Authors: Nichole Chase
Tags: #The Accidental Assassin
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The Accidental Assassin
Copyright © 2014 by Nichole Chase
Cover Design by Sarah Hansen of
Formatting and interior design by
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products, bands, and/or restaurants referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
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To KP Simmon and Rebecca Friedman.
Thanks for being on my team.
“THIS PROJECT NEEDS to be completed within the next two weeks.” The woman leaned back casually. Nothing. No twitching, no tightening of her fingers on the arm rest, no tell-tale signs around her eyes. She might as well have been carved from marble. Her finely sculpted eyebrows raised pointedly. “And we want it to make an impression. Nothing small or mistakable.”
The folder was thick with photographic evidence, but as I flipped through it, something in the woman’s expression made me wary. The man she wanted killed deserved to die; he was in the slave business and killed his women when they were of no more use. But for all the expression she showed, we could be discussing cutting down a tree, or removing a stone from her front yard. Glacial coolness radiated from under a perfectly polished veneer. The lack of fear in her brown eyes, the ease with which she faced me, those were things that always put me on guard. Meeting a hitman wasn’t something most people did, and she had decided to do it with no backup. Without trying to stroke my own ego, most people wouldn’t even send their assistant to meet me without backup. There was a good chance that this was the actual client, not an assistant as she had introduced herself, but it would be dangerous to meet me on her own. Unless she needed to keep it from even her bodyguards. Or it could be that this was an actress hired by the real client—it wouldn’t be the first time I’d run into that particular issue.
Maybe she thought she didn’t need them. Maybe she felt equipped to handle me on her own.
If I let my ego run rampant like that, I wouldn’t have a job. I’d just be dead.
“Well?” she asked, as I neatly restacked the evidence. “Is this a workable timeframe for you?”
“It’ll be done before then.” I slipped the contents back into the folder and set it on the desk. “Have you contacted anyone else about this job?”
“No.” Something in her eyes shifted. If I hadn’t been looking for something, I would have missed it.
“If there is someone else on this case, I need to know it.” I let my fingers slide off the folder. “Professional courtesy and all.”
“Mr. Walker, you came highly recommended. We have no doubts regarding your efficiency, so we have no need to hire anyone else.” She leaned forward and her mouth curved into a small, seductive smile but I could see through the distraction. It was too late anyway: I’d already gotten my answer. There was something just under the surface of this job that set my teeth on edge.
“I take fifty percent upfront.” I took the folder from the desk. “And the remaining fifty percent when I’m finished.” Whatever was going on, I was in too far not to find out now. And I had to make sure that I wasn’t in someone’s eye-sights. No matter what, it didn’t pay to be on the uninformed side.
“Of course.” She stood up and held out her hand. Her fingers were as cool as her attitude. She knew she was in the presence of a murderer and honestly had no qualms. Or distaste. Intriguing.
“How should I address you?” It was common for hitmen to not know the name of their contractor, but I wasn’t the normal hitman. I only took cases where the mark deserved to die and I was so good at my job I set the rules.
“Maria.” Her smile unfolded, turning into something much more dangerous.
“I’ll be in touch, Maria.” I left the room with my information and the decision to get to the bottom of everything.
WHEN I AGREED to house sit for Tess in London, I’d decided I was going to try all things British. This included drinking tea instead of coffee, taking public transportation, and using different curse words. Regrettably, after more than a week, I still felt like an imposter and probably always would. My southern accent and love for iced sweet tea screamed American, and I’d already gotten hopelessly lost on the Tube twice. I leaned back in my chair at the tiny table and looked at the house plant I’d taken to chatting with. A week in London was hardly enough time to make new friends. Especially without anyone to introduce me.
“Have you seen the classifieds?”
The plant didn’t respond. Apparently I’d asked a stupid question.
“I’m serious. If I want to extend my visa, I need to find a job.” I was desperate for employment doing something other than answering phones for an aircraft engineering company like back home. Leaning forward, I opened the paper to a different page. Unfortunately, I managed to hit my tea saucer with my knuckles.
“Shit.” The hot tea spread across the table while I scrambled for a towel. “Bugger.”
I grimaced. No, it still sounded weird when I said it. I snatched the dish rag from the sink and tried to sop up the brown liquid. Well, creamy brown liquid. I’d added more than my share of milk and sugar to the cup. I picked up the now-soaked newspaper and threw it in the sink. I’d have to look up the story about the visiting prince and duchess online now. Once I had everything clean, I took a shower and put on real clothing.
Tess swore that the internet was easy to use, but I could never get my laptop to connect at her new flat. If I wanted to look for a job, I’d have to buy a new paper, or better yet, head to the local café for some free wi-fi. I grabbed my keys and threw the strap of my computer case over my shoulder.
“Don’t wait up for me, Mr. Green. I might go sightseeing.” As usual the plant didn’t respond.
I passed Mr. Song in the hallway and nodded my head. He jerked his chin in a short acknowledgement, but never said anything. I knew he spoke English, I’d heard him complaining to the woman in the apartment across from Tess’s about her cats. Flat—not apartment, I corrected mentally. So I felt it safe to assume that he was just a grump, not that he hated me. Not that I would have really cared, but I couldn’t stand the thought of alienating one of Tess’s neighbors. She had been so excited about moving to London with her new husband, I think she’d been a bit disappointed that she was leaving on her honeymoon almost immediately. Danny had gone all out with a month-long trip in Italy, though, so she couldn’t be too upset. Besides, she’d be able to do the tourist thing here when she got back. It would feel like an extension of their honeymoon.