Chapter 1 – London Calling
Elle Driver was on a flight from New York to London. She had left John F. Kennedy Airport on time at 12pm. It was now 1pm the next day (New York time) and the plane was just about to make the descent into Heathrow Airport. By London time it was 6 pm. The tall, Amazonian, one-eyed, blonde hadn't slept at all during the 13-hour flight and was looking forward to a long sleep when she got back to her hotel.
Her crisp, white, Dolce and Gabbana pantsuit had remained spotless despite the long flight. The large, white bag sitting at her feet was Fendi and she was of course sitting in a very comfortable first class seat. There were only two things that slightly spoiled the aura of wealth and privilege she exuded. One was the white eye patch covering her left eye. The other was the distinct fuck-off vibe she gave off in waves.
Despite these two things no one looking at her would guess she was an assassin. An assassin so good that she was paid a 7-figure sum for every job she did.
She had once been part of an organization called the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. The beginning of the end had come almost 3 years ago when the DVAS had slaughtered almost an entire wedding party in El Paso Texas. However not the person they had been targeting. Beatrix Kiddo was still very much alive, albeit in a coma.
Elle for one hoped her long-time rival never woke up. Since the attack on Kiddo Vernita Green (code name Copperhead), O-Ren Ishii (Cottonmouth) and Budd (Sidewinder) had all left the DVAS. Vernita to set up house with a Pasadena doctor, O-Ren to rule vice in the city of Tokyo and Budd to work as a bouncer in a titty bar in El Paso, Texas.
Elle (California Mountain Snake) was the only one who was still an assassin… apart from Bill. Bill had been the ringleader… the boss. He had also been Kiddo's lover until she had been stupid enough to do a runner when she had found out she was pregnant with his baby. He had put a bullet in her head at her own wedding rehearsal. Now he was with Elle. Clearly the man had a thing for blondes.
The seatbelt sign flicked on and the plane began its descent into London
30 minutes and a cab ride later she was checking into her suite at The Ritz. The suite was large and luxurious. The bed was king-sized and the wallpaper was a pleasing combination black and cream. It would do nicely she thought as she entered. The bellhop wisely withdrew, closing the door behind him.
She took off her white jacket and hung it neatly on a hanger in the wardrobe. The matching pants were folded in half and hung on the same hanger.
She was left in a pearl-white silk blouse and a pair of lacy white panties. She yawned as she removed the white eye-patch and set it on the nightstand. She then peeled back the duvet of the bed and slid between the crisp white Egyptian-cotton sheets. She was asleep within minutes of her head hitting the pillow.
The next morning it was business as usual. She had come to the city on a job given to Bill by a mystery client. The job was a whopping 8 million. Needless to say it was important everything go smoothly. Not much was known about the target. Bellatrix Lestrange was as mysterious as she was wealthy. All Elle had to go on was one grainy black-and-white photo.
Usually Elle would refuse to take on a job where so little was known about the target but for this much money she was willing to make an exception to her rule.
She was armed and dangerous as she got out of the sleek, black car 3 blocks from Bellatrix's central London apartment. There was a long knife strapped to her calf, a throwing-knife strapped to her forearm and a Baretta in a shoulder-holster. The gun was conveniently covered by her grey suit jacket. It was an art finding a suit jacket you could wear a gun under without breaking the line of the jacket. Particularly a woman's suit jacket.
She smoothed the material of her matching grey suit pants, making sure all her weaponry was covered. It wouldn't do to flash it around. She wished she could have brought the samurai sword Bill had once given her. Even though it wasn't a Hanzo sword it was pretty damn sharp. Still, it would have hardly have been inconspicuous in the middle of London.
Scanning the streets around her for anything unusual she slowly walked the three blocks to the apartment. When she came within sight of the building she took the time to scout out the area. There were surprisingly few people milling about for this part of London… even taking into account that most Londoner's would be at work at this time of day on a weekday.
She walked casually over to the building, making sure she wasn't attracting a lot of attention. A few appreciative glances were aimed her way but that was about it. A scowl quickly dispersed the gawkers.
She strolled around the back of the building. There was a fire escape. Too easy she thought with a smile. She leapt and snagged the bottom rung of the fire escape, pulling it all the way down. She started to quickly climb to the fifth floor. When she got there she found the window to Bellatrix's apartment. It was a latched window… not even locked. She was surprised to find that such a swanky building had such lax security.
She jimmied the latch with the ease of long practice and opened the window. As she climbed through she was careful to be on alert for any alarms. The last thing she wanted was to give away her presence. She landed on the floor silently, crouched like a cat. She listened for any sounds of life before straightening up and taking a look around.
The apartment was spacious and rather nice… albeit a touch macabre. Black and purple seemed to be the dominant colors. Snakes and skulls were apparent in several places. The furniture was clearly of a very high quality and there was a large, state-of-the-art entertainment centre in one corner of the room. There were also several paintings that looked very expensive. Not that Elle was any judge. She'd never cared for art.
There was also a small but swanky kitchenette complete with breakfast table and a well-stocked mini-bar.
She crossed the floor of the room quietly, still listening for any sound. When she reached the door of what she assumed was a bedroom she slowly opened it and peeked around. She didn't think any one was home but she found all too many times in her career that it never paid to assume a room was empty.
It was clear. There was no-one in the bedroom. It was decorated in a similar style to the lounge. The bed was a king-sized four-poster with silky black coverlet and filmy black curtains. Elle couldn't help thinking that it was a very sexy bed.
Her eyes flicked around the room. They fell on a broken glass photo frame on the floor. It stood out because everything else in the apartment was clean and tidy. She guessed (accurately) that Bellatrix didn't spend all her time here.
In the photo a much younger Bella had her arms around a young dark-haired bearded man. Both of them were smiling. A filmy white veil framed Bella's face and her brown curls looked far less unruly than in the photo Elle had been given. She looked breathtakingly beautiful and very happy.
Elle was amazed at the difference between the radiant Bella in the wedding photo and the scowling Bella in the photo she'd been given. She wondered why the photo had been left broken on the floor. It looked like it had been thrown against the wall. For a moment it looked like the couple in the photo… moved...but that had to be a trick of the light. People in photos didn't move!
Elle shook her head as if to clear it and decided that she'd done enough mucking around. She withdrew one of the guns from under her jacket and clicked the safety catch. Lock and load she thought dryly. Then she stationed herself in a corner to wait.
Bellatrix Lestrange had had better days. She hadn't spoken to her husband at all since the blazing row they'd had a few days ago. All they did these days was fight. She was so tired of it. She was even more tired of him blaming her for the problems in their marriage.
He complained that she was never around, that she was too engrossed in her work, that she was far too slavish in her loyalty to the Dark Lord. All three points were to some extent true but he had to take some responsibility. Did he think she didn't know about his drinking… his womanizing? Did he think he didn't know about the many women he'd betrayed her with?
Not that she really cared that much who he slept with. If she was honest with herself the only man she'd ever really loved was Tom Riddle. Rodolphus had swept her off her feet but when the initial passion had fizzled out there had been very little left. 14 years in Azkaban had shattered their already fragile marriage. Since then they had been leading virtually separate lives.
Sadly for Bella divorce was something that just wasn't done in the wizarding world, at least if you were pure blood. In the wizarding world 'till death do you part' meant exactly that. She wondered semi-seriously if he Dark Lord would be angry if she killed her husband. Probably, he was after all a Death Eater, albeit a weak one.
It had suited Bella to have a weak husband, one she could easily control. However his weakness had soon become a constant annoyance to her. She had decided a long time ago that she would have been better to marry someone with some balls. At least she wouldn't have to listen to his whining.
Having a good bitch session with her sister had made her feel a little better but not by much. She apparated from Malfoy Manor to her apartment, appearing in a cloud of black smoke. She liked her apartment. It was her refuge. Though it had once been hers and Rodolphus's he had stopped using it a long time ago. She had redecorated it so she could have a place to get away. She liked having a place in the middle of the city… even it was crawling with muggles.
As soon as her feet touched the floor of her apartment she sensed something was wrong. Nothing appeared to be disturbed but something in her gut told her there was an intruder. Her hand gripped her Walnut wand tight. She would deal with whoever had dared enter her private domain. Painfully.
She took a few steps towards her bedroom, the floor creaking slightly under her bare feet. Before she could get there the bedroom door flew open. Behind it was a tall, stunning, blonde woman wearing an eye-patch and a stylish grey suit. Bella recognized the expression on the blonde's face. It was the one that Bella wore when she was about to Avada Kedavra someone.
The gun in the assassin's hand was cocked and pointed… directly at Bella's head.