(1) Alex

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ALEX

Usually this sort of thing went a lot smoother. We'd go in, get the witness, and get out. But this was no ordinary situation. David had a way of getting himself into the worst possible predicaments, so as far as I knew, the woman in the bed could've been working with the people trying to kill him—which was why I'd instructed him to give her the sleeping pill I'd slid under the door. I found it difficult to believe that the guys we were protecting David from had just coincidentally wound up in Harborview and checked into the same hotel.

Sure, the city drew in a lot of tourists—with its white-sand beaches and fou-fou restaurants—but as a vacation destination for mobsters? I thought not. The situation was so suspect I could taste the deceit. Then again, with David's rotten ass luck, coincidence was definitely a possibility. But even if the woman was totally oblivious to the mess her fuck buddy had gotten himself into, the last thing I needed was to come face to face with some broad with a thousand questions—none of which I could answer. I wouldn't go risk revealing David's true identity, even though he seemed to have no qualms about it. Somebody had to be responsible; since I was the one with the badge, it had to be me: US Marshal Alexander Girard.

I heard a thump. My eyes shot straight to David. He rubbed his right leg with one hand while balancing against the desk chair with the other. He was a couple of inches shorter than my six feet one-inch frame and about twenty pounds lighter than my two hundred. His plain black suit and white shirt did little to signify just how interesting his life was , and although his hair was as dark as mine, his was a lot thinner on top—more than likely the result of stress rather than age.

"Quiet," I hissed.

He scowled at me as if to say 'shut the fuck up.' I should've been irritated about his misplaced belief that he had a right to be mad, but I let it slide. His life was screwed up enough. We stood still. I glanced over my shoulder at the mysterious woman lying beneath the covers, her blond locks covering her face. I breathed in the flowery scent given off by the arrangement perched on the oak table underneath the window sill. I couldn't help but give a quick thought as to how the woman had managed to get herself mixed up with someone like David. Hopefully, for her, this had been nothing more than a one-night stand, but I doubted it. The crystal chandeliers, silk sheets, forty-two inch HD TV with Blu-Ray, ocean-front view, and at least eight hundred square feet of plush carpeting spoke volumes about the price.

Sleeping Beauty was still out, so I continued to gather David's belongings. The room was dark. Relying on the sliver of moonlight from the partially opened blinds, David walked to the table and picked up his wallet and a key card with his now gloved hand. I grabbed his wrist right when he was about to put it in his wallet. Damn, what part of "it needs to be like you were never here" did he not understand? It wasn't like it was our first time. He knew the drill. He looked up at me, still oblivious. I glanced at the key and shook my head. Revelation struck. He grabbed a tissue, wiped the card free of prints, and inserted it into its plastic sleeve. After wiping that clean as well, he dropped it onto the desk. Considering how much David drew attention, I was sure some people would remember him; I was determined to leave them all scratching their heads, thanks to one Mr. Oliver "Ollie" Stovall—our genius computer hacker—who'd worked his magic on the hotel security cameras. The only proof of David's existence would be in their heads.

I slowly opened the closet. The iron, which hung on the rack fastened on the other side, lightly bumped against the wooden door. I paused. After giving a quick glance to the motionless figure on the bed, I bent and lifted a small black duffle bag. David nodded. We headed to the doorway. As we passed the nightstand, I noticed a bottle of champagne. I looked back at David, my expression conveying that I was wondering where the glasses were. David slowly turned his head to face the opposite side of the bed.

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