The Honeymoon Phase
I came in close, my lips grazed his cheek. I remembered the feel of him; how his hands caressed me - expertly lied.
I brought my hands to his neck and twisted. The snap as his spine broke satisfied me in a way he never could and, as his eyes dulled, I whispered:
My honeymoon was going swimmingly and it took me all of five minutes to realise that I truly love it here. The ocean breeze cleansing my lungs, the Spanish sun on my skin. I bask in the warmth as I walk along the small street to my hotel where my husband is waiting for me. My husband. It’s been three days and it still sounds odd to me.
The screech of tyres pierces my ears, breaks the peace of my lazy stroll home, and a pair of calloused hands shoot out from a van.
My head hits the floor as I’m thrown inside and I scream until my mouth is taped shut.
My body is thrown around as we race over potholes and speed bumps.
It’s not long, maybe ten minutes, before we stop so fast that I crash against the back door and the air is knocked from my chest.
The tape stops my gasp and black spots dance across my eyes.
Those calloused hands appear again to rip the tape away - taking several layers of skin with it - and I’m forced to my feet and thumped on the back as a rough voice tells me to:
“Just bloody breathe already.”
I get my first glimpse of my attackers as they carry me into a warehouse and handcuff me to a metal chair. Four of them; bald and buzz cut, broad and muscled. These are men you cross the road to avoid.
Standing around me, arms crossed in the typical macho, I’m-a-badass stance, they stare me down.
“Confess,” demands a man with a bushy red beard.
I hesitate, confused, and he hits me.
The pain doesn’t register through the shock, but my teeth crash together in and send shockwaves down my spine.
It’s not his violence that is terrifying, but his calm.
He is at ease doing this.
“I d-don’t know what you want from me,” I squeak and shrink as far back into the chair as I can.
“Because we’ve never heard that before,” the man wearing a shoulder holster snorts.
I’m hit again.
The blow lands near my temple and the world gets fuzzy.
I hear mumbling, but I can’t respond.
This doesn’t feel right.
“Call the client; something is wrong,” says the floating green eyes in front of me.
I hear a dial tone to my left and a voice rings out from the speakers.
“Hello, Damien speaking.”
I know that voice.
“Explain why you hired us to take this woman,” Beard Guy grunts.
“I hired you to kill her, not take her. I assume you’re calling to give confirmation that the job is done?”
“What was that?”
I jump, noticing that the bright green eyes are now in the stubbled face of a man crouched beside me.
“You said something,” he accuses, moving to face me.
“Damien. I said Damien,” I’m still groggy, but my voice is back.
“And how do you know this Damien?”
“He-he’s my husband. We’re on our honeymoon.”
He watches me carefully and I shrink back down into the chair.
“Do you know him? Damien? W-why would you know him?”
“An innocent,” he growls, thundering over to his people and smashing the phone against the wall.
“She’s an innocent.”
The other men turn to me and their expressions run through a kaleidoscope of emotions. Rage, guilt, shame, sadness. Either I got hit too hard, or these men are actually nice.
Within seconds I’m out of the handcuffs, carried to a rather plush couch and a light is shone in my eyes.
“Normal pupillary reaction, no concussion.”
A cold bottle of water is placed gently on the arm of the couch along with two tablets – hopefully painkillers, not cyanide.
I cringe when one of them wipes my face with what feels like acid. The cloth comes away crimson and I realise that the blow to my head opened a cut and that the acid is probably disinfectant.
Butterfly bandages come out next and then he holds ice to the side of my face.
None of them speak and I am left in limbo - stuck with these men who are torturers one moment and mother hens the next.
Taking the ice from the beard guy, I wiggle into the back of the couch and motion for them to step back.
“What is happening?”
I wish my voice was stronger than the mouse squeak that just came out of my mouth, but I only have so many faculties left to work with.
The men all step back – the red beard, the green eyes, the rough hands and the shoulder holster – and look at each with regret etched into their faces.
I look like a teacher at story time as they sit cross legged on the concrete in front of the couch.
“We can’t apologise enough,” whispers Green Eyes.
“We can give an explanation,” says Shoulder Holster. “We were hired, by your husband evidently, to kill you. Our information says that you have been running a human trafficking ring through your husbands’ businesses. It all checked out. We don’t take jobs until all the information is verified.”
I don’t have a response to that and just sit with the ice on my head and my jaw on the concrete.
“Can I go, please?”
“We’d prefer you didn’t.”
They really are going to kill me.
Fear runs through my veins and my body trembles.
“No, no, not that. Damn it, sorry. No, we aren’t going to hurt you. Not anymore,” Rough Hands is quick to say. “Your husband tried to have you killed. It isn’t safe to go back to him.”
“I won’t say anything about you. I won’t even go back for my stuff. I’ll just – I’ll just - ”
I’ll just what?
The men share a look and I know they’re deciding my fate.
“Come with us,” Beard Guys says.
With a straight face.
“We’ll train you and we’ll investigate your husband. The information he gave us was credible, so we need to discover how he faked everything before we can take him down,” Green Eyes adds.
Rough Hands takes the ice pack from my face and examines my eyes, making me wince when he pokes at the bruising.
“The socket doesn’t appear to be broken; we’ll check on it again when the swelling settles in. And, yes. We’ll train you. Your husband will most likely hire someone else and you need to be able to defend yourself.”
“You want to make me into whatever you guys are.”
“We haven’t made such a great impression,” says Shoulder Holster.
That is the most blatant display of stating the obvious that I have ever witnessed.
“We’re an elite unit formed by British Intelligence and tasked with the capture or elimination of high profile targets,” explains Green Eyes.
Beard Guy snorts:
“They burned us,” Rough Hands growls.
“We found out that we were being used to eliminate political rivals, not terrorists. We went dark after that and have been doing this for a while,” finishes Shoulder Holster.
They’ve clearly been together a long time. I think they can read each other’s minds.
“You left the military to become hitmen?”
“Not quite. The military still knows we’re out here, they just don’t know where and they wouldn’t be willing to bring us in anyway; we’re too busy doing their job,” says Shoulder Holster.
“I don’t really have an option, do I?”
“Of course, you do,” Beard Guy smiles through the bushy mass around his jaw.
“We can set you up with a new identity in a country of your choosing if that’s what you’d like.”
Where would I go? The Whitsundays? The Isle of Skye?
But I’d be alone. And Damien would get away with murder.
“Okay, we’ll start working on your papers and get ready to m-”
“No,” I interrupt Rough Hands. “I meant okay, let’s train.”
They’re all surprised.
Why make an offer you don’t want someone to accept?
“Yes. If you think I’m letting that dead beat get away with trying to kill me then you’ve been hit one too many times.”
A chorus of “Yes, Ma’am” erupts and they pack up.
I doubt many women can say they started their honeymoon with one man and left with four.
“Yeah,” I pick up the phone, pausing my sparring session with Beard Guy.
Well, I know his real name but Beard Guy stuck and I don’t think I’ve ever called them by their actual names.
“He’s done it again.”
“When and where.”
I’m already moving, grabbing my pack and climbing into the passenger side of the jeep.
Beard Guy tears out of the parking garage and turns us toward the air field we’ve been using in Rio.
“Hit went out yesterday in Spain.”
I repeat this to Beard Guy who makes his own call to arrange for our plane to be fuelled and prepped for immediate take off.
“Meet you there.”
I kill the call and within minutes Beard Guy has the planes’ controls and we are shooting down the runway.
“You ready for this?”
“You guys have been beating me into shape for a year and I’ve been on missions with you guys, too. I’ve got this, Beardy.”
“You’ve never had to make the kill.”
We meet the others at an abandoned bed and breakfast on the outskirts of the city. They’ve already got the schematics for the villa my bastard husband is staying in for his newest honeymoon with yet another bride. We figured him out a few months ago. His real name, Arnold Sheffield, all of his aliases. We know how many women he’s killed now, too. I was supposed to be his twelfth victim. His plan is the same every time.
New alias. New wife. Put a hit out on the honeymoon with orders to make it look like an accident. Collect the life insurance.
His new wife is stunning. Dark skin and eyes of such pure gold that Pharaoh’s would weep. Intel says she’s one of the rare women on Wall Street, so she’s loaded. Her life insurance payout is two million dollars - the biggest score Damien has seen yet.
The villa is on a beach in Los Monteros. It’s beautiful – at £34,000 per week you’d expect it to be – but it’s easily infiltrated.
“We’ll swim in from the south and make our way in from the beach. We’ve accepted the hit on his wife to ensure that no one else will come for her. She’s protected. I’ve arranged with him for the hit to happen two days from now, so we’ll be catching him off guard.”
“Sounds good to me, but we have to go in after 1:00am. If he’s still the same guy then he’ll be up late pretentiously drinking scotch from crystal glasses.”
“You sure you’re up for this, Huntress.”
Huh, I guess I’m officially part of the team. I confessed to their nicknames forever ago, but my nicknames for them weren’t so badass. Beard Guy or Green Eyes is not nearly as mercenary-esque as ‘Huntress’.
“Huntress, huh? I like it.”
“So, are you ready?”
“Let’s move out,” I grin, caress the blade on my thigh.
It’s time to reunite with my beloved.
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