The alley was narrow and deserted. The Hassassin strode quickly now, his black eyes filling with anticipation. As he approached his destination, Janus’s parting words echoed in his mind. Phase two begins shortly. Get some rest.
The Hassassin smirked. He had been awake all night, but sleep was the last thing on his mind. Sleep was for the weak. He was a warrior like his ancestors before him, and his people never slept once a battle had begun. This battle had most definitely begun, and he had been given the honor of spilling first blood. Now he had two hours to celebrate his glory before going back to work.
Sleep? There are far better ways to relax . . .
An appetite for hedonistic pleasure was something bred into him by his ancestors. His ascendants had indulged in hashish, but he preferred a different kind of gratification. He took pride in his body—a well‑tuned, lethal machine, which, despite his heritage, he refused to pollute with narcotics. He had developed a more nourishing addiction than drugs . . . a far more healthy and satisfying reward.
Feeling a familiar anticipation swelling within him, the Hassassin moved faster down the alley. He arrived at the nondescript door and rang the bell. A view slit in the door opened, and two soft brown eyes studied him appraisingly. Then the door swung open.
“Welcome,” the well‑dressed woman said. She ushered him into an impeccably furnished sitting room where the lights were low. The air was laced with expensive perfume and musk. “Whenever you are ready.” She handed him a book of photographs. “Ring me when you have made your choice.” Then she disappeared.
The Hassassin smiled.
As he sat on the plush divan and positioned the photo album on his lap, he felt a carnal hunger stir. Although his people did not celebrate Christmas, he imagined that this is what it must feel like to be a Christian child, sitting before a stack of Christmas presents, about to discover the miracles inside. He opened the album and examined the photos. A lifetime of sexual fantasies stared back at him.
Marisa. An Italian goddess. Fiery. A young Sophia Loren.
Sachiko. A Japanese geisha. Lithe. No doubt skilled.
Kanara. A stunning black vision. Muscular. Exotic.
He examined the entire album twice and made his choice. He pressed a button on the table beside him. A minute later the woman who had greeted him reappeared. He indicated his selection. She smiled. “Follow me.”
After handling the financial arrangements, the woman made a hushed phone call. She waited a few minutes and then led him up a winding marble staircase to a luxurious hallway. “It’s the gold door on the end,” she said. “You have expensive taste.”
I should, he thought. I am a connoisseur.
The Hassassin padded the length of the hallway like a panther anticipating a long overdue meal. When he reached the doorway he smiled to himself. It was already ajar . . . welcoming him in. He pushed, and the door swung noiselessly open.
When he saw his selection, he knew he had chosen well. She was exactly as he had requested . . . nude, lying on her back, her arms tied to the bedposts with thick velvet cords.
He crossed the room and ran a dark finger across her ivory abdomen. I killed last night, he thought. You are my reward.