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Book 1 in the Codename trilogy. Descended from two lines of assassins, Alina Istrati is one of the most prolific assassins in the world. Always taking pride in her work, the cold nature of her crimes paired with her modus operandi earned her the alias, Blackheart. A new contract that should have been a simple job proves to be more than she bargained for when she finds herself the target of the person who hired her. On top of that, she’s stuck babysitting her former target, who intrigues her at every turn. Alina will be put to the test as she fights to uncover diabolical plots and uphold obligations in the assassin underworld while trying to maintain her Blackheart status around the man she was assigned to kill.
Chapter 1: Blackheart
Three hours. That’s how long I’ve been laying in the back of this SUV. Thank god it’s clean or that would have only added to my irritation. But come on. Three goddamn hours? How long does it take to bang a hooker?
Martin Allard; thirty-five; born December 13th, 1985, at Perry County Memorial Hospital in Tell City, Indiana to Bruce and Sandra Allard and is their only child. He has an MBA and a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from Roanoke College and is currently the CFO of Alke, a sports merchandising company based out of Columbus, Ohio. He’s married to Lacey Allard, née Taylor and has no children.
On paper, this guy is squeaky clean. Donates to charity; a pillar of the community and highly sought after in his field. But appearances can be deceiving. Little do people know, Mr Allard is a very naughty boy. When he’s not busy winning awards for his business prowess and humanitarianism he’s at home beating – among other things – his wife for fun. But he’s a generous abuser, he gives her Thursday nights off. On Thursday nights he goes to the Silver Linings Motel, room eleven, to screw whichever hooker he picked up that night.
A month ago I was contacted by Lacey Allard through a third party – no one contacts me directly; they have to go through a well-placed system – we met at one of the usual locations I use for meetings and had a sit down where she hired me to kill her husband. I’m not picky when it comes to the jobs I undertake, but I can’t deny I’m going to get some extra satisfaction from this one. You may think hiring a professional killer is a bit extreme and divorce would have been better, but alas that is a no can do.
Going into this marriage Mrs Allard signed a good old-fashioned prenup, but being young and in love, didn’t read the fine print. In the event of her divorcing her husband, she doesn’t get a single cent. If she cheats on him, she would have to pay him alimony to the sum of $20,000 a month for the rest of her life. But here’s the kicker. Nowhere in the prenup do these rules apply to Mr Allard. No consequences would befall him should he divorce her or be unfaithful. Mrs Allard explained she signed the papers as a good-faith gesture believing it to simply be a test. What she didn’t realise, was that it was simply a form of control; something to make her think twice about leaving him. Which brings us to me lying in the back of Mr Allard’s SUV.
I always do thorough recon before a job, not just on my target but on the person who hired me. In this line of work, rule number one is: don’t trust anyone. After digging into Mrs Allard’s history and finances I can’t say I’m surprised she wants her husband dead. The couple met when she was fifteen and he was twenty-nine. The young thing thought she was falling in love, but in fact, she was stepping into a deadly trap. The man groomed her good. He convinced her to drop out of school and cut her off from her family all while wooing her with a luxurious lifestyle. The classic signs of a controlling abuser. He hit her for the first time when she was sixteen, broke her first bone on their honeymoon when she was eighteen, and it’s been a black-and-blue marriage since.
In the event of his death, however, she gets everything. But before you go off labelling her a gold digger, let me correct you. This woman came from humble beginnings and doesn’t seem to give a damn about money. That being said, after years of abuse at the hands of this man, she feels she’s earned some recompense and I’m inclined to agree. She only had two requests for me, she didn’t care how I did it, just make sure it was slow and it ruined his reputation. Wanting the man dead was a good step; wanting to ruin the image he built and coveted more than anything? Now that’s a woman I can appreciate. Fortunately for her, slow deaths are my speciality.
I check the time on my watch. Four hours. He’s been in that hotel room for four goddamn hours. Based on my logs from surveying him, he rarely ever stays longer than two. Thanks to where he parked his car I have the perfect view of the second floor of the motel and room eleven, so I definitely haven’t missed him coming out. That being said, I’m getting bored from all this waiting and my back is starting to cramp up.
Just as I’m shifting to stop my left leg from falling asleep I see the motel door open and out walks Mr Allard doing up his fly. He couldn’t have done that while he was in the room? The young woman he hired for the night comes to the door to say goodbye and he responds by giving her left breast a hard squeeze. I notice her wince from his rough touch. She doesn’t look of legal age; then again knowing his past, she probably isn’t. Sick perverted fuck. Looking relieved to see the back of him, she quickly closes the door as he struts away putting on his navy-blue business suit jacket like he’s the cock of the walk.
He’s an overall good-looking guy. Lean six-foot-tanned body, soft brown eyes, and chiselled jaw with a dusting of stubble over his jaw to give him a rugged look. His sandy blonde hair is short and wavy and parted to the side. The product he uses to keep it neat and presentable made redundant thanks to his four-hour fuck session, making his hair now look a dishevelled mess.
He takes his keys from his pocket as he approaches the car and with the push of a button, the car unlocks. The seedy motel parking lot is pitch black, and thanks to being dressed in black from head to toe, I blend into the SUV’s interior quite nicely. Rule number two of this business: know your prey.
Mr Allard gets in the driver’s seat and now it’s time to have some fun. While he’s busy turning his phone back on, I carefully pull my best friend from my ankle holster. Crimson – as I like to call her – is an 11” titanium knife with a 5” trailing point blade with a sloping style hilt. I never go anywhere without her and before you ask, yes I call it a ‘she’, how can I not? She’s reliable, durable, gets the job done and is bloody every month.
Quickly sitting up, I place the blade of my knife to this throat, while being sure not to nick the skin – that’s not how we’ll be doing this. His body instantly goes rigid as he pushes himself into the seat to get away from the foreign object against his throat.
“Who the fuck are you?” He gasps in shock and confusion.
“You know, statistically this doesn’t happen to women too often. You see, women are taught to check their backseats for attackers. They don’t really teach that to men, but that just works in my favour,” I say in my usual frigid voice. Not even my Moldovan accent can bring warmth into it. It’s as cold and lifeless as the people I kill and I’m about to add another body to the pile.
“I’ll give you anything you want, just don’t kill me. I have money, name your price,” he negotiates, trying to remain calm, but the bobbing of his Adam’s Apple gives away his nerves. People like him always say the same thing and it bores me to no end. It’s either ‘I have money’ or ‘I have a family’, not only are those the worst things you can say to an attacker but if like me, your sole purpose is to kill someone, nothing they say is going to matter. It’s just a waste of my time.
“Give me your phone,” I command with no hint of emotion in my voice. When I’m on the job my face is an emotionless mask paired with a hollow voice. This is how I am. I don’t feel sorry for them. I don’t weep for them. This is my job and I’m one of the best.
With shaky hands, he hands me his phone. I take it and open it using his own passcode and notice his eyes briefly widen in shock at this. Like I said, I do my recon. I open up the map and type an address into the navigation and hand it back to him. He looks down at it and checks the address, his brows furrowing in confusion.
“Drive,” I instruct adding just a little pressure to the knife, “And if I see that speedometer even touch above thirty, this blade is going right into your carotid,” I threaten. He gulps but does as he’s told, starts up the car and begins driving. A common act among daring prey is they’ll step on the gas and then slam on the breaks in an attempt to handicap their attacker – probably due to watching too many movies – so I am sure not to give them an opening.
We drive for a few minutes with Mr Allard death gripping the wheel till I can see the bones of his knuckles practically glowing in the darkness of the car. I instruct him to pull over, and he complies. He turns off the engine and manages to compose himself.
“What do you want from me?” He asks in a level tone.
“I don’t want anything. Your wife on the other hand would love to see you dead. Can’t say I blame her. You’ve been very naughty Mr Allard,” I tsk at him.
His eyes widen in surprise before shifting into angry slits. “My fucking wife sent you?” He seethes, his hands balling into fists on the steering wheel. I say nothing, I’m not one for repeating myself or answering obvious questions. “I knew that bitch would bring me nothing but trouble the moment I stuck my dick in her. Whatever she’s paying you I’ll double it,” he offers, fear gone from his body only to be replaced with rage.
I hate when they try to barter, it’s pointless. A contract is a contract. If you don’t stay true to the contract you’re finished in this world. If you renege on a contract for a higher offer, you can expect to either be dead within twenty-four hours or be looking over your shoulder for the rest of your life. While offering more money will probably work on a street thug or mercenary, I’m the one he’s dealing with, so he’s shit out of luck.
He’s starting to get angrier, and I can see his body preparing itself to try and attack me. Sometimes it’s almost boring how predictable these people are. With one hand still holding Crimson to his neck, I pull the bright red 7” metal spiked stiletto from my duffle bag, and before he can make a move to even attempt to disarm me, I jam the heel directly into his carotid artery. His eyes widen in horror and his hands instinctively reach up to his neck to where the shoe is now protruding from as I watch on with a blank expression on my face.
3…2…1…He rips the heel from his neck and attempts to cover the hole with his hands as blood begins to spurt from the hole like a fountain, drenching the leather interior of his SUV and obscuring the once-clear windshield with his blood. I internally shake my head. They always do that. It’s a reflex to pull out a foreign object, but it’s the opposite of what one should do.
With one hand on his neck, he fumbles for the door handle with the other. He finally gets it open and falls out of the car. I place Crimson back in my ankle holster and calmly get out of the car with my duffle bag. I watch as he crawls along the sidewalk, torn between putting pressure on his wound or using both hands to crawl. The panic and energy he’s exerting are causing his heart to pump faster which in turn is causing blood to spurt out quicker. He screams for help, but the sound is strangled. I stand silently by the car watching the colour drain from his face. The blood that once provided that colour is now drenching his expensive suit and leaving a trail along the sidewalk. It doesn’t take long before his body finally stops moving and he takes his final breath.
I throw my now empty duffle bag over my shoulder and take a look around. Should anyone have seen they’d have to join Mr Allard here, which would really mess up the scene I’ve set. I casually start walking down the street, my all-black attire consisting of my turtleneck, leggings, combat boots, leather gloves and cap with my hair neatly tucked under it with the help of a hair net – wouldn’t want to leave stray hairs behind – allowing me to blend into the shadows nicely. It’s not a statement piece, it’s practical. Can’t hide out as easily in a black car if you’re wearing neon. After a couple blocks, I take off my gloves, followed by my cap and hair net releasing my shoulder blade length straight black hair, and put the items in the duffle bag. I pull out the burner phone from my back pocket and speed dial 1. After three rings it answers.
“Hello?” Answers a timid voice.
“It’s done. Tomorrow morning, leave my payment along with the burner I gave you in your mailbox. I will come to collect it. This will be our last interaction,” I instruct in a cold and firm voice. I go to hang up, but she has something to say it seems.
“Wait! ...How… how did you do it?” She nervously asks. I’m not sure she can stomach the realities of what she’s asked me to do, but I’m not her therapist or her mother, I’m not getting paid to coddle her. So I give it to her straight.
“After your husband was done screwing his latest whore, I coerced him into driving to the red-light district and once there stabbed him in the neck. He then bled to death on the sidewalk. Between the area, the murder weapon I chose, and the fact that they will find evidence of sex during the post-mortem, this will lead authorities to believe this was a sex job gone wrong. Analysis of your husband’s SUV navigation system will also show where he goes every Thursday night which will further solidify what appears to be the obvious answer,” I explain clinically.
She’s silent for a moment, but her heavy breathing can be heard through the phone. “Thank you,” she tells me.
With nothing more for us to discuss I hang up. I make my way to a rental car I have parked two blocks away, get in and drive back to Hotel LeVeque, where I plan to soak in a nice hot tub and get a good night’s rest.
This is what my life consists of. I travel the globe killing people for a living. I don’t take any sexual gratification from what I do, I don’t even do it for the money really – although it does pay incredibly well. No, this work; this life, runs in my blood. It’s deeply rooted in who I am. By the age of twenty-nine, I have become one of the most prolific assassins in the world. To those in this shadow world or those who seek me out, I am only known by my codename. Blackheart.
Chapter 2: A Normal Day
God dammit! Severing major arteries is messy business, and I’m usually able to keep myself out of the line of fire, but not today it seems. My black hair is matted with blood, my maroon bra looks black from the blood soaking into it, and my matching maroon satin and lace panties are soaked and not in the good way. The gorgeous tattoos that cover the ivory skin of my arms and legs are now veiled in blood. I look horrific. But sometimes this comes with the job.
Killing people can get messy sometimes, and not everything goes to plan. Like in this case. Everything was running smoothly, going exactly how I wanted, but then one little action forced me to deviate from my plan slightly and now here I am, straddling a dead man while looking like a living breathing Jackson Pollock painting. But let me go back a bit and explain how I got here.
Thirty-nine-year-old Miroslav Đorđević was a Serbian arms dealer who, as it turns out, had been skimming off the top and his partner wasn’t
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