I lean against the wall as I study the woman by the bar, this Kerry Jackson that Salvatore sent me for. Corben has been dealt with. He squealed like a pig. It’s bliss to be back home, and this new hit is decidedly easier on the eyes. Sticking a new toothpick between my teeth, I cross my arms over my chest and fight the urge to give this shit up and get a smoke anyway. If someone had told me how miserable I’d feel quitting, I’d have punched the guy who gave me the first cig instead of greedily taking it. For fuck’s sake. Life is never easy. She’s on her third shot and is definitely getting tipsy. Her long ringlets of red hair are thick and silky and I’ve been hypnotized the whole night by how it caresses the skin on her lower back where I can just about make out the little dimples. Her ass-hugging jeans are cut low, and the white blouse, that looks so demure and innocent from the front, has a long vertical slit in the back that shows enough for me to want to sneak a hand in there and find out just how smooth that ivory skin is. My cock twitches and I grit my teeth. I’m not here for that, for fuck’s sake. My job is to drug the kid and get rid of her. Apparently, she’s seen, or heard something she shouldn’t have. Too bad. She’s totally fuckable. Maybe I can postpone it a day? Or a few hours at least. Spitting out the toothpick, I push away from the wall and slide up next to her, in the gap that just opened. “Drowning your sorrows, sweetie?” She jerks violently. “Jeez, you scared me!” The expression in her dark green eyes almost floors me. It twists my guts as if someone has stabbed me. I don’t know when I’ve seen anything so sad, and yet so fiery at the same time. I swallow hard. “So I noticed,” I say softly, suddenly afraid to scare her off. “I’m sorry. It wasn’t my intention.” “All right,” she says as her captivating eyes scan my face. She actually leans back a little and takes in the rest of my body as well. “What is your intention then?” Snapping her mouth closed, she suddenly blushes and puts a hand to her cheek. “I’m—I’m sorry, I’m not myself tonight.” I can believe it. “Can I get you something?” I nod toward the bartender, catching his attention. “Gimme two more of these.” She gestures to the shot glasses in front of her. I raise an eyebrow. This will be a walk in the fucking park. Whether I want to fuck her, or kill her. Or both. “What will you have, sir?” asks the bartender. A tired man in his fifties who has long since stopped being curious of his guests. Suits me perfectly. “Give me a beer. Ale.” Our drinks arrive in no time and I raise my bottle. “What’s eating you, then? And cheers.” She tilts her head, flips back a few strands of hair, empties the glass with an absolutely adorable grimace, and wipes her glistening wet, lush lips with the back of her hand. The sight alone makes me semi-hard in an instant. I exhale shakily and grin at her. “It’s a thing at work. I can’t… It’s nothing. Or, it’s not nothing, it’s a lot. I shouldn’t think about it. I don’t know if I’m stupid or… But I’ve got this really strange feeling, and I feel so sorry for the boy. It crushes me. I want to die!” I blink. I doubt she really wants to die. Sadly, she’s about to get her wish fulfilled. “That’s… You’ve got a lot in there.” I gesture to her chest. “Got someone to talk to?” “M’got friends.” I look around us without seeing anyone who seems the least attentive to this girl. “Where are your friends then? I don’t see anyone here.” She waves in the direction of the dancefloor. “They’re out there somewhere. I think I broke them.” That makes me laugh. “What?” “I can talk. A lot.” “If you need a fresh set of ears…” She downs the second glass and sways. I catch her by the elbow and steady her. She’s so light, like a little bird. Her skin is warm and damp. A scent of musk and flowers wafts up as she grabs my arm. “Thank you,” she says on an exhale. She studies my face again and squints. “You’ve got such black eyes. They’re… They’re like voids. Have you hypnotized me?” I’d say it’s the other way around, but I don’t tell her that. “You shouldn’t have more of those, sweetie. You need buckets of coffee and some fresh air.” She shakes her head and looks like she’s trying to gauge the situation. I chew on my lip and wince. Did I lose her there? Too much too fast? I take a light hold of her chin and turn her head toward the street. Right across is a 24-hour cafe. “Not gonna kidnap you, love. Go tell your friends you’re leaving. I’ll be outside. Do as you like. It’s just…” I lean closer, cheek to cheek, reveling in the warmth that radiates from her skin. “It’s a lot easier to talk over there than it is here.” I hope by giving her the choice, and seeming nonchalant about it, will give her enough courage to follow through. I have no interest in her friends seeing me, so I sneak out as she makes her way to the deeper recesses of the venue. Murderous thoughts race through my head as I glare at a kid with a smoke, standing on the sidewalk a few steps from me. Why am I quitting again? I can’t remember. “Hey, you got—” “Heeeeere.” Her unmistakable light voice singsongs from behind me. Well, I’ll be damned. I forget the kid with the cigarette in an instant, offer her my arm and look left and right before pulling her with me across the street. This is almost too easy. She stumbles a little in her military-style high-heeled boots and leans heavier on my arm. A thrill runs through me. I don’t mind it. At all.