Author's Note: Sorry it took me so long to update! Now that it's summer, I can try to post faster updates. Thanks for all the support for the story! Your reviews inspire me to keep writing!

Oh, and I went back to the previous chapters and fixed the spelling errors. :)

Please REVIEW!


MAX DUROCHER

Time stood still as Rachel sat motionless in the desolate hospital lobby, her eyes staring blankly at the television screen above her. Her stomach churned every time she reflected on her father's ruined body. Dried out of tears, Rachel felt the piercing cold numbness run through her veins. To distract herself from her painful thoughts, she focused on a conversation taking place on the screen.

A reporter was giving an interview to a nervous-looking black man who continued to shift uncomfortably in his seat. The reporter addressed him as Mr. Max Durocher, but instead of asking the usual questions, seemed to be interrogating him as though he was a criminal.

"Do you still keep to your story, Mr. Durocher?" he said with a slight smirk.

"Yes," Max scowled. "I was a hostage that night, held by a trained contract-killer. I never killed anyone. He was the one who murdered all those people"

"But what about the lawyer"

Max's scowl deepened. "Including her. I was trying to save her"

"So what are your thoughts of the jury's vote being so close? One less vote and they would have found you guilty"

Rachel found herself pitying Max as he tried to control an anger she could easily relate to. The reporter continued to ask rude, personal questions. Max replied.

"What's his name? This hit man you claim is responsible for the five murders," the reporter scoffed.

Max hesitated for a moment. Rachel could see a mixture of fear and hatred in his dark eyes. "Vincent. His name's Vincent," he said.

Rachel gasped and jumped to her feet. Her mouth hung open. She could not believe what she had just heard.

Vincent. No. No, that's impossible!

"What does he look like, this Vincent," the reporter asked. "You know, just in case anyone so happens to run into him"

Max's face darkened as he said, "He-he has grey hair, looks as if he's in his late 30s or early 40s maybe, not very tall but not short"

Rachel clasped her hands over her ears, drowning out their voices. She knelt on her knees and stared down at the floor.

"Could it be?" she asked herself, her body shaking. "But how? How could I have not recognized him!"

Rachel looked up at the screen again and watched Max intently, memorizing his solemn face with cold green eyes. She promised she would avenge her father.
And Rachel Taro always kept her promises.


The wind greeted Rachel Taro with a cold breeze as she stepped out of LAX that night. She wrapped her arms around herself, thankful for her light jacket, and tapped her foot impatiently while waiting for a cab. When it came, she slid gracefully in the backseat.

The cab driver turned and said, "Where to, lady?"

Rachel grinned grimly and gave him the address.


Before Rachel left for LA, she had used her father's connections for the CIA headquarters to check into the records of Max Durocher. They were at first reluctant to give her such important information. Rachel had suspected this, of course. But with a few bribes and a couple blackmails, she had successful retrieved Max's address, phone number, and entire medical and criminal history.

"Why do you want so much data about a hit man?" one of the workers asked.

"Let's just say we have something in common."


"Here we are," said the cab driver.

Rachel glanced out the window to see a dark red building rusty from old age. She jumped out the cab, paid the driver, and headed toward the apartment. Before she stepped inside, a pang of hesitation loomed in her stomach. She bit her lip, suddenly unsure of herself.

What am I doing here? I'm in a completely different state, about to knock on the door of a stranger and interrupt what little of a life he has left. God, what do I do?

She turned around; about to walk away when a thought struck her and her hesitation was instantly replaced by anger.

I need to do this! If I don't, I'll never find the man who killed my father!

And with newfound courage, Rachel stepped into the apartment. Little did she know that this Max would change her life. Forever.


The television screen blared, drowning out the unsettling silence of the apartment. Max stared at the screen, unaware of what he was actually watching. A plate of old spaghetti sat in his lap.

Knock. Knock.

Max jumped, splattering his plate of spaghetti onto the floor. His harsh breathing quickened. His eyes bulged as he stared at the door. For a moment, Max did not know what to do. He just stood there, motionless, fear rumbling inside him.

"Max? Max Durocher?"

A woman's voice.

Max's stiff shoulders relaxed slightly, but he still heard his heart beating rapidly in his chest. He walked over his spilled spaghetti and opened the door a few inches, enough to see a stunning, slender woman with piercing green eyes staring back at him.

"Do I know you" he said, frowning.

Rachel smiled mischievously. "You don't know me Mr. Durocher, but you will."

"You're not a reporter are you?" he groaned.

"No," Rachel said, "but I do have some questions for you and a proposition, if you're interested.

"I really don't have time—"

"I met a man yesterday," Rachel interrupted. "He had pepper grey hair and stubble with such a charming disposition. He seemed to know my entire life history by just looking at me. But at the same time, he had this predator way about him, as if he was on the search for prey. Sound familiar?"

The color in Max's face vanished. He stared wide-eyed at her and his mouth kept opening and closing, as though he wanted to speak but had forgotten how.

"I was hoping you would remember him," she said. "Vincent's quite a hard character to forget, isn't he?"

"Stop!" Max shouted. His pallid face soon flushed in anger. He gritted his teeth and clenched his fists. "You people wont stop will you? You'll just keep coming up to me, saying things that aren't true just so you can get a reaction. There really was a Vincent that night! I'm no liar. And I'm especially not a murderer."

Tenants started to look out their doors, wondering who was making all the noise. Max ignored them.

"You don't give a shit about hurting anyone just so long as you get your story. Well fuck you and leave me the hell alone!" Max slammed the door.

"Max," Rachel said calmly. "I told you I'm not a reporter. And I do believe you"
At these words, Max spun open the door and stuttered, "Y-you do?"

"Yes. One of the few, I'm sure." She glanced at the staring tenants and said, "Can I speak to you in private?"

"Uh," Max hesitated. "Sure. Yeah."

Max held the door open for her as she stepped inside. She looked around at the tattered furniture, faded green walls, and spilt spaghetti that stained the smelly carpet. Max apologized for the mess.

"Don't worry about it," she smiled.

"So…you really believe me?" Max said.

"Well, after seeing the man you described and seeing him walk toward my father's room where I later heard he was murdered, I'm pretty sure you're telling the truth."

Rachel sat down on the sofa, looking up at him, waiting for him to say something. Max only stared.

"Anyway," she continued. "I need your help."

"Huh?" Max frowned. "With what?"

"Vincent killed my father, Max," Rachel said. "And I need your help to get him."

"What!"

"You're the only I know still living who saw Vincent's face. With your help, I can execute my plan on trapping him."

Max could not believe what he was hearing. "Trap him? Why?"

"He knows the name of the person who hired him."

"But, Max said, "But, why don't you ask the police for help? The FBI or CIA or something?"

Rachel laughed. "It gets too complicated if I get the police involved. And I tried searching for him on CIA records but it led to a dead end. No, I need you."

"Why me?"

"You know his moves, his tactics, everything there is to know that could possibly keep you alive and prevent yourself from ruining my plan."

"No," Max mumbled, shaking his head. "No. I can't do this. Not again."

Rachel stood up and placed her hands on his shoulders. Max could now see the desperation in her eyes, could hear her heart beating, and could tell she was afraid as much as him.

"Please," she whispered. "I know I'm just a stranger to you and I'm asking you to risk your life. But you don't need to do this for me; you can do it for Annie."

Max backed away from her. "You don't know anything abut Annie."

"And because of Vincent, you never will either."

They looked at each other for a long while, listening to nothing but the eerie silence and the rain that now tapped lightly against the window. Max breathed deeply before breaking the silence.

"Do you know where he is?"

"Yes."

"How?"

"He's been following me tonight. I believe I'm his next target."