I sat in the dark, pondering my life and waiting for my phone to ring. It was inevitable that it would ring. After so many years in the business, I seemed to be able to tell when my phone was going to ring.
It was weird I know, but nonetheless true.
I am in an unusual business, one that many people don’t realise exist. I’m what you would generally call an assassin. I know, it’s immoral and it’s completely outrageous, but I am, and I’m damned good at it. I’d have to be, I’ve been doing it since I was 15. Ten years of killing people kind of gives you some perspective. I’m not a violent person, contrary to popular belief, but I’m not adverse to killing people for money. I refuse to take pleasure in it though. Killing is not a pleasure, and death is not something to rejoice in. I’d say it was ironic that an orphan to violence became a killer. But then so much of my life is ironic I can’t help but shrug my shoulders and get on with it.
It’s my birthday today. 25 years old and what have I got to show for it? A great apartment, a full bank account, a great car, a whole armoury of ordnance that could take a small country. What I didn't have were friends, family; nothing to take pleasure in at all.
I write a lot. I occasionally get printed too; pieces about crime and violence. My abhorrence to it colours a lot of what I submit. There’s another ironic part of my being.
And there’s the phone. Told you it would ring.
“Is this Sachs?” the voice on the other end said. I rolled my eyes. Great another idiot.
“Yes," I replied, waiting for the inevitable pause and then the ‘but you’re a woman’ comment.
“But,” here it comes. “You’re a woman,"
This, I know.
“Yes,” I replied. This happened every time someone who didn’t do their homework rang me.
“I was told to contact Andy Sachs," I let the whole thing sink into the dense man’s brain for a moment, silently waiting for instructions. I was not one for talk, the fewer people knew about me the less dangerous it was for me to be in the same place for long periods of time.
“Are you going to offer me a contract, or should I hang up?” I asked, not willing to sit around idly anymore. If there was one thing I detested it was moving slowly. Even on my off days I would spend my days in the gym, or running in the city. New York was a melting pot of people and culture and it was beautiful once you got to know it.
“Ur, right, well, I need you to,” I rolled my eyes again, hissing in frustration.
“Not on the phone. You will meet me at the Bethesda Fountain, tomorrow at 3 pm exactly. Stand at the end of the terrace, with your back to the fountain looking at the boathouse. Have a bag at your feet with the documents inside. I will tap you twice on the shoulder and you will not turn around. Have everything I need to know in the bag or I'll cancel the job. I will leave my details in your left pocket. I do not do the job until the full amount is deposited into my bank account. Is that satisfactory?”
“Um, yes, I need her gone, she’s a bitch and I really really -”
“I don't need to know. I will or will not do the job as I see fit. If I decide to decline, you will receive all your money back." I hung up the phone, tired of talking and ready to focus on something constructive.
I sighed. I hated killing women. I don’t know why, maybe because I am one, or maybe because in my experience women aren’t nearly as cruel as men. Bitchy? Yes. But cruel and vengeful? No, at least not many. There were few women in my profession, that was for sure.
I poured myself a glass of bourbon. Swilling it in my glass as I looked out over the city, I smiled to myself. There was another ironic thing about my life. I hated the job, but when I had one I had something to focus on. Everything else just seemed to fade away.
I swallowed my drink, set the alarm and went to bed.
I’d have a head start if I actually got the money. My prices weren't cheap. It usually weeded out the ones who were less sure of what they wanted.
As usual, I got to the park at 2. I knew from experience that first-timers got there a little early to try and catch a glimpse of me. They had no idea that they would never, ever, see the real me. I had so many faces that no one anywhere knows what I looked like. I corrected myself. My doctor knew me well enough, but he was roughly in the same line of business as I was, so I had nothing to worry about from him.
I sat on the steps, embracing the homeless disguise as I watched the people milling around the fountain taking pictures on their phones. Nobody just looked anymore. At around 2:45 I glimpsed what I knew to be my new client. An impeccably dressed man, clutching a briefcase and pushing through the crowds. His eyes were on a swivel.
I smiled to myself.
They were all so predictable. He stood at the end of the terrace like I told him to. His eyes never stopped scanning the crown and I decided that I did not like this man.
That didn’t mean I wouldn’t do the job, just meant I’d hate the idea the whole time. He finally turned around and I started to move towards him. I weaved in and out of the crowd effortlessly, not drawing attention to myself in any way. After ten years in the business, I knew how to move silently and fluidly. I wondered if everyone took their jobs as seriously as I did.
I watched the man twitching nervously and I decided to have a bit of fun with him. Knocking into him, I apologised profusely in an accent no-one could ever place, begging for money, or food. I liked the man even less after seeing the look he gave me and was glad that I had given him a slightly inflated price for the job.
“Got money Meester?” I husked, holding out my hand. He backed away and shuddered in his thousand dollar suit.
“No, no, go away," he said, shuddering again.
“Just need food Meester, dollar iz good, anyting you can spare.”
As he turned away I slipped my details into his pocket and grabbed the briefcase, removing the torn jacket and wig. I turned into someone else before I’d even left his side. I didn’t look back until I had made it to the roadway, pulling my Oakley shades over my face to watch him. I emptied the briefcase, putting the papers in my jacket and dumped it in a garbage can. The leather gloves I always wore were itchy and I longed to take them off. Summer was not the right season for gloves.
I watched with a smile as he looked around, completely confused. The panic on his face as he looked to his feet and saw the case had gone. It made me happy that I had inconvenienced him.
I walked away, knowing that I would have the money within a few days.
The journey back to my loft in Tribeca took long enough that by the time I was home, I was ready to meet my new target.
“Hi honey I’m home,” I called to my empty apartment, smiling to myself at the little joke I had with myself. I’m convinced that if anyone saw the way I acted when I was at my place they’d lock me up in a sanatorium. Then again, I’m not saying I shouldn’t be locked up anyway. Nine times out of ten the people I killed were generally bad people. In the beginning, though, I wasn’t so fussy.
I pulled out dossier he'd made me and spread them on the table. My face betrayed my surprise as I saw who it was. Miranda bloody Priestly. La Priestly. The Ice Queen of fashion, Editor-in-Chief of Runway magazine.
About the most high profile target you could get in New York City.
I looked through the files, trying to get a feel for the woman. By all accounts, she was a bitch on crack and I would be doing the world a favour by topping her. But, there was something, something else. As I looked at her photo I saw something in her eyes, something that I hadn’t seen before in anyone's eyes.
I stared at it for an hour, trying to determine what it was I could see, my bourbon forgotten. I found myself smiling as I continued to read her file. The number of people she'd fired over the course of the last year was mind-boggling. Whether I got the contract or not, this would be fun.
I checked my watch. 7 pm. Good time to go hunting. I grabbed my gear, black pants, shirt, jacket. All very expensive tailor-made gear. It wouldn’t look amiss at a business conference, and yet it would afford me the perfect clothing to do pretty much anything in, including swim. This I’d found out the hard way, not that it mattered, but at least I knew.
I strapped two knives to my ankles and three to my ribs, fitting perfectly with the line of my jacket. I tended not to use them, preferring to use something a little more subtle when actually performing the task allotted to me, however, I was on recon, so I could pack what I wanted. Grinning to myself I grabbed my keys and headed to her townhouse. I parked a couple of blocks away and walked, keeping to the shadows, blending perfectly into my surroundings, in a way that only someone with my level of experience could attain. Standing outside the house, I watched for a while, working out where the best entry point was, where I could get stuck. It was three levels, which was unusual for a single woman. I figured she’d bought it before she’d had her divorce, or else won it in the settlement no doubt.
As I stood in the shadows I watched as a town car pulled up. The driver ran around and opened the door, letting the lady herself out of the car, nodding in respect as he did. It was odd considering she was such a tyrant to work for, that someone in such a menial position should afford her that respect. And it was a respect, it wasn’t expected, or asked for. It was a comment on what the man thought of this woman, this fashion queen. She climbed the steps to her house and turned as if she could feel my eyes on her. I held my breath. In all the years I had worked, no one ever felt me watching.
What was it with this woman.
See disclaimer Chapter 1
I watched as she took off her sunglasses and perused the street from left to right. I gasped silently as I saw her eyes, even from across the road. They were the brightest pair of deep blue eyes I had ever seen and for a moment I simply stared. Mentally slapping myself I had the presence of mind to step further back into the shadows, conscious that night in the city was never really dark, especially in the well to do neighbourhoods. She flattened her lips and flicked her hair, which was the most incredible hair I’d ever seen. It was pristinely white, short around the back with a perfect lock resting above her left eye. For some reason, I was tempted to walk over to her and brush it out of the way.
What in the hell was wrong with me.
And like that, she was gone. The driver left, and the house was dark. I watched as the second-storey lights flicked on, followed by the room on the far right of the top storey. My reaction to her threw me a little and I decided I needed to see her at home, relaxed, despite the little warning bells ringing in my ears. I crossed the street, discreetly once again, moving about the place like I owned the whole block before slipping into the shadows once again. The dog barked inside and I decided sarcastically that I was going to kill the little bastard that gave the information to me instead. There was no mention of a dog. Shit, scratch that, there was no mention of a miniature horse shaped St Bernard.
I shook my head, ignoring the dog as I began to climb. I loved these brick townhouses, they were perfect to climb, the outer layer of mortar already decayed, leaving perfect finger grips all over the building, just perfect for little old me. The rooms on the second floor were dark and I didn’t waste any time on them, climbing straight to the third-storey windows, hugging the wall close, fully aware that a slip at even this height could spell my demise. Peering in through the window, I saw the woman in question pacing in the room talking to what I assumed was the ex-husband. I had seen a photo of the first one, but not the second. That was another thing he’d missed.
I watched as their volume escalated, culminating in the striking of fist to cheek. I gripped the brickwork so hard I made my nails bleed, for a split second, cursing my preference to climbing gloveless.
This woman was an enigma.
People had her all wrong, and I had only seen four total minutes of her life. She stood stoically in front of her obviously arsehole ex-husband, not showing any sign of weakness in front of him, not until he slammed the bedroom door and I heard him slam the front door did I watch her weep. So she was human, contrary to the world’s belief. I may not have ever read Runway in my entire life, but I knew the stories, I’d heard the tales of how she was and what she did. Watching her sobbing on the floor changed my perceptions once again. Inside her home, she was simply a woman with two failed marriages. One of which was obviously to some odious man in need of an attitude adjustment. I glimpsed the man walking down the street and towards Central Park.
What the hell, I could use the sport.
I followed him to the park, shadowing him so close I could have tripped him over with a twig. Even from my place behind him, I could smell the alcohol on him. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, changing instantly into the killer inside me.
“You,” I said roughly, thankful that I had remembered to include my hat and shades for this assignment. He turned, looking a little bewildered at me as he swayed back and forth.
“Huh?” I rolled my eyes. Clearly, he was intelligent too.
“Don’t you know it’s rude to hit a lady,” I said in the iciest voice I had. I was struggling with myself, trying to prevent myself from ripping his throat out right there, the ‘normal’ part of me was wondering why I wanted to do this at all if I was going to kill her anyway, the killer in me squashed it quite quickly. I put it down to civic duty.
I stood waiting for him to join the dots as I put on my gloves. No sense in leaving evidence, even though I was fairly sure that when I was done with him he wasn’t going to call the police.
“Stephen, Stephen, Stephen," I balled up my fists, making sure my gloves were settled." You need a lesson in treating a woman right." I jabbed a fist into his solar plexus, hard, dropping him to the ground like a sack of flour. “Women need to be treated with the respect they deserve. They’re the ones that have to put up with your shit after all." I punctuated the sentence with a kick against his ribs, my only regret being I wasn’t wearing my steel cap boots. I grabbed him by the hair and dragged him into standing.
“Who are you?" he managed to wheeze, clutching his abdomen with both hands. I shrugged.
“A concerned party," I said grabbing his hair a little more forcefully. “Tell you what, I’ll make you a deal. You back off from fighting about the divorce, and I won’t release the pictures of you punching her to the media. She'll take you for every cent," I knocked his head solidly against the tree I stood him up against. "Or I take your life. How’s that sound you little worm?” he nodded quickly, but I knew better.
“Oh come on Stephen, I wasn’t born yesterday. Say it out loud and I’ll let you go; not more punching, no more kicking. You can go on your merry way and I can go on mine. What dya say?” he looked positively petrified as I tightened my grip on his hair.
A lesser experienced person would be surprised that he hadn't fought back. I wasn’t surprised. Men like that him act the way they do to make themselves feel bigger. The irony is that in reality, they're weak and spineless bastards. I slammed his head against the tree one more time, making him answer.
“Alright, alright, I won’t contest. I swear it," he said stammering his agreement. I smiled.
“Now, I have that on tape, but more than that, if you ever hurt her again, you’ll have me to answer to, do I make myself clear?” he nodded profusely and I head-butted him, knocking him out cold. I shrugged as I looked down at him. “Pathetic."
I grabbed his wallet, watch and phone and threw the lot into a pond I passed on my way back to Miranda’s place. After relieving him of his cash of course.
The Target’s place.
Bloody hell, this fucking job was blurry.
Blurry was bad. I’d never had blurry before. This was a new thing. I wasn’t used to new.
I made my way back to ‘the target’s’ house, intent on watching the place for the rest of the night. I climbed the fire escape on the building opposite and sat against the wall, watching her on her bed, working. I smiled as I saw her write on a pink post-it note and stick it on the book she was reading. Her dog nuzzled her leg and she scratched it affectionately behind its ear. Another post-it note to the pages.
This was a woman that was in total control of her emotions. The sobbing woman from before was gone. In place was a woman who was totally focused. A part of me wondered what the ex-husband was doing in the house, part of me didn’t want to know.
He wouldn’t be in the house again though, would he!
“You are in so much trouble girl,” I said to myself as she threw the book on the table by the bedroom door and disappeared from view. I’d get the blueprints to the house next week sometime, once I’d had a chance to observe her a little more. I wasn’t going to rush this job. This one I was going to take my time with. As she came back into view, I averted my eyes. She was now wearing what I assumed to be the finest piece of silk I’d ever seen on a body. I felt a heat take over my body as my imagination ran riot.
“For God’s sake, pull yourself together Andy," I muttered as I climbed back down the fire escape. “It’s not a freaking peep show," I muttered to myself.
The whole way home I repeated it to myself like a mantra: "It's The Target, not Miranda, it's The Target, not Miranda."
As I lay in bed, one bourbon shy of a bottle later, I'd made a mental checklist of the things that I needed to do.
I needed blueprints to her house, the client had provided the ones to the office, but none to the house. I needed a schedule of her time and I needed, I tutted at myself, okay, fine: I wanted to see her in action at Runway. Maybe I’d plant a few cameras, see what turns up.
I smiled to myself as closed my eyes.
See disclaimer Chapter 1
My internal body clock snapped my eyes open at five thirty and I pulled on my running gear. I wasn't that much different to my night stalking gear but intent on running past Miranda’s - shit - the target’s, house again this morning, just to get a look at her in the daylight. I decided to catch the subway to Grand Central and then jog from there by the time I got to Mira - the target’s - neighbourhood, the street was already waking up. I imagined I could hear coffee machines clicking on and nanny’s waking children. I assumed Miranda would never have had time for children, the job she did would be far too demanding.
I jogged around the block for a while, pretending to stretch on an expanse of fencing. That was one thing I loved about these neighbourhoods, everyone kept to themselves. Their lives were so busy being busy that they had no time to look out of the window and see the slightly suspicious looking woman casing Miranda Priestly's townhouse. In a flash, I was once again on the roof of the building opposite, watching as she made her way regally down her stairs, pausing on the second-floor landing, all the while talking on her house phone. I smiled as I watched her smile into the phone and I couldn’t help but wonder who she was talking to. A lover perhaps, her family. It never mentioned any family in the package.
I really must have a word with that man about what he expects me to do with the bare bones of Miranda Priestley’s life. I’d worked out almost immediately that he must be someone that worked with her, mainly because he seemed to have included everything about Miranda Priestly, fashion icon and nothing about Miranda Priestly, the woman.
If, and right now I really wasn’t sure, I was going to do this I wouldn’t do it at work, it’d be at home, in the confines of her own space, with the things she loved around her. Her dog, that book she carries with her. Maybe a drug overdose, although then she’d be in the tabloid for weeks and people always made shit up when it came to big stories. Suicide? Although she was Miranda Priestly. So no. A mugging gone wrong? Too many cops, and again, when in the hell would Miranda Priestley ever be in a position to be mugged. My god, I loved a challenge.
I wondered as I sat there chewing my thumbnail what on earth someone like Miranda Priestly would eat for breakfast. I had read somewhere that she had a woman cook for her, but only in the evenings. I wondered if Miranda knew how to cook. I found myself wishing I could cook her one of my stir fries.
“For god’s sake Andy," I groaned and hit my head against the bricks.
I needed coffee. I clambered down from the roof and jogged to the nearest Starbucks, intent on getting the biggest coffee I could in the hope that my brain would snap back into business mode.
I waited for my order, drumming my fingers on the bar as I stood. My heart stilling for a moment as I heard a quiet, but commanding voice cut through everything in the store.
“I have been waiting two minutes for my coffee and it is still not ready. Is it so hard to make a simple coffee? Am I reaching for the stars?”
I stood watching the woman, a slight smile on my face, loving the sheer awesome power she had over everything. I stood there for a little too long and she turned, once again as if she could feel me watching her. I could tell her eyes were roaming the crowd under those big Prada sunglasses. I casually dropped to one knee, tying my shoelace that I’d pulled undone with my other foot as I knelt. I watched her from behind my Oakley’s as her lips flattened again. Obviously, the lip thing was a trademark of hers as I noted the driver’s worried expression as he held open the door for her. I’d have to remember that one.
I followed her out to the road, sipping my coffee as I flagged down a cab. No sense in wearing myself out now is there.
See disclaimer Chapter 1
I planted the cameras in the Elias-Clark building that night, choosing to plant them, instead of stalking, well, casing Miranda’s place out again. I shook my head as I hung from the ceiling in the blind spot between the building's security cameras, planting my own slightly better ones right on top of the originals. Mine would get every inch of the office every minute of the day.
“Seriously, what are you doing?” I asked myself as I hung there. I’d checked Miranda’s house out twice now, once in the evening, once in the day. I’d even been three feet away from the woman in a coffee shop and now I was planting cameras in her office, but already I was aware that I may not complete this job. Something about it didn’t feel right, not that any of them feel ‘right’ but this one was particularly troublesome.
Blurry. I wouldn’t say without focus, it definitely had focus. Too much focus, on Miranda.
“You were hired to kill her, you moron," I berated myself as I placed the last camera. “Not fall in lo, whoa I did NOT just say that,” I mumbled as I packed up my gear.
I spent the next few days watching Miranda work. She was really quite hilarious at times and if I wasn’t in the line of work that I was, I would genuinely be scared of the woman. She was definitely a force to be reckoned with.
I’d gone to make myself a coffee when I heard a familiar voice on the laptop I was playing the feed on.
“Miranda we need to talk."
I rushed back, vaulting over the couch to get to my seat while telling myself that was a normal thing to do.
“Ahh, so who are you, you insipid little man?” I wondered aloud to the computer screen.
“Yes, Irv, what is it this time?” she asked, her tone falling dangerously cold, her lips pressing a straight line.
I realised as he bumbled through the ridiculous thing he wanted to talk to her about. that this was the CEO. The man that was reported to be the driving force behind all of Elias Clarke's shrewd business deals. He was the one that had contacted me. But what did the CEO of a giant publishing company want to KILL one of his publishers for?
Miranda didn't like him, that was clear. I was fascinated by this woman. I watched her interact with him I realised that not only could I not do this job, but that I really wanted to meet her in person.
I laughed out loud as I thought that.
“Oh yeah, that’s great Andy, just walk up to her and say, Hi Miranda, I’ve been watching you from the building across the road and the illegally hidden cameras in your offices and I’d just like to say I think you're totally hot ," I rolled my eyes at myself. “Where the hell did that come from?”
I chewed my lip as I thought about it. I wasn’t not into girls I supposed. I'd never been with one, the opportunities were just not there in my line of work and although according to Miranda’s file she was at least twenty years older than me, right now it didn't seem to matter to me. I watched as she insulted the man without him even noticing and I realised that it definitely didn’t matter.
I frowned as I watched Irv shift slightly in his chair allowing me a better view of the huge windows she had in her office. Squinting into the laptop screen I saw a flash of light across the street and had I been closer to the building I would have torn Irv’s throat out like I’d wanted to tear out Stephen’s.
I realised what the flash of light was. Just then, two little red-headed children ran into the room and Irv made his hasty exit. I slammed my fist on the coffee table as I watched Miranda interact with the children, slowly realising that she did, in fact, have children, twins by the looks of it.
“Fuck," I grabbed my phone, dialling the number to her direct office line.
“Yes?” she answered, softly, yet deadly.
“I am about to save your life,” I said breathlessly into the receiver. “You three need to go to the bathroom right now and take your mobile with you.”
“Who is this?” She asked, her lips pressing into that familiar line again.
“I don’t have time to explain right now, take the girls into the bathroom and I’ll call you there,”
I could see her hesitating and my temper snapped.
“For God’s sake Miranda, get your children into the bloody bathroom or you’re going to die," I winced as she threw the phone onto the desk, ushering the children into the bathroom.
Keeping one eye on the sniper on the roof and one on Miranda I rang her mobile.
“Who the hell is this and what the hell am I doing in my private bathroom," I sighed audibly as she waited for an answer.
“Do you want the truth or a version of the truth?” I asked her bluntly, taking her back a little.
“I, I don’t know," she admitted quietly, glancing at the twins who were looking a little worried. I rechecked the building across the street, cursing Irv for his stupidity.
“Urgh. Alright, you know the other night when you got out of your car and you paused on the steps, thinking someone was watching you?” Miranda pursed her lips and the twins took a step back. I closed my eyes and bit the bullet. Grabbing my laptop, still watching the feed I locked my apartment and got in my car, not really sure what I was intending to do.
“By all means continue at a glacial pace, if you are the one that was watching me, I’m sure you realise how much it thrills me," she said, her tone just as glacial as her words. I smiled.
“Miranda right now, I’m talking on the phone with you, driving through the middle of Manhattan and trying to keep tabs on a sniper across the street from your building. Cut me some slack, alright?” I asked, not really expecting a reply.
“A What?” she whispered, pulling the kids closer to her.
“Sit tight, I’ll be there in three minutes,” I said to her, intending on hanging up the phone and getting my gear together as I drove towards the building.
“Don’t,” she started, before changing her tact. “Do not hang up this phone,” she said with the authority back in her voice.
“Alright, but you’re going on speaker for a moment," I saw her roll her eyes and I laughed, startling her, making her glare at the phone. I popped in some cheek lifters and a false set of teeth, completing it with a long blonde wig and a pair of Louboutin’s, knowing that I would not look out of place wearing the clothes that I had specially made for myself.
“What do you intend to do?” she asked quietly as I heard one of the girls whimper a little.
“I hadn’t really got that far," I said honestly, “but I will be with you in sixty seconds."
I ran from the car into the building, whizzing through security with a tag I snatched off what I assumed was a model. I rode the lift to the 42nd floor, stalking out of the elevator, keeping an eye in front and behind me at all times. I walked towards Miranda’s office, only to be met by an irate Emily.
“You can’t go in there, who are you?” I sighed. She really was very good at her job.
“Emily, I am only going to say this once. You are to stay out here, away from the door until I give the all clear. I am going in there, on my own and until then, sit tight," I said, taking the slightly stunned woman back to her chair, glad that it was slightly out of sight of the door.
I pulled open the door, knowing that the other player would know what was going on, just as well as I seemed to. I poked my head through the door, drawing it back again when a shot rang out, shattering the huge pane of glass onto the sidewalk below. I yanked the fire alarm and directed Emily to call Roy and wait around the back of the building for me. After shaking her a little, she nodded resolutely and I dove into Miranda’s office, taking up residence behind a filing cabinet.
“Miranda?” I called softly, not really sure what to expect. “Miranda are you alright?”
“What the hell is going on?” I heard a hiss from the bathroom. I smiled at her tone.
“Seems that they’ve seen me and decided they can wait no longer,” I said wincing as another bullet penetrated the office, shattering Miranda’s desk into a million shards of glass, all flying towards me and my right arm. I bit my lip until it bled trying to swallow a moan as I felt a small number of them lodge in the skin from my shoulder to my elbow.
“That’s going to hurt,” I mumbled as I got to my feet, making sure to stay behind the filing cabinet as much as possible.
I rushed through the room in a hail of pings and crashes as the bullets pelted the glass around me. I dived into the bathroom, making all three occupants scream.
“Calm down, I called you,” I said holding up my arms, wincing internally at the pain in my right shoulder.
Miranda and I looked at each other and for a tiny moment, nothing else mattered. She fell into my eyes and I fell into hers. A small smile appeared on her lips before a stray bullet to the tiles behind us brought us back to our senses.
“Alright, I’m going to get you out of here, but there are three things we have to do first,” I said starting to unbutton my jacket.
“What do you think you are doing?” she said, her professional mask slamming back over her feature while she fixed the most scornful look she could muster.
“Ow,” I said involuntarily as the jacket caught a piece of glass. “Trying to save your life, now will someone please give me a hand?” I said, struggling to flick my jacket off. One of the twins rolled her eyes when her sister and mother did not move.
“I’m Cassidy,” she said, dropping to the floor as a bullet penetrated the small, high bathroom window.
“Everyone down,” I yelled, pulling Miranda down to the ground.
“Unhand me this instant," she hissed, kneeling up to smooth her shirt.
“Oh for god’s sakes Miranda, they’re shooting at you,” I said exasperatedly as Cassidy helped me take my jacket off, squealing when she saw the blood. “It’s alright, it’s just blood,” I said, but I noticed she’d turned a rather delicate shade of green. I rolled my eyes.
“Miranda, you need to help me get this off,” I said ripping open my shirt buttons revealing a bulletproof vest. Her lips pressed together and I shook my head. “Don’t give me that shit, I need to get you and your kids out of here, now can you please pull yourself together and help me,” I said, my voice rising every second.
She seemed a little shaken by the tone of voice and nodded compliantly moving forward to the knife harness that was stopping me from removing my shirt. Her hands did shake for definite as she unclipped me, her eyes sliding from the three throwing knives to the sig I had stashed in the back of my pants before she slid the shirt off my shoulders. If the situation wasn’t so dire I would have sighed, but as it was I couldn’t. She made short work of the Velcro and then I was wearing nothing put pants and a singlet. I rolled my eyes.
“Put it on,” I said in no uncertain terms.
“I will not,”
“Then you’ll die,” I said as bluntly as possible, looking her straight in the eye. She swallowed and pulled the vest on.
“Under the shirt.”
“I will not be humiliated by a stalker," she said indignantly, her patience finally running out.
I sighed, once more. It was going to be a long day.
“I’m not a stalker,” as I peeked out into the office, drawing my head back in quickly as another hail of bullets rained glass down on me making me swear. "Okay, I'm not trying to kill you at least. But bloody Hell, is there enough glass in your office?” I asked her incredulously. I caught her staring at my shoulder and I smiled a little at the twins, who had followed their mother’s gaze. “It’ll be fine,” I said with a wink at them. They didn’t smile back. I pulled off my wig and handed it to Miranda, who looked at it as if it was going to explode.
I left the facial markers in, just in case things went really south.
“Give me your shirt,” I instructed, dressing in Miranda’s clothes, and placing my jacket over her shoulders, trying not to shiver when my fingertips touched her skin. “Right, here’s what we’re going to do,” I said, outlining the plan. “Miranda, you will take Cassidy and I will take Caroline and we run like hell for the emergency stairwell.”
“Genius,” she said drolly.
“He’s going to wait for you to appear so when you go out there first he’ll think it’s me and automatically aim for what he thinks is you next, which is why, Caroline, you need to stay in front of me at all times," I said pulling her closer, “You got that?” she nodded, looking worriedly up at her mother, who simply stroked her cheek.
“It’ll be fine Bobbsy," I smiled at the display of affection, winking at Cassidy as she rolled her eyes.
“Right. On the count of three, do not stop until you are inside the stairwell,” I said, happy to receive a nod at the end.
“One, two, three. RUN," I yelled spurring the two into action. A few bullets nicked the back wall of the building as they ran out of the bathroom, but my judgement was correct, the shooter would wait for me. I knelt in front of Caroline.
“Okay sweetheart, it’s you and me,” I said gently, taking her hands in mine. “I want you to know that I will not let anything happen to you.”
She nodded. “I believe you," she whispered gripping my hands tightly.
“Come here kiddo,” I said wrapping my arms around her, picking her up and enjoying the feel of her arms around my neck. “Hold on tight,” I whispered as I got ready for to run for the stairs. She nodded into my neck and I took off dodging and weaving as I tried to avoid the large calibre barrage we were facing.
We slid behind Emily's desk and I groaned as the glass embedded even deeper into my skin.
“Okay, I need to you run to your mother. I’ll draw their fire away from you alright?” The poor little thing was shaking like a leaf but nodded and let go of my shirt, well, Miranda’s shirt in anticipation. “Okay,” I said to her as we sat behind someone’s desk. “I am going to get up and run back into there. I need you to tell your Mom that Roy is waiting around the back of the building and Emily should be there as well.” Caroline nodded again and I smiled.
“I would very much have liked to have known you guys,” I said wistfully as I thought about what it was I was planning on doing.
“What's going to happen?” she asked, fear covering her features. I smiled.
“Tell your Mum that Stephen will not be a problem anymore and that if Irv goes missing not to worry about it," I sighed as another rain of bullets impacted the wall in front of us. “Come on where are the cops,” I said to myself.
you?” Caroline said as we waited for a lull in the firing. I frowned.
“Huh?” she rolled her eyes just like I’d seen her mother do.
“If you’re not a stalker then what are you?” she asked, looking at me inquisitively. I sighed, wincing as my shoulder hit the desk.
“I do what this guy does, except I do it better, and honestly, I had been asked to do what this guy is doing right now. But, if it's any consolation, I decided right away that I wasn't going to," she nodded and got up on the balls of her feet as I pointed to the stairwell. “Wait ten seconds then leave alright?” She nodded again and I ruffled her hair. “Can you tell your Mom something else for me?” I asked genuinely. She nodded, her eyes shining a little. “Tell her I’m sorry. Now, go!" I said, removing any chance of a reply as I ran back towards Miranda’s office, dodging bullets and flying pieces of glass.
“Worst bloody idea ever,” I said to myself as I ducked behind Miranda’s couch, hoping it was as solid as it looked. I pushed it straighter to form a barricade between me and the window. As I sat leaning against the sofa, listening to the bullets, I spied Miranda’s office phone and made a decision. I grabbed it and dialled the number before he could find me in the scope.
“Where are you?” Came the terse answer. I smiled.
“Miranda, I need you to listen to me for a moment, without interrupting alright?” I waited, and when no answer was forthcoming I simply ploughed on. “You really are amazing, you run this magazine with a formidable courage that not many possess, a courage that alienates you from everyone around you. I had no idea you’d had children, and I’d been watching you for days. I assumed that you would have been too busy to have kids and on that I was wrong. I had all these ideas about you and then I happened to be at your house on the night Stephen was waiting for you," I heard a sharp intake of breath as she realised what I saw. “You were right to check up and down the street, although maybe I should leave instructions on how to check shadows as I was directly across from you," I paused. "That doesn’t really matter. The point is, when you turned, I felt this spark of energy inside, like I’d come alive after I’d died and then," I chuckled. "Then you took off your sunglasses and I nearly walked over to you. Nearly 20 years I've been doing this and you nearly made me willingly blow my cover. You have the most beautiful eyes, Miranda Priestly," I said with a smile as I remembered them.
I screamed suddenly as a bullet pierced my arm.
“Are you there? Hello?” she called into the phone. “Hello?”
“Miranda," I sighed. "I think, in another life, I would have loved you,” I whispered through deep breaths of agony. “Is there anything in your office that you couldn’t live without?” I said quickly becoming irked at how little power I had over the arsehole in the opposite building. She paused for a moment and sighed.
“Actually in my bottom desk drawer, there’s a box, it is nothing of intrinsic value, just baby photos of the twins, other, mementoes” another pause and I could imagine her pursing her lips. “Why?”
I smiled into the phone.
“Did Caroline tell you what I said to tell you?” I asked, un-phased as I fetched the items I needed from my shoe.
“What has that got to do with it?”
“Miranda, I took this job a little apprehensively. Firing people is not usually a cause for a death contract. I started my recon with a view to deciding whether to take the job or not and as I watched you, at home and in the office I realised that there was no way I could go through with it. You are a goddess, a force to be reckoned with, but you are also a woman whose husband is an arrogant arsehole, and a woman who loves her dog, even though she’s not entirely comfortable with her on the bed, and a mother, who loves her children more than anything else in the whole world," I smiled even as I blinked away a tear. “It’s highly unlikely that it will be me, but one day you should show someone that side of you,” I said finally attaching the remaining piece to the contraption I was building. I smiled and took a deep breath. “Miranda, where are you?”
“What are you going to do?” She asked as I went quiet.
“I need to know you are safe, Miranda, I need to know that you are nowhere near the building.”
“I’m two blocks away," I nodded, tucking the box under my arm.
“I am going to fix this or die trying,” I whispered as I leant against the couch.
“I don’t even know your name,” she said sadly.
“Andrea Sachs, Andy for short.”
“Andréa,” she whispered, giving me goosebumps.
“I would have loved you forever,” I said quietly. Almost hanging up until I heard a whisper on the other end.
“If what you said about me is true, then I probably could have loved you forever too," I smiled sadly as she realised what I was going to do. “If, if for some reason you find yourself alive, I, I would not be adverse to seeing you," she said haltingly.
“You’ll be the first person to know,” I promised genuinely. I smiled as I pushed the button, racing away, stumbling again as a bullet grazed my leg. I made it to the elevator doors just as the explosion rang out, knocking me into the elevators, my whole body screaming with pain as I prized the door open.
Finding the ladder I climbed down, eager to go and kill someone, anyone would do, but I was going to start with the arsehole across the street, who clearly had no idea what they were doing or else they would have left as soon as they saw me. I hobbled out of the service entry making it to my car, shrugging off the shirt I’d been wearing, dressing my wounds roughly, before pulling a sweatshirt over the hope and grabbing my gun.
Someone was going to die today.
I crossed the street, pulling out the cheek fillers as I did, hell-bent on this being the last job he, and I, ever pulled. I climbed the fire escape, ignoring the burning in my wounds and my very tired muscles crying out as my adrenaline wore off. Creeping up behind him, I could tell he was an amateur, not used to doing this sort of thing.
“You made two mistakes," I said as I walked up behind him. "Ah, don’t move," I said as he reached for a gun. “Two mistakes.” I could feel the killer in me coursing through my veins, but this time it was different. It was white hot, more potent than I’d ever felt it before. I realised that I really was in love with Miranda Priestley. This final job, was for her.
“One, you didn’t do your homework, or you would have known about me," I said taking a step forward, ensuring my target could see me from where he lay. “And two?” I said gleefully, giving into the darker side of my character. “You are still here,” I said, pulling the trigger, not even flinching as his head exploded in front of me.
My arm throbbed and the anger dissipated almost immediately, startling me for a moment until I realised that just by falling in love I’d healed my oldest wound. I didn’t need to be that person anymore. I could just be me.
After I tore Irv’s throat out. I thought to myself happily.
See disclaimer Chapter 1
I dropped the box off at Miranda’s, leaving it on the bed, along with a single rose I’d picked from next door’s greenhouse. I wished I could have seen her face when she got it, but I was happy enough knowing that she knew I was alive. I desperately needed medical attention, so I sought that first before going after Irv. Runway took two weeks off and that’s the time frame I gave myself to kill him.
In reality, it took a whole lot longer than two weeks to weed out all of the players in the little web of intrigue that Irv was building. It turned out he was in league with Jacqueline Follet, a minor player and one he'd brought in from overseas, set on taking over Miranda’s job. As I interrogated her into submission I realised that the original simmering anger was no longer there. It had been replaced by the white-hot burning. The feeling that I would do anything to protect Miranda, even though my brain kept telling me I didn’t even know the woman. Right now, I had the means of making a family, hopefully, one day my family, safe. Irv knew his time was up when he turned on the light to reveal me sitting in his home office chair.
“Have a seat Irv,” I said quietly. He complied immediately, his skin turning sallow as he realised the full impact of what he’d done.
“You kept certain things from me Irv," I stood and walked over to him, liking the look on his face as I got close enough to touch him. "Miranda is a good woman," he scoffed, which turned into a groan as I slammed my revolver into his forehead. Emptying the chamber of the revolver I'd picked for this very purpose, I made a big show of choosing a single bullet, loading it into the gun and spinning the chamber. I aimed it at his head, ignoring his whimpering pleas and pulled the trigger.
“Like the fact that Jacqueline is in league with you," he swallowed. "That you could think to replace Miranda Priestly." I pulled the trigger.
“You realise what this means don’t you Irv,” I said as spun revolver chamber again. “Your life is entirely down to chance," I leant forward so I could smell the disgusting cologne he was wearing. “But know this, after our little ‘talk’ Jacqueline will not be returning to work on Monday. In fact, she may never return at all," I said dying to itch my face underneath the mask I had worn to cover my true identity. That in itself was an indication that my life as an assassin was almost over. I smiled despite the situation. I had enough money to never work again if I should choose it. I gleefully returned the gun to the odious man’s temple smiling sinfully.
“Are you ready?” I asked him, taking only the slightest pleasure in watching him almost convulse.
“Please, please, I’ll leave the whole company to her, she can have the lot," I laughed genuinely at the stupidity.
“You moron. She doesn’t want the company. Her job is Editor-in-Chief and it will remain that way until she sees fit, do I make myself clear?” he nodded profusely, praying to any and all gods that were listening to spare his life. “Goodbye Irv," I said pulling the trigger.
“Looks like fate is on your side Irv. But if I see you again? I’ll be the master of your fate," I whispered menacingly in his ear. I’d almost made it to the door when I heard him exhale.
“Stupid, sanctimonious bitches," he breathed after he thought I’d gone.
“Oh, dear Irv,” I said loudly turning to him, pointing my gun at him. If anything he paled even more and I pulled the trigger, dislodging the bullet into his right leg.
I sauntered back over to him and pushed the barrel into the wound making him scream bloody murder.
“You would do well to remember this day Irv,” I said walking out of the front door like nothing had happened.
I wasn’t going to call the police, he could do what he liked, but after six weeks I needed to go back. My wounds were healing well after I got patched up by the Doc, but I smiled as I thought about the limp Irv would have for the rest of his life. I pulled off the mask and the wig and the cheek lifts and the false teeth. I got to my car and changed my outfit, pulling on a pair of True Religion jeans and a Chloé singlet and jacket. Might as well look the part.
See disclaimer Chapter 1
I watched with a broad smile as she left her townhouse, followed her down the road. She paused by her neighbours rose trellis, breathing their scent in deeply as she smiled at the girls, who were walking beside her, hand in hand. Stalking them up the street, I clipped another rose from the bush and overtook them on the way to Starbucks, ordering Miranda her coffee and giving the barista a set of instructions he understood to follow.
I watched from the back of the room as she stalked in, the crowd parting for her as she made her way up to the counter. The boy smiled at her and handed her coffee over to her without ordering it, along with a single rose and directions to follow to where my surprise was waiting. She smiled genuinely as she smelled the rose, taking a deep breath, closing her eyes. It took all my training not to go over and kiss her right then.
She took the girls outside to where Roy, her driver was waiting. She knelt down in front of the girls and hugged them tightly, kissing each on the forehead, only to have them squeal with delight once they were in the car. Miranda looked around shocked as they emerged from the car with custom-made Harry Potter backpacks, each with their names on them and a custom built Harry Potter DS each.
During my time away I researched everything I could about Miranda and her family, properly this time. I called in favours and searched in places no-one else would think to look. I loved having money. You could ask for anything in the world and generally, people would give it to you. I could see the twins begging to stay but she refused and once again placed them in the car, nodding her thanks to Roy, who smiled back.
I was glad she trusted him a little better, smiling my approval. I’d researched him (and every single one of her staff), finding him to be, by all accounts, a genuinely lovely man. I followed her from the coffee shop, almost laughing as I heard her on the phone.
“Emily cancel everything until further notice, tell Lagerfeld I’ll see him at the ball and tell Jocelyn that if she shows me one more cerulean blue shirt she will be looking for another job," I smiled as she paused for a moment, looking around like she could sense I was there. I leant in the shadows and waited for her to continue, knowing that there was no real hurry. A smile tugged at her lips as she continued.
“Find me a Chanel gown for the ball, size three, shoes, bag, bore someone else with the details," she said crisply, before pausing again.
“Oh, and Emily?” she asked, raising an eyebrow under her sunglasses. “Thank you," she said quietly, hanging up straight away.
I laughed quietly at the changes this woman had brought about. Both our lives were changing for the better today, I thought ironically.
She followed the directions to the Rose exhibit in the Central Park Zoo, pausing here and there to smell the roses. She stopped in front of the pond and sat regally on a bench. I couldn’t stop the smile from creeping across my face as I made my way towards her. I was so close I could smell her perfume and the thought made me dizzy.
“I knew you were there," she whispered as if she wasn’t really talking and I laughed out loud, making her turn.
“I know you did,” I said, still smiling as I looked at her. I took her hand and gently helped her off the bench, taking her arm in mine as we wandered the gardens in a comfortable silence.
“Is it over?” she asked quietly as we completed the walk through the roses. I sat on the same bench I had found her on and she joined me, the sides of our bodies pressing together almost the entire length.
“Yes,” I whispered as I looked at her out of the corner of my eye. She sighed and closed her eyes, and without looking took my hand intertwining her fingers into mine.
“Thank god," She breathed, leaning her head on my shoulder. I kissed the crown of her head.
“I do know how much you love people moving at a glacial pace,” I said with a giggle, making her laugh. I stared at her, realising that the whole time I had been watching her, researching her, I had never once heard her laugh.
“What?” she asked a little defensively, pulling away as I looked at her. I rolled my eyes and placed my arm around her shoulders, pulling her back towards me.
“I’ve never heard you laugh,” I said simply, quietly. She hummed her pleasure as she snuggled into my shoulder.
“If you stick around maybe I’ll do it more often now," She said gently pulling my hand tighter around her, but not releasing my hand. I grinned mischievously.
“If I stick around maybe I’ll make you laugh more often,” I said kissing her temple softly, delighting in her reaction, watching her close her eyes. “Maybe I’ll make you utter other noises you wouldn’t normally utter too,” I whispered evilly, laughing as a blush coloured her features.
“I am older than you," she said. It wasn’t a question. It was obvious I was younger than her, she just wasn’t sure by how much.
“Yes, but that doesn’t matter to me," I kissed her hair again, inhaling her perfect scent.
“I have children," I kissed the knuckles on her left hand.
“I’m sure we'll get along fine,” I kissed the other hand, not letting go of either as I shifted slightly, resting my forehead on hers as I removed her sunglasses, making her look into my eyes.
“I have done things I am ashamed of,” I said simply, not breaking my gaze. She smiled and nodded.
“You saved my job, my career, my old passion," she said kissing my nose making me giggle.
“There are things about me that you might never be able to know,” I said apologetically. She kissed my forehead, before resting hers back again, once more looking deep into my very soul.
“I know all I need to know right now," she whispered. “You saved my life, my family, my divorce proceedings," she added with a little smirk.
“I couldn’t help that, he is an arsehole,” I said breaking eye contact and pulling back. I frowned as I thought about what she’d just said.
“What do you mean your old passion?” I said looking at her sideways. She took my cheek in her hand, turning it with a little pressure from her palm, making me face her again.
“I was thinking maybe I need a new passion," she said quietly once again getting lost in my eyes as I got lost in hers.
“Yeah?” I asked, smirking. She licked her lips and glanced down at my lips.
I tilted my head and captured my lips with mine, moaning as my life suddenly seemed to make sense. I could feel fireworks in my brain and in my chest, and I pulled her impossibly closer; the kiss deepening as I ran my tongue gently over her bottom lip, pushing it forward gently, making love to her mouth with her tongue. The world disappeared as I got lost in her taste, her smell, her feel. Our hands started to wander, Miranda, finding skin first as she moved under my Chloé singlet. I moaned again, breaking off the kiss, sucking in air like there was no tomorrow.
She opened her eyes and looked into mine, smiling fully, her eyes dancing with the happiness I knew my eyes were reflecting right back.
“Take me home," she whispered against my lips as she moved to kiss me again. I smiled against hers and nodded extending my hand, helping her off the bench
See disclaimer Chapter 1
She unlocked the house, not helped by my mouth on her neck, kissing her lightly on every inch of skin I could find.
“You smell so, very, good,” I said breathing in her scent once more as she turned in my arms, letting me kick the door closed, locking it without looking as she attacked my mouth with a rather talented tongue.
“I’ve never felt like this with anyone,” she said breathlessly as she walked upstairs, me guiding her backwards as I unbuttoned her blouse slowly, kissing each little inch of skin I revealed. As the material fell open my mouth went dry at the perfect torso before me. She moved her hands protectively over her middle, making me smile.
“Me neither,” I said kissing her mouth again picking her up making her squeal. She threw her head back and laughed as I carried her the rest of the way, dumping her unceremoniously on the bed, taking her hands and intertwining our fingers as I straddled her hips, looking down at her.
“You are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen,” I whispered as I alternated between kissing and licking her neck, making her gasp as my tongue ran into the hollow of her neck.
I gently moved my hands from hers, sensually stroking my fingertips down her arms and ghosted them over her breasts, smiling as her nipples hardened under her incredibly sexy La Perla lingerie. I unclipped her bra and tugged it gently off her chest with my teeth, removing it fully before I turned my attention back to her perfect body. I worshipped every inch of her torso with my fingers and my tongue and my lips, pulling a nipple into my mouth, nibbling gently, eliciting a deep moan from somewhere in her chest. Kissing down her perfect belly I unzipped her skirt, smiling as it revealed a garter belt, just covering a scar running the width of her stomach.
“Don’t look at it," she said suddenly, remembering what was imprinted on her skin.
“It’s beautiful,” I whispered, letting my tongue meander its way along the length of the belt, gently biting her hip bone at the end, making her sigh.
“As irrational as this sounds, I think I love you," she whispered as I gently, slowly unclipped her suspenders and followed the path that her stocking was making on the way down her legs with my lips, never putting too much pressure on her skin, making her squirm, trying to feel me more.
“I know I love you,” I said kissing her now naked legs, all the way up to her knees, which she parted obligingly, letting me lay in between them. My body was on fire as I stared down at her, only two more items and she would be fully open to me. I smiled at the realisation and she caught me grinning.
“You are wearing too many clothes," She said as she pulled me up to her mouth, unbuttoning my jeans and helping them on their way with her feet, which, once divested of my jeans her strong legs wrapped around my hips, grinding her sex into mine, making me moan into her shoulder. She pulled the top from my body, stopping as she caught sight of my body, gasping in horror.
There were tears in my eyes as she followed the scars that went from my neck to my navel with her fingers. I had learned to love with my scars many years ago and had added a few to them, often not by choice, but seeing her worshipping my scars was something out of this world.
“You’re beautiful," she said, looking into my eyes, conveying the message she wanted to deep into my soul.
“I love you,” I said softly as I captured her lips in mine again, gasping as our bare breasts touched for the first time.
I went back to kissing my way down her body, ridding her of her panties and garter belt, leaving her naked to the world, to me, before removing my own and lying, facing her, next to her on the bed. She bit her lip as she looked at me.
“I’ve never done this before," she whispered, tracing a scar down my forearm. I kissed her softly, moving closer, pulling her leg over my hip. I smiled as she sighed as I ran my hands gently over her side, from knee to arm, and back down again.
“Me neither,” I whispered kissing her ear softly, running my hand over her stomach, smiling as it rippled under my fingers. “But you look too good to stop now,” I said with a smile against her lips, which she returned, her hand suddenly connecting with my skin, making me jump a little.
I kissed her deeply as I traced and intricate pattern down to her centre, moaning along with her as I realised just how ready she was.
“God I love you,” I whispered as I rubbed her clit gently, slowly, making her pull me closer, her fingers digging into my back, the other hand mirroring my actions, making me moan into her mouth.
We did everything slowly, sensually, desperate to extract every tiny bit of pleasure we could from this, both of us wondering if it was a dream. Her leg tightened around my hip, pulling me even closer as we entered each other together, as if on cue. Panting hard we mirrored our movements, both whispering each other’s names as we reached the peak, looking deeply into each other’s eyes as we toppled over the edge together, Miranda screaming my name and me answering with hers.
I came around first, biting my lip as I pulled her hand from my core, finally able to brush that wisp of hair from her face as I kissed her closed eyelids. She smiled gently, curling up in my arms, letting me hold her tightly.
I felt a kiss on my sternum and a hand stroked my forearm, pausing when she got to the still healing wound I’d received saving her life. She moved up to my face, cupping my cheek with her palm, kissing my nose. I laughed suddenly at a thought. She quirked her eyebrow in question.
“I’ve just realised something,” I said tracing another set of intricate patterns on her side and back, making her shiver a little. “You’re the first person to see the real me since before my parents died,” I said brushing her hair back. “The real me, no mask, no wig, no alter ego. Just me," I said gently, a little bashful but excited all the while.
“It makes sense," She said gently, smiling as I kissed her neck, pulling my eyes back to look into hers. “You were the first person to see me too.”