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Stephen taps the polished mahogany bar twice and the bartender pours him another. He brushes a tiny errant thread from his coat jacket and takes a sip of the Bulleit bourbon, letting the amber liquid roll along his tongue leaving the sticky residue of wood and honey.

“Not too much of that,” says the voice in his ear bud.

Stephen doesn’t bother to respond nor does his face twitch with supposedly uncontrollable micro expressions. He has always imagined bourbon as the distilled taste of coffins, each sip making the drinker closer, more familiar with death.

“Any sign?”

Stephen says nothing allowing his strong dislike of such moments to crescendo and then dissipate. Public displays irritate his nature. He thrives on leaving the, CIA, DGSE, SIS, which ever alphabet fragment agency, with unsolvable mysteries. He’s not credited with even half of the kills that he’s responsible for.

The light scent of jasmine floats over his shoulder, caressing his jaw before rising finally to the caverns of his sinuses. This particular scent is unique. She goes to Iran, where she keeps a villa in the mountains, twice a year to harvest and distill her own oil. This one constant in her life is how he found her the first time. She had been standing in the greenhouse wearing a simple white robe.

“You are here to kill me,” she had said.

“Not I. But someone.”

Stephen doesn’t kill others like him.

She turned to him not bothering to hide her expression and the moment stretched until she began walking towards him, hips swaying and the muscles of her long legs bunching and stretching. She raised long tapered fingers and opened the robe letting it flow behind her. Dark nipples stood out against ivory skin. She was perfect; light and dark, warm and cold, safe and dangerous.  Stephen knew no deadlier creature than the one crafted to stun and soothe the senses. He left her there, disappearing in broad daylight but he had caught her expression as it changed from surprise to supreme irritation.

And now he doesn’t raise his eyes to look in the mirror behind the bar. He waits. She slides onto the stool next to him crossing those muscular legs. The delicate clasp on the ankle strap of her heels twinkles and he can feel her warmth.

“You had to know.”


“You were always the target,” she says, her voice both a purr and a song.

“So it seems,” Stephen says.

“Morality makes our clients nervous,” she says regretfully.

Stephen lets the last of the chilled bourbon coat his throat. He figures the poison was in the liquid, it being his one constant after all.

“Drink?” he asks her.

“Sure, why not? I don’t have anywhere to be after this.”

And he wonders if she’s killing him because someone paid her to or because he left her.


image courtesy of Dean McCoy Photography

image courtesy of Dean McCoy Photography

Inspired by the smash up of Timberlake’s Sexy Back and the photo to the left.

I apologize for giving Lucy, Mari and Co. a break, but I think that the story may be evolving past the point of the individual entries being able to stand alone.