My car pulled up five minutes after Jacob drove off.
Margaret, “Cousin Rose,” was there with my gear, a black one-piece with pockets at every joint of my body. I changed in the car. I had a belt that held my rounds and two short daggers with angels on the hilt. As I held them, they felt different, like these weren’t my real blades. I checked my rifle case, being sure that all the pieces were there. I assembled it, then disassembled it in less than five minutes.
The driver took me to the location. I put on a long reversible coat and slipping on a blonde wig to further my disguise. I was to go to room 640 in the hotel, which was across the street from where my target was to be. My driver came with me to the room, as we were to be posing as a married couple. I looked out the window to gauge my surroundings and the wind. There was a low breeze for a spring day, and there were no clouds. I put in my earpiece, and that’s when I heard him.
“Vicky, sweetheart. How’s your trip going?”
“Hello, general,” I said sarcastically. “I wish you told me I would have an assignment. I would have made other arrangements.”
“Now, honey, don’t be mad, this just came up, and you were here anyway.”
“Fine. But you said I could have some time to myself.”
“You will after this, I promise.”
Rolling my eyes, I knew better than to believe him. I lined up my shot and waited for the target to arrive.
The driver spoke to me. “It’s a real honor to get to see you in action, lieutenant. We’ve all heard the legendary stories of the Dark Angel.”
“What did you call me?”
A shiver went through me. It wasn’t what he said, but how he said it like I had heard his voice before. “What’s your name?”
“Well, Jerry, let me let you in on some free advice.” He put his binoculars down and looked at me. “Never talk to the one holding a gun. You might get shot.”
“So sorry,” Jerry said, his eyes wide with fear. He picked up his binoculars and watched the scene.
I looked back at the target. There was movement in the courtyard. An older man moved into the solarium, followed by eight other men, all in Italian suits. I set my sight on the older man. But just as I was inhaling to take my shot, someone else entered. I gasped. “What is he doing here?” I said,
“Who, Dark Angel?” Jerry asked
“Jacob?” I whispered.
“Do you have the shot?” the general said in my earpiece.
I reset myself. “Target acquired,”
“Take the shot, Vicky! Take it now!” the general shouted.
I lined up my shot, but Jacob was hugging my target.
“Take the shot now!” the general shouted louder.
I took my shot. I shot him. Breathing sharply, I packed my gear quickly, changed my outfit, and rushed from the hotel. I took the route through the kitchen, leaving Jerry to deal with my gear.
I needed to get away from there. My mind raced as I watched the scene play out over and over in my head. I shot them. I shot him. I shot both of them. I looked down at my hands. I was shaking. These are not the hands of a sharpshooter. These are the hands of someone who earlier in the morning held on to the one she loved. I loved.
What was he doing there? Why was he hugging the target? Who was the target to him? Tears were rolling down my face as I exited the kitchen into the alley. I leaned on the wall, knowing I needed to get a grip on myself. I had to be strong because if one of my fans were to see me…I didn’t need that kind of press. I needed to create an alibi quickly. Fixing my wig, taking in a few deep breaths, I looked around to see where I was. I knew no one realized what I had done, but I had to be sure. Flipping my coat around and putting on different earrings, I slipped onto the streets and mingled with the crowds. About twenty minutes later, my phone rang. It was Cousin Rose. “Where are you?”
“Near the tower,” I answered as I looked over my shoulder.
“Good, stay there. We’re coming.”
“I’ll be there.”
I knew they had taken care of everything to cover my tracks because that’s what they did. But how was that going to help with how I felt about Jacob? As I walked to the tower, my phone rang. It was Jacob. It relieved me to see his name on my caller ID.
“Victoria? Vicky, I’ve been shot!” His voice sounded frantic.
“What?” I gasped.
“I’ve been shot.”
“What, where, why…who shot you?”
“They killed him…they killed my father.”
My eyes widened at his admission to who my target was to him.
“Vicky, did you hear me? They shot my father!”
“Oh my God, what? Your father? But I thought your father was in California.”
“That is my stepfather.” You could hear people shouting in the background. It sounded like doctors.
“Jacob, where are you? Are you alright?” My panic was rising cause I knew my shot was clean.
“They shot right through me. I’m hit in the shoulder. I wasn’t the target. He was. The bullet went right through me.” There were people shouting at him to get off the phone.
“Jacob, I’m coming. Where did they take you?”
“No, my angel, stay with your cousin. I’ll meet you at the hotel.”
“The hotel…come back to me,” I said before he hung up.
I felt relieved that he was okay. I knew my shot was perfect, right through the teres minor muscles through his raised arm. He would hurt and bleed, but he would live. My heart raced at the duality in which I had to play. I hung up and found myself in the middle of the street. Cars were honking at me. A man rushed across the street to help me. I looked up and saw it was Jerry.
“This way,” he said, guiding me to the car.
This was my other life, my actual life. When my father died, my mother lost herself and me for a bit. I was taken and held for ransom. She paid what they wanted, and the perpetrator was caught and killed before they could bring him to trial. When I was nine, my mother married my father’s best friend, Army General Andrew Higgens. He told my mother that I needed to learn how to defend myself so no one could ever take me again. Mother agreed. But what my family didn’t know or expect was that I would be so good at it.
They handed me a rifle when I was eleven, and I shot clean through the target. Just about every weapon they gave me, I excelled. By the time I was nineteen, I was at the sniper level of shooters. The general decided he had just the job for me. And I have been his secret weapon ever since. It’s the perfect cover of being a socialite, because I can get into places others can’t.
We arrived at the safe house. Cousin Mary and the driver ushered me in through the red door. A shiver went through me like I’d done this before. But each red door had been different. As they escorted me inside, I couldn’t help but look back. It was just a door painted red. I entered the office and found him waiting for me there.
“Well done, Dark Angel.”
The others left.
“General.” He motioned for me to sit.
“Who was he?”
“The target, sir.”
“That was Jose Montoya Castillion. And it would seem that your Jacob was the youngest of his sons that no one knew about.”
“What?” My brow furrowed, and my nostrils flared. How did I not know?
“Look, sweetheart…” the general said as he clasped my hands in his.
“Don’t sweetheart me.” I yanked them away from him.
“Honey, we were just as surprised as you were.”
I stood up to leave.
“Victoria, this is the job, honey. We can’t have attachments.”
“I shot him. I shot through him to hit the target. I killed his father. I’m just as bad as the person that killed my father.” I paced the office, my anxiety rising.
“Vicky, please sit.” He tried to get me to calm down. “That was not the same thing. You are our best sure-shot, and we knew you could get the job done.”
“Right, your secret weapon, because I don’t miss.”
He came over and took my hands in his again. “We needed you. You did us a great service. Why don’t you go to the hotel, get your things and head home? I’m sure everything will be alright now.”
I looked at the general. I knew he was only trying to make me feel better, but I didn’t. My heart ached. He hugged me, but I couldn’t bring myself to return his embrace. I left his office and headed to the hotel. Walking through the double red door gave me a bit of a shiver.
The driver took me back to the hotel. I must have texted and called Jacob 20-30 times by the time I got there, but he didn’t answer.
I headed upstairs, but the concierge stopped me. “Ms. Gold, I do hope you find everything to your satisfaction.” He winked at me as I entered the elevator. I had no idea what he was talking about.
I opened the door, to find our room filled with flowers. There were rose petals on the floor leading to the bedroom, forming a heart on the bed. Black and gold balloons spelled out Marry Me, and a little box sat at the center of the bed. I crossed to the bed and opened it. A diamond ring. A tear slid down my cheek. He was such a romantic. I called his phone again, but still no answer. I fell to my knees as tears streamed down my face.
My phone buzzed. I wiped my face and tried to compose myself. Looking at the number, I didn’t recognize it but thinking it might be Jacob. I answered it. “My love, are you coming to the…”
“Dark Angel, it’s Jerry. They took him.”
“Wait, who took who?”
“His older brothers. They took him from the hospital. They blame him for what happened to their father.”
“Meet me downstairs. I’ll take you to him.”
I got up quickly and searched my bag for my jumper. Changing my clothes, I went downstairs to find Jerry waiting for me. I got in the car and he sped off. As he drove, I called his phone again. Still no answer.
“Dark Angel, I just don’t see why you want to save this man? His father was a war criminal. He killed innocents. You should just go back to New York and forget about this fool.”
I glared at Jerry. “You don’t get to say anything about Jacob. He’s a good man. I bet he didn’t know about his father any more than we did.”
“But you know the expression. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
“Shut the fuck up, Jerry. I need to save him.”
“You don’t save. You kill. You follow orders. That’s what you do. You’re not the type to aid others. Who suffers the consequences of your action? How many innocent lives have you taken?”
Looking at him, I said, “How dare you? You don’t know me.”
“Oh, but I do,” he whispered.
I got this strange vibe from him, like there’s something he knew about me, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
We arrived at the pier. Just as I got out of the car, two shots were fired, but I couldn’t tell where they came from. I started running. “No, no,no, no, please,” I kept saying under my breath as I searched. I could hear a police helicopter and sirens behind me. I heard a car speed away. I got to the dock, and I called his name. I shouted for him.
I searched for any sign of him and finally saw the trail of blood. I followed it until I saw him slumped against a post. I raced to his side and fell to my knees. I lifted his head and put it in my lap. “No, no, no, Jacob, please,” I begged as I shook him, trying to wake him.
His eyes slowly opened. He reached his hand to my face as he tried to speak.
“Shhh, shh, don’t talk, they’re coming,” I told him as I looked around desperately for an ambulance.
“Help me, please help me!” I screamed
Tears streamed down my face as he took a deep breath to speak. “Shh, oh love…hold on, hold on.”
He looked into my eyes, and I grabbed his hand, holding it tightly in my own. “My…angel” He smiled weakly. “My.. for..ever.”
“I’m here. I’m here.”
He took another breath before his eyes closed, his head gently falling to his right. His hand slipped from my fingers and fell to the ground.
“No, no, Jacob!!!” My heart cracked and I screamed in agony. Slumping over him, I wrapped my arms around his dead body and cried for my lost love.
There were muffled voices around me. My heart was broken. I heard a familiar voice. “Ni? Ni? Come back!”
“Nike, wake up!” I heard in my head.
Who were they talking about?” I thought.
“Nike, open your eyes. You’re alright, come on, little one.” A female voice said.
I opened my eyes, and before me were my siblings. Zelus held me tightly. A boy sat in front of me. “Mom, are you alright? What happened?”
“Mom?” I whispered, suddenly remembering. “Dad. Where’s Dad?”
“It’s alright, Nike, he’s sitting over there, and Kratos is with him.”
I looked over and saw them together. Glancing around, I could see that broken glass was everywhere. “What have I done?”
“You haven’t done anything, little one. Zelus, you and Teddy get Nike home. We’ll see to the others.” Kratos shouted over to us.
“Right! Hold on, Ni, I’ve got you.” He picked me up, and in a flash, the three of us were heading home.