Mr. Dark 4

By: Lauren Landish

Mark got up out of his chair and pulled me to him, his strong hands holding my waist close to him. I could feel the lithe, powerful muscles under his navy blue Italian suit, and my heart sped up in my chest. "Mark....." I whispered, looking up into his eyes.

"Later, my love," he said, kissing my forehead regretfully. "If I do what I want, we're not going to have a chance to get the rest of the work day done."

Like I said, being Sophie Warbird was sometimes a drag.

Chapter 2


Later that afternoon, after we had concluded the daily work, was one of the more fun parts of being Sophie Warbird. I stretched my wrists, twirling the bamboo stick in my hand and looking over at Mark. My hair was pulled back, and I was wearing the lightly padded outfit that Mark still insisted that I wear. Mark's stick was also padded, giving me just enough protection to prevent bruises or injury while at the same time leaving enough feedback that I knew when I screwed up. Well that, and the fact that Mark was a great teacher and knew exactly how hard to take things to push me.

"Let's see how much you've learned," Mark said as he twirled his own stick.

Stick fighting isn't a big part of my training. With Mark and I taking on the organized crime elements of the city, firearms were much more important than anything else. However, Mark felt that understanding the basics of fear and how to react even when I was afraid was vital. I agreed, and besides, it was a lot of fun. Besides, it pushed us to another level of bonding.

Mark started slow, with simple single swings of the stick that I blocked and countered easily. He could dodge almost every blow that I returned, except for the minor ones that he wanted me to hit with. He didn't wear any protective clothing, depending on his skill and speed to keep himself safe. As our sparring continued, our speed and complexity increased more and more, until the two of us were swinging dual sticks at each other full speed. More than once I could hear the whoosh as Mark's stick whizzed by my ear, but instead of backing off, we pushed harder. The sparring ended when Mark's stick stopped a fraction of an inch from my neck, frozen in the middle of a swing that in real life would have most likely broken my neck, and definitely would have ruptured my carotid artery.

"Nice job," Mark replied, twirling his stick and stepping away. "You did a lot better."

"I've been working on it," I grinned. I rolled my left shoulder, which had taken a shot from him a few minutes prior. "So what percent were you going at today?"

"About eighty, a new high," Mark replied. "Seriously, I didn't think I'd ever be pushed to eighty percent by you."

"Because I'm a girl?" I asked with a smile. "Or because I'm your girlfriend?"

"Because you didn't start this until you were in your twenties," Mark replied. "It took me a long time to get the hang of this stuff, and I started a lot younger. The later you start this stuff, the longer it takes you to get the hang of it."

I smiled and dropped my stick. "Well, let's get the rest of our workout done, and then go home. I'm ready for an evening together. You owe me a bath and massage for that whack in my shoulder."

Mark grinned. "Sounds good."

* * *


The day after Sophie and Mark's meeting with their most recent investment possibility, I was sitting in my office going over the financials on another one of the Smiley potentials when my office phone rang.

It was strange, the fact that I had my own office at Taylor & Hardwick's, one of the bigger financial firms in town, and I wasn't even twenty five. I knew that it was all due to Sophie and Mark, but still I wanted to do my best to earn my spot. I had my MBA for a reason, after all. Still, the intern pool was filled with people who had degrees just as good as mine, and who worked just as hard as I did. I just happened to be lucky enough to have one of my best friends fall in love with a rich hitman who had a heart of gold, as well as a bank account that would make all of the senior partners in the firm green with envy.

As ridiculous as it sounds, it's totally true. Mark Snow was one of the best hitmen in the entire country, who knows, maybe one of the best in the world. I don't exactly keep track of these things. Tall, fit, and intelligent, he also had movie star looks to go along with it. Yeah, I was a little jealous when Sophie hooked up with him, but after knowing Mark the past few months, I couldn't be totally jealous any more.

There was only one area that I was still envious of Sophie, and that was the look. Any woman who has had a friend who gets a great lover knows the look. It's the look of a woman who just had every sexual desire satiated. For the average woman, you might see that once or twice in the course of a friendship. Hell, to be honest, you may never see it at all, even in our own mirrors. It's a look that says The world's ending and the zombies are rampaging? Ah well, I'm cool with that.

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