MY orders are to kill her. Reading her profile, she deserves it. The details play across my mind like a symphony. My thoughts on how I’m going to do it almost distracts me from the unbearable heat. The humidity is heavy, clinging to me like a child, a feeling that’s become overripe. I continue to the edge of the hotel Mandarin’s lavish balcony, allowing the view to ease my discomfort. My eye is instantly drawn to the ocean’s beauty. She appears endless as the sun glints off her back like a polished sapphire. I see the ocean as I see myself: calm, yet ragging. Can death and beauty coexist? We’re both enslaved. Me to my employer and her to the moon. I’m entranced as she constantly fights to make it to shore and, as she gets there, in that split second . . . I’m free. I belong to no one. The thought is eradicated as she’s ripped from the shore. I realize then neither of us will ever be free.
My focus is stolen by bright colors and moving shapes at the shoreline. South Beach is swarming with tourists and locals alike. Tall palm trees tower together inside the chain-link fence. The great divide between the outside world and us. A warm breeze kicks up, releasing some of the humidity’s grip as the tops of the palms reach forcefully toward the ocean. My eyes follow the length of the tree, from its rustling palms to its sturdy base, and I spot her. My target. She’s beautiful, and she knows it. It makes her cocky, and cocky I can work with. She’s lying on her back, tanning by the pool. The sun flickers off the emblem of her brown Versace sunglasses. Her hair is long and wavy, spilling over the side of the lounge chair. The sunlight sets her auburn highlights ablaze. I know everything about her. She knows shit about me. Women like her make such easy marks. Her body language oozes sexuality. Not many people know how powerful she is. A captain in the Cuban cartel’s drug and gun distribution in Miami. Women rarely earn that title in her line of work. This makes me savor the task in front of me that much more. Ingrid is what they call her. Little does she know the grim reaper has come to collect.
Valentine Ops have always been my favorite. I get to fuck beautiful women, while traveling the world. I mean, what’s not to like? I turn my back on the ocean, the one thing that has given me peace in a long while, only to give tithings to the devil.
Leaving my room, I ignore a group of women as their heads turn to follow me down the burgundy-carpeted hall to the elevator.
“Hey,” one of them calls out. She prances past me wearing nothing but a tiny bikini, showing off her curvaceous body. I stay focused solely on my introduction to Ingrid.
My eyes always seem to draw attention, wanted or otherwise. I see the ocean in your eyes, a woman once told me. The perfect mixture of blue and green. Naturally, I use the tools the Man upstairs gave me; whenever I’m out to make a first impression, anything in blue works. As I step outside the air-conditioned hall the sun immediately advances on me like an overbearing mistress. It’s crowded, and there’s a sea of people in the pool. The employees double the already suffocating population. There’s too much activity. I hate it. I’m not a people person. Looking around, I’m not concerned with exit strategies. There’s a thousand ways out of this place. Smart people are more concerned with self-preservation as panic sets in, and usually won’t run towards a fight. Chaos is the best cover when you need a quick exit. It’s the people that pose the problem. If things go south, we’re talking mass casualties. Killing innocents is never something I enjoy, but if it’s my life or theirs, well . . .
I find a perfect shady perch at the bar and order a cocktail. I can see her, and she can see me. She’s still tanning behind her wall of bodyguards in her private cabana. Her men stand at attention on either side of the thick white rope separating each cabana. My usual approach would be to buy her a drink, except I know that won’t work on a woman like her. She needs to feel as if she’s in control. Glancing up, I see I already have her attention. She tilts her head down to get a better view of me over the top of her glasses. The key is for me to break eye contact first. I smile briefly at her before turning my head, catching the eye of another woman. What better way to make a woman take notice than to be noticed by another woman. I see Ingrid from the corner of my eye as she tracks the young beauty as she sauntering over to me in her mauve string bikini. The tiny triangle-shaped cloth pieces on top cover only her taut nipples clearly visible through the thin wet material. The bottom matching triangle covers only her sex. God, I love Miami. I lift a brow as she slides her index finger across my shoulder and back. My eyes follow her as she makes her way to my other side of me.
“Mm, that looks good. What are you drinking?” she purrs, taking a seat.
“Sex on the beach,” I reply with a smile.
Her big brown eyes look starstruck as they linger on me for a moment before she sits up a little straighter in her chair. “Damn, you’re gorgeous,” she giggles, twirling a piece of her chocolate-colored hair. “I bet you hear that all the time.”
I smile. “Are you staying here?”
Talking about myself is not an option. How I look on the outside is trivial to the monster I am on the inside. Working for a clandestine agency that no country will claim will do that to you. And I’m their number one deniable asset.
“Yes, my friend and I are here on spring break. What about you?”
“Ah, a college girl, where do you attend?” I ask, looking past her to Ingrid.
She’s changed her position in order to see me without straining. Her long wavy hair, once spilling over the chair, is now pinned up. She watches me through brown tented lenses. I assume she’s assessing all possible outcomes. I’m fairly certain I have an inkling of what she’s thinking. I’ve been in this situation enough times to know when I have my mark. She’s asking herself: Is he a threat? Can I be alone with him without risking my life, or business? All very smart questions, but as she gets up to make her way toward me, I know she’s arrived at all the wrong answers.
“Penn State,” the girl answers. “I’m a psych major.”
“A psych major, does that mean you understand human behavior?”
“Not yet, but I hope to someday,” she answers. “I never caught your name.”
“That’s because I never gave it to you,” I say playfully.
A voice heavy in Latin roots comes from behind me. “How about you give it to me?”
I don’t need to turn around to see who it is. Ingrid has come to play.
I remain focused on the sweet young girl I used to get Ingrid’s attention. Her reaction fascinates me. As her eyes widen with fear, I smile. Her trepidation excites me. She’s now in my world. Noting Ingrid’s two huge bodyguards standing behind us, she quickly drops her gaze before getting up to leave. I turn around slowly as the scared little bunny flees.
“You sure know how to make an entrance.”
She smiles, taking the now vacant seat. “I’m worthy of it, don’t you think?”
I look her up and down. Her legs are smooth, with a bronze glow from the sunscreen and hours of tanning. Her abdomen is slightly concave with no real muscle tone. I mean, why workout when your muscle follows you around like a second skin? Speaking of skin, hers is flawless. She may not be a perky personality, but she’s perky in all the right places.
“You very well may be,” I say, continuing to eye her.
Playing along isn’t hard. The woman is gorgeous. I look past her to the two men standing stiff and rigid at her back. They obviously don’t give a shit about blending in. They’re programmed to scan the area for potential dangers, all with a permanent scowl on their faces.
“What’s up with them? I’m not into foursomes, or are you just trying to make me jealous?”
“As long as you behave you won’t need to worry about them. What should I call you?”
“Michael,” I answer, focusing on her again, but still well aware of their presence.
“I like your wit, Michael. I’m Ingrid,” she says, putting a finger up to summon the bartender. He comes promptly with a drink in hand. Impressive. She turns to face me, crossing her legs as her knee lightly touches mine.
“How would you like to spend the evening with me?”
I raise an eyebrow. “I like your candor, Ingrid. Yes, I would very much like to spend the evening with you.”
She releases her hair from the clip. It falls loose and wild, framing her oval face. She stands, sauntering away, which is my cue to follow.
Her bodyguards fall in line behind me as we make our way to her room. Ingrid hits the button on the elevator for the penthouse suite. She doesn’t mind flaunting her successes. As we reach the door, I hear one of the guards speak for the first time.
“Turn and face the wall.”
I left my Glock 18 back in my room safe, figuring I might be forced to endure an amateur pat down. If I do find myself in need of a weapon, I’ll commandeer one from the dead body of one of these fine gentlemen.
“Excuse me?” I turn to Ingrid, playing the part. “What is this? Do I look like a guy who walks around with a gun? You approached me, remember? I can leave,” I say, challenging her.
I like to be as surgical as possible with my missions, so I’d rather not do this here, now, but I’m prepared to if necessary.
“It’s nonnegotiable,” she says, exercising her authority. “Make it quick, Raul.”
Ingrid turns, sliding her keycard in the lock, opening the door. Raul grabs my arm, pushing me against the wall. He frisks like a rookie fresh from the academy. He seems timid, soft even, so it doesn’t surprise me when he finds nothing. Men are funny about getting too close to another man’s genitals. That’s precisely why I have my thin blade sewn into the front of my shorts. Raul steps aside, satisfied with his search, and lets me pass. I back away, turning my back on them only when I know they’re not going to try anything stupid. Crossing the threshold, I hear her bodyguards grumbling to each other in Spanish. They clearly don’t agree with being shut out, but that doesn’t stop me from closing the door, and leaving them on the other side.
The intel previously gathered told me she does this sort of thing often, and in doing so, gives her a false sense of security. I for one am glad. Now, I get to fuck her before I kill her. The bodyguards will need to be dealt with, but better to have my fun first.
I walk into the room, and the first thing I see is a wall made of pure glass, giving you an unobstructed view of the Miami skyline. A large white sectional sofa lines the wall facing the mounted flat screen T.V. The sofa wraps around on dark hardwood floors, facing the incredible view. I follow Ingrid around the corner to the bedroom for an even better view. Her beautiful body. She stops at the foot of the king size bed, calling me over with a wave of her finger. The way she exudes confidence is turning me on, and I waste no time.
The sex was rough . . . as expected. She was amazing . . . as expected. It always is with powerful women.
Now, I lie here breathless, giddy with anticipation. I’ve craved this moment since I spotted her from my balcony. She’s a problem, and I am the solution. I don’t care about how, or why she got this way. We all have our sob stories. The fact is: we are here now. In her haste to fuck me, she refused to truly see me. That was a huge mistake. One of many Ingrid has made today.
I turn over, grabbing my blade from under the heap of clothes by the bed. I straddle her, and she lights up ready for round two. The look of surprise on her face as she stares up at me, my blade licking her face, is something I will never grow tired of. There will be no pleasure for her this time, only me, as I smother her mouth and nose, effectively cutting off her oxygen supply. Her eyes grow wild as she struggles to breathe. Her body starts to twitch underneath me. I release her nose and her nostrils flare to life, taking in as much oxygen as she can. I trail my blade down the side of her face, stopping at the sweet spot on her neck. I tap the blade against her carotid as a warning before removing my hand from her mouth. She’s motionless beneath me, not even a muscle twitch. I’ve chased the smile from her beautiful face. She doesn’t cry, beg for her life, nor call out for her bodyguards. She must know that will only hasten her death. Maybe, her arrogance has her thinking she can talk her way out of this.
No . . . that’s not it. Looking at her, I see it in her eyes. She knows the score. Her eyes are steel, and her emotions forfeited. We are the same, she and I.
“Who are you, really?” She asks, cold and unwavering.
“I’m a man who has no problem fucking you then killing you,” I reply, savoring the moment. I love playing the game. At this moment my fucked up past serves me well.
“My background is the same tragic story, really. I was abused as a child. Went to prison, where I was stabbed seven times, blah, blah, blah.”
I trail my blade along the side of her face. “You don’t really want to hear this shit, and more importantly, it’s none of your fucking business. What I will tell you is this: I do not exist. I’m a ghost. You shouldn’t worry, though, dying was the best thing that ever happened to me. I did; however, give you the courtesy of knowing my name. You remember, right? It’s Michael, and I’m undoubtedly the most dangerous man you have ever met.”
Understanding flashes in her eyes. “You’re one of them, disavowed. A man who fights for all countries, but none will claim. Why?” she asks, drawing out the conversation, but it won’t save her.
“I kill for them because those are my orders. The enjoyment I get from it is my own,” I explain out of courtesy. No harm indulging a dead woman’s curiosity. I’m poised as everything fades away, except me and my target when I hear a voice in my ear.
“Stand down, Michael. I want her brought in alive.”