"Again? I have to do this again?'' Villanelle thought to herself, as she sipped whiskey with a bitter frown on her face. She hates hard liquor, but it's just one of those shitty situations where you have no alternatives. So she's in a bar, somewhere in Milan, drinking her problems away. The space is crowded with people, lots of elegant beautiful women, but she couldn't care less. Because she just shot the love of her life. Who will never forgive her. She ruined everything. But maybe it's for the best. After all, Eve is a coward. A coward who left her. Left their future. And for what? Boredom. Boring job. Boring life. Mustache on a fudge husband. She doesn't deserve Villanelle.
Yes, it's time for a new beginning. Or re-installment of her old life. Whatever, it was time for change. So she finished her 4th shot of whiskey and went to the train station. She bought a one-way ticket to Paris on the night train. Before falling asleep in her seat she texted Konstantin.
I decided not to kill you and your family after all...
Call me tomorrow
She was still angry with him, but she wanted her old job back, so she decided to temporarily forgive him. She might shoot him later though. And with that thought she fell asleep very peacefully.
She missed the smell of Parisian streets. A mixture of urine and perfume. Bittersweet, like life itself. She decided to walk from the train station instead of taking a taxi. It was a beautiful sunny morning. And she was free as a bird.
First stop: Coffee shop.
A large cappuccino and croissant for breakfast, as usual. She hated England and its shitty food. She took the opportunity to google some real estate agencies on her phone. She needed a place to stay asap. But for now she'll have to improvise.
Second stop: Boutiques.
Her second (if not first) life necessity was clothes. So she spent three hours shopping , for therapeutic and aesthetic reasons. Eight bags in total.
Third stop: Hotel.
She really needed to wash herself, as she haven't showered in 48 hours. So she went to an old hotel that still has pre-war bathtubs and soaked for two hours, followed by a four hour nap on the king sized bed.
*Konstantin often commented that Villanelle is like a cat, she's ether hunting, cleaning herself or sleeping.
Fourth stop: Women.
As usual, she went out and found herself two women to bring home with her. And they satisfied her well. As she was lying between their sleeping bodies she thought to herself that she finally cleared her pallet after Eve. She was finally her old self and she got her life back on track.
And of course, with that thought, she challenged the universe.
Because tomorrow, everything started going to shit.
At first things seemed well. Konstantin called her on the phone, they argued for about 10 minutes, after which he gave her the info on her new target.
A middle aged banker. How boring, she concluded. But the bills aren't going to pay themselves, so she headed to his bank, to start surveying him. It was a gigantic building made of glass. There were golden statues in the lobby. If this building was a person, it would be Marie Antoinette.
She really liked her target's suit. It was obvious he was a man of taste. Everything on him was beautiful and expensive. Too bad she has to kill him. She decided to find a less violent way to do it because she doesn't want to ruin a perfectly tailored suit. That would be a true crime.
With that thought, she went on her well deserved lunch brake to a bistro nearby. It was warm enough so she sat outside. Just salad for her today, she's trying to lose some weight. Since she's eating light, she can treat herself with a glass of wine. Or two. Or three. As she was starting to get tipsy her guard was slightly down. And that is when she got company at the table.
"Try the clams, they're to die for'' An odd looking woman has occupied the chair on the opposite side of Villanelle's table and was now offering her food tips, in a thick British accent. She was overly tall, skinny and confident, Villanelle noticed. But at the same time, she looked like she did not take herself seriously. Like a child trapped in a grownup's body. Her dark eyes were mischievous. And so was her smile. For a second Villanelle thought she was giving her a dirty look.
Her clothes were a disaster. Oversized men's coat in the most hideous shade of grey. Underneath it a cheap black top. Her pants were probably a disaster too. Still there was something annoyingly charming about this intruder.
Villanelle wasted no time. She grabbed a knife from the table and pressed it against the woman's neck.
"You are very rude'' she growled through her teeth. "You are interrupting my lunch"
The woman raised her hands in the air with a huge smile on her face. "Wow, easy tiger. I just wanted to offer you a piece of advice. No need for...excessive violence''
There was that look again. Piercing, playful, inquisitive. And dirty. Villanelle was offended. How dare she interrupt her meal and look at her like that. Right in front of her salad.
"Who are you?'' Villanelle was still holding the knife.
"My name is Charlie. I'm your new handler. Lovely to meet you" She pulled the knife out of Villanelle's hand and then shook her hand. The smile on her face said she was genuinely happy to meet Villanelle.
Villanelle, on the other hand, was frozen in shock. Her mouth was open and she couldn't speak.
Charlie took a bite of Villanelle's pizza bread.
"What? What do you mean a handler? I don't work for the Twelve anymore, as they are trying to kill me!" She raised her voice slightly because she felt like she was losing touch with reality and this was a bad dream.
Charlie was still smiling. It's like she's an annoying ray of sunshine. "Well I have good news. There were some minor management changes in the organization so you're on the white list again. White is for 'your life will not be terminated'. So I am offering you your job back. If you still want it".
She was now casually eating Villanelle's salad.
"Just like that?'' Villanelle was rightfully suspicious. These people tried to kill her on numerous occasions.
"Just like that. We desperately need your services. You see, there aren't many good assassins left out there. Because they end up dead sooner or later. We need someone we can relay on, long-term".
Villanelle was still not convinced. She needed to think, fast. And Charlie was perfectly aware of her thoughts.
"Look, as a sign of good will, we will not kill Eve. Even though she killed one of our men. You will also get your old apartment back, with rent paid one year in advance. Unfortunately miss Tattevin is permanently dead so we can't bring her back. But I will make sure your fridge is full of champagne and your clothes are back in the closet".
She finished the salad and was now pouring herself a glass of wine.
"And will you be eating my food as well?" Villanelle couldn't get passed this woman's arrogance.
"Oh I'm so sorry, I didn't have time to eat today. Let me pay for lunch".
She pulled out some wrinkled euros from her pocket and laid them on the table gently. Then she lit up a cigarette and grabbed the wine glass. She was completely carefree, enjoying the sun on her pale British face with her eyes shut.
"Why are you so nice to me? Are you trying to sleep with me?" Villanelle was genuinely puzzled.
Charlie grinned. "I don't mix business with pleasure. Besides, my sins are of another nature". She took a huge sip of wine and inhaled the smoke as much as possible.
"Such as?'' Villanelle was slightly intrigued.
"Gambling. Drugs, occasionally. Alcohol. Basically everything that brings me joy without killing me directly"
"You are disgusting'' Villanelle grunted.
"And you sound just like my mother"
Charlie didn't take the insult seriously, as she didn't take life seriously as well. She was going through her pockets trying to find her car keys when she accidentally dropped a police ID on the table, along with some rubbish. The ID had her picture on it and it said inspecteur Charlie Morgan.
"You're also a cop??" This was too much for Villanelle for one day.
"That's my biggest sin probably" She finally found the keys and lit another cigarette."Meet me tomorrow at the Hippodrome at noon. I will bring your new passport, money and the new key to your apartment" She sounded so serious when she spoke about work.
"Why are we meeting at the Hippodrome? Can't we just meet here again?"
"Because I invested some money on a horse race. It will be fun, I promise". She gave Villanelle her most charming smile while putting on Ray Bans and standing up to leave.
Villanelle could now confirm that she was in fact freakishly tall. And very fit. Like, insanely fit. Exceptional physiognomy.
She was about to leave but then stopped and turned around to face Villanelle."You shouldn't be on a diet if you ask me. You look perfect" She sounded honest. For the first time.
And then she was gone. Villanelle watched her as she strolled down the street. She walked funny.
Villanelle called Konstantin immediately, to see what the hell was going on. Turns out it was all true. Konstantin knew about it in Rome, but wasn't allowed to say anything until now. Which meant she was stuck with this hideously dressed cop. And she was so close to having her perfect life back. Now she will have to put up with ugly jackets, smoke, and ambiguous looks.
Villanelle considered killing her, but that would probably bring another Raymond in her life, so she decided to quit on the idea.
She went back to the hotel and took a long nap. It's been a stressful day.
Charlie was in one of her dreams. They were running down a hill while holding hands and laughing. Villanelle wondered about the symbolism of that dream. It's not like she liked her or anything.
But then Villanelle remembered that every woman she was ever attracted to wore ugly jackets. There must be something there.