The Angel,The Devil,The Nerd

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Chapter 53 - Twists of fate

a/n: oh,oh,juicy chapter hehe xD

let me know what you think :)

CHAPTER 53 - TWISTS OF FATE

NATALIE'S POV

"No, mom, I escaped. I let him say just one sentence and I escaped. Because I couldn't stay." I sighed as I paced around our hotel room. My mom called at exactly 1 pm, namely, the exact time I told her I'd be at the hotel at.

Chase was packing our bags, since we decided to head to the airport and pick whatever destination, just because we still have vacation and, as he said, shouldn't waste it because meeting my biological father didn't work. And I agree. Completely.

Though we have only five days, so we can't go much far, but he insisted we used them up anyway, simply because we'll both start working and vacations will be a mirage for a long time, so ... I really do need some relax. I've never been the kind to like being stranded on a beach just tanning, so we won't be heading to some Caribbean island, especially because we couldn't even afford it. We'll just see what last minute options we have and pick. To do something different for once.

"I know, I know, but I just couldn't." I commented as mom told me I should have at least listened to what he had to say, be it only out of pure politeness, even though, she was the first one to say I shouldn't have even accepted to meet him, because he's had his chances for 21 years and never took one, therefore ...

"Honey, I'm ready!" Chase called from the bedroom.

"Yeah, ok!" I yelled back, only to have my mother ask where were we headed. "No idea. Chase says we just pick whatever destination at the airport." She complained about how irresponsible that was, but I said that I had still five days of vacation and I intended to enjoy them thoroughly.

Besides, knowing only last minute where to go sounded like much fun. Yeah, I've never been impulsive, but it couldn't be wrong to dare for once, could it?

***

"How about London?" Chase asked as we were standing in front of the departures chart, him hugging me tightly from behind.

"We shouldn't look at the international flights, Chase." I argued, knowing it was useless. We had just five days and not enough money. Sure, I've always wanted to see Europe, but really, there was no chance we could at the moment.

Maybe, if Miss Benedetti (soon to be Mrs. Grant, apparently, as some tabloids say) pays me enough, I will afford a real vacancy soon, but certainly now it'd be utopia.

"Why not? We can afford it."

"No, we can't, and you know that."

He chuckled, hiding his head in the crevasses of my neck. "Oh, come on ... I can pay for you."

"With what money?" I argued. He's been saving up to pay the Psychology School and he still has to pay off his study loan. Neither of us is wealthy, I've just been really lucky because my cousin is stubborn and paid for half of my college fees, the other being paid off because of the scholarship. I have spare money from when I worked at Sophie's, but that still doesn't make me able to travel to Europe, does it? I said I wanna dare for once, not that I wanna end up starving in a foreign country.

Yet, squeezing me tighter, Chase leaned his head on my shoulder as he pointed out: "I ... um ... won the lottery?" I rolled my eyes. Sometimes he acts silly just to cheer me up and it's cute, but while normally he's serious, other times he can come up with really extravagant ideas. Such as this one was.

"Take it as a gift." He pointed out.

"For what?" I asked, actually a bit amused.

"For your graduation." I rolled my eyes, pointing out that he already gave me something for my graduation ... I was wearing it right now around my neck: a cute butterfly necklace I accepted only because he told me it didn't cost too much.

Chase isn't poor, but he's not rich either, and I don't want to make him spend money he doesn't have just because he thinks he needs to please me with gifts. I'm not that kind of girl.

He kissed all the way up to my neck, trying to convince me. "Come on ... it's gonna be nice."

I sighed. "We don't have the money, Chase."

"Who says that?" I turned to him, confused. He explained that he'd received a good gift from his grandparents and it was enough for five days in Paris, he'd calculated already. A dream, really. But I wouldn't squander his money without a reason. If he really did receive such gift, he'd be adding it to the sum for his studies, I pointed out.

He pouted, but then glanced at the chart. There were several places, but none of them really caught our attention. Sighing, I decided that, for once, I could be reckless, so I agreed: "Ok. If we share the expenses, we'll make it. But we'll need passports."

Chase chuckled as he pointed out: "Oh, what a chance ..." He moved slightly, only to be able to grab something from his jeans pocket. "These happen to be passports and ..." He opened them. "Look! They're ours!"

I faked an exhausted sigh as I accused: "You had it all planned, hadn't you?"

He grinned mischievously, then kissed me. "Your mother is right, it would have been irresponsible to fly wherever." He argued, I bet to defend himself for having lied to me.

Chase knows I hate lies and omissions, so he always tells me everything and never lies. Not that I know, at least. But he's such a good boy, too easy to read, so if he lied, I'd know it.

And ... he also knows that not treating me right means going against both his friend Lukas and my cousin Jake, who separately are already enough scary in their threats, but together ... as both Tara and Silvia remind me, I have friends that love me and protect me, no doubt about it.

I remember when I admitted to Lukas, who I found in the elevator when going back home, that I'd spent the whole day having an odd feeling that someone was following me, he quite simply got out and immediately faced the guy ... nothing much, just a creepy boy that had seen me around the neighborhood and liked me. That was what the guy himself admitted ... while Lukas had him pressed against the wall, ready to punch him. My neighbor made him swear he'd let me be, otherwise he'd have to face him and ... it wouldn't be nice.

The thing is that, as Tara told me, just like my cousin, Lukas has taken me under his wing, as the little sister he never had, so ... you see, all my new friends are older than I and while the girls see me as the sister they give advice to and possibly teach even, the boys see me as the sister they must protect from any kind of harm. It's obvious that having seen me so down has much to do with it.

I was a bit annoyed at first, I mean, I know it doesn't seem so, but I'm not that weak. Yet both Tara and Silvia explained me that, with men like Lukas and Jake, it's useless to try to make them change their minds. Men like them are made to protect and cherish their beloved ones. Both girls say their men are overprotective most of the time, especially my cousin, but it's part of their character and it's part of what makes them special.

I like that, well, I've come to like it when, even while protecting me as a little sister, they don't interfere in my business. The low note comes when part of me reminds me of someone else that used to be so overprotective in my regards ...

"So you've booked everything in Paris already?" I asked Chase. He grinned and explained that there was this friend of his that had been his roommate for the first two semesters of college and they got along perfectly, the guy was a foreign student, so he went back to France pretty soon, but said that, whenever Chase felt like visiting, he was welcome.

So he'd called this friend of his a few weeks ago, planning a holiday to make me relax after all the stress of graduating in advance. They caught up and turns out that this guy's father owns a nice hotel in Paris, near Montmartre, and as soon as Chase hinted he was thinking of taking his girlfriend there, his friend immediately offered him a free room, which Chase didn't want to accept immediately, but the guy insisted ...

Long story short, we were going to Paris on a very low budget, but we had free room and board (yes, room service was included in the guy's offer) and, as we approached the queue to see if there were places left, we conveniently found a couple that was trying to convince the woman at the desk to let them exchange dates of departure, Chase worked his magic and convinced the two to sell us the tickets for half of the price, considering the woman at the desk didn't want to hear reasons. So, we were heading to Paris. Five days are nothing to see such city, but we'd make them suffice, wouldn't we?

***

JOHN'S POV

"You there?" My partner asked, for, maybe, the thousandth time, in my earpiece. I sighed. I was already tired and frustrated, this stupid event was the last thing I needed, but of course, it's work, I couldn't say no. I can never say no, also considering that, to my boss, I owe my life. Not that he makes me notice that every time, but, well, it's a very simple matter of gratitude. I was in a very tough situation, he practically saved me at the very last minute. Was I Chinese, I'd have to be his shadow.

This job he gave me, that's another way of saving me too, because, given the enemies I've made with my actions, it's a miracle I'm still alive and with this job I can be off the radars. I mean, someone would say we walk in the dark, or more simply we are the dark. Shadows that no one ever notices ... nah, leave that to superheroes and CIA. We're bounty hunters.

Well, sort of. There isn't exactly a way to describe my job actually. It's halfway between a bail enforcement agent and secret service. We handle those tough cases that aren't enough big to catch attention in Langley, but neither are little enough to be handled by simple bounty hunters.

The thing is, take a bounty hunter, he is supposed to just arrest the person on bail, without harming him or anything, just arresting (the wanted dead or alive cult dates back to the Far West and there it remains), but, we all know that secret intelligence agencies can go much, much farther ... well, we're in the middle. Whether we have to just arrest the person or do worse, it's up to the client, he says what does he want.

I know, I know, it's not exactly legal ... well, it isn't at all. But in my defense, the people we ... let's say don't just arrest, are always scum of the earth, never innocent. Like the guy we're supposed to take care of tonight. Al Capone was a newbie compared to him.

"Yeah, yeah, I'm here." I responded to my partner. Ugh. I even had to dress up for this particular case. I hate it when I have to do that. It's annoying. Though after a month, it was a relief to get rid of beard and everything, I'll admit.

"Don't sound so bored, Johnny, you're supposed to be having fun." My partner mocked. I rolled my eyes as I scanned the ballroom.

Welcome to one of the most important fundraising events of the year, ladies and gentlemen. Doesn't matter if mob leaders and every sort of big criminal organization use this night to gather and make deals, does it? They still give funds to ... what was it tonight? Poor people? Or sick children? Doesn't really matter anyway. My partner and I are here to get a job done, just that, then we'll leave. Like always. In these cases no trace is to be left.

"Fun? It's just a chance for bored rich people to show their money off." I shot back. Though rich people ... more than a half of these guys are bad, really bad. It'd be a huge INTERPOL party in here, you know, and I was tempted to call them, just to get rid of all the scumbags in one night, but I'm not exactly on the legal side either, so ...

Heather, my partner, chuckled in my ear. "Yeah, well, I'd gladly exchange positions, you know. Warm weather my ass, my butt's freezing out here." I couldn't help but laugh. Yeah, my partner isn't exactly a fine lady. This job is really delicate and our boss sent us because, apparently, even while being the youngest in the field, we're the best.

So much that often our boss talks about guys from Langley paying us a visit. Heather says she'd know how to handle them, I say I don't really give a damn. That's a too extreme world for me, better said, the risks are the same and actually we're more exposed, but at least we have a little bit of free will.

I mean, I have acquired that with experience, so I can act as I think it's best, I have to respect just the general lines, not necessarily the exact code, while those other guys from the legalized side of the fence are a bit too much like dogs following orders for my liking.

"You shouldn't have chosen to be the sniper. But for what it's worth, I'd gladly take your place too." I retorted. I would have gladly kept myself out of this hypocrisy and frozen my ass out there other than mingling with these corrupted people that pretend to be gentlemen. Though the female sight is a good one, I'll admit. That's about the only good aspect of this night. Especially considering I need to take my mind off of a specific someone I saw just the other day.

I'll admit it wasn't casual. Heather would skin me alive if she knew, because we aren't supposed to keep bonds to our past, but I knew that that specific someone would be there. I knew she was to meet with a specific man, one I have tailed from afar to see if he was who he said he was. Turns out that no ... he wasn't. Don't worry, I took care of the gentleman.

In these years I have had to do the same thing many times, but never once did they get so close to her. I guess that an even more drastic measure will be needed soon.

Heather snorted. "I'm counting on you to grab some champagne for the after party, by the way."

I cracked a small but bitter smile as I pointed out: "Unfortunately I can't. We've been reassigned, so after we strike, we leave." It's not secret service but it's just as frenzy, if not more, especially considering we're less when it comes to numbers and our boss relies particularly on us, well, me. My partner started only six months ago, she's still in the euphoric phase. Sure, she's great at her job, but is ... overly enthusiastic sometimes.

"Oh, but that's no fun ..." She whined and I chuckled. Ah, young recruits ... always seeking the fun of it only. Heather kept complaining so I turned off the earpiece, just not to listen to her, but of course, she called me back.

"Shut me up again, Riley, and next time in training I aim higher than knees." She threatened. I chuckled. Well, at least she cheers me up. Heather is a good friend. We've known each other since six months only, when our boss introduced us, saying she was my new partner and I ought to teach her everything I knew about the job.

She has the coldness necessary and sometimes I think she particularly likes the extreme part of our job, that's why our boss entrusted her to me, saying that I was perfect to keep her at bay. On the field, I succeed, but she retaliates in training. Very much vengeful she is, yes.

Though I've taught her most of what she knows, so she wouldn't dare get extreme with me. Besides, she's still a rookie, I know much more than her, considering my remote past too.

"Hmm... sounds hot ..." I commented, just to mock her a little, and I could hear her smirk. I kept doing my job while bantering, namely, just scanning this damn ballroom, where the French high society, mixed with the crème of the international crime scene was having fun. I just wished this all would soon, I haven't been sleeping since ... well, I don't even remember when's the last time I really slept.

"I bet you're rethinking our after party, aren't you?" Heather coaxed in my ear, quite sensually.

I smirked. "I thought blond and male wasn't your type." I argued, although amused, as I walked around, just to do something, my eyes always alert. Our guy is supposed to arrive at some point, we just need to corner him and ...

"After a month without sex, even Igor of Frankenstein Junior would be my type." Heather commented and I rolled my eyes.

"Oh, thank you for the comparison." I complained, trying not to chuckle.

She snorted. "You know your fine ass is always welcome in my bed, Johnny."

"Last time you rejected me."

"Last time I wasn't in the mood."

"Oh, so tonight you are?"

She sneered. "Well, you know, there's something about shooting people that gets me horny." I smirked, shaking my head. Like I said, Heather and I have been working together since six months already, before her, I had an older partner, but he got killed and I went berserk on who did that to him, then our boss stuck me with babysitting this new recruit that, apparently, needed some calming down because she was kind of a loose-cannon.

She still is. Unlike me, she does this job because she likes it, while I am bond by gratitude and ... well, necessity, considering I have a certain number of enemies that are still after me, especially since I got rid of one of their friends three years ago. Heather likes it instead, she comes from a tough situation too, she's a runaway and has been through bad things as well, like most of us have, but unlike me, she doesn't have hit men after her all the time.

My boss has kind of helped me ditch them, but those people sometimes bother the links to my old life and ... well, that's a bit irksome, you know. Especially when they touch one person in particular.

"Maybe I could find you a match." I joked, mostly trying to distract myself. I need to be focused on our mission, can't think of my past. My partner helps in that. She's always teasing me, in different ways, and you could say we really are friends.

Heather is beautiful and sexy, the deathly combination needed for a woman in our line of job, but ... she's also lesbian, well, bisexual actually, but tending to lesbian, so men are not really her type, she just likes teasing me.

I won't deny I'd gladly have a round with her sometimes, but we're good friends and that's enough. Especially since she'd cut my balls off if I dared try. Despite her teasing, yes.

She snickered in my ear. "Yeah, so that you could, so casually, drop by and help us?" I smirked at that. With her being lesbian most of the times, it has happened that we sort of disputed a girl. Though we never have bonds. The girl we compete for is always just a one-night-stand. Just to relieve ourselves, you know.

That's all I'd ever want too, considering my heart, that bit of heart that's remained after all the bad things I've done, is still linked to the past. Always will be. Even if she has moved on. Though it's what she was supposed to do and on one hand, I'm happy she did, but on the other hand ... well, the heart isn't exactly known for being great at reasoning, right?

"Well, why not? A third player is always needed." I commented cockily. It was just aimless teasing, though. I don't even feel in the mood tonight. There's a certain person that effects me deeply, and seeing her again, being even so close to her, well, it made me feel disgusted with my life and behavior.

Heather snorted. "On short you too, Johnny, huh?"

I rolled my eyes. "I've spent a month being tossed from one side of the globe to the other, not having a moment to breathe even, of course I'm on short. Are you offering for real this time, Heathy?"

From the way she barked in my ear, I knew I'd hit the bull's eye. She hates it when I call her that, just as much as I hate it when she calls me Johnny. Neither of those are our real names, in case you hadn't noticed.

My official name, better said, my favorite alias, who I am for people of the field, is John Riley. It's actually the cover name of a character in a TV show. Someone I cherish loved that character, so that's a tribute to her. A cheesy way to keep her in mind. Even though, there's not a chance I could ever forget her. Especially not when I still have to chase away people wanting to hurt her.

Heather initially mocked me for my being that sentimental. Quit when I barked against her that I didn't like it when people mentioned that specific someone. I'm still touchy when it comes to her.

"I swear, Riley, I'll kill you in your sleep sooner or later." Heather hissed. I smirked. She threatens me like that half of the time.

"You're more than welcome to try." I retorted absentmindedly as I scanned the ballroom.

She scoffed. "Suicide thoughts already, Johnny?"

I snorted. "What fool that does our job doesn't have that kind of thoughts?"

She chuckled. "Not me. I plan to retire by 40."

"If you get to live that much ..."

"Always so cheering you are, huh?" I didn't reply, just kept scanning the room.

I don't have death wishes, well, not always. When I have them, I remind myself that I need to live to protect the people I cherish, even if from afar and even if they ... well, even if they believe me dead. Well, they don't know for sure, but after three years, hopes tend to shrink, don't you think?

"When is our friend supposed to arrive?" I asked, trying to focus on the job. It's never good to think of the past, especially not when it involves a certain someone. I've kept an eye on her in these years, always from afar and never directly.

I mean, I keep track of the usual things, phone, laptop, social accounts and everything, but I've never been physically around her again since I left. Well, except for the other day.

I was back from a delicate job in Uruguay and even though my boss advised me to rest, because he needed me wide awake for this new job in Paris, I headed to Springfield, Massachusetts.

That specific person I cherish was to meet someone there, someone that was supposed to represent a renewed relationship, but turns out was only a jackass sent to inquire on me. I would have avoided her meeting him since I came to know, by checking everything since he first contacted her, but, like I said, I came from a delicate job in Uruguay and didn't have the time.

Though I spied from afar, ready to intervene if things got hectic, even if it would have been dangerous for my cover, but you think I give a damn about my cover and my own life when it's about protecting her?

When she ran away, I followed her. I should have kept my distances, but it had been three years ... I didn't resist. Lucky thing she didn't recognize me. Though what made my heart drop was the look in her eyes ... those hazel eyes used to hold the light of my life, but now that light was gone and she seemed dull, as if she was going on aimlessly, just for the sake of it.

The thought of me being the cause of that made me hate myself even more. But there was nothing I could do. There is nothing I can do other than protect her from afar. People will always try to get to me via her, because even if I get to eliminate every past threat, there are the new ones anyway, the ones I've made with this job. Hence ...

I've checked her boyfriend's background and he seems fine. Actually, he's the best boyfriend she could ever find. He takes care of her and loves her. It irks me, because that was supposed to be me, but ... it's better this way. If they still seek her to find me, it's better this way.

"Midnight. Just like all the important people." Heather informed me, answering my question.

I snorted. "That means I've got to stay here two hours more? Why didn't we just arrive at midnight?" I complained. Though I decided it was better to be early, so that we could be sure not to miss the target. It's a matter of precision here, every minute is essential.

Heather had her sassy retort ready anyway: "It was your idea, boss. You said it was better to come in advance. Hope that's not what you say to your booty calls too ..."

I rolled my eyes. "Sooner or later you're gonna try first hand, Colson." I shot back, trying to sound both dark and alluring.

She scoffed. "Please ... you couldn't handle me."

"Wanna bet?"

"Fine. If we get out of here before midnight, we take our time for the after party."

I smirked, knowing she was tending to a loophole, like always. "But if our friend arrives right at midnight, there's no chance we can ..."

"Oh, such a smart boy you are ..."

I smirked. Not the first time she avoids the thing. "Admit it, Colson, you're afraid you'll fall for me." I teased.

She snorted. "Please ... it wasn't born yet the man who'll turn me straight."

"You are bi, not ..."

"I like boobs better than abs. Problem with that?"

"Not as long we don't collide." I pointed out.

"We don't even have the same taste in women."

"No? And what about Carol?" Hmm ... blonde Miss Perfection that flirted with both of us during one of our first jobs together.

"Tsk ... that bitch only wanted to play us both." I chuckled. True. That Carol claimed she couldn't decide. Turned out she was a reinforcement for the opposite site and by flirting with us she was supposed to make us miss our target. I've seen plenty of situations like this, believe me.

"Well, I wouldn't have minded if she took us both to her room, you know." I mocked sarcastically. Carol, and it's obvious that wasn't even her real name, was really hot, I'll admit. I made the mistake of leaving her in the hands of my partner when we caught her ... poor girl.

"I wasn't ready to see your naked ass, Riley." Heather sassed.

I smirked. "And now you are?"

"Hmm... maybe."

"Careful, Colson, I might take you literally."

"Like I said, if we finish before midnight, we'll enjoy our after party. Bring champagne, though. I've got the fair feeling I'll need it."

I faked shock. "That's offensive. You need to be drunk to be with me?"

"I need to be drunk so I won't remember how bad you were." I smirked. This girl's an incredible tease. And I have to endure this pretty much 24/7, mind you. Though it's good. It keeps my mind off of painful memories and regrets.

"You're playing with fire, Colson." I warned mockingly, but she had the retort ready: "Lucky thing I've got ice all around me. But speaking business, I see hot stuff coming your way." I turned around, only to notice a pretty blonde in a tight red dress, Jessica Rabbit style, heading to the buffet behind me, but ... well, smiling widely at me as she walked her sensual way up here.

"I might not need your icy ass after all, Colson." I mocked, just to irritate my partner. Heather muttered how unfair that was, because she was sure she could have persuaded the girl into turning lesbian for a night, but she couldn't because she was stuck outside, so I turned off the earpiece once more and smiled flirtatiously at the blondie.

I didn't really feel like going for a one-night-stand, though it's becoming some sort of tradition between Heather and I every night after a tough job. Tonight was different, but I usually do use sex to forget, so yeah, maybe the blonde Jessica Rabbit here could come in handy.

"Hi." She greeted, giving me a quite seductive smile. Not so interested in the buffet, she was, I guess.

"Hi." I repeated, mimicking her seductive smile.

"Boring night, isn't it?" She asked, clear French accent, going to pour herself a drink, which I prevented, taking a glass of gin for her, to which she smiled her thanks and took a sip. "You don't drink?"

Not on duty, I was tempted to answer, but I couldn't, right? So I just grinned. "Not when I can sedate my thirst in other ways." I implied, lightly brushing her arm. Oh, how easy that was. Her blue eyes that mirrored mine already lit up with lust. I guess I'll get something out of this boring assignment after all.

Usually it's really pathetic, I mean, I take the girl in a random hotel room, do the deed and then leave before she wakes up, not because she might misinterpret my intentions, but because I'm not supposed to have contacts with ... let's say civilians. It's not forbidden, just not really recommended. The more people see us, the more can recognize us, the more at risk our covers are.

Told you, it's kind of like secret service but with less rules and a higher moral code, well, for what concerns me at least. I don't like killing people, I'm just very good at it apparently. Though I keep my rule: I don't kill innocent people. Who I'm sent to eliminate is usual the nth scum of the Earth, but, if I have the slightest doubt the info we have is wrong, I don't have regrets in arguing about orders and my boss likes that I do that, says he doesn't kill innocent people either.

There was once a few months ago that we were sent to take care of a Colombian drug lord, we broke and entered into his villa without much of a fuss, as usual, but when I got to his room I found the guy sitting on bed, pretty anxious ... they were expecting peculiar visits and had arranged for someone that resembled said drug lord to be killed in his place. Not on my watch. That's why I wouldn't like working for CIA or things like that. Here I can take my own decisions, I don't have to blindly follow orders.

The girl grinned, coming closer. "Giselle." She introduced, holding her hand up for me to kiss it, which I did, looking straight into her eyes. "Enchanté."

She grinned. "A gentleman even."

"Seulement avec superbe Mesdemoiselles comme vous." (a/n: transl. "Only with gorgeous girls like you") Cocky, I know, but gets to the point really easily and ... well, not to do anybody wrong, but French girls are so, so easy ... especially high society ones. At my response Giselle pursed her lips, licking the bottom one. Bingo.

But ... my partner had to play spoilsport: "Hold it back, Romeo, there's news." Heather murmured in my ear. I smiled at Giselle, faking nonchalance as I looked around while listening: "Our friend just decided to be polite and be punctual. On your left. Two o'clock." I turned to my left and in the distance I could see an elegant man in a tux, nonchalantly chatting with a few people around him. Cured mustache, salt and pepper hair, black thick eyebrows ... our man, definitely.

"How do we get to him?" I asked Heather.

"What?" Giselle asked from beside me.

I sighed silently and gave her my best smile as I backed up. "Je suis désolé, ma chère, mais je dois aller. Peut être que je te va à rencontrer plus tard?" (a/n: transl. "I'm sorry,darling,but I have to go. Maybe I can see you later?") I coaxed, trying to sound both polite and sensual ... which worked, because she smiled, lasciviously reaching for me to place a small card in my suit pocket. Times like this, I don't regret learning French in my spare time, just for the sake of it. Although in our group there's a former French-Algerian, so it was easy.

"À tout à l'heure, mon cher." (a/n: transl. "See you later,darling") Giselle informed me and I couldn't help but grin as Heather cursed about how lucky I was, but I soon focused on our target, who was now moving towards the exit with a couple of others.

"I'm on him." I informed my partner and she agreed, saying she'd follow me from afar. It took me only a few minutes to reach the hall, but I had to back up, since the man was there standing.

When he moved, I followed him. And followed him and followed him. Till he reached the elevator and I couldn't help but smirk, because he was alone, and the cameras in there were out already ... he just fell in our trap voluntarily.

Faking exhaustion and maybe illness, I ran towards the elevator when the doors were about to be closed: "Excusez moi, Monsieur, mais ma fiancée est du dessus et ..." (a/n: transl. "Excuse me,sir,but my girlfriend is upstairs and...") He didn't even let me finish, just waved for me to get in, so I thanked him. Gee, how easy it is tonight ...

Or maybe no, the doors had just closed when they reopened and a couple entered, apologizing for the interruption. My target looked irritated already, but kept his composure. Judging from the elevator screen, we were to reach the 15th floor ... such a long ride it'd be.

The couple was in front of us, wrapped up in each other's arms. I couldn't see their faces, but I could see he was pretty tall, chocolate brown hair, wearing a suit just like me, while she had on a black dress that barely reached her knees, brown hair cascading down ... oh, shit. No, that can't be her. No way. How many chances could there be to see her twice in 36 hours? Either luck or some twisted plan of the fate.

When she giggled, because of something he said to her, she turned around and ... my God, no glasses, but ... that's her. No mistake, that's her. I closed my eyes to regain control over my damn heart that was beating like a fool. Years of training and I got to be a cold-blooded killer and yet ... yet I see her once and she has my heart racing again. Fuck.

More than anything, I'd have to worry about if she'll recognize me or not ... the problem is double if she does: one, she'll be in even more danger, considering I have enemies all around the globe unfortunately, two ... well, she'll be hurt and disappointed and maybe even mad ... because of how I left her.

But if I know her one bit, she'll think she's gone crazy. After all, I'm supposed to be dead. When her cousin's friends found me, I paid them all too well to say they didn't find me, so she must believe I'm dead. Although ... knowing her, she's probably still half harping on hope. Then again, she's moved on, so maybe I'm completely out of her mind ... more or less.

Trying to make myself one with the wall, I reopened my eyes, resorting to my every strand of coldness, which is already impossible because, if there's one person that was ever able to melt my heart, that's her. Little it'll take before I'd start hyperventilating. And I'm supposed to be colder than steel.

When I, because I'm stupid, glanced at her for a moment, I noticed her eyes were wide and she was staring at me, shocked, confused and thunderstruck. I swallowed, trying to think of something to say that would make her think she's wrong, but knowing that she'd recognized me already ...

I didn't know whether she'd cry or just slap me and punch me, because what I did was hard to take, I know. Whatever her reaction would be, I deserve it, yes, but I just hoped she wouldn't be theatrical, because there was my target in there, high security and many armed people outside ... not really a nice situation.

"You alright, honey?" The man beside her asked and she turned to him for a moment, which I exploited to turn around and act like I was just checking my phone, in order not to give her the chance to better look at me.

"You sure?" I heard the man with her ask. I guess I missed her response.

"Yeah, I ... I just ..." She didn't finish. Good, because my heart was already melting at the sound of her sweet voice. Goddamn, what the hell is she doing in Paris? Why tonight? Why here? Why now? Is it a joke?

Lucky for me, the elevator doors opened and while the couple still remained there, my target got out, so I followed him, trying hard to hide my face to her.

Luck wanted that while the other day I had that long beard and glasses and a cap, it was easy to dissimulate, but now ... now I was my usual self, because Heather chastised me that I was supposed to be elegant for this damn ball. And it's been just three years. I haven't changed that much, beside, I think, the hardening of my features, so one like her that knows me so well, surely she recognized me ... just hope she thought she was hallucinating. It'll be better for both of us.

NATALIE'S POV

I was trying hard to breathe. The vision I'd just had had my knees get wobbly and if I hadn't leaned on Chase, I would have crumbled to the floor.

"Honey, what's wrong?" He asked, already fussing, as I gripped him tight. I dreamed. Or hallucinated. That's the only explanation. Because that couldn't be him, that couldn't be ... no. It's truth that there's no certainty that he ... passed away, but ... no, this is just the nth prank my mind pulls on me, I mean, I've mistaken people for him for years, so this might just be the nth case, but ... but those eyes ... I couldn't forget those eyes, not even in a million years. It was him, it had to be him. And yet ... how was that possible?

"Nat? What's wrong? You're worrying me." Chase was freaking out beside me, and I could understand him, I mean ... I was about to faint. I felt like fainting because that face ... those eyes, that look ... only Eric.

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