In my opinion, Liana Lovenbrook had never looked better.
She sat ramrod straight behind her desk in her massive leather rolling chair, her eyes smoky and hair wavy. For a woman who was well into her early forties, she didn't look a day over thirty-one. Although, I had to admit, her older age was probably a good explanation for why she was up and ready to work by 6 AM.
As the headmistress of Virgil Academy, she was one of the nation's most elite assassins, having personally killed over two hundred men with no record of jail time or police capture. She had stepped into position as the head of the Academy six years ago after literally shoving our previous headmaster out of his seat. Ours was a school that cranked out assassins instead of scholars. Elite assassins. We were the nation's best and most brutal… but that didn't mean we were all capable of waking with the roosters.
Aven Conroy let out a mighty yawn before slumping into his seat, the edge of his shirt catching onto the armrest. The dark circles under his eyes and the yellow stains on his shirt were telling enough of a late night gone wrong. The fact that he had even shown up to our appointment was rather impressive.
I, on the other hand, had put slightly more effort into looking presentable, which meant I at least had thrown on a jacket and had brushed my teeth before charging out of my room.
Liana smiled at our presence, and if she found our manner disgusting and sloppy, she mentioned nothing. Instead, she pulled two manila folders from a drawer in her desk and tossed them at us. Aven's hit him on the forehead, extracting a loud expletive from him.
"What in the goddamn world?"
Liana picked up her mug and blew at the steaming coffee. "Perhaps reading it might be a good idea."
I gave Aven's shoulder a nice punch that finally brought him to the land of the living. He rubbed his eyes and made a huge commotion of pushing himself into an upright position before opening the folder.
I had already begun thumbing through the folder's contents. It was our next errand, as Liana liked to call it, and it was top priority, according to the five gold stars that adorned the top of the page. Someone had paid good money for this errand to be completed and Liana would undoubtedly want it done as fast as possible to guarantee that we received our payment.
I picked up the paper that listed the details of the errand.
Name: Cartier Donahue Lovaine
Birth date: January 24
Blood Type: AB
Father: Dominic Robert Lovaine
Mother: Antoinette Armistead Lovaine
Current School: Ignatius Preparatory School
I flipped through the next few pages, slightly confused. From the looks of it, Cartier Lovaine was just another diplomat's son. Typically when assassination was involved, the target held considerable influence in the society or possessed vital information that could make or break a certain group. It was doubtful that a high school kid held such a degree of influence.
Liana smiled when I voiced my thoughts. "Appearances can be deceiving, Tess. Cartier Lovaine may be just a high school student to you, but we don't know who's supporting him in the background."
"So this kid holds the key to vast wonders?" Aven sounded very unimpressed. He held up a picture that had been attached to the file. "He looks like a pampered prep kid to me."
"This pampered prep kid is the governor's son, Aven." But while Liana's words were reprimanding, her tone indicated otherwise. "And you're all the same age."
Aven rolled his eyes and flipped through the rest of the papers in the file. They included further information on Cartier, including his hobbies, family members, his social circle, and any other tidbit that the Academy believed was vital to the case.
"So we kill him. That's it?" I said. "Doesn't it seem a little too simple?"
"The execution could be difficult." Liana tapped her fingers against the table. "I'm certain Dominic Lovaine wouldn't let his son go to school without protection."
This insight intrigued me. "Is he aware that Cartier could be in danger?"
"Not just aware," Aven cut in, before Liana could say anything. He looked up from the file, his hazel eyes wide. "There've been four attempts on Cartier's life."
I was shocked. Four attempts? What was it about him that attracted so much negative attention?
"There are two possible reasons for assassins' interest in Cartier," Liana explained, evidently sensing our confusion. "First, there's evidence to suggest that Dominic Lovaine and the Republican platform will win the upcoming presidential election. His political enemies wish to eliminate him, and after failed threats, they've turned to his son. Second, there are rumors that Dominic Lovaine is involved in unraveling an underground network."
Aven was completely awake by now. "What type of network?"
"Drug and human trafficking, among others."
I was astonished. This was practically unheard of. "Dominic Lovaine is attempting to clear up all underground networks?"
"Quite possibly, yes," Liana said. "The details are unknown to us, but we don't care for them either."
Aven slumped in his seat again, deflated. "I see."
She gestured towards the folders in our hand. "The group that requests Cartier Lovaine's death has given us three weeks to perform the task. As usual, we subtract one week. I give you two to obtain his life."
I didn't know what to make of it. Two weeks sounded like an ample time to work with, considering we were only dealing with a high school kid. But from what Liana said, Dominic Lovaine wasn't a simple force to contend with. What did that say about his son?
Aven, however, didn't seem to share my doubts. "Two weeks is more than enough. Is there a bonus if we finish early?"
Liana's lips quirked. "Aven, I sometimes wonder if you're not too confident."
"He's a high school kid. We've killed off fully grown and trained men and came back with time to spare."
I rolled my eyes at the typical Aven behavior. He had always been on the cockier end, but I had never blamed him for it. He had the looks, the personality, the skills and the charm. Why would I begrudge someone his rightful arrogance?
Liana turned to me. "What do you think?"
"I doubt it's going to be as simple as Aven makes it out to be, but I don't see why it's going to be difficult."
"All right then. You'll each receive a ten thousand dollar bonus for every day you subtract from the deadline."
Aven let out a loud whoop.
I suddenly remembered something that I had promised one of my friends. "Should we bring another team with us? Maybe Raleigh and Calvin? I know they've been itching to go on another errand."
Liana lifted a brow and her expression conveyed her disgust. "Until I find an errand simple enough to warrant a success on their part, they'll remind idle in the Academy."
Raleigh had been right. Liana had yet to forgive them for failing their errand, and until then…
"If the two of you are unable to complete this errand, let me know and I'll replace you with a more capable team."
"That's not what I meant," I said hastily, but was interrupted when she held up a hand.
"You're dismissed. I expect updates on your progress."
Aven stood and tossed the folder into the air, catching it smoothly on the way down. "Looking forward to that fat paycheck, Ms. L!"
Liana slammed the door in our face.
I tucked the folder under my arms. By this time it was almost seven, and there were already a few early risers in the hallway.
"Fuck yes," Aven cheered, clapping his hands together. "I finally have an opportunity to get that Porsche I've been eyeing for weeks."
I lifted a brow and stopped in front of the glass elevator. "What happened to that seventy thousand we earned from our last errand?"
"I bought an Aston Martin Vanquish, remember?"
My eyes widened in sudden recollection. "That was the car you crashed into the side of that office building?"
Aven grimaced. We stepped into the elevator and I pressed the L button that would bring us down to the first floor of the administrative building. "Yeah, that wasn't one of my brightest moments. But we did stop those retards from escaping."
"Because they were all killed off when the building collapsed."
"Okay, okay." He held up his hands, palms out. "I'll be more careful, all right?" We stood in silence for a moment, and then he frowned. "So what was that whole Raleigh and Calvin thing about? Are they really banned from running errands?"
"Looks like it. Raleigh was complaining to me about it for a good three hours last night."
Aven chuckled and shook his head. "Looks like you can't fail Liana."
"Nope," I agreed. "Or else we'd be unemployed."
"Two weeks, Tess." He ruffled my hair with a wide grin. "Think we can do it?"
"I'll kick your sorry ass if you can't."
"No need," he drawled. "I'll kick my own ass if I can't."
I grinned. "Deal. We leave tomorrow."
Author's Note: Welcome to the rewrite! After a long period of hiatus, I've finally returned with a new and improved story. The plot has been changed drastically and you'll be introduced to a few new characters and say goodbye to a few old characters.
For you old readers, keep in mind that Cade Lovaine's name has now been changed to Cartier Lovaine.
I'm super excited about this version and I hope you guys all enjoy this too. Let me know what you think!