe again without the hurt that seared her heart and stabbed down to her very soul.
Alexei Bardin entered the church through a service entrance. So he saw the young woman before she even knew he was there. It was his job to make sure that no one saw him coming and leaving, if he didn’t want them to. Keen black eyes catalogued her features, as he stood to the left of the nave, out of sight behind a large statue of a French saint who had died in the usual bloody and creative manner that unfortunate souls who ended up being canonized ended up leaving this world.
She was young, probably early twenties. Her skin was a creamy light brown, and something about it, made him think she might have African heritage, although it was a detail that most people probably wouldn’t pick up on. But he wasn’t most people. Her weight was about ten stone. Her bulky sweater and jacket were too large, and he figured she did that on purpose. He could tell that her hair wasn’t normally straight, and the streaky, honey brown color most likely came out of a bottle. He wondered what her hair looked like in its normal shade. And most of all, her hazel eyes held a lot of pain and rage. Alexei might be a cold-blooded murderer, but he knew rage when he saw it.
So she had hired him to do her dirty work. When Alexei showed up, someone ended up dying shortly after. That was his raison d'être. He might be Russian by birth and rearing, but he spoke French nearly as well as he’d spoken Russian since he was four years old. He tended to philosophize in a French manner, though it was teamed with the weary fatalism of his Russian birthplace. It often struck his few friends as how very French this Russian was. It helped to have a French mother, but few knew that detail. Few people who were still living, that was.
He approached the young woman, and made sure she didn’t know he was coming until he could stand close enough to brush a kiss against the vulnerable golden brown skin at the nape of her elegant neck. He didn’t do that. But the whisper of his deliberately-exhaled breath made her raise her head. Her hazel eyes widened behind ugly, black-framed glasses.
Alexei smiled. Well, at least as much as he ever did smile. He knew that he made an intimidating sight. He was too tall for the shadow work he did, standing at six-foot, three inches in his stocking feet. He kept himself in excellent shape, allowing him to run fifteen miles straight without getting out of breath, carrying a sniper rifle, a tool of his trade, no less. As such, his frame was lean, but well-muscled. Black was the only color he wore. And with his jet black hair and near black eyes, with skin that was light olive, he gave the appearance of being the creature of the dark that he was. Alexei slid into the pew behind her. “You arranged this meeting, Mademoiselle,” he said. His voice held only a slight tinge of his Russian accent. He could suppress it if he wished. In this moment, he chose not to.
She exhaled sharply, but did not look back. Good girl. “You are The Repairman?”
“So I’ve been called,” he said in a voice devoid of any emotion. “What are the details?”
She reached into her pocket and withdrew a slip of paper. Careful not to touch him, she extended a hand back that was the same golden brown as her neck. Her fingers were long and curled slightly at the tips. They were unmanicured and unpainted, but managed to be more feminine than some of the expensive women that Parisian businessmen kept in exclusive high-rise apartments that their wives pretended not to know about.
His gloved hand took the paper. He memorized the details. Then balled the piece of paper up in his fist. Alexei extended a slip of paper to the young woman. “My fee should be deposited here by Wednesday, this time.” That was two days from now. “If I don’t find the money in the account, your problem will go unresolved.”
He watched slender shoulders stiffen, and her breath hitched out. “It will be.”
“We won’t meet again,” he said. “Don’t watch me leave. It’s in your best interest.” Alexei slipped out of the pew, catching one last glance of the vulnerable nape of her neck before deliberately looking away. He felt the unexplainable urge to place a kiss there. Not the kiss of death so favored by the American Italian mob. But instead a kiss of life. As he walked past the bank of candles, he dropped the slip of paper directly into one of the flames. He didn’t stay to see it burn. He knew it would be gone shortly after the back door closed behind him.