Hey everybody, hope you had a great weekend! I hoped to have M.U.R.S.E #3 done this week, but I had family visiting from out of town so I couldn’t finish it in time. Look for it in the next couple weeks! This week I have another short story for you, entitled CUPID. It is the first in a series of shorts that will be released in a scattered pattern throughout the next few months. Each story will introduce a character that will be in my upcoming holiday novel due out in November this year. It is a book I am very excited about and I think you will all be too. The story contains all your favorite holiday characters from childhood…with a twist. Let’s just say they aren’t quite the same as you remember:) Anyways, look for more of them to come and enjoy the first in the series, CUPID. Figured he was a great place to start, seeing as Valentine’s Day was last month. Look for the second and third in the series over the next couple weeks, entitled SAINT PATTY and PETER COTTON. I’ll let you guess what those two are about;) Look for M.U.R.S.E. #3 soon as well. Hope everyone has a wonderful week! Happy Reading:)
Cover Design by ten21 Design Company
An affiliate of BSIC Publishing Company
Cover Copyright © 2013by ten21 Design Company
Cover Copyright © 2013 by BSIC Publishing
Christopher Lee Cousino
Copyright © 2013 by Christopher Lee Cousino
Copyright © 2013 by BSIC Publishing Company
TOP SECRET INFORMATION
They are thought to be make-believe, something of legend. Stories and characters made up to tell children before bedtime. But they are very real, and very important to the well-being and safety of the United States of America and the world at large. The Kringles and their elves, Saint Patrick, Cupid, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy, Sandman, and Uncle Sam. The team is top secret. This is their story.
“Dear Lady, be cautious of Cupid.”
James Neil Hollingworth (1933-1996)
Writer under the pseudonym Ambrose Redmoon
A dark figure crouched in the shadows of their hiding spot. Or “perch” as his type preferred to call it. His type being an assassin, that is. The lethal killer opened a dark briefcase, taking a moment to take in the beauty of its contents. His new employers may be total pricks, but they made beautiful weapons. A small smile tugged at the corners of the assassin’s mouth, causing his rosy, full cheeks to rise. Grabbing the separate pieces from the case, he began to assemble his newest toy of death.
Twisting and locking pieces together, the tight black fabric of his ops uniform did little to hide the muscles that were bulging and rippling beneath. At 6 foot 2 and a sculpted 210 pounds, the assassin could have had a career as an underwear model if he’d wished. But modeling undergarments didn’t offer the type of incentive he desired. Not financially, and not recreationally. Not that any of that mattered anymore.
He wasn’t collecting the big paydays these days. In fact, he wasn’t collecting any paydays. But at least he still got to do what he loved. What he was good at. Popping in the last piece, he set the gorgeous weapon down gently and flattened himself out on the ground. Then, picking it back up, he looked into the scope.
As he moved the scope closer to his eye, he caught sight of his reflection for a quick moment. Brushing blond curly bangs out of his eyes, he shook his head. No matter how hard he worked on his body, it was never enough. It didn’t matter how tough he made his body look, or how tough he actually was himself. His damn face would always make him appear soft. But that was okay. It gave him an edge. No one worried about the guy with the cherub face. That made it easier to stab them in the back. Or shoot them in the back, he thought with a smile.
He was fair skinned, unable to tan despite all the time he spent outside. His skin would burn badly if he attempted any legitimate form of tanning, whether fake-baking in a bed or oiling it up under the sun. He’d tried both options and ended up looking like Elmo and Ms. Piggy’s secret love child. Not pretty.
His lips were full, and his cheeks were even fuller. He wouldn’t call his face fat, but it was definitely round. Baby blue eyes stared out from it all. He’d been told that they sparkled, which he hated to hear. Cold as ice was what he was going for. A mop of curly blonde hair sat on top of his head. He kept it short, but it didn’t control the curls. If it were up to him, he would’ve shaved his head and been done with it. But he made a promise to his mom, God rest her soul.
On her death bed, she made him promise he would never get rid of his beautiful curls. So, whether he really wanted to or not, he would protect the damn curls until the day he died. He owed his sweet mother that much. If she only knew all the evil he’d done through the years. All the people he’d killed. Would she still have looked at him the same? Still have loved him? He knew one thing for sure. Her list of requests she made on her death bed would’ve been a whole hell of a lot longer. Shaking off the memory of his mother, the assassin focused back on the task at hand.
The weather was perfect. Sunshine, clear skies, no wind. Very assassin-friendly. Then again, of course it would be. His new employers would’ve made sure all the T’s were crossed and the i’s were dotted. After all, that’s what the government does.
He couldn’t believe he’d gotten to this point. Before he was captured, he’d been a successful assassin for hire. People paid top billing for his services. Mostly because he had a great track record, a great rep. And because he never missed. He had become very wealthy in a short time. Making much more money than he had as a sniper during his short stint in the military. He’d enjoyed his time serving his country, but it had turned sour quickly. It ended when he realized he wasn’t in charge of who he pointed his weapon at. But he wasn’t some mindless psychopath willing to murder anyone for the right price. He had rules.
No children first and foremost. His second rule was more for himself. He didn’t take a job unless the target deserved it. That seemed silly, he knew. A killer with a conscience, that’s what his perspective client would say if he turned them down. Whether it made sense or not, he didn’t care. He may be a murderer, but his momma raised him right.
And if his perspective client was trying to hire him to kill a person who didn’t deserve it, well, his third rule came into effect. His perspective client would become his next target, usually that very day to ensure they wouldn’t complete their task. And that job would be free. In fact, he never said a word to the person he saved. He let them continue their business as usual, never realizing their life had been in jeopardy. Ignorance is bliss after all. So was his former life.
He’d had a good run. Done some good, in his opinion. Bad people were dead, and he’d saved the lives of countless people who didn’t deserve the fate someone was planning for them. A lot of it had to do with his skills, his patience, and his attitude. But he wasn’t a fool. He’d been lucky too. But as is always the case with anyone, his luck ran out.
He was tricked into taking a job he shouldn’t have. A job he wouldn’t have taken if he’d known the truth. He prided himself on being smart, cautious. But then again, he’d never been too smart when it came to women. Or love. And it was just that combination that got him into trouble.
She was beautiful. Gorgeous in every single way imaginable. He’d met her away from his other life. Away from business. And away from his dark side. He’d been getting a beer at one of his favorite bars. A hole in the wall called The Tank. It was a clean place, quiet, never too busy. Mostly he went there because he’d done a job for the owner and in return he got free alcohol and food for life. Not a bad trade off, all things considered. That is, of course, if you were the type that thought a fair trade involved unlimited alcohol and food in exchange for murdering someone. Of course, the “victim” had deserved it, so there was that.
He’d been sitting alone at the bar, washing down the last of his burger with the last of his bottle of beer. That was when she’d sat down. His head was thrown back and his eyes were shut as he relished the last drops of his Redd’s Apple Ale. She’d been quiet as a mouse, so he hadn’t heard her sit down. And with his eyes shut, he hadn’t seen her. The only reason he’d noticed that she’d sat down next to him was her perfume. He’d smelled her and it had taken his breath away. In a good way. And it happened again when he opened his eyes and saw her. And once again when he heard her voice when she spoke.
“Hey there, Cupid, how’s your night going?” He’d beaten men to within an inch of their lives for calling him Cupid.
He hated the nickname almost as much as he hated looking like the fat little cherub bastard. But that was the hand he was dealt. He swore that was why the government had given him the codename Cupid, because he hated it and they wanted to annoy him. Well, he still supposed it was clever on their part. Due to his looks and his profession, it made sense. Regardless, this was the one time he didn’t mind hearing someone call him Cupid. And it was because of the mouth that said it. Placing his empty bottle on the counter, he smiled.
“Cupid, huh? Cute. I guess that would make you…Psyche?” Looking like Cupid most of his life, the assassin had learned quite a bit about the cherub marksman. In Roman mythology, Cupid had a girlfriend, per say, and her name was Psyche. He didn’t expect this beautiful woman to know the story, so he was quite surprised at her answer.
“Sure, handsome, I’ll be your girlfriend.” He should have known right then and there that something wasn’t right. But she was so irresistible and intriguing he wasn’t thinking with his brain. If he were to be completely honest, he wasn’t even thinking with his heart at that point. Regardless, he fell for her whole game hook, line, and sinker.
“You know the story of Cupid and Psyche, huh? I didn’t take you for a Roman mythology buff.” She smiled seductively and gave him a look that made his throat go dry. As she leaned in close to him, his head felt lighter as the smell of her perfume became stronger and filled his nostrils.
“Well, why don’t you take me somewhere and you’ll find out I’m full of surprises.” Whether it was the alcohol, the pretty girl, how long it had been since his last female connection, or all of the above, the assassin took the girl up on her offer. Cupid took Psyche to a motel and worked on his aim.
Lying on his back, breathing heavily and drenched in sweat, the assassin smiled. He’d been with women before, but it had never been close to this. The passion, the animalistic hunger, the incredible climax…multiple times. It had been by far his best intimate exploration.
In that moment, in the back of his mind, he knew it had been way too easy. He meets the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen in a crap-hole bar that up to that point he’d never seen even close to a remotely attractive woman in, then after his short and unimpressive attempt at flirting, she asks him to take her home. Then they have once in a lifetime sex. It was all too perfect. But he ignored that part of his mind and enjoyed the moment.
The woman sat up and reached for her purse that was resting on the night stand. Unable to ignore ingrained thinking, the assassin tensed up, readying himself for the possibility she was going for a weapon. In that moment, he planned out four different ways to incapacitate her, including killing her if need be. He planned out three different escape routes as well. And he even planned on where he would lay low to figure out his next move. All in a few seconds. Cautious was just scratching the surface when describing the assassin.
He relaxed when he saw her pull out a pack of Virginia slims and a lighter. Yanking a cigarette free, she lit it and took a drag. Glancing at the assassin, she offered him one. He shook his head no in reply. Smoking wasn’t one of his vices. In his profession, he needed to be ready to book it after taking out a target. Lungs full of tar didn’t help afore mentioned booking.
He’d never found smoking to be an attractive quality in women. But watching the gorgeous creature next to him wrapping her lips around the long white cigarette changed his mind. His eyes drifted down to her exposed breasts, and he felt a jolt of excitement shoot down to his groin. Maybe he was ready for another round. Turning towards her, he was preparing to reach for one of her perfectly rounded breasts when she spoke.
“I wasn’t completely honest with you in the bar. I know who you are.” And just like that, the jolt of excitement was gone. Not sure what to say, he said nothing. She continued. “I know you are an assassin, and I know you are very good at what you do. And I need your help.” Sighing, the assassin flopped onto his back once again. Shutting his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose, he responded.
“So I guess it wasn’t my charming personality and good looks that got you here.” The woman chuckled.
“Actually, it was. I planned on approaching you with my problem in the bar, but I didn’t count on you being so cute. Things for me lately have been…tense. I needed a release. And you were a very fun one.” Feeling slightly better about the situation, the assassin sat up and met the gaze of the beauty next to him.
“Okay, I’ll bite. What do you need help with?” Looking back, he knew he should have pushed for more information from her before getting down to business. Like how she knew he was an assassin. Or how she knew where to find him. But he was once again thinking with the wrong part of his anatomy.
“My ex-husband is trying to have me killed. I think he has hired assassins of his own.” The assassin arched an eyebrow.
“So…who exactly do you want me to kill? Your husband, or his assassins?” The woman looked away.
“All of them.” The assassin furrowed his brows. In that moment, he was skeptical. He generally didn’t take a job that dealt with matters of the heart. It tended to get messy and there was usually a ton more going on behind the scenes than clients let on. But then again, the woman was in trouble. She didn’t deserve the death being planned for her. Looking back, he should have thought more about that fact. Because if you asked him now, the witch sure as hell deserved it. But once again, she affected him in a way that de-rationalized his thoughts.
“Okay, Miss…I don’t believe I caught your name?” He realized how silly it was that neither one of them knew each other’s names…or anything at all about one another. She took a drag from her cigarette and blew it out through her full, irresistible lips before answering.
“I never gave it. My name is Bridget. What’s yours? I mean, your real name. The people who pointed me in your direction just referred to you as the best, but what did your mother name you?” The mention of his mother caught the assassin off guard, and he almost slipped and told the woman his real name. But he wasn’t that dumb. Although, he was stupid enough to believe the woman and take the job.
He knew her name wasn’t Bridget, but he didn’t care. Most clients kept their personal information from him. It was smart. Hell, he did the same to them. Clearing his throat, he smiled.
“Why don’t you just call me Cupid, eh?” She arched an eyebrow and took another pull of her cigarette before answering.
“Fair enough, Cupid. So, are you going to help me…” With her free hand, the woman reached over and touched the assassin’s chest. Then her hand slid down his abdomen and under the sheet. As her fingers found and wrapped around his manhood, she licked her lips. He felt himself harden as she continued. “Or do I need to do more work to sway you?” The assassin barely suppressed a shudder of desire as he answered.
“Well, I guess I haven’t quite made up my mind.” The woman laughed, a beautiful sound. Then she put out her cigarette and lifted the sheet, ready to show him what other beautiful things she could do with her mouth.
So the assassin took the job, ready to protect his lady love at all costs. He thought it was funny how sex could make you feel so close to someone you knew nothing about. But that was his downfall. Over the next few days, he learned her routine, saw potential windows of opportunity for rival assassins. Everywhere she went, he went. He found a perch to watch her from, always keeping his trained eye on not only her beautiful form, but on any other armed assassins that could be planning a hit on her. After a few days, he felt it was time to lure in his targets with some bait. His client herself.
The woman, whom he now referred to as Bridget although they both knew that wasn’t her name, had told him the reason she believed her ex, Benjamin Taylor, was trying to have her snuffed. It was easy to guess, the most obvious reason there is when a marriage goes sour. Money.
They had a big life insurance policy on one another, half a mill big. Their divorce was in the beginning stages and if she were to die he would still get his big payday. Of course, if the assassin himself completed his job and killed Bridget’s husband…well, she would get hers. He assumed that’s where most of his payment would be coming from. Either way, the urgency of the situation made his targets desperate. And that gave him the perfect opportunity to use that desperation against them. The assassin had told Bridget his plan. And as expected, she didn’t like it.
She didn’t like the idea of being exposed and vulnerable, but it was the only way the assassin was going to be able to take out the hired assassins. When they showed their positions, which they would, he would take them out. He had no doubts that he could get them before they got Bridget. But she sure as hell had her doubts.
Bridget preferred that the assassin kill her ex, then find out who he’d hired and kill them as well. Just to ensure they didn’t try and finish the job on their own. Not a bad plan, it had in fact been his first thought. But when he’d tried to look into her ex, he hadn’t been able to find any info on him. Bridget hadn’t given him much more than a name, which should have raised red flags. As should have the fact that he couldn’t find anything on the guy.
And it definitely should have raised flags when Bridget all of the sudden volunteered the perfect spot to do the hit on her ex-husband. Who she then volunteered all sorts of info, including pics, place of business, and where he would be alone and vulnerable.
When the assassin did his own research after that, Bridget’s ex all of the sudden wasn’t so hard to find out about. In fact, it was too easy. It was all too much of a coincidence that the moment Bridget volunteers info, Benjamin Taylor seems to stop being so hard to find. The assassin should have known right there and then. But there was one reason that kept him from thinking straight, from realizing the obvious truth. Infatuation.
Love could be dangerous. That fact was very true. Love can make you sacrifice anything and everything for someone else. But if love is real, you don’t often have to sacrifice who you are. Infatuation, on the other hand, is obsession’s ugly stepsister. A man who is infatuated with a woman will sell his soul just to stay close to her. And that was what the assassin was, infatuated.
So, he allowed continued sex and cuddling to brainwash his better judgment. When he found Benjamin Taylor and followed him for a couple days, he allowed the consistencies between that man’s schedule and what Bridget had told him to put his mind at ease. It was a stupid move. He should have known it wasn’t real. None of it. Should have realized it was all a fabrication. A trap. But he’d ignored his instincts…except the most basic instincts, of course. And he let Sharon Stone rip his heart right out.
The assassin had gone to the very spot Bridget told him to. The exact perch she suggested. He knew that would allow him the best shot. Knew that “Benjamin Taylor” took this route every day after working out at the gym. He’d seen it with his own eyes, so it had to be true. And his sweet Bridget, who was way too good to be true, wouldn’t have any reason to lie to him. Right? Wrong.
Imagine his surprise when “Benjamin Taylor” took a quick right down an alley before he got within range of the assassin’s weapon. When the streets filled with FBI and vehicles. When a gun cocked behind him. When that same gun stabbed into the back of his head. And when he heard the voice of what he thought was his angel speak three heart wrenching words.
“You’re under arrest.” He’d thought about fighting her. About swatting the gun away and snapping her neck before the horde of S.W.A.T teams and FBI officers backing her up took him out. But he decided to stop doing stupid things. He wasn’t going to give them the satisfaction of killing him. So he gave himself up without a fight. Without a word. Just an icy cold glare for the conniving bitch he was dumb enough to think he’d been falling in love with.
Bridget had turned out to not be Bridget at all. She was an undercover FBI agent, and her codename was really Psyche. They’d given her the codename special just for the job. That was how she’d known Psyche was Cupid’s girlfriend. It had been fed to her by her bosses when they chose her for her first assignment.
The one that involved her pretending to be a damsel in distress. The one that involved her getting the assassin emotionally attached enough to believe the bullshit FBI fabricated story and walk right into their trap. And the assassin had made it easy for her. Thanks to his stupidity, she looked like the next big thing. She was going places. He was going to prison. Or so he thought. It turned out the government had big plans for the assassin they called Cupid.
He’d been thrown into the back of a high security armored truck, secured with chains, and had a black hood placed over his head. They’d driven for hours and hours, or so it seemed. The assassin had needed to pee, but he never said a word. He’d actually enjoyed the thought of pissing himself and causing the smug FBI pricks to have to clean him up or smell his urine the whole drive. But he held his bladder.
Eventually, the truck stopped. He was roughly pulled out into air much warmer than where he’d been arrested. Then he was led into a building and after a bunch of turns, he was thrown down hard into a chair. When the hood finally came off, he was sitting in a windowless cell. No clue where he was, he had even less of a clue what the hell was going on. He didn’t understand any of it. Didn’t understand why he was receiving such treatment.
There was no way the FBI knew how many people he’d killed. And even if they did, all his victims had been scum bags. He hadn’t killed a bunch of innocents. There was no reason to throw him in some shit prison no one knew about so he could rot. But he didn’t ask any questions. He got his answer soon enough.
After sitting in his cell for what seemed like days, the door opened. He remembered the bright, piercing light that had flooded into his pitch black cell. The sudden flash of it had caused him to shield his eyes and gasp. The assassin remembered this because he was ashamed he’d reacted in a way that showed weakness. When his eyes adjusted, they rested on a man in a black suit and tie. The assassin couldn’t remember the man’s name. Only what he thought of him when he saw him.
Straight edge black suit, black tie. Crew cut hair. Wearing sunglasses inside a building. Obvious government type. Probably some prick head of some prick division full of pricks. The assassin wasn’t in the mood to hear whatever it was the government lackey had to say. He was prepared to fight, do as much damage to the Men In Black wannabe’s face before he uttered a single damn word. But imagine the assassin’s surprise when the cookie cutter government clone stepped aside and in waddled someone else. Someone much different than the first man through. The assassin still remembered his name. Howie Plumb.
A terrible name for a government official. The assassin remembered hoping the guy wasn’t a professor. Although he had been pretty darn good at Clue in his day. If his name wasn’t bad enough, his clothes were even worse. He had on a Hawaiian shirt, buttoned all the way up to his throat. Over that, he sported a leather, sleeveless vest. It was unzipped to allow his large belly to protrude through. Grey, stained sweatpants and plain white tennis shoes finished the wardrobe. He had long, greasy hair pulled back into a pony tail and a long, unkept beard with no direction or style to it. Large, thick glasses topped things off. The assassin couldn’t believe the guy could be government, not in any shape or form. But there was more to Howie Plumb than appeared.
Before the assassin could respond in any way to his new guest, the strange man motioned for his stoic sidekick to leave the room. The suit frowned, not moving. Sighing, Plumb frustratingly stuck his thumb back over his shoulder in the direction of the door as he spoke.
“Get lost, junior.” He didn’t think the suit was going to like that. But the assassin himself liked what Plumb had said. And the attitude with which he’d said it. A small smile crept up the corners of the assassin’s mouth. This would be interesting. “Junior” huffed.
“Mr. Plumb, I don’t think that is a good idea, sir.” Plumb turned towards him.
“Son, you aren’t paid to think. Good thing too, or you’d be poor as shit. Now go.” Still staying put, the government stooge showed signs of discomfort on his face.
“But my orders…” Plumb interrupted.
“Are to protect me and listen to mine, Johnson. Right now, I am ordering you to get the hell out of my sight. Or I can call your supervisor and let them know about the stop you made while on the way here. You know, the one that you thought I was asleep during.” Even in the dark of the cell, the assassin could see Johnson turn a shade paler. He stuttered out an attempt at a response.
“I-I-I was just getting some air. You were snoring so loud I couldn’t stand it anymore.” Plumb smirked.
“A little air, huh? Inside of a massage parlor?” Johnson shrugged.
“So what? I got a massage.” Plumb’s smile widened.
“Anyone who does a simple Google search of that very massage parlor you went to will find that every massage comes with a happy ending. Or no massage at all. At least not of your back.” Johnson gulped. Plumb continued. “What do you think the top brass would say if they knew you detoured off route of a top secret, very important national security matter to get a handjob? Now me, I could care less. I’m actually mad you didn’t wake me up to take part in the festivities. But I don’t think your bosses would feel the same, eh?” Johnson pointed towards the doorway.
“I’ll be in the hallway, Mr. Plumb sir.” And he left. Plumb chuckled and turned back towards the assassin.
“Well, let’s get started, shall we?”
Although the assassin was very intrigued by Howie Plumb, he wasn’t interested in anything he had to say. Cocking his head, he thought about how quickly he could take the short, fat man out. Johnson seemed like a pussy, so he wasn’t worried about that government stiff. But who knew how many guards there were in this hell hole. Or if they would show any restraint on an escaping prisoner. Odds weren’t in the assassin’s favor, so it seemed he didn’t have much choice but to sit and listen to Plumb. The strange man folded his arms and huffed.
“Let me guess. You are thinking how easy it would be to take me out, right? It would be a stupid thing to try. And not for the reason you are thinking. Not because of Johnson out in the hall, not because of the multiple armed guards past him, and not because of the fact you have no fucking clue where you are. No, it would be stupid because you wouldn’t get past me.” Now it was the assassin’s turn to huff. Plumb smiled.
“So, you aren’t completely mute. But can you speak actual words?” The assassin couldn’t hide a smile of his own as he responded.
“You’ve got balls, old man. I’ll give you that. But don’t push me. I’ve killed bigger, stronger, and younger men than you.” Plumb spread his arms apart.
“Come on, then, try me. Or are you scared you will get played again like you did by that pretty FBI agent? Huh…Cupid?” Pent up rage bubbled up and out of the assassin’s mouth as he roared and charged Plumb.
He didn’t want to make things worse for himself, but someone needed to shut the nutjob’s fat mouth. It wouldn’t turn out to be the assassin, however. When he got close, Plumb snapped his fingers and the assassin felt his legs go weak. The rage faded from his mind and he fell to the ground. His eyes got heavy and he found himself feeling very relaxed, very tired. Before he could fall asleep, he heard the snap of fingers once again. Feeling like himself again, he sat up quickly and scrambled back away from Plumb.
“What the hell was that!? What did you do!?” Plumb laughed.
“I warned you.” Breathing heavily, the assassin ran a hand through his hair.
“Seriously…what the hell?”
“Well, son, let’s just say you and me aren’t that different. I have special abilities, just like you. You are smart, strong, and one hell of a shot. My abilities are a little less…easy to explain.” The assassin blew out a breath. He couldn’t argue with the man. He’d seen firsthand what he could do. But what had Plumb done, really? That was the question he still wanted answered.
“Okay…so you still didn’t tell me what you did and how?” Plumb shrugged.
“Since I was young, I’ve had these…powers, if you will. I have an edge when it comes to anything associated with sleep. Which is good, because I don’t have an edge anywhere else. I’m fat as fuck, slow as shit, and about as weak as a newborn. But all that doesn’t matter when all I need to do is snap my fingers. I won’t bore you with the logistics. Besides, I don’t understand it all. Through the years I’ve grown stronger, fine-tuned my powers. I can hear everything going on around me while I sleep. I’m just aware even if I’m cashed out. Also, I can control other people’s sleep…and their dreams.” The assassin couldn’t believe what he was hearing. But then again, he’d just been put to sleep himself.
“This…uh, is a lot to take in, Plumb.” Plumb strode forward and offered his hand to the assassin. He accepted it and got to his feet. Shaking hands, Plumb smiled.
“Call me Sandman, everyone else does.” The assassin arched an eyebrow.
“Sandman, huh? That’s clever.” Releasing hands, Plumb A.K.A. Sandman answered.
“Yeah, I suppose. That’s kind of the point though. Not many people know my powers, you are one of a select few. Johnson out there thinks I’m just the head of a government program, here to meet with you about joining up. But I’m like you. I had powers, used them in my own way for my own reasons and got lots of bad attention. The feds scooped me up and made me the same kind of offer I’m about to make you.” The assassin didn’t like where this was going. Folding his arms, he fought the urge to roll his eyes.
“Go ahead, let’s hear it. But I don’t think you’ll like my answer, Sandman.” Plumb sighed.
“Alright, here it is. The government has put me in charge of a team. All of its members have some kind of special ability that will help the cause.”
“What cause is that?”
“I can’t get into it much right now. It’s a threat to national security. Let’s just leave it at that for now. More about the team, though. The kicker is that all of the team members also have something in common.” The assassin was intrigued. He had nothing in common with Plumb, besides the fact that they both got caught by the government. Plumb continued.
“Some dumb ass suit thought it would be a fun idea to find gifted criminals who seemed to have a good side that all shared a similarity. And to appeal to their “good side” and force them into forming a team to combat the aforementioned national security threat.” The assassin interrupted.
“What the hell is the similarity, Plumb? You and me don’t have a damn thing in common.” Plumb smirked.
“Is that so…Cupid?” The assassin clenched his fists and growled. Plumb put his hands up in a defensive gesture.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean it as an insult. That is our common thread.” The assassin was getting annoyed.
“What, stupid nicknames?”
“Yes, well that and more. Everyone on the team has an ability, power, or appearance that causes them to relate to a character from holidays.” Plumb touched his chest before continuing. “Sandman.” Then he pointed at the assassin. “Cupid.” The assassin shook his head.
“The damn sandman doesn’t have anything to do with holidays.” Plumb shrugged.
“I guess they ran out of holiday options when they chose me, I don’t know. Well me and the Tooth Fairy. Maybe it was a fable thing, or a kid’s story thing. I don’t fucking know. Anyways, that is the similarity.” The assassin did a double take.
“Did you say tooth fairy?” Plumb nodded.
“Yes. Jill James, former dentist turned vigilante. Tiny little thing with short hair and huge eyes. Looks like Tinkerbell. Had a dental office in a bad part of town, trying to help out poor kids and families. Her place got caught in gang crossfire and some kids got killed. So she went a little nutso, took some self-defense and gun shooting classes. Went after the gang members that were involved in the shooting. Killed them all, believe it or not. Took their teeth too. Ripped them right out of their mouth. Kind of became her thing. Gang members started calling her the Tooth Fairy. She cleaned up the neighborhood before the government got a hold of her.” The assassin rubbed his chin in thought.
“Sounds like my kind of girl. So who else is there?”
“Well, there is a tough little Irishman who can fight with the best of them. Former priest turned vigilante. Same kind of bad neighborhood, tragic loss kind of story like Jill. He has an affection for wearing green and has red hair and a red beard. Not to mention, he is a little person.” The assassin rolled his eyes and didn’t care if Plumb saw it.
“Let me guess. A leprechaun, for St. Patrick’s Day?” Plumb nodded.
“Yup. His name is actually Patrick too. Goes by Saint Patty.” Plumb paused to let that sink in. The assassin couldn’t believe how ridiculous this was. A psychotic dentist pixie? St. Patty the Leprechaun? What the hell was going on? Plumb continued. “Then there is a demo expert. Ex-patriot, a little unstable. Older guy, white hair and goatee, likes to make things blow up. Name’s Sam.” The assassin sighed.
“Let me guess, Uncle Sam.” Plumb nodded with a smile.
“You’re getting good at this.” The assassin pinched his nose and shut his eyes.
“Just don’t tell me you’ve got Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny on your team.” Expecting a laugh, the assassin opened his eyes and looked at Plumb when he didn’t hear one. Plumb shrugged.
“Actually…” The assassin’s eyes got big.
“You’ve got to be shitting me. Santa Clause? The Easter Bunny?”
“He isn’t really a rabbit. Although he does like to dress like one sometimes. He does have quite an overbite…and some big ears. Anyways, his name is Peter. Peter Cotton. Him and the Kringles are master thieves. They can break into any house or building. And they love kids. Before they got caught they would break into houses of kids that were being abused and do something terrible to the adults doing the abusing. Then leave the kids presents and candy.” The assassin just stared at Plumb. This couldn’t be real.
“The Kringles? So they aren’t the real ones, obviously.” Plumb once again didn’t chuckle.
“Well…they kind of are. Cotton and the Kringles may be master thieves and may be human, but like me they have a little bit more to their powers. A little magic. Helps with the master thievery. Kris and Jessica do the Christmas thing every year, and Cotton does the Easter thing. It’s part of the deal the made with the government years ago.” The assassin swore his chin had to be touching the ground by this point as he gawked at Plumb.
“But Santa Clause has been around for hundreds of years.”
“The government makes it seem that way, but no not hundreds. They are older, but not immortal or anything. At least I don’t think.” The assassin began pacing back and forth, trying to make sense of things. Then he stopped and pointed at Plumb.
“Don’t tell me they have a fucking magic sleigh or elves.” Plumb chuckled. The assassin was glad to finally hear something in this freak show was really just make-believe.
“No, they use some top secret government aircraft. They call it The Sleigh, but it isn’t an actual sleigh with reindeer or anything. They do have a couple elves with them on the team though. A brother and sister. Elijah and Eleanor Fitz. They are both black belts and experts in hand to hand weaponry.” The assassin rubbed his eyes.
“Fucking elf ninjas. Of course.” Plumb cleared his throat.
“Alright, so you get the jist. We need your help, Cupid. What do you say?” The assassin glared at Plumb.
“Don’t call me that. And you want to know what I say? I say fuck off. Leave me alone. No.” Plumb scoffed.
“So you’d rather rot here?” The assassin folded his arms.
“What about the team? Are they in prison, under lock and key? Watched by the government controlling them and their actions? What about you, Sandman?” Plumb looked at the ground.
“Yeah, we don’t have our freedom. But we are in a private prison, at least. It’s more like a resort, but it is guarded. We are guarded. But we eat well, and can have just about anything for entertainment. It’s better than the alternative. Trust me.”
“No way, Plumb. If I’m going to spend the rest of my life in a cell, I’d rather not be a pawn for the government. Rotting in a cell is rotting in a cell. Doesn’t matter how fancy you try to make it sound.” Plumb took a step towards the assassin.
“Look, I get it. I felt the same way you do. But the government will bury you. You are in a tiny, shit hole of a prison deep in Mexico. Once I leave, your life is over. You will be beaten, fed gruel if you are fed at all, and no one will ever come with an offer like mine. Not to mention, a pretty boy like you will be pretty popular with the inmates.” The assassin knew Plumb was right. Sighing, he shook his head.
“Damn it, Plumb. So, let’s say I took this offer. What kind of work would I be doing?” Plumb smiled.
“The work you love. Killing people who deserve it.” He did love that.
“Will I be going out on missions on my own?”
“Yeah, sometimes alone, sometimes with team members. But they always make us wear these.” Plumb reached down and pulled up his pant leg, revealing some kind of ankle collar. He continued. “GPS tracking device. If we don’t follow the rules, they can shock us, inject us with sedative to knock us out, etc. And you can’t get it off without blowing off your leg, so don’t even think about it.” The assassin didn’t like being someone’s bitch. But maybe he could find a way to escape eventually. And in the meantime, it was better than the alternative. Letting out another big sigh, the assassin stuck out his hand.
“I’m probably going to regret this, Plumb. But you’ve got yourself a deal.” Plumb laughed and grasped the assassin’s hand, shaking it vigorously.
“Welcome to Codename: Holidays, Cupid.”
So that was that. Now the assassin known as Cupid was part of some top secret team of former good-intentioned criminals working for the government. He still hadn’t been told what the big, shadowy national threat was yet. Plumb told him he’d find out soon. His teammates hadn’t turned out to be not so bad.
He hadn’t had much time to spend around them before his first mission. But he hit it off right away with St. Patty. He was a cool little guy. And tough as nails, just as Plumb had said. Uncle Sam was a whacko, but pretty funny. The Tooth Fairy was a little creepy, always looking at his teeth and talking about how nice they were. A little un-nerving. Or it could be the fact that Cupid knew the tiny woman had taken out a bunch of sadistic gang bangers all on her own. But she was nice to look at, so she was okay.
The Kringles were nice, and they fit the part of Mr. and Mrs. Santa Clause. Old, snow-white hair, and thick as the thieves they were. And Kris could really pack away the cookies. The elf twins were pretty badass. Hard to understand, but they had some mad skills. Peter Cotton, A.K.A. the Easter Bunny was a little eccentric, but a nice guy. A bit spastic. And his obsession with eggs was borderline psychotic. Regardless, they weren’t bad company. Much better than the maniacs he would have been stuck with at the Mexican prison. Shaking off thoughts of his teammates, Cupid focused back on the task at hand. He had someone to kill.
Plumb had given him the file yesterday. Victor Rows. 52 year old caucasian male. Had his hands in all sorts of dirty cookie jars. Prostitution rings, money laundering, stock market scams, blackmail, kidnappings, and even murder. Craziest part of all, he was a U.S. senator. Cupid was happy to put the filthy pig down, but he had to wonder why the government was going to such extremes to take out one of their own. Had to be more going on than just the stuff in the file, or they could have sent any assassin after him. But Cupid was a shoot first, ask questions later kind of guy, and that was just what he was going to do.
Hefting his weapon, he positioned himself on one knee, ignoring the ankle bracelet as it dug into his skin. He was really starting to hate the damn thing. Looking through the scope, he searched for his target.
Victor Rows exited a building, having just finished a morning of meetings. Surrounded by three bodyguards, he motioned for them to stop outside the entrance. Lighting a cigarette as he waited for his chauffer to pull up with his car, the dead man walking struck up conversation with his protectors. The assassin smiled. Oh, Victor, don’t you know smoking will kill you? Literally this time he thought. Cupid knew he had about three minutes. He only needed one.
Running his hand along the magnificent weapon, he settled his finger on the trigger. It was a rigged up cross bow. He’d never seen anything like it in his life. A sniper crossbow able to shoot long distances. Best part was what the tiny projectile arrow would do once it connected. If what Plumb had told him about it was true, Cupid was in for quite a show. Lining up the crosshairs, the assassin centered his aim right between the beady eyes of Victor Rows. Letting out a slow, controlled breath, Cupid pulled the trigger.
The arrow released, causing the bow to buck back. Cupid dropped flat to ground and looked through the scope. Within seconds, Rows’ head snapped back and he stumbled but stayed on his feet. Cupid had to give the douche bag credit, he was a tough S.O.B. Rows immediately touched where the tiny arrow had dug into his skull. Blood was running down his face from the entry wound. The shot wouldn’t kill him, but what was about to happen next would.
Cupid reached into his pocket and pulled out a small black box with a red button on it. It was a trigger for the arrow he’d just shot. Showtime. Cupid smiled as he pressed the button completely down as far as he could. Just as the bodyguard reached for his boss, Victor Rows’ head exploded in a shower of red mist and gore. Chaos followed as people scrambled to figure out what the hell had just happened. Passerbys ducked for cover, bodyguards looked around frantically for the culprit, and Victor Rows just bled from the stump formerly known as his head. Cupid felt his adrenaline rise. He had to admit that had been pretty sweet.
Popping up to a crouch, Cupid quickly disassembled his weapon, then placed it back into the briefcase. Looking around to make sure he wasn’t leaving anything behind, Cupid nodded to himself in reassurance. Then he turned to run, but froze. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up so quickly and sharply that he swore they were being ripped out. Cupid knew the feeling he was experiencing. Someone was watching him.
Spinning around, he surveyed the area with his trained eye. He searched every nook and cranny surrounding his perch, but no one was there. Still feeling as though someone was watching him, he physically scoured the area. Nothing. Grunting, he crouched down and tried to calm himself. There was no one watching him. He was just imagining it. Cupid was one hundred percent positive there wasn’t a soul on the rooftop. No one was watching him, he repeated to himself. But that feeling…he’d never been wrong about it. How could it be true? Unless…they weren’t watching him with the naked eye.
Grabbing his briefcase, Cupid grabbed the scope and placed it to his eye. Then he looked all around for his suspected peeping tom. Buildings across from him and every which way turned up nothing. He was just imagining things…had to be. Back when he served, he learned firsthand how the stresses of the job could mess with your mind. But he hadn’t been stressed. Hell, he’d actually had fun. Was he going crazy?
Shaking off the feeling, he decided to take one last peek at his handiwork before he booked it. Glancing back at the spot at which he’d literally blown Rows’ head off, Cupid settled in on a bodyguard standing stone still. Too still. And his blood ran cold.
Not only was the bodyguard standing still as a statue, he was facing Cupid’s direction. The feeling of being watched grew stronger, nausea worming its way into his stomach. No freaking way the guy was looking at him, Cupid thought. He was miles away. No one could see that far, especially with all the buildings and structures obstructing the naked view. But damn it, Cupid still couldn’t shake the feeling. If only the guy didn’t have sunglasses on. Focusing on the bodyguard’s face through the scope, Cupid gasped.
The bastard didn’t have sunglasses on…it was his eyes. Dark black eyes. Completely black. As Cupid scrambled to make sense of what he was seeing, the black eyed bodyguard lifted his hand up by his face. Then, lifting his index finger, he wagged it back and forth and shook his head. It was as if he was saying Cupid shouldn’t have done what he’d done to Rows. Caught completely off guard and mentally struggling to grasp what his eyes were seeing, Cupid dropped the scope and flattened himself to the ground, tightly closing his eyes.
This couldn’t be happening, he thought. He was imagining things again, having hallucinations or something. That was the only answer. Sweat beaded on his forehead and his breathing became labored as he fought off a panic attack. Maybe the government bastards injected him with something through his ankle collar. Plumb said it was possible that it could be done. But he hadn’t felt any sharp pricks or stabs. Taking a deep breath, he calmed himself down. He wasn’t going to do this. Not now.
He was the best at what he did, damn it. He’d killed many bad men, including Victor Rows just now. Cupid was a bad ass. No one got in his head. No one scared him. He was fearless. Forcing himself back up into a crouch, he grabbed the scope off the ground and looked through it again. Searching for the freakshow bodyguard, he was unable to fight the cringe that hit his body when his eyes caught sight of the black eyed man. But now he looked normal, giving orders to another man and looking around like everyone else for who’d killed his boss. No black eyes, no statuesque stance, and no feeling of being watched. It had all been in his head. The whirlwind events of the past couple weeks were catching up to him. Cupid let out a big sigh. He needed some sleep…and a drink. Looking at his watch, he cursed.
Placing the scope back into his briefcase and snapping it shut, Cupid got to his feet and took off running. He couldn’t believe how careless he’d been with his time. There was somewhere he needed to be, and he only had a few minutes to get to the relay point. If he was late, his government handlers would start to get worried. And when they got worried, they could decide to start having fun with the high tech ankle collar stuck on his leg. Cupid had had enough bullshit for one day. Hurdling a steam pipe, he kept sprinting and cleared a six foot gap between buildings. Almost there.
There was another reason he’d chosen the perch he had for taking out Rows. It was not only a perfect spot for the job he had to do, but it gave him another opportunity. A personal opportunity. Smack dab in the between his relay point and the perch he used for the Rows hit, there was another perch. One that gave him the perfect view of the High Rise apartment complex. And a perfect view of Apartment 20B. The home of Veronica Matthews. Cupid knew her as Psyche. The government agent who trashed his heart, but more importantly, his life.
He’d done lots of research on her the past couple weeks. His internet access was monitored at the prison, but he still had unlimited access. And he’d learned lots of tricks to hide his digital tracks through the years. All his research on Psyche looked to the blind eye like he was just keeping up on his sports teams and watching Netflix. He even threw in a porn site for good measure. That way they’d really think he had nothing to hide.
Cupid learned the name, address, and history of the girl that got away. Got away with screwing him over that was. Now he just had to bide his time, and he would get his revenge.
Clearing another gap, he landed in a roll and came up in a crouch between two large roof vents. A large mechanical box gave him cover in his front, his head barely poking over the top. Opening his case, he took out the scope again. Glancing at his watch, he cursed again under his breath for being so careless. Two minutes, but it was better than nothing. Putting the scope to his eye, he focused on the window to Apartment 20B. Where are you, Pysche, he thought. Suddenly, a form walked into view.
The dark hair. Tan, smooth skin. Large breasts, hourglass figure. Gorgeous hair. It was her. He hated that the sight of her caused butterflies to start fluttering in his stomach. After all she’d done, he still had feelings for her. Not her, not Veronica Matthews. No, that wasn’t the truth. Cupid had feelings for Bridget. The fake persona created for Veronica by the FBI. The woman he fell in love with didn’t exist. But the imposter posing as her did. And he had plans for her.
As he watched her walk up to the window, something deep inside him stirred as she began to unbutton her blouse. Was she really going to undress, right out in the open? No way, he thought. Then again, she was twenty stories up in the air, in the middle of the day. No one would be able to see her, except him that was. Glancing at his watch, he cursed for the final time. He had to move. Looked like he was going to miss the show.
He entertained the thought of staying anyways, figuring it might be worth a shock or two from the ankle collar just to see Psyche naked again. But he decided in the end, it wasn’t. Been there done that…literally, he told himself with a smile.
Looking back through the scope at the beautiful woman in the window, Cupid feigned holding an imaginary sniper rifle in his hands. Pretending to line up the cross hairs right between Veronica Matthew’s eyes, he pulled the make believe trigger. BAM, he said to himself. Soon, my sweet Pysche, very soon. Packing everything back up, Cupid the assassin took off for the relay point, hauling ass to make sure he was punctual.
As he ran, hurdled, and leapt, he couldn’t shake the image of the black eyed bodyguard from his mind. Despite his glee over his short visit with Psyche, the image was still gnawing at his brain. It had felt so real. But it had to have been a hallucination or day dream. Had to be. Right? Of course it was, he told himself in a not so sure tone.
Cupid could see the relay point up ahead. An old life flight landing pad on the top of the hospital. He saw the two agents, his handlers, waiting by the government helicopter that was disguised as a life flight copter. The agents even had on EMT uniforms to sell it. For a second, Cupid worried he was running towards a real life flight crew. But his worries were put to rest when he got close enough to recognize their faces.
Meyer and Lang stood with their arms folded. Lang held a remote of some type in his hand. Meyer looked at his watch. Still a good twenty yards away, Cupid glanced at his own. It was meet time. He’d made it. Technically. He wasn’t right up to the helicopter but he was close enough. His handlers could see him and knew he was coming. They could have done something to him through the ankle collar, but maybe these government stooges wouldn’t turn out to be pricks after all.
No sooner had Cupid thought that than a jolt of electricity shot up from his ankle and through his body. Jerking and spasming, he fell to the rooftop cement with a hard thud. Just as he began to recover enough to reach up and wipe the drool that was running from his mouth, he was hit again with another jolt. His handlers were laughing hysterically. Lang called out to Cupid as he writhed in pain.
“You’re late, goldilocks.”
Cupid gingerly lifted his arm and flipped them the bird. He got another jolt for his troubles. Moaning and groaning, he shut his eyes. Pricks.
That’s it, hope you liked it! Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day:) Talk to you all very soon!!!