Chapter 1: The Trouble with Civilians
Colt M4 carbine?
I pack the assault rifle safely in the trunk of my car.
God, that gun is sexy. I keep that one tucked into my pants, where it belongs. If you know what I mean.
Spare charges of C4?
Check, except I'm not fond of messy explosions. But, you know, whatever brings home the bacon.
The C4 gets a box next to the Colt.
Ready to rumble.
I open the car door to get in, but before I even set foot in my souped up Mustang, I realize that I forgot my favorite weapon- besides my Kimber Custom TLE II, that is. I forgot my knife.
I'm not one to bring a knife to a gun fight. Usually, I bring the artillery and everyone else tries to overcome this badass with nothing more than a butter knife. Those things aren't even pointy. Fuckin' civilians.
Except the people I deal with aren't civilians.
As I reach for my knife and slide that into the holster around my ankle, my fingers brush the photograph I keep next to my rifle's case. Sighing, I put my assignment on hold for a minute and pick up the photo.
This is why I do my job. The love of my life is why I'm one of the most notoriously dangerous men in the world.
I have to keep the only person who matters to me safe.
I slip the picture into my wallet and shove that into my pocket.
I take the tapes out of the security cameras in my target's building before dropping by his office so he can have a friendly chat with my gun.
Some people don't approve of the way I take down my assignments. I let myself be seen by the target, let him talk to me. To experts in my field, that's a mistake. Makes it too easy to be caught.
If they knew who my boss was, they'd change their minds. No one can catch me.
"Hello, Mr. Reeds," I say, smirking when the well-dressed businessman in front of me drops the files he's shuffling through. His back is to me, but I don't need to see his face to know that this is who I'm after.
"I'm sorry, sir, but the office is closed," Mr. Reeds informs me, gathering up his papers and turning to face me. "If you ne-"
He freezes when he sees the gun in my hand.
"Who sent you?" he barely manages to whisper. Sounds like he knows there's someone after him. If only he knew who. But that would explain why he's at his office at night- putting together last minute files to destroy before he gets out of town.
"That's not important," I tell him.
Mr. Reeds makes a dash for the telephone on his desk, but I reflexively shoot the device. It explodes into a few pieces of dead plastic.
"Please, don't shoot me," Mr. Reeds hastily says, wiping the sweat off his brow and turning to face me with his hands up. "I can negotiate with your boss."
"He doesn't want your business deals," I reply, bored. I turn my gun sideways, scrutinizing my victim. Where should I shoot him? The head, and make it quick? The chest, and make it more dramatic? Or an artery, and let him bleed out?
"I have money," Mr. Reeds begins. This is how it always goes. They beg for mercy, ask if they can discuss terms with my boss, and then start offering me more than I'm already making.
"I don't need your money." I take a step closer and take aim. Three shots to the chest. My signature. It guarantees death.
"Please, I have- I have a Swiss account, I can give you the account number if you just-"
One shot. I'm sick of the same routine every time. Except the gush of blood and the gasping breaths are nice. Remind me that I'm alive.
"Very nice job, Mr. Underwood. I'll have your pay wired to your bank account." My boss, Mr. Powell, folds his hands on his desk and nods smartly at me.
"Make sure it's the right account this time," I remind him. "Last time a hundred thousand popped up in the wrong account, I got a lot of questions."
Mr. Powell smiles dryly. "And yet my highly trained assassin managed to talk his way out of a little argument over money."
I smile back, tight-lipped. "Sir, if you don't mind-"
"In a hurry?" Mr. Powell raises his eyebrows and gives me his skeptical are you seriously considering walking out of this office before I'm finished talking, you fucking moron? look.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Powell, but I need to be home. My anniversary is tomorrow and I want to be there in the morning." I check my watch. I've got a little less than a two-hour flight back to New York, and then I have to get the shuttle to the parking garage where my Mustang is so I can get to my apartment before sunrise.
"Ah." Mr. Powell grins again, his eyes crinkling up. He's happily married, so he understands all of my mushy romantic needs. "Well, Mr. Underwood, it appears that you have a flight to catch. We'll be in touch."
"Thank you, sir," I say graciously, before leaving the office and walking down the hall so I can make my way to the front door.
I always get such a feeling of accomplishment when I leave the White House.
I get home at nine in the morning, completely exhausted. I had to stash my handgun away, so I stopped by the warehouse first. That trip alone added another hour onto my commute home.
Oh well. At least I get all day free.
When I reach the bedroom, I take a minute to lean against the doorframe and watch the man sound asleep in my bed. In his unconsciousness, he seems to have taken advantage of having the bed to himself. He's sprawled completely across it, the sheets bunched down to just below his waist. My eyes appreciatively take in the sight of his bare back.
"Asher." I kneel next to the bed and shake his shoulder gently. "Wake up, babe."
Asher stirs, blinking his huge brown eyes a few times before they land on me.
"Harley!" he sits up instantly, throwing his arms around my neck. "You're home!"
I laugh and wrap my arms around his waist, enjoying the vital warmth of his skin. "Miss me?"
"Mhmm." Asher's dimple disappears when his smile gets wiped off his face. "You were gone all yesterday and last night...."
His voice chokes me up. He sounds so dejected and just fucking lonely.
"Aw, babe." I sit down next to him and take his face in my hands, kissing him softly before continuing, "You know how lucky you are? There are so many people with boyfriends and husbands who travel for months on end. I'm usually just gone for the night, maybe a day. That's better, right?"
Asher nods, shakily taking a breath.
"And besides," I add, smiling. "It's our three-year anniversary, and we have all fucking day to celebrate."
Asher laughs, stretching and playfully slapping my hands away when I trace my fingers over the newly exposed part of his stomach. The sheets have ridden down even lower, but Asher's body is nothing I'm not familiar with.
"Are you ever going to tell me what you do for the government?" Asher asks. I reach out a hand to pull him out of bed, and then we walk into the kitchen so I can make us cups of coffee. "You're not, like, the president's private advisor, right?"
My stomach churns uncomfortably. Well, Asher, I'm actually an underground U.S. government assassin. Sorry. I kill people for a living. It's gruesome, but that's how I afford our apartment. Death has its perks.
Asher's tried to weasel my job description out of me many times, but I brush it off with what he likes to call "Harley's Manhattan Project". I work for the government, but I don't know exactly what I do.
At least, that's what Asher thinks.
I doubt that he'd stick around if he found out about my job. Sure, it's not like I'm a serial killer- I just kill those men and women who are considered a threat to the United States and its citizens- but Asher wouldn't know the difference. A boyfriend who kills other people could kill anyone.
Including Asher himself.
I would never hurt Asher- that's why I take such great efforts to hide my line of work from him. That's why I keep my weapons at a separate warehouse- maybe someone living in bear country in Alaska could get away with having a small handgun, but a guy living in the Upper East Side can't get away with having a closet full of assault weapons.
Asher wouldn't even know that I work for the government if he hadn't decided that he just had to check our mutual bank account's balance to make sure I had made enough to pay that month's rent. Explaining the sudden influx of money into the account couldn't be avoided- so I told him, reluctantly, that I do jobs for the government. He just didn't believe that I got all the money from my paid internship at the time.
I've been told all along that the only people who know about my existence as a United States assassin are my boss, Mr. Powell, and the president himself. Mr. Powell is the Secretary of Defense. I guess it's only fitting that, in all of his advising about the country's armed forces, he'd add an assassin to the list as his own personal branch of the military.
Sometimes it seems kind of sick, being part of a secret government operation. If it got out that the president was aware of a man being hired to kill America's enemies, shit bigger than Watergate would go down.
It's no secret that I'm out there, either. No one knows who I am, thanks to the protection of the innermost system of our government, but everyone who reads the newspaper once in a while knows that there's some guy killing everyone who's even made a move against the United States.
And a United States secret assassin is the last person anyone would think of. Wouldn't want to believe that our precious government is corrupted, after all.
"Fine," Asher sighs, taking my silence as confirmation that no, I'm not telling him what I do. "I get it. Top secret and all that shit. Well, I'm gonna shower- and you should, too, by the smell of you- and then could we go over to get breakfast at that café near Central Park?"
"Sounds good." I smile weakly at Asher and kiss the top of his head, his thick, wavy blond hair tickling my nose. "I wish I could tell you all of this stuff about work, babe, but at least I'm here, right?"
He grins and seems to forgive me instantly for all secretiveness. Good thing, too. I'd hate to have our anniversary messed up by the small matter of my secret job.
The pressure of the small engagement ring box in my pocket practically burns through the expensive material of my suit.
Would proposing to him after three long years together- and nearly two years living together- be too much?
My mother doesn't seem to think so. I got a call from her the other day, checking up on the two of us and asking how we were doing. More specifically, she asked if I was ever going to "make it official and just marry the boy".
Apparently, every member of both of our families thinks so. But according to everyone, I have to be the one to propose. I was the one to ask him out in the first place (after our one-night stand that got it started), I was the one to ask him to move in with me, I'm the one who does everything. Hell, I even top. All Asher does is sit there and look sexy.
After Asher gets out of the shower and walks back into the room to change with just a towel around his waist- a sight that's way too tempting for someone like me- I take a quick rinse as well and put on fresh clothes. Even if, by some miracle, I didn't feel dirty after a kill, I'd still change out of those clothes. Wearing something I took a life in is always hard for a while afterward.
"If I'd known you were gonna be all sexy and put on a suit," Asher murmurs, wrapping his arms around my waist from behind me while I button up my light blue shirt, "I'd have gotten a little fancier, too."
He presses an open-mouthed kiss to my neck, and then I turn around to face him, setting my hands on his shoulders.
"I'm not gonna wear a suit, babe," I tell him, smiling softly. "It's too hot out for a jacket. But," I pull away from him and slide my shoes on, "I do want to look nice for you."
"Hmph. Spoiling me with your devilish good looks." Asher crosses his arms, he himself the absolute picture of perfection. Well-defined but slender arms visible through the fabric of his charcoal grey shirt, long legs left to the imagination in his black slacks, brown eyes piercing into my own.
Our families have a running vote on who's the better looking of the two of us. I say Asher. Asher says me. His family can't even make up their minds. My family thinks we're both too gorgeous for words.
"Shall we?" I hold a hand out for Asher and smile contentedly when his warm hand clasps around mine.
This is where I belong.
A/N: You do realize what I'm setting myself up for right now, right? Gunplay. Lots of it.
But that's not all. I'm excited for this story. I mean, I know shit about guns but I'm super excited to write about an assassin ;)
I hope you like it so far, as well! More coming soon...
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