Chapter OneAugust 14
Through a small gap in the grimy motel curtains, Lucky watched Conrad Andersen pull a hooker over his lap and playfully spank her ass. The woman shook her bleached head and kicked her legs in false protest, shaking the entire bed. She slithered against his portly belly and gave him an exaggerated kiss before vanishing from the scope.
Andersen wiped his mouth, and traces of bright red lipstick smeared across his face. Frowning, he got up and moved out of view.
Two hundred yards away, Lucky shifted on the rooftop, using the free time to ease the tension built up after an hourlong stakeout. First, a stretch and twist sideways popped a few vertebrae. Flexing both hands and then rotating both ankles brought the circulation back.
Wonder if military snipers do this shit when stalking a target. Doubt any of them ever had to endure an Olympic, Viagra-induced sexcapade.
Lucky eased back into position just in time to see Andersen appear in the rifle’s scope again. Even with the obstructed view into the room, she saw him dressed in a blue pinstriped suit with a white shirt. A decent-looking older man but knowing everything he’d done made him vile enough to eliminate.
The woman reappeared and gathered her belongings off the ratty nightstand. The lights dimmed; Lucky took deep breaths to maintain a slow, steady heart rate. Lucky directed the scope three feet to the right and targeted ten inches below the top of the motel room’s door frame: the perfect height to hit the man. Once she had a clear shot, the window of opportunity would last five seconds. She already calculated the wind factor, distance, and bullet drop.
The door opened. Lucky let out one last breath and then counted in her head.
One. The hooker emerged laughing.
Andersen appeared and draped his arm around the woman’s shoulders. Two.
She glanced up at him. Three. Lucky eased the crosshairs of the scope on his head.
Four. He leaned down and kissed his escort.
The mark lifted his head to search the parking lot.
In the fifth second, the bullet penetrated his skull. His eyes popped upon exit. Pink bits of his brain spattered on the door behind him. Andersen’s body slumped against the door frame.
The hooker’s scream filled the air. Other rooms instantly sprang to life with commotion. A dog even barked in the distance.
The remnants of his face stared back into the scope, confirming the kill.
Burn in hell, bastard.
The brass catcher on the rifle trapped the bullet casing. Lucky removed the silencer and popped off the shoulder stock. Then she packed the Heckler and Koch MSG90 in the trombone-shaped case in record time.
She rolled up the blanket and surveyed the roof for noticeable evidence before slipping down the side of the house. The quiet development she found behind the motel provided excellent cover. However, the occupants and their neighbors might be home any moment, and she had to move.
Lucky pulled the worn French beatnik beret down her forehead before weaving through the backyard. She hopped over the fence of the adjoining property, emerging on Margo Drive. She walked down the street, listening for any sign of the police behind her.
Though her heart pumped as if she just rode a roller coaster, she felt completely at ease. Yet another sign she’d been doing this job too long. Less than a mile from the scene and she didn’t have a stitch of worry about the cops catching her.
She was getting that good at killing.
Rounding the corner, Lucky noticed a young girl crying in front of a makeshift lemonade stand that her father was tearing down. The dollar sign, forgotten on the parched grass, had drops of tears streaking through the lettering. She slowed, feeling her stomach tighten as the sobs grew louder.
“We’ll try again tomorrow, honey,” the father said, ruffling the girl’s blonde head.
“But I dinnit sell anything, Daddy,” she squeaked.
Lucky had thirty seconds, maybe less, before someone called about Andersen. Response time in Vegas, at dusk, was never routine. Even if LVPD arrived within the next two minutes, she’d be long gone. She had to walk past them. Can’t let the poor girl go to bed sad and disappointed. Lucky knew how that felt. Fishing out two dollars from her jeans, she approached the stand.
“I need something to drink,” she said, clutching the trombone case tightly, her attention on the child “Think I can have one before you close?”
“Really?” The girl’s eyes bugged wide like little swimming pools.
“Get a cup, Daisy,” the father suggested and glanced up from his work on the wooden stand. The kid filled the cup all the way to the rim and decorated the lip with two cut lemons. “I made it myself,” she announced proudly.
Lucky took the cup, guzzled half, and smiled. “Ahh, that’s very good lemonade.” She placed the two dollars in the girl’s hand. “Keep the change.”
“Thank you,” the father and daughter said simultaneously. That fatherly tone warmed her for a moment, but she didn’t make eye contact.
“Welcome. Gotta go,” she said, swinging the trombone case. “Gonna be late. Bye.”
“Bye! Come back tomorrow.” Daisy waved.
A minute after finishing her lemonade, Lucky found her rental car on Pacyna Street. The smell of Vegas, sex, booze, and money, lingered in the air. Streetlights sparkled, waiting for the last of the sunlight to vanish from the horizon.
Lucky opened the trunk, secured the case, and slipped into the car. She sighed. Her boss wanted her to get rid of the sniper rifle despite pleas to keep the weapon for sentimental value. She knew he was right; she used the execution method several times. Still, it was a great gun—one she had for years—and she hated to melt it down.
Sirens screamed in the distance, breaking into her head. Not wanting to push her luck any further by sticking around, she took off, traveled south to E. Tropicana Avenue, and picked up her cell phone when she turned onto the main drag.
“It’s done,” she said while checking the rearview mirror. “Our boy had a thing for working girls, apparently.”
“Leave the package where I told you, he’ll take care of it for us. I’ll see you when you land, okay?” the man on the other end replied.
“Sure, Phen. Tell Bet she owes me dinner.”
“She does? Why?” He huffed. “Don’t tell me you two are wagering over your jobs.”
“No, she owes me because I told her you’d make me get rid of Heckle today.”
“Don’t be sore, you still have the other rifle.”
“Yeah, yeah. Talk to ya.” Lucky clicked off the phone.
Annoyed and physically high from the adrenaline rush, she went to drop off her weapon at the butcher’s lock box, hoping to find a way to work through the pending madness that
followed her jobs.