Day Four [Part II]
Thick red blood dripped down the cut over the man’s brows, trickling over the bridge of his nose and streaming into his left eye.
His hungry gasp for air, strangled and silent but obvious enough through the small window in the exit door separating us, annoyed me.
I watched him claw at his throat, desperation present in his eyes in the form of unshed tears, waiting for the perfect moment to open the door.
I found it when he staggered forward, no longer able to carry his body weight as his brain came to terms with its oxygen-deprived state.
I leaned my shoulder against the door and it opened with a click.
His face smashed against the glass with a muffled thud, smearing it with tears, blood and spit as he slid to the floor.
I let go of the door’s handle, flexing my fingers against the cool metal and staring at my new leather gloves. For some reason, I preferred the ones Alex gave me. Maybe I had gotten used to wearing white gloves; gotten used to seeing them stained with blood.
I took a step back and Daniel walked out from behind me to enter the stairwell.
My gaze drifted to the exit sign above our heads, my shoulders aching at the thought of having to drag another body down the hallway. How many times have we done this today?
When I looked back down, Daniel was crouched in front of the hitman, his crossed arms resting on his knees.
He tilted his head in my direction and tucked a few strands of hair behind his ear. “Looks like a sensible guy.”
I used the handkerchief sticking out of my pocket to wipe the blood dripping down my cheek. It wasn’t mine. “How does frothing at the mouth look sensible to you?”
He looked up at me, a suggestive air about him as a grin slowly stretched his glossy lips. “What do you think?”
I took a deep breath, holding a hand to my ribs when a sharp ache lanced through my side.
I ignored it and focused on the hitman in front of me. “Is he dead?”
“Shouldn’t be.” Daniel nudged him with his boot, not an ounce of care present in his voice. “You cut his face up pretty badly though.”
“It looks worse than it is, most head wounds do.”
I stepped into the stairwell and let the door shut behind me with a soft bang. Daniel shifted away from me, leaning his back against the railing to create more space.
“You two look about the same size,” he mused, tapping a rhythm on the floor with his left heel. “He might have won in a fair fight.”
“We don’t have time for a fair fight.” I shrugged off my jacket and undid the first two buttons on my shirt, rolling up my sleeves and reaching down to lift the man up by his armpits.
It was a necessary chore that left me breathless but I tried not to remain in the moment, dulling my mind until I was just a spectre watching myself bear the pain.
Daniel pushed the door open then stepped aside to let me drag the man away.
It didn’t take long for me to reach the storage closet I had stuffed the rest of his ‘colleagues’ into but at the same time I wondered whether an eternity had passed.
“Good job, Mr Bodyguard,” Daniel’s cheerful voice forced me back to the present.
I grimaced and leaned against the door jamb, examining my handiwork. “Thanks.”
When he tossed over my jacket, I flashed him a grateful smile before fishing out the bottle of pills I would have opened thirty minutes ago if our peaceful day hadn’t been interrupted.
I could already feel pain creeping into the periphery of my senses, starting with each breath I took and ending with the black dots seeping through the fringes of my vision. The feeling was extraneous after hours of being numb.
“That’s four of them.” He dumped a handful of cable ties on the floor then got down to his knees. “How many more do you think will come?”
I watched him search pockets and tie limbs together. He looked like he was having fun with the whole process.
I managed to shrug—not that he would see it.
When he was done, he picked the man’s trench coat off the floor and got to his feet.
Our gazes met.
“Well?” He raised an eyebrow in expectation.
I pressed my fist to my brow and blinked away the ache growing behind my eyes.
A steamy exhale poured out of my lips, the overpowering scent of the leather glove threatening to drag me back into my memories. “We have to leave soon.”
Daniel put on the coat but continued to stare at me, his eyes dull with worry.
I wasn’t used to being shown concern by anyone outside of the gang, but I could understand his apprehension.
We had been doing the same thing over and over again, and today was supposed to be the last day. It made the rest of Wednesday seem bleak in comparison to Monday and Tuesday—which should have been the worst of it.
Two o’clock sharp, a quiet knock on the door had shattered the tranquil atmosphere of the otherwise silent apartment.
“Housekeeping,” a whispery voice in the hallway had announced.
Now that I thought about it, it was obviously a joke. I hadn’t cared then but I could appreciate the humor in hindsight.
The ‘cleaning ladies’ had been armed with knives and quick on their feet but that didn’t make it any harder to have them disarmed, drugged and hogtied in the bathroom.
“How do I look?” Daniel did a little twirl, stealing my attention for the briefest moment.
I let my gaze focus on him, a welcome distraction from thinking about how the rest of Wednesday was going to go.
He had his hair pinned back on either side of his face with decorative butterflies that doubled as hair clips.
Two-fifteen. Three hitmen had lingered in the hallway, all with silencers fixed to their pistols.
Lining the rim of his ears were magnetic earrings covered in purple diamante, and dangling from his earlobes were feathery clip-ons covered in glitter.
Two-eighteen. They were taken by surprise when canisters rolled between their feet and toxic gas filled the hallway.
Today, he wasn’t wearing heavy makeup and his skin seemed to absorb the artificial light flickering around us.
Personally, I thought that he looked better in moonlight.
The last of them had been hiding in the stairway, smart enough to know that we would avoid elevators.
They had been inadequately prepared for throwing knives and airborne poison.
“Good,” I said at last, my eyes rising from his mid-calf boots to the oversized band T-shirt that threatened to swallow him whole.
Paired with the overcoat, he looked like a little kid playing dress-up to amuse his parents and that just reminded me of how young he was.
Too young to be dealing with shit like this.
I swallowed the pill and shoved the bottle back into my pocket, closing the gap between us to do the top buttons of the coat.
I felt his gaze trace a path up my skin, but I ignored it. My drug-addled mind didn’t have the strength to start worrying about the possible consequence of our proximity.
“Are you sure this is going to work?” He looked down at himself then back up at me, sinking his teeth into his bottom lip. “I’m pretty sure I don’t look like a convincing hitman.”
I reached into the closet and snatched his duffel bag from one of the shelves before shutting the door. “You don’t have to look convincing.”
He yawned and rubbed his eyes. “Thought they’d give up when we switched rooms. Barely got enough sleep.”
I spared a moment to think out a reply. “These four aren’t with the ones who attacked your room. The fact that they knew we moved to this floor means that they got access to security footage.”
“There could be more in the stairwell,” he said, looking troubled, but before I could say a thing he had already cheered up. “I could just poison them.”
For a moment, I thought he was joking, but his wide grin said otherwise. I shook my head, slightly put off by his enthusiasm. “How much do you have left?”
“Enough.” He dug his hands into the coat’s pockets, chuckling when he discovered a pack of cigarettes. He held it out to me. “Told you he was sensible.”
I plucked it out of his hand before he got any ideas then gave him a pointed look.
“What?” he asked innocently, then revealed the keychain wrapped around his finger. “Guess he was the driver.”
“You’re not smoking.”
“It won’t kill me.”
“Doesn’t matter.” I took him by the arm and dragged him towards the exit, not forgetting to dump the cigarettes into the trash on our way down the stairs. “We don’t need their trackers smelling it on you.”