My name? Oh, yeah. I picked it when I got into the business, and that was about four years ago. I'm pretty used to it by now. You could say it's a family name, actually. Not like Ethel or Clair, I mean, but my dad, he was real big on angels. When I was a kid I was always his baby angel or his precious angel or his little black angel. I've just grown up a little bit, that's all. Angel the prostitute, Angel the assassin.

If I cared to spend my money on a shrink I know what they'd say: Jenny Parker? The kid never had a shot. Run-off mother, zealot of a father, a childhood full of things that go bump in the night. Poor girl never had a chance at being normal, so she figured why try?

And I'd argue, But I did try. I went to college, I was acing my classes. I went on dates, I had a day job, the whole bit. I didn't start this life until the day my best friend died. Kendra Lychman was twenty, a year older than me, when her dealer sold her a bad batch. Coroner said she was dead in a matter of minutes. Not that I'd know. I'm just the lucky girl who found her roommate's corpse while it was still warm. Talk about making memories.

I guess that would be the shrink's cue to nod and smile and say, See? You blame yourself for her death. And it all leads back to your childhood. It's actually quite easy to predict.

To which I'd say, Easy? You think my life is easy, doctor?

Fine, you try hiding a gun under your miniskirt.

Angel

Four years and he was still walking the streets like they belonged to him. One look at Carson told me two things: one, time hadn't changed him a bit, and two, there was no justice in the world. If there had been he would have been marked, disfigured in some potentially crippling way. Instead he still looked painfully perfect, all faded Levi's and shaggy blonde hair. He leaked charisma: when he smiled, people smiled back. The man even smelled good, like apple pies and cooking spices. He was an all-American boy and his laugh was enough to make you melt.

God, it would feel good to kill him.