Prime Target (Target #1)

By: Marquita Valentine

But she smiles, and in that smile, I can see the evil that lives inside of her. I have seen it countless times before.

“Only assistance?”

“I’ve a need for what only you can provide.”

A coy smile covers her lips. “Just me?”

I raise a brow. “Only you…for now.”

She leans closer. “Meet me at the top of the stairs in ten minutes.”

Taking her hand, I bring it to my lips, a parody of a kiss, when all I want to do is finish the job.


I slam her against the wall, giving her a wicked smile even as my mostly healed shoulder pulls a little. She laughs wildly. We’re in my hotel room, and she thinks this is foreplay. She thinks this is a mere prelude. What she thinks is going to happen tonight, never will. I don’t fuck my targets.

“God, I knew you were perfect for me.” She bites my neck, and it takes all my self-control not to break hers in return.

Instead, I gentle my caress, running my finger down the line of her throat, all the way to the deep v of her cleavage. She grabs my wrist and forces it to her throat. The silver ring on my thumb gleams, catching my attention. I rub the bottom of it, imagining the sound of the click that springs the deadly needles into action.

She’ll never see this coming. She’ll never feel anything beyond the sting of a mosquito bite. This isn’t my chosen method, because I don’t have a calling card beyond death. There’s nothing in each kill that will identify me as the killer. Only whispers of who I am follow in my wake.

“You can squeeze,” she pants, and I oblige her. She grimaces slightly. “Something bit me.”

“Did it?” I loosen my grip on her and slowly turn away. Walking to the bar in my suite, I pour myself a drink.

“What the hell did you do to me?”

Turning, I lift the glass to my mouth. “Only what you deserved.”

Her face pales, contrasting starkly with her red hair. “You’re him,” she gasps, and then smiles slightly. “I always thought I’d get the Skinner.”

“You still could,” I mock, and then take a drink.

She slumps to the floor, like a marionette whose strings are finally cut. Her eyelids droop. “Tell my mother I’m sorry.”

“But not the children whose lives you destroyed?”

“Don’t judge me because we sin differently,” she slurs. “We’re the same.”

“We are not the same.” I throw my glass against the wall, purposely missing her by inches. “I do not kill the innocent.”

A huff of air. “Exactly. The. Same.” Her eyes close, and she lists to one side.

Soon, her heartbeat will slow, her lungs will cease to draw in sufficient air, and her muscles will become so relaxed that her bowels will expel all the waste they store. I’ve been told that on some level, the poisoned know this, that they are at least partially aware of their body shutting down, of the indignity of their death. I take one last look at the woman on the floor.

“I pray to God that he has no mercy on your soul.” Pulling my phone from my pocket, I make a call.

“Service?” I don’t recognize the voice, but I do know that all traces of the body will be removed from my hotel room as quickly and discreetly as possible.

“Maid, please,” I reply and then hang up, tossing the phone on the bed a second later. I pull a clear bottle out of my pocket. Inside is a most useful liquid for a man in my line of work. The liquid destroys all evidence of DNA with just a simple misting and wipe-down, or I could use bottle number two and simply replace my DNA with another’s. Either way, this hit will never be traced back to me.

After spraying down everything—including the body and the broken glass—I exit the room.


I return to the States on a Wednesday morning, the red-eye flight getting me back in time to open shop for Everly’s visit. I look forward to it even more than usual, since this will be her first visit to my shop in months.

Since my trip to the hospital, Everly and I have grown a bit closer, despite my resistance. The woman is, for lack of a better word, determined to be in my life.

The day I was discharged, she’d shown up with a spectacularly gaudy Get Well Soon balloon and offered to drive me home. Thankfully, and yet completely regrettably, my cousin, Benjamin Romanov, had arrived that morning to oversee my rehabilitation.

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