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Newborn City Series: Affinity for Pain

By R. E. Johnson All Rights Reserved ©

Romance / Fantasy


Unbound by the burden of physical sensation, Hope Turner, the demon daughter of The Chakal makes for the ideal human hunting assassin. Brilliantly cruel and decidedly callus Hope finds no problem engaging her latest hit, Ciaran O’Connor. But as the very essence of nature begins to twist and turn around her, Hope becomes paralyzed by an onslaught of new-found emotion and feeling. Unable to kill, confused and in danger, the unlikely pair must embark on a journey together in order to survive the much darker powers that chase them from their pasts. Only through embracing their connection will Hope and Ciaran find the means to survive.


Thursday, May 17th, 2018 8:04 pm

“This guy better die quick.”

The blue night sky turned yellow in the damp city. Her heels clicked on the wet cement and the squeaking of rats echoed in the dark. Hope walked slowly down the side of the alley. She hugged the wall and stayed in the shadows. Slowly, she crossed to an open door hidden by another building’s long black silhouette. The small fingernail of the moon shone a dim light down on the street. The white-grey light bounced off Hope’s pale skin and danced in the silver streak in her hair. Her brown eyes peered into the distance and scanned her surroundings. Hope’s perfect vision picked up a figure down at the far end. She pushed her dark, wavy hair behind her ear and smiled.

Down a way, a tall man stood waiting. The light of a passing car illuminated him and he shuddered into the darkness. He walked down the alley toward Hope and reached inside his jacket. The leather rubbed silently across his skin. In the dark, he pulled out a gun and walked into the alcove of a door behind Hope.

The crack of a gunshot echoed across the dirty pavement and a loud thump shook the broken pieces of asphalt at Hope’s feet. She walked out of the dark door, her arm dripping with blood. The now unconscious man lay in a heap within a murky puddle of filth, his nose and fingers broken from Hope’s well placed blows.

Hope stepped over the easy prey and wiped her damaged arm with her delicate hand. She rubbed as much of the blood off as she could and pulled a shard of bullet out. The rest of the smashed projectile was embedded in the wall behind her. Hope never flinched. Her steely composure never broke.

The poorly dressed lackey stood no chance. After three years of nothing but survival drills, tactical and live fire exercises, as well as “pop quizzes” executed without warning, Hope was a machine designed for one deadly purpose.

Hope’s fingers were now stained red with blood, some hers and some from the broken fingers of the man. She reached inside her tight, leather jacket and pulled out her own small gun. She held her hand over the unconscious man, squeezing the trigger tightly, she fired two rounds into his head. The man’s body jerked and twisted as the bullets penetrated deep into his skull and flew out the other side, lodging themselves in the cement beneath him.

She stuffed her gun back in its holster and wiped off her arm again, as it continued to bleed. She pulled a white napkin out of her pocket; it quickly became sticky with blood. As the blood flow lessened she pulled away the paper fabric. Her face remained still. She was flawless, the wound quickly deserting its goal to cause pain. Hope was pure, clean, and unaffected by the torment of suffering.

It made her an excellent killer. She was methodical, thorough, and no wound could break her focus. Healing was a simple act of waiting, usually no more than an hour. No spasms from shock, no bad reaction from fried nerves, nothing but the gradual reknitting of flesh and muscle.

The Beretta 92G Elite II fit snuggly into her black jacket, tight against her side, almost like a lover, protecting her. But no, never a lover, for each time the barrel ached from an internal explosion, Hope would die. She couldn’t imagine death, fear the pain. Her mind processed the thought like any other. She had a vague sensation creep across her skin however. As she turned and climbed up the escape ladder on the side of the textiles mill, she felt her heart thump in her chest, hard and quick. Hope had never felt it before. Her palms moist, her breath short, and her skin taut, what was this feeling seeping into her?

The other hits had been short, easy, and utterly unmemorable. How did she suddenly feel like her chest was going to explode? How did she feel at all? Something was wrong about tonight and it was pissing her off.

Hope stood with her back pressed against the brick wall on the roof and tried to shrug off the whatever it was. She could hear dripping from a pipe at the end of the alley. The street lamp down at the corner flickered and buzzed, it was distracting. She reached into her other pocket and pulled out a small dart gun. She pointed it at the noisy lamp and fired. Instead of a traditional dart, a small probe shot out and attached itself to the lamp post. The probe blinked red for a moment, then pulsed, and fell to the ground. The lamp flicked off and lay dormant the remainder of the evening.

“Such a handy little thing,” Hope whispered to herself as she sunk to her knees and lay on her stomach. She reached out her hand and found the large but thin case she had placed here the night before. She pressed her thumb to the fingerprint scanner and the lock popped open. Hope swung the top over and smiled down at her favorite toy. She reached inside and pulled out her Savage 110 BA. Hope switched on the laser sight for her rifle, clipped on the bipod, and curled her hand around the grip that was perfectly adjusted to the size of her hand. It was a work of art and cost just as much. She eventually got her hands on one after a not so amusing trip to the local arms dealer in NYC. As she peered inside the scope, she lined up her target and adjusted the focus so he was clear.

“Just like taking a picture.” Hope padded around inside the case, just able to see in the dark of the alley. She pulled out her headset and wrapped it around her ear. With it in place, she could hear further across the alley and inside the small office where her mark worked.

Before completing her job, she went through her familiar routine. She double checked the mark in her scope with the file photo in the folder marked O’Connor, Ciaran Patrick and examined the room for witnesses and obstacles. The portion of the room she could see was lit with a yellowish glow from a small desk lamp. The mark was sitting, feet up on his mahogany desk, reading an old book. It looked like it was removed from time, separated from the harsh speed of the city. Hope could only see the top of the man’s head, behind the cover of the dense text.

She couldn’t fire until she saw his face. Body shape and hair said yes, but Hope was nothing if not a professional. As the mark turned a page, the one behind it fell onto the floor. In her headset Hope could hear him sigh and say to himself, “Every time I turn a page, one falls out.” He bent over and reached down for it, his head disappearing behind the desk. Hope followed him with her scope. His deep voice echoed in Hope’s headset. It gave her the odd sensation that she’d been drinking too much whiskey because it made her feel loose and dizzy as it hit her inner ear.

“Damn, sit up you bastard. I’ve got shit to do.” Her finger tightened as she prepared to squeeze the trigger. Her eyes glanced to the blurry, black and white photo. Whoever took this must have been fighting the shakes; she thought to herself, if it weren’t for this tattoo, I never would’ve found this guy. Hope readjusted her gaze to the man through the window as he sat back up.

Something was still off about the situation. Hope could sense it as if she could smell or taste a difference in the air around her, which was ludicrous. She shook her head to get back into gear and caught a glimpse of the Celtic sword tattoo on his shoulder, peeking out from under his tight Hanes T-shirt. Makes sense, he is Irish. As he returned to his original position, he lowered his book to the desk and Hope could finally see his face. His eyes were dark and deep, penetrating. His strong features so fierce yet beautiful.

“The picture doesn’t do you justice,” Hope said surprised. She stared into his eyes and her grip on the rifle loosened. She couldn’t look away. Her eyes barely blinked. A pounding in her chest finally got her attention. She looked down at herself and placed her hand over her heart. It beat hard, almost bursting through her ribcage. Omaeriku, Ciaran. Omaeriku? Oh god no. This can’t be happening.

Hope’s panicked thoughts rang in her head. She heard her heart thump and the loud cracking of her ribs, or was that something outside of her? With one final surge her heartbeat finally returned to normal and Hope looked around to see that the cracking was in fact her rifle tipping off of the bipod and hitting the roof. She scrambled for rifle which was hanging precariously on the ledge.

Across the alley, Ciaran stood up as a voice in the other room called him and hit his knee on the underside of his desk.

“Ahh, son of a bitch,” Hope could hear Ciaran’s voice echo in her headset as he winced in pain.

Hope hugged her own knee close to her chest just as Ciaran did. Her knee felt so strange and she didn’t particularly enjoy the feeling, it was hot and sudden and sharp. She collapsed from surprise and bumped her rifle yet again. Hope strained to reach it, but still in the grips of omaeriku, she missed the stock and it tumbled off the side of the building. As the rifle fell, it bounced with a shattering crash off a metal dumpster, the sound loud enough to overcome every other sound in the area.

Ciaran spun around and ran to his window and looked down at the street.

“What the hell was that?” Ciaran’s confused voice played in Hope’s headset. She watched him, when he couldn’t see the source on the ground he looked across at the textile mill. Ciaran’s eyes searched her dark figure as she ran across the roof and out the gray door.

Hope ran down the stairs, her case bouncing on her leg.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck! This is so not good! Fuck!” She grabbed the door frame and swung herself around the side, “Why? Why now? After all this time, all the work? Fuck!” She ran down to the alley, sticking close to the wall. Thank god her black clothes blended into the darkness, this escape was a little messier than she had planned. The alley smelled of urine and decaying food. Hope tried to take shallow breaths to avoid retching. She whipped off the headset, desperately tried to untangle it from her hair, and finally threw it into her bag.

She bent over and scanned the ground for her rifle. After finding the most expensive piece of weaponry she had in a puddle, she cursed and put it back inside the safety of its case. Omaeriku, omae-fucking-riku. I can’t believe this. Hope thought of the bond and the hatred she had for it. Her madru’s words echoed in her head. Hope could picture her mother from that last time she saw her, she had soft blond curls framing her face and her amber eyes glowed in the sunlight. Her warm features always seemed odd juxtaposed to her cold temperament.

“I’m leaving Hope. You know how our people are. The pain you’ve already felt. You’ll be better off alone, remember that. As soon as you learn to live without me, without anyone, you’ll be fine. Don’t get attached, the pain will kill you,” her mother’s soft voice burned in her mind.

She was right. One time when Hope was young and sort of bonded with her mother she had felt the pain of a tooth ache. At least that’s what her mother had told her. Hope couldn’t remember, for all she knew it never happened. But the story had instilled a lot of fear in her and that was what her madru had wanted.

Her people were social, a community, a community of men and children however. The Chakal women always left once they were old enough. No one ever said anything about it. It was just the way of things, a part of her culture. One day they weren’t there, they were just… gone. A fair trade, painlessness for sensation. Life alone for a life without suffering.

But it was too late for that now. The bond had formed. There was nothing except death that would break the connection and death she was good at. She just had to hit her mark before the bond had a chance to fully develop and problem solved. But how? How could she get to him now that she had failed once? She couldn’t just barge in the building, guns blazing.

How could this all be happening? One look and I’m fucked? That’s total bullshit. I don’t even believe in this crap and here I am fighting against it. And it had to be my fucking mark?! I…just really? This seems all too convenient. I do spend all my time at work, so of course I’d find my “one and only” on the job. Well, fuck this. Fuck all of this. I’m getting my hit.

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