Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. I'm borrowing her characters and giving them some guns (again).
Summary: Some people work in offices. Some teach or heal. Others paint and make music. I do none of that. I'm the person you call when you have a problem you can't solve. And I'm damn good at it. Call me The Cleaner - Fiction of the Action/Thriller variety, featuring a top-tier private contractor and team, a vicious Russian oligarch, a missing CIA agent, and maybe, just maybe, a traitor. -
"Come on, asshole."
It's cold as fuck out here, and for the hundredth time, as I dial in the elevation on my fancy new scope, I regret signing on for this shit.
As if on cue, fifteen hundred meters away, my target finally steps through a pair of double French doors onto the wide Mediterranean-style terrace ringing the second floor of the villa. His movements are quick and agitated, and as he stops beneath one of the ornate lamps lighting the space, I watch him rake a nervous hand through a swath of jet-black hair before pulling out his cell.
Watching his lips, I can pick out a word here and there, but his language isn't one of mine. Plus, even with the high-powered optics, it's dark, and with the frigid temperatures, puffs of silvery steam pour out of his mouth with every breath.
I check my wrist and curse because this is taking entirely too long.
"Whitlock, target is in range," I say into my mic. "Do you have confirmation?"
"Hold," he answers back, as calm as ever. Then again, he's not the one laying on his belly on top of a fucking barn in the middle of the Carpathians in the dead of winter and trying not to freeze his ass off. "Zurich is tracing the latest transactions."
"Tell Zurich to hurry the fuck up."
He laughs. "Right. Do you have any idea what it took for me to get them to cooperate at all?"
"I don't care." I open and close my fist, wincing at the sharp, needle-like pain in my knuckles. "I'm turning into a popsicle here."
"Just be patient."
I snort at that, blowing out my own cloud of steam. Glancing up, I watch it dissipate into the velvet sky above. Thousands of stars twinkle and shine. "Seriously?"
He doesn't respond, but I didn't expect him to.
Returning my focus to the dark-haired man on the terrace, I see his agitation morphing into full blown panic. His arm flails out to the side, and he's yelling into his cell. Eyes wild and darting, he reminds me of a caged beast.
He knows something is up.
Those dumbasses in Zurich probably tripped an e-alarm when they started digging.
Back behind the French doors, a slim, blonde in blue silk hesitates before walking out to join him. Oblivious that her husband's empire is about to come crashing down, she tugs on the fine wool of his suit coat, smiling and urging him to come back inside. He ignores her at first, still yelling into his phone. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know what's coming next.
"No, girl," I whisper to myself and to her. "You get your ass back in the house. This isn't going to end well."
When he slaps her and shoves her against the wall, I almost take him out right then and there.
Obviously, this isn't her first rodeo. Holding her cheek and swiping away an errant tear, she slides right, just out of his reach, and then scurries back through the doors.
There's nothing worse than a man who beats on his wife or kids.
Strike that, there's a lot worse.
You wouldn't think so, but trust me, I've seen it all.
Beating on his woman is the least of this guy's offenses.
The target slips his phone back into the inside breast pocket of his tailored coat and growls out something to the pair of black-suited guards that followed him out and flanked him. They're tall, dark, and beefy, but I've seen their kind before. All bark, no real bite. And they don't even have a clue that I'm out here, watching and waiting for that final call.
Speaking of, a blip of static hits my earpiece before I hear Whitlock's low southern drawl. "Come in."
"Do we have it?" I ask.
"That's affirmative. Got that asshole dead to rights." I swear I can hear that son of a bitch grin. "You are clear for elimination."
A dark smile curls my lips, mimicking my forefinger around the trigger.
"Just a little more," I say, pressing my cheek to the hard stock of my rifle as I center the reticle. With another quick adjustment, the man comes into sharp, unrelieved focus. I can count his eyelashes.
For a brief second, everything goes silent. The cold, winter wind stills. The tiny specs of fluttering snow stop falling. The creatures in the forest behind me go quiet, as if they're holding their breaths right along with me.
Something in the primitive part of his hindbrain kicks in. The target's shoulders abruptly straighten, and he looks out onto the vast blanket of white in front of him, searching for something he doesn't have a prayer of seeing. His lips drop into a small, surprised O.
I don't give him the chance to run.
I don't even give him the chance to take another breath.
No, with a single flex of my finger, a high-powered round whistles across those fifteen hundred meters, and I blow that motherfucker's head off.
Panic erupts on the terrace, and even as far out as I am, I hear a woman's blood-curdling scream.
I allow myself all of two seconds to admire my handiwork before packing up my gear like any other day.
"It's done," I say to Whitlock as I sling my rifle over my shoulder and move toward the rickety ladder hanging off the back of the barn. "Get Emmett to pull the sat shots and send them over to the client for receipt."
A beat later, a low whistle comes through my earpiece.
"Jesus, Swan," Whitlock says, no doubt already looking at the overheads. "You're one scary fucking woman."
Yes, I am.
Notes [Please read]:
1. This is fiction of the action/thriller variety and written for the express purpose of entertainment
2. There be graphic violence, adult language and themes, and likely a little sexin' in here, so mind that M rating accordingly. No other warnings will be provided
3. This story includes phrases in Russian, Hebrew, German, and Italian. Translations are provided at the bottom of each chapter. As you might expect, some chapters (especially in the second half) include quite a bit of Russian. Generally speaking, if the information is critical, you should be able to pick up the gist from context or from characters thinking/repeating in English and not need to scroll down immediately. Note: I speak a little Russian but I am, by no means, fluent. Anyagal graciously helped me throughout, fixed my mistakes, and acted as a general sounding board for all things Russian. Any mistakes remaining are 100% mine. (Spasibo, Anyagal!)
4. I always, always love and appreciate hearing from you, whether you're reading as a WIP or once the story is complete. If you happen to have picked this up as a complete PDF, I would still love for you to visit me here on fanfiction and let me know (that's the only way for me to know you've read!).