London

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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R-Day has come!

R-Day as in Release Day!

Cover for Torn, The Caregiver Book 2

When she pulled the trigger on her supervisor, Scarlett thought she was saving the life of the man she loves while at the same time freeing herself from her duties with the Interpol. She couldn’t have been more wrong.

Now a new boss has stepped in, assigning her to a mission that will reveal the truth of her recruitment with the agency and forcing her to fly to Puerto Rico to meet with her grandfather, world famous hit man, Adrian Lang.

For Armand, it’s the perfect wedding destination and an opportunity to help her mend her relationship with her grandfather. For her, it’s an open invitation for both friends and foes from the past to drag her back into the hell she fought so hard to leave behind.

Yet one question troubles her the most: Will her relationship with Armand remain unchanged after her past is exposed?

 

Now available for Kindle. Get it while it’s hot!

US: http://www.amazon.com/Torn-Book-Caregiver-Series-ebook/dp/B00D3T7YKO/

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Torn-Book-Caregiver-Series-ebook/dp/B00D3T7YKO/

DE: http://www.amazon.de/Torn-Book-Caregiver-Series-ebook/dp/B00D3T7YKO/

FR: http://www.amazon.fr/Torn-Book-Caregiver-Series-ebook/dp/B00D3T7YKO/

CA: http://www.amazon.ca/Torn-Book-2-Caregiver-ebook/dp/B00D3T7YKO/

IT: http://www.amazon.it/Torn-Book-Caregiver-Series-ebook/dp/B00D3T7YKO/

JP: http://www.amazon.co.jp/Torn-Book-Caregiver-Series-ebook/dp/B00D3T7YKO/

ES: http://www.amazon.es/Torn-Book-Caregiver-Series-ebook/dp/B00D3T7YKO/

BR: http://www.amazon.com.br/Torn-Book-Caregiver-Series-ebook/dp/B00D3T7YKO/

 

Thank you all for your support!

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:

Chapter 2 of The Caregiver (Book 1 of The Caregiver Series)

My first novella, The Caregiver: Book 1, is out!

Written by me (@artistikem) and edited by Diana Campo (@dianadhevi).

And here is chapter 2. Enjoy!

Chapter 2

My first evening in Sayer’s mansion passed quietly and without much trouble. Helga came back with his meds, repeated what seemed like a hundred times that his physician, Dr. Hart, had ordered to keep him in bed at all times, and showed me how he liked his tea made, for whenever George wasn’t available. Of course, Mr. Sayer didn’t comply with staying bed-ridden, so I let him be and went to sleep early.

On my second day, I met George, or should I say, I saw George’s frown float around the house without proffering more than a “Top of the morning” and an about-face. The man, with long arms and skinny fingers, wouldn’t talk or even look at me. At one point I tried to step in his way so he would have to at least stop one second and acknowledge my presence. However, it didn’t work. Nothing did. By nightfall, I had given up for the day, and when Helga came by and asked me if I had met him, I told her we had gotten acquainted quite well. If he didn’t want anything to do with me, I wouldn’t push him.

Late on the third day, Helga brought a list of errands for me, which Mr. Sayer dismissed the moment she was out the door. Finding myself without work in my new workplace, I retired to my room and went through my clothes, uniforms and the few things I had brought… for the hundredth time. This was going to be harder than I thought.

It was around ten in the evening, as I wandered around the house, when I saw that the lights in the office were lit. I walked towards it, drawn like a moth, and found Mr. Sayer sitting behind his desk, talking on the phone. As soon as he saw me, I tried to make my escape.

“Scarlett?”

He saw me. I froze, but then decided that, since he had called my name, I couldn’t ignore him, so I turned around. He hung up the phone and beckoned me into the room.

“You shouldn’t be walking around the house this late, Mr. Sayer.”

“What other lies did my sister tell you? What else did she instruct you to prohibit me?”

“Pretty much everything that isn’t staying in bed the whole day.”

He chuckled, finding it amusing somehow, while I stood behind an elegant leather chair, my hands clutching the seams.

He walked around the desk. “As much as I love my sister, I can’t let her do this to me. She’s always been very possessive, but this has gone too far,” he leaned back on the edge of the desk, his arms crossed over his chest. “That’s why I asked her to find someone other than George that could take care of me. So I could get her off my back.”

“Whose instructions should I follow, then?”

“When Helga is around, act as if you’re following hers. But really, all I need is someone to be around so she stops harassing me about being ill and sleeping all day. You can do whatever you want, really. I have things to do and I must get back to them as soon as possible.”

“I understand.”

“Good to know that you do. Now, would you be nice enough to bring me some tea? I know I shouldn’t be asking you this, but George is out and won’t be back until early morning.”

“Yes, sir. I’ll be right back.”

I ran quickly down the stairs to the first floor and made the tea as Helga had instructed me. I took a lot of care on how I placed everything on the tray so it would all stay put through the flights of stairs back to Sayer’s office.
He waved for me to come in the moment I reached the door, all the while keeping an animated conversation with someone on the other side of the phone.

“Call me if you make arrangements for next Thursday, Max. See you then.”

“No wonder your sister is so worried about you. Making plans already?” I commented as soon as he hung up.

“You brought only one cup.”

“The tea is for you, Mr. Sayer.”

“Don’t you like tea? It’s very soothing. Helps me sleep when I’m stressed.”

“As a matter of fact, I do like tea.”

“Then,” he rummaged inside one of his desk’s drawers and took out another cup, “have it with me. It may be the first of many. How do you like this place so far?”

“It’s a beautiful house. I like it very much,” I felt so at ease as he poured tea into both cups and slid one towards me, that I was starting to talk to him like I would to a friend. I straightened my back in an effort to straighten my demeanor.

“Are you keeping the job? You know you can walk out whenever you want if you don’t like it.”

“I’ve been here for only three days. So far so good.”

“I do hope you stay. This house feels so empty sometimes it makes me want to get out running like a mad man. Sit down. You don’t want to drink your tea standing up.”

“Yes, Mr. Sayer.”

A noise came from the floor below, startling us both.

“It’s too early for George to be back.” Another noise and Mr. Sayer left his seat and went to the window. “Drunk kids in the street.”

He walked away from the window and back to the desk when another noise, this time louder and closer, was heard. We left the office together – I tiptoed while he tried to step very slowly so his shoes wouldn’t make a sound – and searched for the source.

We kept looking down from the third floor to the second but saw nothing, then I went into one of the bedrooms and saw a shadow by the window. Mr. Sayer tried to pull me back but I didn’t yield. I pulled a 22 mm gun from my pocket and quietly sidestepped close to the wall towards the window.

The silhouette of a man came to view and I pointed my gun at it, ready to confront whoever was outside the window and crawling around the walls of the house. I could feel my own heavy breathing, as if the whole room was beating along with my heart, as if it knew that my finger was tightening its grip on the trigger, little by little.

“Don’t shoot the glass, it’s bulletproof,” Sayer whispered to my ear.

I released the trigger but kept my aim on the window. There was silence for a moment and no sign of the shadow or whatever it was that made the noises. When I turned around, Sayer was right behind me, his whole body stiff, his hands in tight fists.

“The drunken kids, I believe,” I commented sarcastically as I lowered my gun.

“Where did you get that gun?”

Then came a bang on one of the back doors, and I rushed into my room, pulled my luggage from under the bed and took out another gun, my handy 9 mm. When I came out of the room, Sayer was emerging from the library with a 40 mm and was shocked to see me holding a different gun to my side.

The noise rang out again, and all shock was left behind as I hastened down the stairs. He stayed behind. Not that I cared. I had to check on whatever was happening before he did.

I strode across the hall into the kitchen and saw another silhouette through the glass on the back door. It froze, as if it was looking at me, before turning to run away. I shot once and the bullet bounced right off it, hitting a wall, a lamp.

“Fuck!” I ducked until it stopped. The whole house was bulletproof.

I opened the door and sped through the grass into the backyard while the silhouette fled in zigzags, dodging my bullets. Then a second silhouette appeared out of nowhere and I could see the shiny metal gun glinting under the lampposts’ light. Before I could shoot, he was dead on the floor. I instinctively looked up and saw Sayer shutting a window on the second floor. This was my cue to go after the other one, the one that had stopped to see the fall of his companion.

I ran towards him and managed to close the distance between us before he realized I was on him. With his eyes still on the corpse, he pointed another shiny gun at me and squeezed the trigger once, missing me by inches. Not that he cared, because he was still standing in the same spot when I got dangerously near.

“Who are you? What are you doing here?” He didn’t answer, so I pressed my gun to his temple. “Answer me!”

He dropped the gun and took off the black mask that covered his face. His white skin stood out against the black of his suit. He was a young man, probably in his twenties. His nose tip was red, and tears were rolling down his cheeks.

“I’m new to this.”

“Who sent you?”

“I can’t tell.”

“For fuck’s sake, just answer the fucking question!”

“I can’t! They’ll kill my family.”

I chuckled. “They must be dead by now, and you’ll also be dead if you don’t answer me.”

We both heard the limping steps of Sayer as he slowly approached us.

“Scarlett, go back inside!”

“I’ve got it Mr. Sayer,” I turned to face him, “don’t worry,” but was startled as he shot the guy before I could. The kid had picked up his gun and was about to shoot me without my notice.

“Get in!” Sayer roared, grabbing me by the arm and pulling me back into the house.

His face was flushed, his brows were furrowed, and his eyes didn’t meet mine until we were in a study on the first floor. He pushed me into a chair, took my gun, placed it with his own on the table, and pulled out his mobile.

“George, we have two dead squirrels in the backyard,” he said before hanging up and turning back to me. “Who are you?”

His enraged eyes were gazing into mine and I could feel the trembling creeping up from my feet, through my legs and my body, down my arms and hands.

He took his gun back from the table, cocked it and pointed it to my head.

“My name is Scarlett Lang.”

“Who sent you?”

“I was recommended by Rafael Cisneros when your sister went to him searching for a caregiver.” I gulped before proceeding. “My grandfather owns the shooting range Cisneros uses to train his men.”

“Cisneros? You know Cisneros?”

“Yes. Adrian Lang is his name. My grandfather’s, I mean.”

The barrel of his gun cut through the thickness of the air between us, dispersing and redistributing it around the room, as he pulled it away from me.

“Helga,” he said to himself. “She means good, but in her effort she has exposed me. There is no doubt someone sent those kids because she’s being followed.”

My mouth felt dry and my heart was racing so fast I thought it would drill its way out of my chest.

“She knows that you handle guns, doesn’t she?”

“It was one of the requirements for hiring me, so that I could help protect you. After the attack on you and your family, she’s worried you’ll suffer another one.”

“That’s why I stayed here, to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Now tell me, are you even a real nurse?”

“Yes, sir, I am.”

“Well,” his face relaxed, and my trembling vanished. “Those two were young and inexperienced. It won’t help much to see what the security cameras recorded. We stopped them on time,” he said as he looked round, then turned to me, “and our tea must’ve gone cold. If you ask me,” he gave me my gun back, “it’s time for bed,” and limped out of the room.

“Night, sir.”

“You can keep the job, Scarlett,” his voice floated back through the hallway. “Couldn’t have found a better match for this myself.”

###

The Caregiver book cover

Scarlett Lang always dreamt of becoming an Interpol agent. When her hard work pays off and she’s given the chance to work as an undercover agent with London’s biggest drug lord, Armand Sayer, she can’t help being ecstatic about it.

She’s employed by Armand’s sister (to aid in his recovery from a gun attack) as both caregiver and bodyguard. Her resourcefulness in both areas helps her win much more than Armand’s trust, to the dismay of both his right-hand man and her ex-boyfriend / colleague.

As she makes her way into the business she swore to help tear down, she’s faced with the dilemma of choosing between being loyal to her profession or her heart. And we all know it can’t be both.

The book is already available for purchase on:

Smashwords & Amazon