A visceral tightrope of deceit, abuse, and murder.Aran’s a researcher—for a killer. Not a profession of her choice. With her keeper’s death and the end of her servitude she may never have to plan another assassination, but she will kill to survive. Those who contracted her mentor’s hits will come for her. She knows too many secrets accumulated the past decade analyzing the routine of those tagged for death.
dead maybeChapter 1~Her open-handed blow didn’t land with its usual ferocity. I didn’t even have to re-set my feet. Keeping my eyes locked on a spot in the Persian carpet inches in front of Cheska’s Ferragamo slippers, I waited for the inevitable diatribe listing the mistakes I made. She abhorred me as a child. As the years passed she seemingly grew to hate me even more. My education was her design, to improve my analysis, so I could lead her safely through her hits. Yet the less wretched I grew the more she resented me. What did I ever do to her?A question I’ve asked myself a million times.I live like a slave in the basement. Don’t have a second of privacy inside or outside this house. Machado, my shadow, had been instructed many times in front of me to kill me if I ever neared a phone or spoke to anyone in a whisper.Cheska is so stupid. She provides me with the best computers, access to the most expensive databases for my research. Has no clue the Internet affords me access to the world. I behave because of one threat. One I know Cheska is capable of following through with. The torture and murder of my only friend.A new barrage of coughing struck Cheska and her stiff posture wilted, face flushed. She swiveled around like a drunk and escaped behind the security of her massive, all-for-show desk.Vonda said the kurve must have bronchitis. I looked up the condition. Wouldn’t likely kill her, unfortunately. Supposedly easily treatable. Should have eased by now. God is too cruel to rush the evil womaninto an early coffin.Cheska wiped her lips with one of her delicate, silk hankies and checked the mucus. A twinge of new anger stretched across her face but quickly dulled and the everyday hate returned. She drew one of the ochre-hued envelopes from her desk drawer.Already? She’d just returned from a hit. I hadn’t hardly caught my own breath.The envelope slid smoothly across the surface of the desk and I lurched to catch it as it sailed off the edge.“They want him dead by the weekend,” she said.My jaw must have fallen slack, but I knew better than to question her. That kind of turnaround was insane. Already Tuesday. What was she thinking, accepting this contract? I drew the single datasheet and photo out of the