This is a story line that I have been thinking about for a few weeks now. I hope no one has done anything like this (because I like to be original) and if they have I'm sorry for not coming up with a novel enough idea. Whoops. Oh well.

ANYWAY, I so hope you enjoy this. There will be plenty of angst in this story and drama. Along with smut, because you know I can't stay away from it. *winks* haha, thanks for reading.


There are countless ways to die.

A bullet to the head or heart, a wire twisted tightly around the throat, ingested arsenic, a pillow pressed to the face, house fires.

Death is central to my career.

I am employed for my ability to stop a heart, for my skill in the art of death. I am the taker of lives, the grim reaper, the angel of death. At night, when I try to sleep and I have nothing to keep me otherwise occupied, I remember the frantic, surprised, sometimes miserable last look in the eyes of the men I kill for payment. I am constantly haunted by my countless sins, plagued by a past I cannot escape, a past that constantly returns to torture me. And although I have seen life leave a man, although I know that I am slowly killing myself by continuing this endless circle of death and regret . . . I know I cannot stop.

Slit throats, poison, suffocation – this is what my mother has taught me. It is the only skill I possess and the thought of gradually starving to death with no job terrifies me. The memory of hunger is all too real to me – a memory that will always come back to remind me of how life could be if I leave the only career I have ever been good at.

And so I continue the onslaught of death, blood, and bone that has been my entire life. The life that mother taught me.

Now, as I stand at my bathroom sink, hanging my head down with my eyes clenched shut, I cannot get the vision of the previous night's murder out of my mind. I am a murderer, a killer, and I know that when I leave this earth that I am bound straight for Hell.

Quickly, I washed my face and wiped it dry with the grimy towel that had been lying sprawled across the floor, no longer caring if it is dirty or not. The face I see in the mirror is drawn and haggard, dark circles smeared under the lifeless green eyes, unshaven so that dark stubble has formed along my jaw. Mechanically, I took the razor in my hand to shave away the stubble. My eyes stopped on the nearly-dull blades. It would be so easy to simply swipe it across my throat and end my pointless existence.

Abruptly a memory slammed into me of mother and I in the bathroom when I was only fourteen. Since my father had not seen me since my birth, she was teaching me to shave. At least, that was what she said. I had asked her countless times where he had gone but she always ignored my questions. "You must be careful with a razor," she said seriously, handing me the pink woman's razor that she intended for me to use on my face. "We don't want that pretty face all nicked up, do we?" Mother had smiled, showing her straight, white teeth.

As I slowly drew the pink razor over my jaw, I felt it slice into the skin and I winced. She frowned and yanked the razor from my hand. "A blade across the throat is a sure way to end a life," she said, wiping the double blades clean of my blood. "Just make sure to slice the vocal chords so whoever it is doesn't make a sound and gives you away. A razor like this won't make a deep enough cut to kill, though."

I never asked how my mother knew so much of killing and death. I always assumed she had learned it from my father, whoever he was. Sometimes I longed so much for the father I had never met that it was like a needle through my skin.

Now, I quickly pulled open the medicine cabinet and struggled to open the orange transparent bottle. The white plastic top fell into the sink, scraping against the grime on the sides before it stopped over the tarnished silver drain. I pushed a few of the Ativan into my mouth, not caring if I overdosed or not. Death would be a grateful release from the demons that plagued my mind.

I had killed countless men – never women, that was a path I didn't want to walk down – but I had never possessed the courage to take my own life. I was a coward when it came to pulling back the trigger of the .357 Magnum I kept in my bedside table, when it was time to put just a few more of the pills into my mouth and swallow.

My hands shook as I turned on the shower, taking only enough time to run shampoo through my hair and soap over my skin, focusing on keeping my mind away from the events of the night before. For years I had worked to view the victims as no more than animals without souls. It was easier if I didn't look into their eyes, didn't listen to their pleas. Many times when I was hired, the employer would want the victim to be killed a certain way – usually as revenge for past wrongs – but I always made sure that the person didn't experience the brutal pain of death. Mercy was something that never left me, no matter how much I tried to destroy it. I was a killer . . . I killed. The victim didn't have to undergo torture in order to be killed.

Dressing in dirty jeans and a black sweatshirt, I slammed and locked the door of my apartment. The walls of the hallway were stained with God knows what, the paint peeling and carpet worn thin in places. I took the stairs two at a time, eager to be out of the mouth of that decrepit apartment building. Many of the people on my floor used speed or smoked weed and the fumes from the later sometimes made me nauseas.

I took a long run through the grittier section of Phoenix, the first rays of dawn caressing the sky. Pink and reds lit up the dingy sky, night fleeing in the wake of the sun. I saw a couple hookers retreat into a building that had long been assaulted with graffiti.

After I was tired, my legs burning from my especially hard run, I sat heavily down on a wooden bench. The woman sitting at the other end glanced at me and scooted a little farther away. I couldn't blame her; I was hardly the person she needed to be sitting beside. As I watched the traffic speed by, I thought about the deal that I had made with a man whose name was Riff. He had paid double for a double homicide. He had caught his lover, Aton, with another man. Riff never said how he wanted them killed, which was fine with me. Aton had been last night's job and the other man, Phillip, was my challenge for tonight.

Not bothering to shower, I made my way to the coffee shop I visited in the mornings. I waited impatiently in line, letting my eyes roam over the quant surroundings. It was a small shop, only about twelve by twelve feet, and I was surprised to see that there was a line today.

"Hello, Edward, darling," Esme said when I was at the counter, her maternal smile the only comfort I ever felt. "How are you this morning?"

"Wonderful, thank you," I lied. I had known Esme for over five years and she had warmed the hard iciness of my life to the point where I felt almost like a person instead of a machine. She was the mother I always wished I had – kind and caring. "Just regular coffee please," I said, smiling to ease away the frown that had formed on her face from worry. "Black."

She glanced at me once more before turning to get my coffee. Esme knew nothing of my criminal career. All she knew was that I worked at her coffee shop part time five days a week for whatever pay she wanted to give me. Today was among the only day I didn't have to come in for work. "You look tired, Edward," she said, handing me the Styrofoam cup full of black coffee. "You need to sleep more."

I painted a fake smile over my lips. "I'm fine, Esme," I reassured her. "I just had a restless night. I'm perfectly fine."

She looked at me for a minute longer, not quite believing me. "Well, okay, I guess. Just come in tomorrow at usual. If you want, you can sleep on my couch. Maybe it's just being alone in an apartment that has you restless."

I smiled at her motherly attempts. "Thank you, but really, I'm fine. I'll twelve hours of sleep tonight if you want. Lord knows I definitely need my beauty sleep."

She laughed. "Get out of here, you silly boy," she said playfully. "Just stay out of trouble."

"Don't I always?"

I kissed her cheek quickly and left, feeling like a visitor even in my own life. My doubts were not new. I had worried over the same thing for years. What meaning did my life hold? What was my purpose? To kill? That seemed hardly the answer. I pushed away the thought that I was floating in a sea of nothingness, that what I did held no meaning and therefore I was meaningless and worthless. I would think about that later, when I didn't have to worry about dodging traffic.

I had to plan tonight. Riff had given me a picture of both Aton and Phillip and told me where they lived, but the only problem was making his death look like an accident. My preferred way was to simply put a bullet through the head, but due to the investigation that would soon follow I couldn't afford to make this a murder case. The only real choice I had was suffocation.

Aton's body had been found this morning by a friend that had came to visit him. I had seen the coverage on the news before I went out for a run. The cause of death was not yet determined but it was only a matter of time before they saw the bruises on the throat from the shoestring. I purposely blocked out the thoughts of his death and focused on the one I had tonight. Phillip would be easy to kill, he was slight in frame and didn't work out often. By noon, I had everything planned and ready.

Finally, as the darkness slowly swallowed Phoenix and street lights illuminated the city, I dressed in a black long sleeve shirt and dark jeans. February was still a little chillier than I was used to so I took a jacket also. Just in case anything went awry I had stuffed my .357 Magnum into holster on my hip, taking care to check that there were bullets in each of the chambers before pulling my jacket over the gun, hiding it. The clock on my bedside table read 2:23 a.m.

"God, forgive me," I breathed, hating myself even as I said it. Why would He forgive me? I always asked for forgiveness yet I continued to kill. I stared into the tiny mirror that hung on my wall in my dark apartment, my face barely discernable in the night. My face was without expression – hollow and lifeless. I was the epitome of a ruthless killer, merciless.

Not taking time to think whether this fact concerned me, I walked out of my apartment, locking my door securely behind me.

Phillip went to bed early like a good little boy. In the days since I had signed the contract with Riff I had followed him and watched his schedule. Although Aton had been Phillip's lover too, he didn't seem grieved by the man's death. The lights in his house on the outskirts of Phoenix were off, casting the mediocre building into shadow. Plastic gnomes adorned the front lawn, smiling too cheerily for the events that were to happen inside that house. I parked nearly a mile away and walked towards where I knew Phillip's house was, keeping my head low so that anyone looking out their windows wouldn't recognize me. Many hitmen wore masks, but I couldn't stand the confinement. It became increasingly hard to breathe in a mask and I refused to wear pantyhose over my face.

Slipping into the backyard by scaling the high fence easily, I paused, scanning my eyes around the dirt yard, making sure that no prying eyes were on me and that he didn't own any dogs I hadn't seen.

As expected, his back door was locked. The man didn't own any kind of security system other than brass locks and I was quickly past those, feeling almost insulted by how simple it was to gain entrance into his home. My shoes were quiet on the linoleum as I crept through the house.

"Rebecca?" a gravely voice called.

I froze, straining my eyes in the almost pitch darkness of the house. The only lights were the green glow of the microwave clock and the red light on the coffee maker. The back door had led into the kitchen and through the door at the other end of the kitchen I could see what appeared to be a couch.

"Rebecca?" he asked again.

Something was wrong.

My every nerve was coiled tight, my bones creaking in my effort to be silent. I heard a soft sigh and the rustling of fabric. I moved through the kitchen with my .357 in my palm, the hammer pulled back, my finger tense on the trigger. If the man was awake I could simply shoot him and torch the house.

He was sleeping on the couch as if he had fallen asleep while watching TV but had somehow turned it off. His eyebrows were furrowed together, creating a sort of uni-brow. Phillip was having a bad dream. Sighing in relief, I put the handgun back into its holster and quietly took the couch pillow that was lying beside him into my hands.

Gritting my teeth, I took a deep breath. This was the moment I always hated, the moment before I took a life.

Then the pillow was pressed to his face, blocking both his nose and mouth. He stiffened and began to thrash. I was always gifted in turning my mind off so that no thought got in the way of my actions. I was on autopilot, an unthinking, unfeeling thing. By now his lung would be screaming for air, his heart rate decreasing as his hands frantically pulled at mine, trying to fight me off to no avail. He arched on the couch, pulling at the hands that held the pillow securely to his face. He went limp but I continued, knowing he had only passed out. Being depleted of oxygen for an extended period of time, his heart would slow and brain cells would begin to die until finally . . . his heart stopped altogether.

It was a slow death, painful in some ways, and I was still unfeeling when I pulled the pillow away from his face. Checking the pulse in his neck, I knew he was dead.

Tucking the pillow under my arm, not wanting to give the police a murder weapon, I walked quickly back out of the house, closing the door with my gloved hand. I made sure to lock it back behind me and to leave no footprints of my shoes on the lawn. I shoved the pillow in a garbage can a few blocks away and walked back to my car. I had cut a lock of his hair to show to Riff in case he didn't believe me, although the only sure way for him to know was to go and see himself.

It would only be a matter of hours before someone found the dead body.


"No!" I screamed, terror and fury blazing within me. "No, stop!" I struggled to crawl between my father and my smaller sister. The belt buckle hit me hard on the thigh, leaving an immediate bruise. I cried out in pain and held my hands over my head to protect myself. Jessica cried behind me, her dark, curly hair hiding her face.

"Don't you dare defy me again, Isabella," he warned, yanking me up by my hair. "Jessica has done wrong – she must be punished." He let go of me only to push me brutally back into the wall

"She's nine years old!" I cried indignantly, pushing my sister back into the corner and moving in front of her. She already had a myriad of bruises and cuts along her skin from his belt. Her hair was tangled and slightly frizzy. Terrified tears poured down her face as she sobbed behind me in the corner. "You'll seriously injure her!"

My father paused for a moment, staring at me. His dark brown eyes were cold and hard as ice. I felt myself shrink under his gaze, my fear exploding into something I had never experienced before. The look in his eyes wasn't even human.

"I'm sick and tired of your fucking backtalk and disobedience," he said calmly, his voice angry but controlled – a bomb waiting until the right moment to explode. "I give you chance after chance and still you defy me!" He swung the belt, hitting me in the side with the buckle. I gasped and leaned back against the wall, cringing in the pain that bloomed inside me like a blood-red lily.

"Father, please," I breathed.

"No, you won't sway me this time. I've had enough of you, Isabella." Grabbing me viciously by the hair, he stalked towards the front door, yanking me behind him like a cow to the slaughterhouse. Humiliated and in pain, I stumbled after him, my hands going to his hold on me. He kicked the front door open and shoved me out onto the porch so hard I fell down the front steps, the hard concrete assaulting my sensitive skin.

I collapsed at the bottom of the steps, holding my stomach, trying to regain the breath that had been knocked from me. I felt something thick and wet seep from my scalp, warm.

"If I ever see you here again, I swear I will put a bullet between your fucking eyes. And one through Jessica's," he added, looking at where I lay sprawled at the bottom of the steps with satisfaction. He paused for a second and I almost thought he was reconsidering. I looked up at him, begging him not to do this. This was my home, my life. I couldn't leave Jessica with him. Then he turned and walked into the house, slamming the door behind him.

I sobbed once, the sound tearing my throat apart, and touched the warm place on my head. When I pulled my hand back I watched as a thick drop of crimson ran down my fingers, the liquid smeared across my hand. I thought wildly, how appropriate for a slaughtered cow to be bloody. My mind was cloudy and nothing seemed substantial. I was aware of the blood I was losing from my head wound I had gotten when I tumbled down the steps, but I did nothing to stop it.

My legs wobbled when I stood and I fell a few times when I tried walk. So I crawled.

I crawled down the dirty front lawn to the street. My knees and hands hurt from the hard concrete, small bits of gravel digging into my skin. I wondered if the other houses could see me here, crawling into the street at three in the morning where I collapsed on the yellow line. Nothing was real. I could sleep here in the street and no one would run me over. Believing this absurd line of reason, I curled on the asphalt, my eyes following the double yellow lines.

Then, headlights. A car. It slowed gradually when it saw me. I clenched my eyes shut, the bright lights paining my eyes, causing the slumbering agony in my mind to ignite into an inferno. The car stopped just before me, simply sitting there, and I wondered if it would run over me. Then the door opened and a tall figure got out.

"Oh shit," it growled, the voice deep and angry.

I gasped and cringed away from the angry voice, fearing another onslaught of fists and boots. But there was only the gentle caress of his fingers brushing away the hair that had fallen in my face. The tall man crouched down in front of the headlight, facing me, so that the light wouldn't hurt my eyes. My eyes fluttered open so I could see who was before me, but the light surrounded his hair like a halo, keeping his face in shadow.

"What is your name?" the man asked, his voice soft but mixed with an anger I didn't understand. Was he upset at me? Or was he upset because of whatever had made me like this, curled up in the middle of the street.

My mouth didn't seem to work for I simply stared up at the halo around his dark hair. A halo for the dark angel.

He sighed. "So much blood. Don't worry, I'm not going to hurt you," he cooed, slowly pushing his hands under me. "I'm only going to pick you up. Where do you live?"

Again, I was silent. He lifted me into to the air, holding me to his warm chest bridal-style. I whimpered in pain, my hands searching for his neck to hold on to. I clenched my eyes shut against the agony in my head and body, not wanting to burden my angel with anything else. I could bear this pain; I had endured far worse than a few bruises and cuts.

There was something soft under me and I opened my eyes to see the interior of a car.

"You're going to be alright," he murmured. "Stay awake, though. Don't go to sleep."


She lay like a broken doll in the passenger's side seat of my car, her skin dirty and bruised. Her long dark hair was tangled badly and I saw blood clotted in one place on the back of her head. Whatever had happened to her, she had probably gotten a concussion and sleep would be dangerous for her if that was true.

I was furious.

As I climbed into my seat, I slammed the door harder than I intended. She was just a girl, no older than nineteen. Fury screamed in my veins and my hands clenched on the steering wheel as I struggled to control it. In a single second, thousands of visions filled my mind of how I would murder the dick that brutalized her. Never, in my entire career, had I ever hurt a woman.

When I had seen her laying in the road, the dark blood leaking around her like a river of red paint, shock and surprise had been the first things I felt. Then horror. She was so disoriented that she didn't seem to realize that a car sat only feet from her. She wore only a pair of Sophie shorts and a tank top, exposing her patchwork of marks of abuse. Somewhere in my mind, I was aware that what I was doing could be considered kidnapping, that it was stupid to pick up a girl literally off the street and take her to my apartment. But like all unpleasant thoughts, I pushed it to the back of my mind.

"Jess?" she asked softly, breathily.

I turned to look at her. "Wake up," I ordered, tapping her on the shoulder. Her glazed eyes turned to mine for a moment before she looked out the window.

Beneath the dirt and blood, the girl was beautiful. Her legs were long and nicely formed, albeit marred by bruises and filth, and her skin had a creamy tone that seemed healthy despite its paleness. Her face was heart-shaped with full lips and large, almond-shaped eyes. Yet the broken look in her eyes made my foot press harder on the gas pedal.

I chastised myself for my foolishness. What the fuck did I think I was doing? I didn't even know this girl's name. I could get put in jail for kidnapping. Yet I couldn't find it in myself to care.

"Who are you?" she asked as I pulled into the parking lot beside my apartment building. I turned to see that her eyes were clear, the dark orbs shockingly deep.

"No one," I muttered. "No one important."

Then I reached over, hesitating for only a moment, before my fingers brushed over her cheek, from the corner of her jaw to her lips. Her skin was softer than I would have imagined under all the filth and grime.

"You're wrong," she said.

"Excuse me?"

"You are important," she insisted with an urgency that must have come from her delirious state. "You're an angel."

At another time I might have laughed at such a thought. Me . . . an angel. But now I didn't. My eyes were serious as a loaded pistol as I stared at her for a moment longer. This girl who had no name, no home, and whose blood stained my upholstery.

*cringes* okay, I know this chapter wasn't so good. I was having a hell of a time trying to figure out how to end it. Again, I'm so sorry that this first chapter was awful. It didn't end the way I had originally planned but that seems to happen a lot when I write, doesn't it?

Anyway, I hope everyone enjoyed this chapter.

Thanks for reading and please review!!