Author: Mrs. Data

Rating: Teen

Disclaimer: I will ony claim ownership of original characters and the plot.

The silence that greeted him should have been comforting to the assassin but it wasn't. Sensing that he was not alone, he removed his gun from its holster and proceeded to search the hotel suite. After finding no one in the bedroom and bathroom, he stepped onto the empty balcony. The cityscape before him disappeared into darkness when his lifeless body fell onto the stone balcony.

Agent 47 lowered his gun, "You shouldn't have accepted the assignment." He quickly exited the suite from the balcony using a harness and rope.

International Contract Organization handler Diana Burnwood cursed in her English accent after receiving word that Agent 46 had been killed. It didn't surprise her Agent 47 had quickly disposed of him; he had done the same to the other agents they had previously sent. What bothered her was reporting it to the chairman and president of ICO Norman Gateson.

Diana sat down in front of her flat screen computer and typed. A moment later Gateson appeared on the screen.

The fifty-five-year-old chairman ran his fingers through salt and pepper hair, "Ms. Burnwood, please tell me that Agent 47 has finally been taken cared of?"

Her blue eyes dropped to the floor before returning to her boss, "I regret that I cannot, Mr. Gateson. Agent 46 is the eighth agent he has killed since last month."

"I know, he probably won't be the last," he admitted.

"Mr. Gateson..perhaps you should remove the hit off of Agent 47? He is the elite for a reason."

"That is out of the question and you know it. He is now directly stealing clients from us and it is humiliating. We have plenty of agents; one of them will bring his head to me. It will happen," his voice was firm.

She nodded, "I understand," but did not agree.

"Anyway, have there been any further developments on locating Nika Boronina?"

"No, there hasn't."

"It's been a month since Agent 47 had killed Belicoff and his double."

"I am aware of that but we have been unable to locate her."

Gateson leaned back in his chair, "Well, unlike Agent 47 she is not a real threat to us, she is merely a whore. Where ever she is, she knows to keep her mouth shut about Belicoff. Call off the search. Agent 47 is our top priority from now on."

"I will. Goodnight Mr. Gateson."

He turned off his computer and heard a knock on his office door, "Yes?"

His wife, Patricia, poked her head in, "Dinner's ready, hun."

"Good," he smiled at her while walking towards the door. "Are the children ready?"

"Yes, they're all washed up and waiting in the dining room for us," she told him.

"Wonderful," he saw a sign of weariness on her aged yet beautiful face, "Are you all right? You look..a bit drained?"

She gave him a small grin hiding her true feelings, "It's been a busy day. I'll be fine after dinner."

"And dessert?" He suggestively raised his left eyebrow.

She chuckled, " depends how much wine I'll have tonight."

He wrapped his arm around her waist, "A whole bottle then," he guided her through their palatial home.

Agent 47 never thought there was more to life than killing people around the world until he met Nika Boronina. Granted, he had always been curious about the fairer sex and would read about them in books and magazines. But Nika was the first woman to ever make him really look at life, its worth, meaning and possibilities.

Her curiosity about the world around her intrigued and then eventually influenced him. Now, he walked the streets of Italy taking in the sites, sounds and scents that surrounded him. To his surprise he enjoyed seeing the people walking alongside him and the merchants working in their shops. Their presence around him - despite his minimal interaction - made him feel connected to humanity instead of alienated from it.

Earlier on his walk, he had passed the designer clothing store that sold his suits but decided to return to it later on. A quaint furniture store caught his attention and without thinking he approached the entrance.

A young Latina woman looked at him from the register.

"American right?" She said with a smile that brightened her mocha complexion.

He paused then answered, "Yes."

"Me too, I'm Karissa. If you need anything I'll be here."

He simply nodded and was quietly thankful that she was not one of those talkative sales associates that pestered customers. Without saying a word, he looked at the various items moving from aisle to aisle. From the corner of his eye he saw a white piece of fabric and walked over to it.

His long fingers slowly touched the white cashmere throw blanket. The softness of the fabric reminded him of Nika's skin and the color matched the dress she wore during their last day together. He hadn't seen her in a month but knew that she was doing well.

A vision of her walking in her vineyard came to his mind when he picked up the blanket. He couldn't recall ever reading about women wanting to receive blankets as gifts in his men's magazines. His senses alerted him to Karissa's presence but like always he remained calm.

She stood next to him, "Beautiful throw blanket."

He kept his eyes on the blanket, "Can this be shipped?"

"I'm pretty certain. This is my brother-in-law's store so I'm not entirely sure," she told him. "I'm here on vacation with my husband."

Just then he decided to practice what one of his magazine articles called "small talk".

"Which state are you from?" He looked into her eyes.

His intense stare briefly caught her off guard, "Oh uh..California in Napa Valley. I run my family's wine boutique there."

"Interesting," he said thinking of Nika.

"It is," she realized that leading the conversation would be up to her. "If you don't mind me asking, I'd like to know your name? You didn't tell me when you came in."

After a beat, he used one of his aliases, "Frank Holt."

"Well Frank, I can tell that you're trying to put a lot of thought into what you're buying. So, I assume it's for someone important in your life..a woman?"

His stare returned to the blanket, "Perhaps.."

Karissa wished that he would have given her more details but pressed on, "All right. Speaking as a woman, I can tell you that most of us cherish presents that have real meaning or thought behind them. Like our favorite color, scent, food, clothing, music, book or movie. If we're reminded of a special memory in our lives or a moment that we shared with the person giving the gift, we love it. Also, if you show us that you're thinking about our needs and desires through the's perfect. The personal and emotional value is what we truly care about it, not the price."

He saw the sincerity in her dark eyes then stared at her necklace, "Your necklace, is that from your husband?"

"It is, he gave it to me on my birthday while we were dating," she touched the heart locket. "It looks exactly like the one my older brother gave me when I was six. He died in a plane crash a few weeks after and somehow I lost the locket. My husband, Jason, he saw it in a picture that I had taken with him," her eyes were glistening but a small smile touched her mouth.

"That's a nice yet sad story," he flatly stated. He appreciated how open she was to him and felt as if she could be trusted but needed to be sure.

"Thanks," she graciously told him. "So, the blanket?"

For some reason he wanted Nika to know that he was alive and sending her the blanket would do just that.

"I'll take it," he tested Karissa's character by paying double the price.

"This is way too much. I can't accept this" she shook her head and began handing back his money.

He almost smiled when he saw her pass his test, "It's not, I want to show my appreciation for your help and I need you do two favors..if you can."

"Of course," she brushed a strand of her dark long hair behind her ear.

"If you can't ship this from here…would it be any trouble to bring it back to the US with you? My.." he wasn't sure what to refer to Nika as, "friend lives in your area."

"It's no trouble at all. We're going back home the day after tomorrow."

"I need you to get something else for my friend too.."

Even though he was guarded, there was something about him that Karissa liked, "Sure..what is it?"