After finishing my enormous, juicy burger and greasy French fries, I excuse myself to meditate. I may not be taking out my target today, but this helps me keep my thoughts clear. I kneel on the floor of the bathroom and breathe deeply. This may not be the most convenient place to do this, but I can do it anywhere as long as I’m able to concentrate. Every breath, I pull in, hold for a moment, and then let out slowly. This end of the process takes a lot more effort because I’m reluctant to pull the walls down. As I do so, a weight settles on me, making me feel heavier, but stronger, in a way. I’m still myself, obviously, but I’m able to do what I need to and not have such a hard time with it. I open my eyes. I’m ready for my assignment; no longer worried about this mission, no longer on edge.
Before I go out, I change into a darker shirt and some black skinny jeans. I love my colors but try to be more discrete when I’m on an assignment. At least I don’t have to wear any black spandex suits or anything ridiculous like that. After putting on my favorite pair of gray Converses, I pull my hair into a high ponytail and exit the bathroom.
“Did you center yourself?” Cadmar asks, and I nod in response. “Good. Now, I know you usually don’t, but I’d like if you wore your gun while you’re out.” He already has it and my small case of poisons sitting out on the desk. “You can put on a jacket; it should cover the gun.”
“Okay.” I nod again. I make sure the magazine is full then strap the gun onto my belt.
Cadmar stands next to me with a hand resting on the poison case. “With what you’ve read so far…” He starts in a cautious tone, but I’m pretty sure I know where he’s going with this already. “Do you have any idea what poison you might use?”
“I’m not sure yet.” I shake my head. “You know I like to decide after I’ve done my research. But with how much of a rush you’re in, I would say the Golden Dart Frog. It would only take a few minutes, so there’s no chance he would even get to a hospital.”
“Hmm.” He rubs his chin, deep in thought. “The belladonna. Didn’t we concentrate it enough to work in minutes, as well?”
“Yes, we did,” I answer. We made sure all of the poisons would kill within minutes, so my targets don’t get a chance to make it away alive, but they each have different symptoms which come along with them. I plan them out for the area we’re in and the activities the person is doing. “I would stick with the dart frog, though, because of the area we’re in. Someone might think he messed with one while on a hike.”
“That’s true. I’d like if you took it with you, as well, then. I know you don’t usually do that while you’re doing your research, but if you got the chance, you could finish this tonight.”
“I can do that,” I agree with a nod. “I’ll take two pins. I should only need one, but two will be good just in case. I think taking some tranqs will be a good idea, too. Again, just in case.”
He nods his agreement as I open the small case, take two pins from the leather pouch, and remove the vial of Golden Dart Frog poison. I look at the slightly clear, yellowish liquid as I roll the vial between my fingers. Cadmar and I have worked for the last few years perfecting each and every one of these poisons. They are all lethal, because even if the poisonous plant, reptile, or spider doesn’t usually kill a person quickly, we’ve concentrated them so even the smallest amount will kill in minutes. Pushing each pin into the top of the vial, I retract enough poison to fill them. I carefully put the pins into a small, plastic tube then do the same process with one of our highly potent tranquilizers.
While I’m doing this, Cadmar watches me carefully with a look of concern. I hope he isn’t worried I’m going to screw up because of how on edge I was. He knows I’m tough and I know what I’m doing, but it usually takes a lot more than what’s happened over the past couple days to unnerve me. He also knows how much the meditating helps, so he should trust I’ll be fine.
“I’m gonna get going.” I pull my dark coat on, making sure it hides my gun, then stick the plastic tubes in the inner pocket of the coat. With my phone in my pants pocket, I’m ready to go.
“You sure you don’t want me to shadow you?” he asks, seeming hesitant.
“I’m certain,” I assure him. “I’ve done this more than enough times by myself. I promise, I’ll be fine.”
“Okay, then.” He sighs, the small muscle working in his jaw. “I have some things to do around the city, but if anything seems out of the ordinary or you feel like you’re being followed, call me immediately.”
“I will,” I respond, heading for the door. I step out into the hallway without looking back.
I’ve been walking the streets of Santiago for hours. Having left the hotel room around two, I’ve been gone for precisely six hours, and I’ve had my eye on Charles the entire time. He’s easy to spot in his khaki slacks and blue, button-up shirt; such a tourist look. He had two meetings: one at a small café, the other in a nice restaurant. I didn’t do much during those times; simply watched. After he was done with his meetings, he went on a hike outside the city then went to dinner at another restaurant by himself.
So here I am, sitting at the crowded bar in a nice restaurant, sipping a glass of water. Most everyone in the city speaks only Spanish, so I’m lucky it’s one of the languages I speak fluently; otherwise, I would be sitting here looking ridiculous. I don’t mind being this close to my target. There’s no way he would ever remember one of the many, young faces sitting at the bar, especially when he seems to be preoccupied on the phone. I’ve come to the conclusion he’s waiting for someone who hasn’t shown up in the hour he’s been here.
He hangs up his phone, looking irritated, then demands his waiter to bring the check. Swiftly paying, he hurries from the restaurant. I give him a minute to leave before following behind him so I won’t be too close. He turns left after exiting the restaurant. I leave then turn, as well, easily spotting him twenty yards ahead of me.
As I follow a good distance behind him, I search the rooftops around us. I spot her on one to my right. I saw her earlier in the day, but I wasn’t sure if it was me she was following or if she may be after the same target, but working for someone else. Now, I’m pretty damn sure it’s me, but I don’t want to stop. I can finish this tonight, easily; I only need to make sure I lose this tail. I pull my phone out, calling Cadmar. He answers before it even finishes the first ring.
“I have a tail,” I tell him before he can say anything.
“Return to the hotel at once,” he replies urgently.
“I’m getting this done tonight, Cadmar,” I insist. “We’re almost at his hotel; I can finish this. I can easily take care of my tail, but that will put a kink the works.”
“Where are they?” he asks in a calm tone, but there’s danger in it.
“She’s on the roof four buildings south of the target’s hotel. She’s tall, a little lanky, has dark-brown hair pulled back into a bun. She’s wearing all black; she should be easy to spot.”
“I’ll take care of it. Call me immediately if you have any problems.”
“Okay.” I try to avoid bumping into the crowd of people I’m moving through. “I may be late. I’ll let you know if there’s any trouble, but this should go smoothly. We’ll be out of here first thing in the morning.”
“Good,” he grunts as the Harley roars to life in the background. “Be careful.”
I disconnect, sliding my phone back in my pocket and hurrying forward. As we near Charles’ hotel, I look back at the rooftop, but the woman is gone. I glance around to make sure she isn’t trying to get closer, but she isn’t anywhere I can see. I know Cadmar works fast, but I get the feeling he was sticking close by, in case I needed him. The streets are still crowded, but no one will notice me or even connect what happens. I can easily grab his arm as he’s entering his hotel. He will be dead before he makes it past the front desk.
Pulling the plastic out of my coat, I carefully slip one of the needles out. We’re about a quarter mile from his hotel, so I quicken my pace to catch up to him. I’m only a few feet away from him when he’s about to enter the hotel. I ready myself. This is the easy part; I stick him with the pin and it’s done. There’s no reason why I should have any trouble. From the corner of my eye, I spot someone coming toward the lobby door of the hotel from the inside. I can’t get a good look at them, but that doesn’t matter right now. My body tenses, but I simply prepare myself to take out this other person if need be. I do have the tranquilizers. If this person becomes a problem or notices what’s happening, I’ll just stick them with one of those. I grab Charles’ arm and he turns, giving me a shocked look. I go to stab him with the needle…
“Payton?” Someone says my name.
I drop my hands, letting the needle fall to the ground. I can’t breathe; quick rasps come through my teeth. As I turn slowly, Charles looks between the person behind me who just came out of the hotel and me. We all stand there, staring at each other, for what seems like an eternity. I don’t know what to do. I simply can’t get any of my limbs to function.
“Payton?” Conner says again in a raspy, incredulous tone.