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Blood, Pure and Simple
by Stuart Chesterfield

Category: Suspense/Thriller
Description: André Warner is a professional killer. Thirty-nine contracts have made him a wealthy man, and his fortieth is to be his last. The hit goes smoothly enough, and the victim - son and heir of a vicious drug baron - is eliminated with minimal fuss. Along the way, the man's mistress gets caught up in the crossfire. Regrettable collateral damage. Warner drives off into the sunset to hang up his gun and retire to a Mediterranean idyll. Then into his life comes Gina, a stunningly beautiful divorcee with a bad experience of men. Despite her initial resistance, she and Warner eventually fall in love, upsetting his plans for a footloose existence. Simultaneously, his past catches up with him, putting Gina at risk. Vengeance is in the air. His retirement plans in shreds, his new love in jeopardy, Warner strives to regain control of his destiny in the only way he knows.
eBook Publisher: Solstice Publishing/Solstice Publishing,
eBookwise Release Date: July 2012

eBookeBook

Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [462 KB]
Words: 98683
Reading time: 281-394 min.


Chapter One

* * * *

The warble of my cell phone dragged me from a deep afternoon nap. Disorientated, my defensive instincts sounding the alert, I rolled onto my stomach and plunged a hand between the mattress and the base of the bed, groping for a weapon that wasn't there. Disbelieving, I widened the search area to the full extent of my reach. Still no gun. Then belatedly the balloon of confusion popped and the walls of the hotel room snapped into focus. With a sheepish headshake, I reached for the trilling, annoying piece of plastic on the bedside table. "Yes?" I demanded, making no effort to suppress my irritation.

"Townsend?" my caller -- male, French -- queried. He was using my current alias, so it could only be one of two people. In any case, I recognized the lazy Parisian accent of my paymaster.

I grunted an affirmative "Oui."

"Ici Bonhomme."

Bonhomme translates as Goodman in English. Was it his real name? I didn't think so. Same as mine wasn't Townsend. In the world where I did business, pseudonyms were the rule.

"You received the transfer?" he asked. An innocuous enough question, yet tinged with an undertone of uncertainty.

"Yes." The second stage installment of two hundred thousand American dollars, minus two thousand two hundred or so of extortionate bank charges, had showed up in my Swiss account this very morning. "Have you got the arrival time?"

"That's my reason for calling. They will land at Munchen at eighteen-fifty. From there it is about an hour by car."

Suddenly, I was wide awake. I sat up and swung my legs off the edge of the bed.

"Whoa there, just a minute. What do you mean, they?"

"The woman will be with him." No wonder he was nervous. The woman wasn't part of the program.

"Look, Mr. Bonhomme," I said, letting a snarl creep into my voice. "She's not supposed to be here until day after tomorrow. If she's around, it will totally fuck up the job."

A short silence, then, "She's expendable."

"Expendable! That's big of you. So you expect me to take her out too?"

"If she's there, you'll have no choice."

He was right, but it didn't make me feel any better about it.

"The price just went up," I told him.

"Don't try to blackmail me, Townsend. You'll be sorry if you do."

"And don't try to get two jobs done for the price of one," I countered. I gave him a couple of beats to think about it. "Another hundred thousand or it's off."

To my surprise, he didn't go volcanic.

"Very well." He sighed. "But it will not reach your account until tomorrow."

The connection was cut, leaving me glowering at my reflection in the cell phone's screen. The additional hundred grand was a malus not a bonus. I didn't need the money and I didn't need more blood on my conscience. Female blood, especially.

I flopped back on my pillow to review the ceiling and the arrangements for tomorrow and the effect of this latest revelation.

The job had just been transformed from straightforward low-risk, to complicated and tricky, with my neck on the chopping block if it went awry. The collateral damage was anathema, professional and personal. Killing an innocent party transgressed a private code; that the party in this instance was female just added to the anguish. Too late now to make new arrangements. The venue -- their secret love nest -- was custom built for the job, and none of the alternatives came within a mile of it for suitability. Whatever heart searching was involved, I was not about to compromise the outcome.

Another -- albeit lesser worry -- was the identity of the woman, his mistress, wife of a prominent German politician and businessman. The stink when this hit the press would make a skunk's squirt almost perfumed by comparison.

Aside from the nuisance factor of a double killing, only the escape route was causing me the odd twinge of concern: a narrow, twisting track without a single exit; a good three minutes' driving and nowhere to hide. Meeting an oncoming vehicle would mean pulling over, backing up, and God knows what else. Plenty of opportunity for the other driver to sum me up, my car, my license plate, and wonder what the hell I was doing on a road that led only to one place. The risk of such an encounter was slight, but I'd lived to a ripe thirty-eight and a few months by keeping risks to an irreducible minimum.

By now, I was thoroughly awake, if not refreshed, and slid off the bed.

Outside, it was gray, damp and dismal; November in Bavaria. It didn't make poetry. It didn't chime with sunshine and trees in blossom and a glass of wine on the terrace. Beneath saturnine skies, mist hung motionless in cobwebs, with incessant rain varying only in its intensity. Which is how it had been since I set foot in Oberpframmern on the outskirts of Munchen two days ago.

From the window of my functional, plastic-veneered hotel room cubicle, I looked out over the Hohenkirchenwald -- Forest of High Churches -- a roller-coaster landscape, every slope coated with black conifers, with here and there a farm. On the other side of the rolling hills, an unsuspecting man with only twenty-six hours left to live -- give or take a minute.

On the observation platform of the Olympiaturm, I met up with Gunther. From that eyrie in the sky, five hundred feet above the ground, I could see clear across to the Bavarian Alps, their peaks white under the dipping sun. In the opposite direction, looking straight down, I had a bomber pilot's view of the Bayerische Motorenwerke plant, dominated by a twenty-story cloverleaf building. Next to it, a cup-shaped edifice was topped by an enormous BMW motif.

Despite the distant sunshine, it was wet and windy at the top of the tower, and consequently pretty much deserted. That suited me. The business I was there to transact was not for public eavesdropping.

Gunther was ill at ease, unusual for him. We shook hands routinely. His clasp was sweaty.

"Gruss Gott, Herr Black." God greets, statutory Bavarian hello.

"Good to see you again, Gunther," I said in English, not wishing to confuse him with my bad German.

He bobbed his head like a nervous hen. He was of diminutive build with thick black hair. Very un-master race. His coat was exquisitely tailored, pure wool with an expanse of astrakhan collar.

"Got the merchandise?" I asked him.


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