KILLING ME SOFTLY - Teenage Assassin - Chapter 44

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CHAPTER 44:

GABRIEL’S POV:

Sitting across the table from Anna, alone for the first time in days, she avoids my stare.  My cooking isn’t that good, but she’s digging into that omelet like it’s laced with crack.  Eat away, I can be patient.  Especially if I get to watch Anna wearing that robe, while I fantasize that nothing’s underneath it but skin. 

We arrived in Athens yesterday and settled into the mysterious uncle Simon’s home.  Anna locked herself into her room, claiming that she had contacts to call, emails to send, murders to plot, nails to paint.  You know, the usual.  Obviously all a ploy to avoid me.  Like I said, patient. 

When I woke this morning, I heard the shower running from the hall bathroom with no one else around.  I started making breakfast for myself and whoever was in there.  When Anna was the one to walk out of the bathroom, I had to hide my grin, happy to see her and happy not to have to give the extra omelet to her brother.  When asked, she didn’t know where Jackson had gone off to.  My hope is that he won’t be back anytime soon, or this week. 

When she finishes, grabbing her plate and mine, she mumbles, “I’ll wash these, then I have to make some more calls.”

“I’m bored,” I say in a petulant tone before she can escape.

She’s already halfway to the sink when she turns around, still holding one dirty dish in each hand, with cups and silverware balancing on top of them.  “Watch TV.”

As she puts them in the sink, I talk to her back, “It’s mostly in Greek.”

“Go online,” she suggests, turning on the water. 

“I want to go out, I've never been to Greece.”

She’s silent as she does her work.  Once the forks, silverware and cups are all on the drying rack, she finally turns around, leaning back against the sink, gripping the countertop behind her.  “You can’t go out alone.”

I manage to hold back a triumphant smile, “I know.”

With an irritated huff, she walks out of the kitchen, “Give me twenty minutes to get ready.”

Rushing back to my room, I take a quick shower and get dressed.  Not knowing where to hide my weapons, I settle on slipping my gun in the back of my jeans and pulling my black t-shirt over it.  I also stuff a sheathed knife into my boots, wriggling it around into a comfortable position.  We were careful while traveling here, staying low-key, unlikely to have been followed, but you never know. 

I run into Anna in the hallway and grab her hand before she moves away, pulling her along with me out the door.  Smiling at her while she locks the front door, I yank on her skirt, “You look adorable.”

She gives me an ‘are you serious?’ look, lifts up the hem of her skirt to give me a glimpse of the blades strapped around her thighs, then nonchalantly walks down the steps.  I’ve always had a weakness for a women carrying weapons so close to her most dangerous one of all.  Wow, that was a really perverted thought.  Mentally, I pat myself on the back. 

The city is crowded, this time of year being big for tourism.  It’s also the warmest time of year, hence Anna’s summery outfit.  I’m guessing her other weapons are in that bag she has draped over her shoulder.  She explains that an area called Thission is within walking distance.  Not caring less where we go, I tell her to lead the way.  Her attempt to act as if she isn’t just crazy about me as I am her is amusing.  And frustrating.  It's a good thing I'm so patient.

Surprisingly, even with the heat and the sweat pooling at my lower back where the gun is against my skin, it ends up being one of the best days I've had in a long time.  Independent as she is, I still try to treat her like a lady, whenever she'll let me get away with it, like opening doors and picking up the tab.  We don't do anything particularly special, browse in some shops, stop at a small restaurant for lunch, walk off the calories in a park.  It's great, though, just being alone with her. 

Throughout the day, I subtly steal a touch here and there.  At first, it’s just the brush of my body against hers, later, I move up to placing my hand on her lower back.  When she stiffens under my touch, I pretend not to notice and she gradually relaxes.  By the time we’re leaving the park, she’s finally let her guard down and is laughing at my jokes. 

The sidewalk in front of a line of shops a couple blocks from Simon’s house are crowded.  Taking the opportunity, and excuse, I grab onto her hand and pull her along with me as I wind my way through the tourists.  Once past the people and once again in the residential area, I keep a firm hold on her hand. 

We’re still holding hands as we come up to the steps of our temporary residence.  Jackson’s sitting there with an annoyed look on his face.  He glances down at our joined hands then rolls his eyes, “Not this crap all over again.  All I know is, nobody better shoot me this time around.”

Anna slides her hand from mine, looking uncomfortable.  Jackson is not helping my cause.  "Shut up, Jackson, before I shoot you in the ass."

Ignoring us and bypassing Jackson, Anna calls out over her shoulder, "I need to check my email."

Jackson gives me a smug smile, "So, how you liking Athens?"

"I'm liking," I say casually, "Very romantic."

"Wonder who wants to kill you."  Jackson shrugs, "Not that I can't understand why they would want you dead."

"You're an ass."

He laughs, "I know."

Walking up the stairs past him, I ignore the urge to kick him in the ribs.  The house is quiet and after knocking on Anna's door, all I get is an, "I'm busy!"

Realizing that there's nothing to do, I go to the room designated as mine and lay down on the bed.  Drifting off to sleep, I hope that it takes a really long time to figure out who wants me dead.  I could go on the run and hide out with Annabelle forever. 

ANNABELLE'S  POV:

Peeking into Gabriel's room, I see that he's napping.  Quietly, I close the door and grab my bag on my to the front door.  With my hand on the doorknob, I hear Jackson call out, "Running away?"

I stop, but don't turn around, "I need air."

"Open a window."  The amusement in his voice makes me clench my jaw. 

Reluctantly, I turn to face him.  "I'll be back later."

Jackson is standing there is shorts, no shirt and bare feet.  "You don't have to be here, Annie."  He motions back towards the hallway with the hand he's holding a gun in, "I can keep loverboy alive and you can get away from here.  Go to our place in Paris, spend time with Marie."

Not wanting to meet his eyes, I glance down the hallway over his shoulder, "He's not your responsibility."

"He's not yours either," Jackson states matter-of-factly.

Spinning around and opening the door, before it shuts, I tell Jackson, "Yes he is."  Then to the empty street and myself, "He's more than that."  Then, as if someone is shooting bullets at my feet, I'm out of there.

The closest market is only five blocks away, so I figure that's as good a destination as any.  It's not really air that I needed, but space.  Locked in my room, with Gabriel on the other side of the wall, gives me no room to think.  No air to breathe.  Damn, I need Simon to figure out the client's identity so we can end this. 

No matter what's happened in the past, I've never wanted Gabriel dead.  It would kill me too.  Not that I see a future or second chance for us.  Hell, make that a tenth chance.  If I weren't so constantly heartbroken by our volatile romance, I'd laugh at the events of the past few years.  A bullet to both of our brains would put us out of our misery. 

But, god, how I love him.  Too bad I can't trust in having my love returned.  Like the cliché, there's a thin line between love and hate and for Gabriel, it's a tightrope.  Which side he'll fall off of at any given moment is unpredictable. 

What's the worst for me is that I've only grown to love him more over the years.  No separation or bullet seems to make it fade.  I feel like one of those pathetic chicks in the bodice-ripper romance novels that Marie used to try to get me to read.  Mistreated by her man and always coming back for more. 

All this time spent with him is making it worse.  Doing the tourist thing with him today was like some sort of fantasy.  The holding hands, the getting along, the love in his eyes, was like a glimpse of what could have been.  What’s impossible and stupid of me is to pretend for even a day.  Jackson’s presence on the steps was the slap in the face that I needed, a reminder that it isn’t real. 

At the market, I only grab enough items to make dinner.  Besides the fact that I have to carry it back, I also don’t want to get so much that I won’t be able to use going to the market as an excuse to get away tomorrow too. 

Walking back to the house, my cell rings.  It’s Simon, so I answer.

“I’m here.”

“I’m closing in the on the information we need.  Porky only has to verify and then it’ll be taken care of.”  The authority in his voice and guidance when needed is something I know I can always count on. 

“I’ll make the hit.”  I want to be the one to end the threat against Gabriel.

“No, you’ll stay where you are.” 

“Brent then?”  I ask, annoyed at being told what to do, but at the same time knowing that he’s the boss. 

“No, Annabelle.  I’ll handle the matter personally.”

“Who?”

“When I have confirmation, then you’ll know.”

“That’s it?” I ask, exasperated as always by his vagueness.

“Have a good day, Annabelle.”

As I round the corner to our block, I drop my phone back into my bag.  The feel of a sting on my arm that has me about to curse summer weather and the mosquitoes that roam.  That is until my vision starts to gray and I pull the dart out of my arm.  Then, I’m just cursing my own stupidity.  Then . . . nothing.

GABRIEL’S  POV:

The shadows in my room tell me that I’ve slept till dusk.  Feeling the groggy aftereffects of an afternoon nap, I roll off the bed and come to my feet.  My first thought is bathroom, and a minute later, I’m following through with my second thought, Annabelle. 

Her bedroom door is partway open and a gentle push on it shows me that she’s not there.  Of course not, if she was, the door would be locked.  Laughing out loud, I saunter down the hallway and practically bump into Jackson. 

“What the fuck, man?”

He nudges past me and paces to the front door.  I notice his tension and my first thought is that he’s looking for a fight.  I’m kinda feeling relaxed right now, but I guess I could humor him.  After standing in the doorway, looking both ways down the street, he grunts and slams it shut.  He starts to pace and I assume that’s what I interrupted when we ran into each other. 

“What’s the matter with you?” I ask, starting to feel his irritation rub off on me. 

He barely spares me a glance, “She’s not back yet.”

Well, there’s only one ‘she’ he could be speaking of, “Anna?”

“She’s not answering her cell.”  He opens the door again, as if expecting her to magically appear. 

Now, I’m feeling his worry.  A whole lot of it.  “Where the hell is she?”

He gives me a you’re-a-retard look, “Don’t you think I’d be there looking for her, if I knew?  Instead of babysitting your helpless ass?”

Not wanting to fight with him when we should be concentrating on Anna, I try to think rationally.  “Well, she can’t have been gone more than a few hours, I’m sure she’ll be back soon.”

Again, he seems to not be paying attention to me.  When he walks to a side table and starts picking up items off of it.  A couple of guns, clips, a big ass knife and a wallet.  Finally, he answers, “I have a bad feeling.  We’re going looking.”

Before he turns back around, I’m heading down the hallway back to my room.  Off the dresser, I grab my gun, an extra clip and a smaller version of the knife Jackson is sporting.  Overcompensating, Jackson?  He's slipping on a pair of boots on the front steps when I get to the open front door.  His weapons are as concealed as mine in cargo pockets and a baggy t-shirt. 

I lock the front door, don’t want any surprises when we return, then join him down on the sidewalk.  “Which way would she have gone?”

He contemplates my question, then points to the right, “That way is mostly residential for blocks.”  Then he turns on his heel to the left, expecting me to follow, “She would have went in the direction of the shops.”  He doesn’t hesitate in his statement, but I get the feeling that he’s now masking his worry with false bravado. 

The street is mostly empty, with people in their homes for dinner, relaxing for the coming evening.  Not even a block away, we come across a mess on the sidewalk of spilled groceries.  Vegetables are spilled out of the brown paper bag and a jar of some sauce is cracked on the sidewalk. 

Jackson withdrawing his gun has me doing the same, keeping it low against my thigh as a kid passes us riding a bike.  “Jackson, it doesn’t mean it’s her.”  But I know that the dread on his face is reflected on mine.  He crouches down into the items on the ground and pulls something out from them, holding it up for me to see.  It looks like a dart. 

Then, I realize what it is.  Anyone who’s seen enough action flicks or played enough video games would.  A tranquilizer dart is not your normal grocery store merchandise.  Helpless rage overcomes me and with a yell, I lash out by kicking some random item on the ground into the street. 

Jackson calmly stands and starts walking back in the direction of the house.  Knowing that I have no choice but to let him take the lead in this situation, I follow him down the street and back inside. 

“What now?” I ask, almost belligerently. 

He pulls out his phone, “Now, we call Simon.”  His tone is controlled, in the way that tells me that he’s holding onto his control by a thread. 

I listen to his side of the phone conversation, half lost in my own thoughts.  Our journey to Athens must have not been as undetected as we thought.  Jackson gets off the phone, unhappier than he was before. 

“What now?”

He grimly replies, “Now, we wait.”


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