hitwoman

On how Romulus convinced Scarlett to sign the contract

In The Caregiver Series 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.

This vignette takes place before Book 1, after Vignette #3 & #5

Read Vignette #1 , Vignette #2 , Vignette #3, Vignette #4, Vignette #5

Book 1 is FREE today and tomorrow! (Nov 1 & 2)

Enjoy!

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

Detective Inspector Romulus Moretti awaited Rafael Cisneros’ and my arrival at Heathrow. Our flight was delayed by a couple of hours and even when I called him to tell him we could hail a taxi when we got there, he insisted on picking us up himself, no matter how late it got.

It had been two weeks since our meeting in Miami and we’d kept in touch both by phone and email. He was more than okay with me asking questions and wanting more information, and he answered every one of them with enough detail to make me feel better about this.

Only thing was, I preferred his written answers. Our phone calls were lengthy. Too lengthy. And strayed towards more personal subjects every now and then.

I must confess there was something about him. Something I still couldn’t pinpoint and that made me feel a little queasy.

It’s probably that he’s a cop. I kept telling myself. Even if you’ve always dreamt of becoming one you have to accept the fact that you were raised not to trust them.

Baggage claimed, Cisneros lead the way to where Romulus was waiting with his police officer stance and a smug smile on his face.

“Cisneros.” They shook hands before Romulus turned to me, his smile softening to an almost tender one. “Miss Lang. Welcome to London.”

The moment we stepped out into the cold my stomach started doing somersaults. This was it. The one opportunity I’d been waiting for my whole fucking life. The chance to put my past behind and start anew. Bonus points for it to be in a different city also.

“Are you hungry?” Romulus asked as he held the passenger door of his car for me.

I stared at him for a bit longer than normal. “A bit.”

That was, apparently, the answer he was waiting for because he grinned and said, “There’s a pub near the hotel you’ll be staying. We could go there.”

Did I fail to mention he booked a hotel room for me? I always stayed at Cisneros’ while in London, yet he wouldn’t have any of that. I wasn’t in a position to protest, nor did I want to start an argument with the one that was only a John Hancock away from becoming my boss, so I said yes to that.

And yes to leaving Cisneros at his house before heading for said hotel.

And thanks but no thanks when Cisneros reminded me he and Bobby were only a call away if I needed anything.

What could happen, really? It wasn’t as if I hadn’t killed men double Romulus’s size.

We were off and the first thing Romulus did was sigh.

“What?” I asked.

“Rafael is always so stressed. Pissing himself all the time.”

“Only when there are cops around. Ever been to one of his parties?”

“No.” He drawled. “He’s never invited me to one. Are they any good?”

“Good? They’re the best. Nothing but champagne and cigars.”

“You smoke?”

“Depends on the occasion.”

A sideglance, a cocked eyebrow. I was getting some signals from this guy I didn’t really know how to interpret.

Or was it that I didn’t want to interpret them at all?

I wasn’t a naïve little girl. I knew where this could go if I let it.

Getting a good look at his hands I noticed he didn’t have a ring, nor did his ring finger show a lack of sun exposure over the last knuckle.

“Do you have any children?”

My inquiry took him by surprise, to the point of making him scoff. “Yes. Three.” I nodded, letting him be consumed by his thoughts about why I brought that question up, when he asked back. “Do you?”

Didn’t he know everything about me already?

“No.”

Now he nodded and said nothing more.

It takes two to play this game.

“Here we are.” He announced once we arrived at the hotel.

He took my luggage, checked me in, and escorted me to my room. “Everything’s paid for and if you incur in any other charges during your stay the agency will cover it.” He stood by the closed door while I inspected my surroundings.

“I haven’t signed anything yet.”

“It’s a risk we’re willing to take.”

I swung my bag over the bed to cover what my eyes were doing, which was studying him. He looked more relaxed than at the airport, although his arms were crossed over his chest.

His looks were more than agreeable, I must confess. A strong build, sweet dark eyes, and the grays in his hair really suited him.

“Do you need anything? Should I come by later?”

“Nah, it’s okay.” I glanced at my watch and it was late, but not too much. “Is that invitation to the pub still on?”

“I can give you some time to deal with the jet lag.”

“Nothing a couple of pints can’t take care of.”

He sent me a half-grin, uncrossing his arms and turning for the door. “I’ll wait in the lobby.”

I stared at the door as it shut behind him and didn’t notice I hadn’t moved until my mobile vibrated inside my jacket’s pocket. Bobby. I wasn’t picking that call up so I texted him I was okay before checking my makeup and heading down to where Romulus was waiting for me.

We walked over to the pub, sat at a table away from the windows and were quick to start on our beers, and plates of chips.

“Tomorrow we’ll visit Spring Gardens so you can meet your coworkers, get acquainted, see the premises.”

“And what is this about? Getting acquainted with the boss?”

He leaned back in his seat, giving a look around before staring straight into my eyes. “I know you’re not used to having someone supervise your work. I promise not to be the obtrusive kind.”

“What do you know about my work anyway?”

He pushed himself forward, elbows on the table, and drew his face as close to my side as he could. “I know all I need to know: that you’re the best. And, between you and me, I believe that, very soon, you’ll be surpassing your grandfather. A great feat for a 24-year-old.”

“You said my contract would start and end with you.”

“It will. You’ll work under me since the moment you sign to the moment you call it quits. In the rare case that I may have to be the one who ceases to work with the project, you’ll be free to decide if you want to stay working with us or not.”

“Us. That’s something you still haven’t explained.”

“You sure ask a lot of questions.” He was resting on his arms over the table now. “I wonder if you’d be so eager if it were you on the other side.”

Some guttural cat-like sound threatened to come out of my lips.

“Try me.”

He ordered another round and waited until we were served.

Ready. Steady. Go.

“Last job.”

“Two weeks ago.”

“For whom?”

Raised eyebrow. “A friend.”

“Where?”

“Monterrey, México.”

“Any other jobs in your agenda?”

“Not yet.”

“Do you have a concealed weapon with you right now?”

“Yes.”

“Is it the one you used for that job?”

“I use rifles for my jobs.”

“Who was the unlucky bastard?”

Pause. “A shop owner.”

“Shop? What kind?”

“Pawn shop. Arms trafficker.”

“How did you kill him?”

“Waited until he got into his car and shot him in the head from a building across the street.”

“Witnesses?”

“Nope.”

“How did it feel to pull that trigger?”

“Like always.”

“And how is that?”

I leaned over the table to join him midway. “Better than sex.”

“Is it?”

“Very.”

“I beg to differ.”

“Then you’ve never had a rifle in your hands and a target in sight.”

“I have.”

“Then you know it is.”

“I find many differences between both acts.”

“Like what?”

“I’m the one asking the questions.”

I sat back, my eyes not leaving his, and raised my hands to my sides.

“Shoot me then.”

“No.”

“Oh. Forgot you London police can’t walk around with guns.”

He pushed back the side of his jacket, reaching for something in one of his trouser’s pockets.

A pair of handcuffs.

And set them on the table between us.

“I don’t think I’ll need a gun when it comes to you.”

I sipped from my beer.

He tapped a finger on the metal contraptions, a half-grin etched on his face.

“I don’t think so either.”

When I went for the handcuffs he snatched them. “Not so fast. You sign the contract first.”

“So they sent you to dine me and wine me while sweet talking me into signing?”

“None of that. I’m just trying to make the process smoother. Everybody’s scared you’ll refuse our offer.”

“I should. Not only am I not used to being supervised, I’m not used to people denying me of what I want.”

He pushed the handcuffs to me as he gulped the last of his beer. I hastened to do the same, taking the cuffs in my fist and following him out of the pub and back to the hotel.

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

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

Book 1 is FREE today and tomorrow!

Check out Book 1’s Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.

The Caregiver

Available here: Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk

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On how Scarlett thought the ‘becoming an agent thing’ over

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 a BONUS! In this one we meet a very important character from Scarlett’s past that will appear in Book 2: Roberto Cisneros.

Enjoy!

Read Vignette #1 , Vignette #2 , Vignette #3, Vignette #4

Want to have them all together with a nice cover to read later? I’ve compiled these five vignettes in eBook format!

Get your FREE copy at Smashwords!

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

The red leather booth in the diner couldn’t contain both me and the colony of invisible ants that was crawling up and down my flesh. The memory of the meeting with that English dude and the other two agents seemed more and more surreal every time I replayed it in my head.

Cisneros hadn’t been very talkative afterwards. Not that we talked much anyway, only the necessary, which was mostly professional stuff: who to kill, where to do it, how much was in it for me… Except, of course, for the times where we’d all sit around his study talking through a cloud of cigar smoke, having a laugh over a bottle scotch or wine.

It was a whole other story with his half-brother, though. Roberto and Rafael had no blood ties, since Roberto was adopted by Rafael’s father after he married his mother. I often thought: had they been blood brothers, they wouldn’t be as close. They were as different as night and day, from their nationalities (Rafael was of Colombian ascent; Roberto, of Cuban), to their lines of work (one was a drug dealer; the other, a police detective).

Sitting with a clear view of the door is a must for everyone in a position like mine. And when the man with the brown suit, gun holstered under his jacket, badge pinned to his belt, pushed the door open, I was the first to see him. His olive eyes locked on me, and he smiled as he approached me.

“So,” he gave me a kiss on the cheek before sliding into his seat, “what’s this mysterious thing you can call me about but can’t tell me over the phone?”

“Well, hello. I don’t remember sleeping with you last night.”

His eyes shone over his sly smile. “Say the word and I can change that.”

“How’s the new wife doing?”

Jane, the old woman that waitressed there, cut in before he could reply. “You two having the usual?”

“Yes, Jane, the usual.” Roberto flashed her one of his smiles and made sure she was out of earshot before combing his dark brown hair back with his fingers and taking a deep breath. “She’s pregnant.”

What. The. Fuck.

“C-Congratulations.”

Jane brought us our coffees, giving me some time to process the news. No, I wasn’t emotionally involved with Roberto. We had something. Past tense. Not anymore.

Get a fucking grip.

“Thank you. If it’s a girl I’m naming her Scarlett.”

“The world doesn’t need another fucked up version of me.” I swirled the sugar in my drink while he poured a considerable amount into his.

“I wouldn’t say that. But we’re not here to discuss that. Are you going to tell me what you called me for?”

“I’ve been offered a job at Interpol.”

He choked on his coffee. I was quick to hand him a napkin, and pushed his arm away before he wiped his mouth with his sleeve. “Oh, come on! You’ll ruin your suit.”

“Interpol?” He dabbed the corners of his mouth with the napkin, his eyes wide. “Seriously?”

“Did you know your brother is an informant?” He frowned, casting his eyes down without a word. “Of course you did. I bet it was you who cracked him.”

“I did know. But it wasn’t me.”

“And neither of you told me.”

“No need to, you’re perfectly safe as you are.”

“You two treat me like a child sometimes.”

“Never.” He took another sip of his coffee before gently setting the cup down. “Now, about that job offer of yours…”

“This English dude came all the way from London to offer me ‘a deal.’ To work for some program they’ve come up with, go on missions for them, and, after all is done, whatever record I have will be erased, and I’ll be free.”

Jane arrived with Roberto’s pastrami sandwich, the red basket overflowing with french fries, my philly cheese steak with their signature onion rings, and two tall glasses of coke to wash it all down.

“That’s bullshit, Scarlett.”

“I’m not kidding.”

“Give me your wrist.”

I rolled my eyes before extending my arm over the table. “Sure thing, human lie detector. The dude’s also a detective, you know? Detective Inspector. They’ve got funny names for policemen there.”

He set his fore and middle finger on the underside of my wrist, taking a glance at his watch for a moment before proceeding. “When did this happen?”

“This morning.” I answered without hesitation. He’d always do this when he thought I was lying.

“And you say he was English?”

“Yes. Very. His name’s Romulus, said he works for the Metropolitan police and the Interpol. A bit of a douchebag, if you ask me.”

“And what kind of deal was it?”

“I already told you.”

“Scarlett…,” he chided me.

“Work with an interagency program that is seeking recruits with… how did he say it? Contacts. Yeah, that. They give agent status to people who are in the business but want out. A new life, a clean slate. The chance to put everything bad behind me. At last.”

His face dropped, and he let my wrist go from his grip. If anyone knew how much I’d been through in my still-short life, it was him.

“Never heard of such a program.” He scooped a half of his sandwich, “Why bring someone all the way from England?” and bit into it.

“Your brother deals with some London people.” I took off the top of my sandwich and put a couple of onion rings inside. “And the dude said they wanted me to work away from where I’m known. I’d be travelling around, not necessarily to England, maybe some other countries. Also, he said I’d be Interpol because he’s Interpol, but that there are others with different agency credentials.”

“I don’t know, Scarlett. Doesn’t sound right to me. Interpol doesn’t recruit people that aren’t already working in some agency or police department, much less send people on missions around the world.”

“I told him, and his answer was that the credentials were mostly for travel and payroll purposes.”

“Still doesn’t make sense.” He was attacking his food with a passion, as if channeling his emotions by biting and chewing on it.

“What did Rafael say?”

“That he’d been working with them for the past year.”

“See?” He picked a french fry and pointed it at me, “I didn’t know that,” then shoved it into his mouth. “I’ll have to talk to him about it. Did he know the guy that talked to you?”

“Apparently, yes. The dude knows Adrian and had even talked to him prior to our meeting.”

Roberto rose in height at my statement, taken aback. “What?! He spoke to Adrian about recruiting you?”

“Told me Adrian tried to talk him out of it, that I was no good. Oh, and he still hasn’t let go of the Scarlett the Scumbag thing.”

“Fucker.”

I finished the first half of my sandwich, took a large gulp of soda, and set my hands flat on the table. “I want out, Bobby. I- I don’t know if I can go on with this for much longer. There’s no life in this business. There may still be time for me. I’m twenty-four, you know?”

“You saying that makes me feel like a pervert.”

“Why? You’re only forty-six.”

“Only?” He chuckled. “Thank you. That’s the nicest thing you’ve said to me in a while.”

“I think I’ll be taking the offer.” I went on eating the second half of my sandwich; it was too good to let it go cold. “What’s the worst that could happen? That it’s some bogus program and I end up having to kill them?”

The last bit of his sandwich hovered in front of him, midway to his mouth. “Probably.”

“I’ll always have you to cover my ass for me.”

“You’re in luck, then. I’ve also got a job offer.” He finished his food and wiped his hands clean. “CIA.”

“Whoa. You’ve been wanting that for some time now.”

“Yes, I have.” He leaned over the table. “I’ll always be there for you, Scarlett. I appreciate you calling me to talk this over.” His eyes trained on me, I could hear the truth in his words. With Bobby, emotions were always only skin deep. “I’d advise you to think it through, even though I know you’ve already made your mind. If this is, indeed, a way out, then I’m all for it.”

I cleared my plate before pushing it aside.

“You know I’m always a phone call away.” He continued. “If there’s anything I wish is for you to leave all this behind.”

“Step into the light?” I crossed my arms over my chest and leaned back.

He pushed himself forward. “But never let it blind you.”

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

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 met some of Armand’s most trusted men (Meet characters from Book 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 a BONUS! In this one she meets characters that will make their appearance in Book 2: Ollie, Bradley and Cat.

Enjoy!

Read Vignette #1 , Vignette #2 , and Vignette #3.

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

Heaven was pissing down at us. The Bentley’s wipers weren’t enough as George drove us both to where we were heading: to meet with three of Armand’s most trusted men.

I must confess I was nervous about it. These guys weren’t known for their gentle ways. That, and the fact that George wasn’t exactly the nicest of people when it came to interacting with me, made of this endeavor one that threatened to leave the palms of my hands bleeding, with my nails dug into them.

Yeah, yeah, I’m a hitwoman, and a fucking undercover agent, but that doesn’t mean I won’t feel nervous every now and then. We’re all human after all.

All the tension vanished, however, when we met with them on a street corner in Vauxhall. Standing under two matching black umbrellas were three men in equally black coats.

“Cat. Bradley. Ollie.” George said dryly. “This is Scarlett.” He wasn’t happy I was there. We were both out when Armand called us. He’d tried to convince him it wasn’t a good idea to take me with him, to no avail.

“About time we met you!” Ollie, with his longish curls and matching bright eyes, shook my hand eagerly. He wasn’t as tall as the other two, which made me like him instantly. “We’ve heard so much about you.”

“Hope it was good.”

George cleared his throat. Heh.

The one in the middle was the tallest, Bradley. He just smiled, and, oh god, what a smile… And then there was Cat, with his dark brown skin and green eyes. He waved at me and we made our way into the hotel.

Cat led us to the lifts, while Ollie and Bradley had an animated conversation that eased all my uneasiness.

“So, I waited and waited for the couple to show up.” Ollie’s raspy voice echoed through the hotel’s lobby, “it’s a two-million-pounds property and it’s exactly what they’re asking for. Armand would murder me if I let a client like that down.”

The lift’s doors slid open and we got in. George’s facade was as stern as always, yet the other three were grinning all the way.

Nobody would’ve guessed what they were really there for.

“Did they show up?” Cat asked when Ollie paused.

“They did, yeah… with a fucking dog.”

“A dog? There’s nothing wrong with that.” Bradley’s Australian accent clashed with the Brits’, as he leaned on the back wall, his umbrella dripping on the carpet.

“Not just any dog, you muppet. A Great Dane. The thing was the size of a horse.” They all laughed, even George. “No,” he proceeded, “but that’s not it. They bring it into the house, and it has wooden floors. The thing is scuffing the wood as it sniffs around. I tell the client and he just cocks an eyebrow at me and keeps walking.”

“Armand would’ve given him a piece of his mind.” Cat commented as he held the doors open for us. “Last time I had a client with a pet in an open house I shut the door on them.”

The corridor was dimly lit and the carpet had already been stained by wet shoes.

“You guys work for Armand’s real estate firm?” I had to know.

They turned their heads slowly to me, their longer strides leaving Ollie and me a few steps behind.

“Yeah, we all do.” Ollie stayed with me once we reached the room they were looking for. “It’s our day job. Except for George, of course.”

George merely looked up, then back towards the closed door in front of us.

“Open up, Geoffrey.” Bradley knocked and received no answer. “We know you’re in there.”

“So, what happened with the dog?” I brought Ollie’s attention back to me.

“Open the door, Geoffrey. Or else,” Cat warned.

“Not only did it scuff the floor. It pissed on one of the bedroom’s carpets!”

“Liar!” Bradley swiveled towards us.

“It bloody did! And, well, you know, the buyer didn’t want no stains on it.”

“Geoffrey!” George was knocking now. “Open the fucking door.”

“I had to pay to get the carpet cleaned and the floor restored before Armand learnt about it. With me own money!”

“Bradley,” George stepped back from the door, “do your thing.”

Ollie pulled me to safety as we watched Bradley kick down the door.

Forget stealth. These men got in and rummaged through the room like rabid dogs, except no pissing on the carpet.

“Geoffrey… come out, come out and play,” Cat crooned sarcastically.

It was a small room with only a dresser with a TV on it, a bed, a wardrobe, and an equally small bathroom.

George signaled me to stay by the door by raising an open hand at me.

Bradley opened the wardrobe to find a thin man no older than thirty-five hiding behind a large coat. “There you are!” He caught him by the collar of his shirt, pulled him out with a swift movement and threw him face up on the bed. “You think you can hide from us?”

Ollie cocked his head for me join him while he thrashed the dresser, throwing its contents all over the floor. I glanced at George.

“Oh, don’t mind ‘im.” Ollie nudged me, then whispered, “he’s a bit of a stuck up, ain’t ‘e?”

“You don’t have to say that twice.” I dug my hands into the drawer and felt my way around it until my fingers hit something cold and solid.

A folding knife.

“Where’s the money?” Bradley was shaking the poor man against the mattress. “Where the fuck is it?”

“I…” He could barely answer over the manhandling he was being subjected to. “I don’t…”

One rough push threw him, face down, on the floor and Cat was on him, punching his face mercilessly.

I gave Ollie the knife and he scoffed at the sight of it.

George knelt down next to the now broken-nosed man. “The money, Geoffrey. This is your last chance. We’ve given you one too many already.”

“Look what he had hiding in a drawer.” Ollie handed the knife to George.

“I did’uh mean to use it.” Geoffrey cried, his knuckles white from his tight grip on Cat’s wrists, who was holding him down by the neck. “I don’t have the money, but I will. I swear.”

“MacGowan said he lent it to you,” George said in a nonchalant tone while holding the knife to his face. “He didn’t want to get on Armand’s bad side, since he was the one who recommended you.”

George stood, giving the man no time to retort before Bradley and Cat went back to beating the crap out of him.

A gesture from Ollie cued me to follow him to the wardrobe where the bloke had been hiding and resume our search. There was nothing there either.

“Stop! Please!” Geoffrey’s screams were muffled by Cat’s fist.

“Not until you tell us what you did with that money!” Bradley’s shitkickers landed on his ribs, getting a loud crack in response.

“He did’uh give me nofing!” He rolled to his side, his arms wrapped around his torso. “MacGowan’s a fucking liar.”

Ollie glanced at me and I had to peel my eyes from the scene unfolding in front of our eyes to meet his glance. I hadn’t realized how mesmerized I was by it.

Bradley’s leg was travelling backwards when Ollie called him out, “Oi, give her a chance.”

“No,” George snapped at him. “She shouldn’t even be here.” Then he turned his eyes to me. “Get Armand on the phone.”

The built-up momentum of Bradley’s kick wasn’t put to waste as the force of it made contact with Geoffrey’s torso once more, making him squeal.

I rang Armand’s mobile and he was quick to answer. I told him what was happening and he asked me to put him on speaker so Geoffrey could hear him.

“You’ve messed up enough times, Geoffrey.” Armand’s deep tones made everyone perk up. “Your pathetic excuses are reason enough to kill you.”

“MacGowan lied to you!”

“I have no reason to believe that.”

“It’s true! He did’uh lend me nofing. Said he did’uh care.”

Armand went silent for a moment. I kept the phone pointed towards the beat up man even when my arm was starting to shake.

“Kill him.”

All of a sudden, George had yanked the mobile from my hand, turned off the speaker and started talking into it in a low voice.

Ollie took the opportunity to push me towards the man lying on the floor. “Come on, just a couple of kicks,” he said, with an ear-to-ear smile.

Geoffrey’s eyes bulged as I approached him, my stare blank on his bleeding face. He muttered something I couldn’t comprehend.

“Excuse me?” I leaned forward, holding my hair away from my ear.

“Don’t let them kill me.”

What?

Oh, he was begging to the only source of estrogen in the room.

A rush of adrenaline ran through my system. It made me straighten my back and kick his already aching body twice before answering:

“Sorry, pal. Boss’s orders.”

Another kick and George’s grip was on my elbow. “Enough.” He handed me my mobile before turning to Bradley and Cat. “Take him to bathtub.” He then unfolded the same knife I had retrieved from the drawer, “It’ll make it easier to clean.”

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

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