His phone pinged. Code 407. It wasn’t what Mike wanted to see, but he knew it would come.

Okay, so the target of the Code 407 had made a mistake—a big one. She had been mad to even think she could get away with betraying the Company. In this job it didn’t matter if you agreed with its directive or not. All that counted was getting the job done. Jane had gone off-piste. Her brain had given way to her conscience when she gave the young scientist the heads up to get out of that laboratory. But her loyalty was misplaced. The Company had given the order to eliminate everyone and everything at Genus Laboratories—burn the place to the ground in what was to be made to look like a gas explosion. The young scientist was simply doing the wrong job at the wrong time. He was unlucky to have been caught up in the events. But the assignment had been clear. Eradicate all involved. Whatever the hell they had been developing in that lab, was nothing to do with the hit man, or in this case woman.

And orders were orders. Jane knew that. But she had encouraged the young guy to throw a sickie that day, and her action had created a loose end.

Now Mike had twenty-four hours before he would be expected to have completed his assignment. He turned over in bed and began to plan their escape. He and Jane would disappear off the grid. Passports nobody else knew about were already in his possession.

They had both been doing this job for more than five years, and for the last two he and Jane had regularly shared the same bed. No way was he going to kill her.

In the quiet darkness of his apartment he glanced at the photograph on his bedside table. He’d taken the selfie when they had snatched a holiday together last year. Memories of soft skin, the touch of pale red lips and the sweet taste of her tongue entwined with his, lured him into much needed sleep before putting his plan into action. He could almost feel the soft folds of her feminine delight.

“Are you coming in?” Jane called, laughing as the warm waves lapped at her thighs.

Mike tasked himself with reaching her across the white, hot sand before the sea curtained her beautiful body completely. This was the last day of a precious two-week break, a rare opportunity to be alone with the woman he had fallen in love with. The splash of salt water cooled his legs but did nothing to dampen the burning in his loins to be inside her.

Hiding away on this quiet Greek island had been one of Jane’s better ideas. “They won’t find us here,” she’d said. Mike wondered if she was trying to fool him, or herself. The Company would find them anywhere. But only if it had reason to suspect it needed to. The couple’s clandestine affair was strictly against Company rules. But two of the best assassins in the business never gave cause for concern. They worked independently and effectively. The Company needed them more than they needed it now. It was a good position to be in.

By the time he reached the water’s edge Jane was swimming out to sea. Damn it! He hated the bloody saltwater. But his goal was worth the temporary distaste to reach it. Racing through the waves he soon caught up with her.

Jane stilled. The sea was shallow even this far from shore and her feet were just able to touch the sand hidden beneath them. His strong arms enveloped her and suddenly she tasted the salt on his lips. Enlightened by the aqueous buoyancy she wrapped her legs around him. The only barrier between them was the warm, azure blue water. Her nipples grazed his chest, eliciting tingling sensations, which rippled through her. The hardness of his naked erection pressed at her entrance and she yearned to be filled by him. With steady, tantalising nudges, he didn’t keep her waiting. Jane flung her head back, featherlike in his arms, as his thrusts increased. The friction was delicious and all too soon she screamed at her own dizzy height of pleasure as he poured himself into her.

Suddenly Mike sat bolt upright. Sweat streaked his brow. Blood covered her body. Jane lay beside him, rich red liquid oozing from a single wound to her head. It trickled in a line onto the pillow, steadily seeping out across the cotton fibres like a deadly spider’s web, poisoning the whiteness with scarlet. Splatters of blood on the headboard created a perfect pattern for any crime scene investigator. Even the pistol was in his un-gloved hand.

Mike gasped, dropping the gun as he shot to the other side of the bed, his eyes staring at the body, Jane’s body. F***! What had he done?

But wait a minute. This wasn’t his MO. He would never leave evidence at a killing scene. This was a nightmare. A really bad one.

 

Mike woke up drenched in sweat. His eyes darted from the pillows to the headboard. Clean and stain-free. He pressed the button on his bedside radio and 5.30 a.m. glowed red for a moment. His head started to ache. With a puzzling weariness of someone who might not have slept in the last twenty-four hours Mike trudged into the bathroom and slumped against the sink. He splashed cold water over his face before brushing his teeth, desperate to be rid of an imaginary taste of disgust.

He had just erased the last stubble from his throat when his phone pinged. He stared at the screen by his side.

~ Code 407 successful.

He grabbed the phone. What the hell?

After pressing Jane’s number her voicemail kicked in.

Damn it! “I’m coming straight over.” He didn’t dare say any more. It was too risky that the Company would figure out what he was planning.

After dressing as fast as he could, Mike retrieved the bag from the loft space in his apartment. He’d be at her place in twenty minutes.

Passing the newsstand beside his parked car, Mike was in too much of a hurry to notice the headline. “Body of woman found in a hotel room.”

As soon as he entered Jane’s apartment he knew the “cleaner guy” had been in. The place was pristine. Not a speck of dust. Just the smell of disinfectant. And plastic.

With his head in his hands, Mike slid down the wall. Images of clear sheets of plastic flashed before his eyes. The perfect material to contain all the evidence before being removed from the scene of the crime. Jane would have been drugged, placed within the plastic “zone” and shot in the head. With any luck she won’t have known anything about it.

The next minute his head was down the toilet as the contents of his guts began to spew forth. Mike pulled the pistol from his sock. He stared at it for a moment before pulling her photograph from his wallet. How would the cleaner guy clear the evidence from this particular scene, he wondered forlornly. He guessed his body would end up at the bottom of the ocean but he didn’t care. Jane was the only person who would have missed him. Now he could bear to miss her no longer. He pulled the trigger.