crime thriller

Meet the Characters: Scarlett Lang

I’d been wanting to write about the characters in my series, The Caregiver, for some time now, although I believe it’s a little too early to do so, don’t ask me why (maybe it has to do with the fact that I refuse to think of myself as an author). However, The Beast (Book 3) will be released into the wild soon and I thought it would be nice to give you some inside info about the main characters in the series (I may get to the secondary and tertiary too because I love them all so much).

Consider this something in the likes of loose character notes because these people tend to take matters into their own hands most of the time, leaving me as the mere channel through which they tell their stories.

So, let’s get this party started with the protagonist:

Scarlett Lang

Born and raised in Miami, Florida, USA, around March 1981 (don’t have an exact date but she’s an Aries) which makes her 31 years old at the time of books 1 and 2. Granddaughter to Adrian Lang, daughter to Daniel Lang and Margaret Lang. Became an orphan after her parents’ murder at 12 and went to live with her grandfather up until she was 17, when she married Xavi Pontevedra and moved to Puerto Rico. She didn’t become an active hit woman until after that marriage ended (only lasted a year) and she was taken under Rafael Cisneros’ wing back in Miami (right around 1999 – 2000). Rafael Cisneros was the one who coaxed her into becoming a nurse, all the while employing her as hit woman and helping her become the well-known assassin she is. Cisneros’ half-brother, Roberto, is another main character in her personal history, turning from childhood crush to lover around 2002 and keeping an on and off relationship with her until she’s offered the Interpol position within The Filius Project in 2005. The Gibraltar mission takes place in 2007, the Sayer mission in 2012.

      I wrote a post about face claims on my Tumblr and put up a collage with pics of the men in the series because it’s been so much easier to find male actors to fit my characters than female ones. Maybe it’s because I’m a woman and like to think of every female character as an extension of myself, although the male ones are also extensions of myself… Or maybe it’s because I’m so jealous of them I can’t even… Emotions aside, I picture Scarlett a lot like actresses Emily Hampshire, Jemima Rooper, or Suranne Jones.
      I didn’t want to make her a sex symbol, nor a masculinized woman. A friend once commented on how much she liked to read scenes where Scarlett’s in a room filled with men and not have the situation turn into a sexual one (she was mainly referring to this vignette). Scarlett’s confident about herself and her abilities to the point of not having to prove them to anyone. And she prefers shirts and trousers rather than dresses, but I want to believe I’ve given her enough emotional balance to say she’s not a man with a vagina, or a woman with a dick, whatever rocks your boat. There is a lot of sex in Scarlett’s past. Part of it is revealed in Book 2, but Book 3 shows a tad more, and the possible prequels I’m working on thanks to the vignettes do have a heavy sexual component. There is the subject of BDSM, nevertheless, this is no Fifty Shades. I just wanted to show a female character that can walk into a dark alley and, although she’ll be scared shitless, can deal with the situation should she get mugged. And that, of course, enjoys sex as much as the next guy without feeling guilty about it.
      Also, I like that she’s got body issues like any other woman, to the point of even mentioning the fact that she can’t wear a gun between her thighs because she lacks the coveted thigh gap. This is also a loaded weapon in the hands of the wrong people. In Book 2 her new superior, DS Ethan Young, uses it when he tells her “I wasn’t aware that the Sayer mission was a deep penetration one. Romulus assured me you weren’t a honeytrap. Seeing you now I can tell what he meant. However, I know he was aware of the fact that Sayer was never a shallow man, unlike his colleagues.” The bastard. She may seem unfazed right then but, believe me, that kind of talk does hurt. And then he goes into slut-shaming mode in Book 3 and will keep it up in Book 4 because he’s a dickhead like that.
      Scarlett isn’t a complicated character, at least from my point of view. She’s pretty simple and even though she thinks she’s got a hold on life, she doesn’t. The situation she’s in is what’s complicated about all this and she’s trying to figure things out as well as she can. She’s made a lot of mistakes (haven’t we all?) and will keep making them until the day she dies.
      She’s no Cinderella. She’s a hit woman, for fuck’s sake. And even when she’s been dragged into this whole Filius Project shit, she’s never stopped being one of the best assassins in the world, which translates into a lot of money in the bank and a lot of traveling around. This being said, she’s no poor girl falling in love with a filthy rich prince. As a matter of fact, she may be one of the few that can look a drug lord like Armand in the eye when it comes to both nerves and financial stability. She doesn’t need anyone giving her anything, to the point where, in Book 3, she’ll be the one gifting Armand some pretty cool and expensive stuff. She has a life apart from him and his people and a lot of it will come to the light in Book 3.
      Even though she could be, she’s not alone. There are some revealing scenes in Book 2 where readers learn how Scarlett was abused as a child. This whole sad, dark past subject worked itself into the story. It was never my intention to do that but, somehow, it fit. However, this doesn’t mean she’s lived a secluded or estranged life, quite the contrary, she took it to herself to surround her persona with friends and allies that, although work related, regard her as part of their families and will do everything they can to help and protect her. Many of them don’t know what actually happened in her past (hence Bobby Cisneros’ reaction when it’s revealed) even when her grandfather, Adrian Lang, was also their acquaintance, yet that didn’t stop them from adding her to their circles. There’s Eliza Pontevedra too, who lived such abuses in tandem and acts as a sisterly safe haven when the past comes at them in waves. Then, when Armand comes into the picture, we can all see how she wins over his people and manages to bend them for her own purposes.
      “You seldom kill for your own benefit, Scarlett.” When Han, the Chinese Dragon Head, said this while I was writing Book 3 I had to pause and think for a while. There’s a scene in Book 2 where Scarlett has a bit of a breakdown after a very tense moment between her, Adrian, Bobby, and a very concerned George. But when Han spoke those words it all became so clear. Scarlett’s a hit woman. This means she’s paid to kill people that other people want dead, not her. Now the tables are turned and she’s finding out how different it is when you’re killing people you want dead yourself. It’s a whole other game she’s entering and it will prove not to be as easy as she thought.
All this said, I want to add that there’s a bigger character arc in the works between the vignettes/prequels and the books already in the series. This can be seen already in the vignettes (another one of those things that’s come as a surprise while writing them). The Scarlett pre-Gibraltar mission is very different from the post-mission one in a lot of ways. I like to think the pre-mission Scarlett would’ve never thought of getting married again, not even remotely, much less let herself get caught up in the illusion of planning a wedding and a happy ending kind of future…
But you’ll have to read Book 3 to know what happens with that!

Want to know more?

You can read THE CAREGIVER (Book 1 of The Caregiver Series) for free at The Caregiver Series Blog and Wattpad, or get it from Smashwords (free), Barnes & Noble (free), Kobo (free) and Amazon (99 cents).

TORN (Book 2 of The Caregiver Series) is available through Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

THE BEAST (Book 3 of The Caregiver Series) will be available mid-January through Smashwords and Amazon (the rest of the retailers will come later).

Advertisements

On how Romulus convinced Scarlett even further

[Crossposting from thecaregiverseries.wordpress.com]

I was all comfortable and relaxed at a table inside the hotel’s restaurant reading the morning paper and sipping coffee when the billowing of a black coat and the agitated tones of a male voice interrupted my concentration.

“There you are!” Romulus was rushing to my table. “I’ve been looking all over for you!”

I put down the paper the moment he stood next to my seat, waiting for something.

After not obtaining a reaction from me, he lowered himself and kissed my cheek before unwrapping his scarf, taking off his coat, and joining me in the seat across.

“It’s six in the morning. I expected to find you still in bed.”

“You took my other key.”

“I did.”

“You weren’t planning on staying the night so I thought I’d get an early start.”

“Ready to order now?” A waitress stood by our table.

I was quick to recite my order. Romulus hesitated when she turned to him.

“Go on. It’s on the agency.” I encouraged him and he ordered something for himself.

An uncomfortable silence fell upon us after the waitress left.

“I thought you’d be… tired.” He said, taking the discarded newspaper to glance at it.

Tired? Not so much. My wrists sure didn’t like being handcuffed for as long as they were subjected to and my buttocks still stung a bit –he sure liked whipping that leather belt– but I couldn’t say the whole act warranted the tiredness required for me to sleep all through the night, though. It warranted me other things. Things I didn’t feel like discussing at the moment.

“Insomnia.” I blurted. “Hits me every now and then. Had I popped one of my pills I would’ve been out the whole day and missed the trip to Spring Gardens.”

“Pills? You mean sleeping pills? Aren’t you a bit too young for that?”

“The sooner the better for the pharmaceutical companies.”

“Maybe I could be of help?” There was that smug smile again. “Maybe I wasn’t rough enough for your liking?”

“There are only so many things one can do in a hotel room before they call security.”

“I have a flat.”

“No.”

“It isn’t mine,” he hissed. “A friend is renting his old flat and I thought maybe you’d be interested.”

“I’ve already got a list of apartments I’ll be checking out. I’m planning on buying one this time. Never been fond of landlords.”

Our food arrived and I hastened to start on mine.

“Are you nervous?” he asked.

I kept my head low so I could roll my eyes without him noticing. “Not at all.” I put my fork down. “Look. Last night was nice.”

“Nice?”

“Yes, nice. But it doesn’t change anything.”

“That was never my intention.”

“Then what was your intention?”

“I wanted you.” He paused to stare into my eyes. “I couldn’t care less about you signing with the project or not, it’s inconsequential to me. They’ll be the ones missing out, not you.” He stirred, doing that lean-closer-to-me move of his. “I liked last night. Didn’t you? I think we got along pretty well.”

It wasn’t out-of-this-world-great but it wasn’t bad either. He had what I called the Two S’s. Sexy and strong. “We did.”

“I’ve followed your career for a very long time, Scarlett. I know about your ex-husband and your association with Madame Beatrix. I’ve been to her clubs and they are topnotch.”

“Do your colleagues take part in these practices too?”

“No. They don’t.”

I picked up my fork again. “Okay, let’s make this clear. Judging by how things developed last night I can tell you’re not trained in BDSM.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“That you’ve visited Beatrix’s clubs once or twice doesn’t make you an expert.”

“Maybe you can teach me, then.”

I looked at him from under my eyebrows and even the chewing wasn’t enough to make him stop smiling.

I was about to change that. I was getting myself into something I wasn’t completely sure about and needed to keep the upper hand somehow. If only with him.

“I don’t mind starting an affair with you but would prefer we keep it private, even more if I were to sign that contract and become an employee under your supervision.” The smile was fading by now. Good. “We negotiate a contract that will specify boundaries. Meet at undisclosed locations. You don’t come to my place, I don’t come to yours. We’re never seen in public together other than during activities concerning our work relationship.”

“Wait.” He shook his head.

“What?”

“Where’s the sentiment in this?”

“Sentiment?”

Uh-oh. I’m not dealing with a sentimental little kid, am I?

“Does it surprise you that much that someone just wants to be with you? Plain and simple?”

Huh?

“I’m sorry. Was there supposed to be any sentiment in this? I gave you what you wanted.”

“And what was that?”

“To fuck the new recruit. Now you can walk into your office with your chest all puffed on the knowledge that you had me before anyone else there.”

“God, Scarlett, no!” he exclaimed. “What the hell are you going on about?” Then took a deep breath. “I-”

Oh don’t fuck with me!

“I researched you, Moretti. You’re divorced with three children from two different women. You have been to Beatrix’s clubs more than once and actually got your ass kicked out from her Frankfurt one.”

“That was a misunderstanding.”

“Everything in life is a misunderstanding.”

“What do I have to do to prove to you that this is not what you’re thinking?”

I cleared my plate, pushed it to the side, and was about to say something when he crossed me.

“Has it been that bad? That awful? To feel unappreciated for so long?” He wiped his mouth with the napkin and set it aside. “You’re young, skilled, clever, yet I can bet my life no one has ever told you these things to your face. There’s a loneliness that is only felt when you’re in the company of others. You keep yourself busy with work and have only pursued relationships that you knew wouldn’t give you what you really wanted, that would leave you as empty as you were the moment you walked into them.”

Now he was getting on my nerves.

My mobile vibrated in my pocket but I kept my sight locked on Romulus’ because I knew who it was. The only person that would be calling me so early, probably locked inside a bathroom so his pregnant wife wouldn’t hear him.

“I’m not saying I’m what you’re looking for. Maybe I am, maybe I’m not. I’m just asking for a chance to show you that it’s not all angst and hardship. That there’s fun to be had.”

He smiled. Wide.

I couldn’t help the slight tremor that took me over.

“When I met you in Miami I told you if you signed with us I’d make it worth your time. Sign or not, I’m keeping that promise.”

“Are you?”

He twisted away from me, reached out to the unoccupied table behind him, plucked a flower from the arrangement it held, and presented it to me.

“To the very last second.”

I took the flower and held it to my eyes.

The mobile ceased vibrating.

And so it began.

——————————

Go to: The Vignettes

On how Scarlett got into this mess in the first place… (The Caregiver Series vignette #3)

In my first novella, The Caregiver, we follow Interpol agent Scarlett Lang through what would be the most important mission in her career so far: pose as caregiver for London’s biggest drug-lord, Armand Sayer. This vignette is about the day she met Romulus Moretti, the one that would become her superior at Interpol, years before the story on the book starts. It gives a glimpse of how and why she became an agent. Enjoy!

Read Vignette #1 here.

Read Vignette #2 here.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was a fucking long corridor. I kept glancing at the backs of the two men walking in front of us, thinking how wrong all of this felt. The air conditioning was a nice change from the scorching Miami sun, that was for sure.

Their names were Douglas and James. They introduced themselves when we reached the lobby of the unidentified building we were in, right after we exchanged some of the most uncomfortable handshakes I’ve ever experienced.

Cisneros’s incredibly sober look didn’t help either. I was sure they were cops, it showed in the way they walked with their puffed chests and the permanent grimace in their faces. Why we were there was beyond my comprehension. All Cisneros told me was to trust him.

He’d never given me a reason not to.

But, as they say, there’s a first time for everything.

The officer by the name of James opened the door to an office and ushered us into a pair of chairs in front of a cheap-looking metal desk, then left. Douglas stood behind us in silence.

Cisneros was fidgeting with the edge of his jacket over his lap. I was starting to believe it hadn’t been a good idea to leave my gun in the car, like he asked me to.

James opened the door –apparently, he was the designated doorman– and a tall man, dark hair peppered with gray at the temples, appeared. We stood to greet him but he crossed us.

“No need for that.” His English accent struck me. “I promise this will be quite quick.”

He was the oldest of them all. Douglas didn’t look more than forty, and James could only be a couple years older than me, nowhere close to thirty.

Cisneros stirred in his seat. He had deals with some London people but they never came to the States, he always flew to meet them there.

“My name is Romulus Moretti.” He proceeded to sit behind the desk and place the folder he had been carrying on the desktop. “I’m a Detective Inspector from the Metropolitan Police in London, and do believe me when I tell you I’ve been looking forward to this meeting, Miss Lang.”

“Have we met?” As soon as I spoke, Cisneros gave a little jump. Odd.

“No.” He drawled, as he started pulling pictures out of the folder and setting them on the desk. “But I know more about you than you think. Come. Take a look at these.” I stared into his eyes and he gave me a half-grin. “I don’t bite.”

I don’t need to say that phrase didn’t make me feel any better about this.

I pushed myself forward and felt the color on my face vanish. An array of pictures lay between us. Pictures of victims I had murdered. Blown heads, bloodshot eyes, brain matter scattered on the pavement.

“What is this about?” I flashed Cisneros an angry glance that he didn’t meet. “What the fuck is this?”

“It’s OK, Miss Lang. We’re not here to prosecute you. We’re here to make you an offer.”

“Whatever it is, I’m not interested. Thank you.” I rose, but a pair of hands were immediately at my shoulders, pushing me down.

“Not so fast, Miss Lang,” Moretti barked, nodding at James, encouraging him to make sure I sat back down. “You can’t jump to conclusions if you haven’t even given me the chance to explain.”

I rearranged my shirt and stared angrily at Moretti, all the while shooting darts out my eyes at James.

“Good. Now that I have your attention, I can proceed by telling you that after being in contact with your grandfather for a while, we’ve decided to make you a deal. I’m currently working for the Interpol in the United Kingdom and have taken part in an interagency project that is seeking recruits…”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Moretti, but I think you’re mistaken.” My interruption drew a nice frown in his face. “If you know me as well as you say you do, and if you’ve spoken to my grandfather, you should know there is no way an agency like the Interpol would even consider hiring me.”

The frown melted into a sardonic smile. “That’s exactly why this is a deal and not a job proposition. You see, Miss Lang, this project requires both expertise and… connections. We’re not looking to recruit sheltered young men and women that dream of becoming agents just to put a spice in their lives. We’re looking for people that have been there, and – literally – done that. Young people like you, with the skills and the desire to get out of that life.”

“Get out?” A sideways glance confirmed Cisneros was looking intently at me.

“Yes.” He leaned forward, his hands steepled over the desk. “Get out. We are aware of the tension that has permeated in your relationship with your grandfather. And Rafael here has told us about your intentions to leave the murder-by-contract business as soon as you finish studying. You will not be removed from the life you lead, all you will have to do is pick up the phone when we call and be available to go on missions when we ask you to.”

“Missions? Military kind of missions?”

“There will be some akin to military jobs. Undercover work may also be necessary. You’ll have a steady paycheck and agency credentials. In your case, since you will be working under my supervision, we would be arranging for you to have Interpol credentials.”

This didn’t make any fucking sense.

“I’ve been working with them for the past year.” Cisneros spoke like someone that had broken a vow of silence. “Scarlett, I know how much you want to leave all this behind you.” He turned to me and some of the nervousness had slipped off his features. “It’s not too late to change paths. At least not for you.”

“What if I refuse?” I switched to Moretti. “What if I don’t want any of your shit?” I spat out that last word in utter disgust.

Moretti snorted, then looked at me from under his eyebrows. “When was the last time you spoke to your grandfather?”

I narrowed my eyes at him. “Six years ago?”

“He’s never shown any repentance from the things he did to you, or has he?” He was staring at me, searching for whatever sign my face was giving away. “He still regards you with that nickname he had for you. What was it? Scumbag?”

Oh poker face, don’t forsake me now. “Yes.”

Again, Cisneros was looking intently at me. Fuck this psychological shit.

“This doesn’t make sense at all. They could’ve sent someone from the Miami Police Department, not you from the other side of the Atlantic.”

“It is in our interest that you work far from where you’re already known. I was randomly selected to recruit you. As I said, this is an interagency program, so you will be working with other agents with Interpol credentials, as well as from other agencies. It really doesn’t matter as long as we can guarantee that travel won’t be a problem.”

“What’s the catch?”

“There is no exact catch. Just the fact that you will be working for us, all under my strict supervision. You will have to travel, and it may be required that you spend some time in London, but that hasn’t been decided. Other than that, you will receive, as I said, a steady paycheck, while having the liberty to go on with your current job.

Once your work with us is done, your record will be clean. You’ll be given a clean slate, a new life, Miss Lang. Away from the world that has hurt you, from those that have deserted you. The same world that took away your parents and forced you to live a life of misery and loss. Isn’t it time you took your knowledge and used it for good? We are giving you what you crave, a second chance in life. We don’t give this out to just anyone, you know?”

I rested my eyes on Cisneros and, when he faced me, it was with a solemn plea in his eyes. He was mentally setting his hand on the small of my back and pushing me, ever so gently. Like a father would.

Like he always did.

“I’ll have to think about it.”

“Take all the time you need, Miss Lang.” Moretti rose from his seat, collecting the pictures and putting them back into the folder. “We will be in touch.” He strode to the door, where James was, already waiting for him. “This is James, by the way, but we all call him Jimmy, and that is Douglas.”

Cisneros and I were standing next to our chairs. “Yeah, they introduced themselves.”

“Great. After you, then.” He gestured us to the open door and when I had crossed it, he cut between Cisneros and I to set his hand on my back while leaning into my ear. “Your grandfather told me you were no good. That I would be disappointed.” He then shifted to step in my way. “I beg to differ.” His teeth gleamed through his smile. “And I would love to prove that old man wrong.”

He patted my shoulder and started down the corridor, an air of casualness in his stride.

I looked at Cisneros and he held my gaze.

“Please?” The porter called James nicknamed Jimmy interrupted, beckoning us to follow him out.

Decisions. Decisions.

I rushed towards Romulus’s receding back. “Hey!” He paused, waiting for me to reach his side. “What if I say yes?”

He raised an eyebrow and cocked his head to one side. “Then I swear I will make it worth your time.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Liked this vignette? Then you’ll love the book!

Check out Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.

Or buy it, it’s only 99¢ (£0.77, €0.89)!

The Caregiver book cover

Available here: Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.es, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Diesel

On how Scarlett got the job (The Caregiver Series vignette #2):

In my first novella, The Caregiver, we follow Interpol agent Scarlett Lang through what would be the most important mission in her career so far: pose as caregiver for London’s biggest drug-lord, Armand Sayer. This vignette is about the day she met with his sister, Helga Sayer, days before the story on the book starts. Enjoy!

If you haven’t read Vignette #1, what are you waiting for?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I was rushing around my flat, pulling my jeans on while searching for my nurse uniform. It had been ages since I wore it and, quite frankly, I didn’t even think it would fit me anymore. Cisneros told me to bring it to the meeting in case Helga, Armand Sayer’s sister, wanted to see it. He said she was hard to please. I promised I would do my best.

Take the sniper rifle with you. I reminded myself as I slid inside the shoulder holster and secured my Sig Sauer in it.

Some makeup ― not too much, not too little, ― a jacket and a scarf wrapped around my neck… I shoved the uniform into a messenger bag and slung it over my left shoulder.

I hailed a taxi, gave the address to the driver, sat back and tried to relax. I’d been to Cisneros’s place multiple times, but this was something new altogether. The butterflies in my stomach said it was so.

Yeah, yeah, Ferdinand, I better not fuck this one. Blah, blah, blah.

The cabbie dropped me off in front of the gates, giving the rifle case a long hard look while I produced the notes to pay the toll.

“You don’t want to know what’s in it.” I winked at him.

His answer was to drive away as quickly as he could.

Pussy.

I walked up to the gate and smiled into the security camera, waving my hand sheepishly. The gate opened and I made my way through the driveway to find Ferdinand walking towards me, followed by another one of Cisneros’s henchmen, one by the name of Marco.

“Come with us, Miss Lang.” Fer grinned, welcoming me with an extended arm, ready to take my rifle case. “Mr. Cisneros is waiting for you in his study.”

Sure, sure, protocol and shit. I could walk into that house through the backdoor in the middle of the night and no one would give me any trouble. We climbed the stairs in silence and he held the door to the study open for me.

“Scarlett!” Cisneros rose from his comfy leather armchair, a scotch in one hand, a cigar in the other. “Always a pleasure to see you.”

He pulled me into one of his hugs. His, because they were the really awkward kind, the kind some men give to feel you up instead of greeting you. Ferdinand hated them. I just plain ignored it. I’ve known the man since I was a child. He was there for me when I needed him and I had always been grateful for that.

When had I needed a sly git like him? Back when I was eighteen years old and I had gotten on my grandfather’s bad side, with nowhere else to go. He gave me my first job, treated me like a real pro and kept an eye out for anyone who gave me any shit. He was like a father to me, in a dysfunctional kind of way.

“Meet Helga Sayer.” A woman with thin lips and defiant eyes stepped forward.

I tried to smile as I met her outstretched hand. “Nice to meet you.”

“The pleasure is all mine.” Her eyes traveled from my face all the way down to my feet and back. I was tempted to ask her how much I ranked after she tallied me, when Ferdinand interrupted.

“Everything’s ready.”

Everything?

Fer took my rifle and led us downstairs, to the backyard. They had set a shooting range for me. This was going to be fun!

They stood inside a bulletproof cabin and not a word was spoken as I laid my weapons on a table and took my time to set my rifle. Helga’s eyes were trained on me and I made a point out of showing her how much of a professional I was.

That’s when I saw someone jumping over the concrete wall to my far right and make a run for it behind some bushes. I didn’t think twice before I pulled the Sig and aimed it at the bush where the figure had apparently halted.

Silence.

Then there was a shuffling to my right, and a masked man was running towards me, gun in hand. Two bullets whizzed past my ears as I ducked, shooting him right in the heart. The one behind the bush moved again, running towards the left side of the garden. I couldn’t see him but I could easily hear his steps on the grass, the light brushing of his boots as he shifted.

Straining my ear a bit more, I could hear his low panting.

A quick mental calculation, knowledge embedded into my subconscious, alerted me when he raised his gun to aim at me through the green thickness.

One shot. His body fell on the ground with a thud.

I trod cautiously on the grass, approaching my victim with my gun still aiming at him, even though I already knew he was dead.

He was on his back, legs bent under him, a blood-gushing hole right between the eyes.

I lowered my gun when a slow clapping rang from behind me.

“She always delivers.” Cisneros and Helga appeared at my side. “Always.”

The woman’s eyes inspected the dead man on the ground, then turned to me. I held her stare and she seemed content to find my breathing was as steady as hers.

“Come with me. We shall rehearse your interview.”

Rehearse? What the fuck?

I wrinkled my nose at Cisneros but he wasn’t looking at me.

His eyes were on Helga’s backside as she made her way back into the house. “You’re in,” he turned to me, “just go with it,” patting my shoulder before following her steps.

I walked over to the table, where Ferdinand was waiting for me.

“What the fuck was that?”

“I’ll take that for you.” He took the gun from my hand. “You better go before she changes her mind.”

“Cisneros was the one who told me to bring my rifle.”

“You were brilliant.” He was unloading my gun without looking at it, his sight on me.

“Don’t do that.”

“What?”

“The smile on your face.”

He wiggled his eyebrows at me.

“Oh, grow up!” I did an about face and stepped into the house to face whatever crazy thing was in store for me.

[Art by Arocho, visit her blog, she’s awesome!]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Liked this vignette? Then you’ll love the book!

Check out Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.

Or buy it, it’s only 99¢ (£0.77, €0.89)!

The Caregiver book cover

Available here: Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.es, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Diesel

On how Scarlett learnt about her mission (The Caregiver Series vignette #1):

In my first novella, The Caregiver, we follow Interpol agent Scarlett Lang through what would be the most important mission in her career so far: pose as caregiver for London’s biggest drug-lord, Armand Sayer. This vignette is about the day she was assigned the mission, days before the story on the book starts. Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was morning. A cold, gray London morning to be precise. I was crossing Lambeth Bridge to meet Ferdinand at the Albert Embankment. I remember how I had studied every possible map before coming here, anxious to start working in the field again…

Then I was sent to an office, filling forms and filing papers.

Fuck yeah, the Interpol agent life!

I pushed my gloved hands further into the pockets of my leather jacket, feeling the gun concealed inside, praying it wouldn’t turn into an ice cube. Thing is, I grew up in Miami, spent summers in the Caribbean or Southern Spain. Nothing as cold as this. Nothing.

I got off the bridge and turned right on Albert Embankment, down the steps, and soon enough Ferdinand’s smile came to sight. Always bright, always inviting. I often found myself dodging it as if it were throwing daggers at me.

“Scarlett.” He kissed my cheek and offered his arm to me.

“Fer.” I nodded. “I’m freezing.”

“Oh come on! You’ve been living here for how long?”

“The two most boring years of my fucking life.”

He sighed. “Let’s walk.”

So we did. I walked on his left, thinking that maybe, if things got funny, I could just push him into the water and make a run for it.

“Did anyone follow you here?” He was eyeing me out of the corner of his eye.

“Nope. Nobody.”

“Good.”

“You said you needed to talk to me. I don’t have all day. I have papers to file.”

“Moretti asked me to call you.”

“Moretti? He sees me every day at the office. Barking orders and making me brew his coffee.”

“Have you been in contact with Cisneros lately?”

I waited until a man jogged past us to answer that, taking my time.

“Maybe.”

They often tell you not to stay friends with your ex-boyfriends. But Ferdinand was my colleague and his ranking was higher than mine so, yeah, I was stuck with this one.

“Every time they use a sniper to kill some drug dealer I pray it wasn’t you. Then I dig up the details and see your name all over it.”

He didn’t mean that literally, of course. I knew how to do my job. In and out, quick, nothing that could be traced back to me. Then I was back to kicking the copy machine and dragging my boots on the rug, just so I could give someone a nice jolt.

“You gonna turn me in?”

“You know I won’t.”

“Then?”

“Are you hungry?”

“Starving.”

“Let’s go grab a bite.” There it was again, the smile under those gleaming brown eyes. Ugh.

He liked the pub on the corner of Tinworth Street, so we went there and, to my dismay, sat at one of the tables outside.

“Tell me when my nose falls off because I won’t be able to.”

“I don’t want anyone eavesdropping on us.”

A waiter gave us the menus and I asked for a cup of coffee. Really hot coffee.

“It’ll ruin your appetite.” Ferdinand said, matter-of-factly.

“Better for me, maybe I’ll lose some weight. I should, really, I can’t carry a gun between my thighs since they rub together. There are some agents that have this huge thigh gap. One could stick an Uzi between their legs.”

He chuckled. He knew it was true. Fer never bullshitted me. I was no femme fatale, no eye candy. That’s how I liked it, though. I was a Plain Jane. I’d blend in without any difficulty.

And I wasn’t asked to fuck anyone either.

The waiter brought me a steaming cup of coffee. I took off my gloves and held it as if it was a baby chick, feeling the relief of warmth in my hands, at last. I inhaled its aroma and forgot where I was while Ferdinand ordered food for both.

“I was talking to Romulus,” he brought me back as soon as the waiter was out of sight, “we’re giving you another chance.”

“That’s very kind of you.”

“I’m being serious, Scarlett. We’ve decided to give you the Sayer mission.”

Oh. My. Fucking. God.

I had to set the cup back on the table gently. “You’re not kidding?”

“I’m not kidding. He was attacked, a single gunman surprised him as he was leaving a restaurant with his wife. Two shots to his left leg, another one to his right arm. He’s house-bound, recovering, and his sister is looking for a caregiver. It’s not just because you actually went to nursing school. She’s looking for someone that can act as a bodyguard in case anything unusual happens.”

“Aaaaand?” Something in the way he drawled on the last sentence made me think there was more to it.

“She wants someone that wouldn’t cause too much of a stir, if you know what I mean.”

Ha ha! Being the Plain Jane does pay.

“When do I start?”

“You’ll meet with his sister, Helga, tomorrow at Cisneros’s place. He’s recommending you. They’re friends.”

I picked up the coffee cup again even though I didn’t think I needed it anymore. I was going to the field again, and with no one else but Armand Sayer, London’s number-one drug lord.

“Oh,” I breathed, trying to suppress the giddy smile from my face.

“Now, Scarlett, I must warn you–”

“Here we go.” I rolled my eyes. Fer was always lecturing me. “That I better not fuck it up this time?”

“Yes.”

“I haven’t fucked anything up. The Gibraltar mission was a fail because Cisneros couldn’t stand his ground. That deal went sour the moment we stepped out of that plane.”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Neither do I.” I sipped the hot liquid, wishing now it was whiskey or something set aflame.

“What about the wife?”

“Rumor is she left. He’s alone.” He was looking at me from under his eyebrows.

“Who do you take me for?”

“You keep yourself safe, you hear me?”

His bare hand reached out for mine over the table. I set mine in his and let him squeeze it.

“I will.” I grinned, letting some of my excitement out.

Then the waiter brought our food and I tried to indulge on the flood of emotions going through my system. It had been too long since my last mission and, truth be told, there was no other place I felt more like myself than out there with my gun or my rifle aiming at a nice head, and then watching it blow up.

We wrestled for the bill and I let him win, or he’d never let it go.

“I’ll send you the details later.” He waited for me to put on my gloves, “please, be careful.”

“I always am.” His sly smile told how little he believed that. Really, who did he take me for? “Love turns people so bloody soft.”

He hugged me tight. I wrapped my arms around him, not too tight, and held still until he released me.

“Don’t fuck it.” He pointed a finger at me and gave me a peck on the lips before turning to cross the street.

Bastard.

How could I fuck what could be the most important mission in my entire career?, I thought as I threaded my way in opposite direction, towards Spring Gardens.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Liked this vignette? Then you’ll love the book!

Check out Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.

Or buy it, it’s only 99¢ (£0.77, €0.89)!

The Caregiver book cover

Available here: Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.es, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Diesel

 

On Inspiration… Books and Movies Edition

First, some words of wisdom from someone I admire and take inspiration from:

“I think anything involved in telling stories is not just worthy, it’s crucial. Otherwise, how the hell do we find out who we are unless we explain ourselves to each other via books, or cinema, or theatre, or journalism, or documentary, or whatever? If we’re just parading egos around, or acquiring stuff, and we measure ourselves by that, then we’re lost.”

– Alan Rickman in an anterview aired 1/21/12 on NY1 network

Ah, soak on that for a bit.

I’ve been writing all my life, blah blah yadda yadda, stories archived somewhere in my parents’ house, why the hell would you like the smell of gasoline?, papers with fragments of stories scattered all over my room, put the knife down, missy!, never enough notebooks and pens, more blah blah, fast forward to now.

I wrote a book about a young woman named Scarlett who is an Interpol agent and then she gets hired as a caregiver for London’s biggest drug lord and she’s like tough and handy with guns and knives and all that awesome stuff you don’t want to miss.

However, this post isn’t to talk about what goes on in the book, but about what inspired me to write it.

I use a lot of movies for inspiration (bad writer! I blame @mikecane for most of the recommendations) because I come from an audiovisual background and believe they help a lot with rhythm when it comes to action scenes. So, here’s a little list I made for y’all:

Layer Cake, book by J. J. Connolly:

(Click on the image to go to Amazon’s Kindle Store)

I must say I really liked this book even though it took me some time to read it. The cockney accents, the action, the twists. There wasn’t a moment I didn’t like.

How did I get my hands on the book? I saw the movie, got the book, read it, and I don’t regret doing it (they work well as standalones). I recommend them both, separately.

Layer Cake movie

The trailer:

It’s a great movie, and these scenes deserve a special mention:

The opening monologue (NSFW):

The audio isn’t very good, but it’s worth it if you haven’t seen it.

And the awesome song + action mashup scene:

London Boulevard, book by Ken Bruen

(Click on the image to go to Amazon’s Kindle Store)

Ah, this book. I also read it after watching the movie and was pleasantly surprised because it has almost nothing to do with the film. They have so little resemblance, but not in a bad way. They both have their merits.

I loved Ken Bruen’s style, got sucked into the story and came out another person. Yeah, I did. My head was so full of ideas I had to sit down and write or I’d die of an idea stroke.

Check out the movie trailer:

Gangster No. 1 movie

I have lost count of how many times I’ve seen this movie, it’s that good.

And, oh yes, the Mr. Nice movie

Goodness gracious that movie! I was loving every minute of it, then it got all dark and scary, then it went back to being likable. A must see.

I think the vids speak by themselves. They can also give you an idea on what to expect of Book 1 and what will come in Book 2. *wink wink*

Also, that’s a triple dose of David Thewlis for you right there!

A Girl Cut in Two movie

This is one of my favorite movies. It gets into the more psychological stuff. The theme of a May December romance takes a dark twist in it, which I like, even though I wouldn’t go there in my own stories (or would I?). If you’ve seen this movie and read my book, you’ll know where the reference is.

And last, but not least, a song that was on repeat all the effing time (with an excellent mash-up to Casino Royale’s opening credits). I’ll make a post about my playlist later on, but I’ll leave you with this one for now: