Alas, I have once again returned to stir envy in your hearts and souls. Did I mention how AWESOME this course is???

The prompt for this piece was to confine two characters to a kitchen, one of whom does not want to be there. Also, from beginning to end, a process (such as making tea or eggs) must be completed.

I drummed my fingers lightly on the wooden surface of the table before me, watching the woman across the room. She was young, no more than a few years older than me. There was no denying that she was beautiful, but not in the way I had become accustomed to. She didn’t put effort into it, as far as I could tell there wasn’t a trace of makeup on her face, and her dark brown hair fell in natural waves down her back. She was quiet and kind, with an easy laugh that was contagious. This woman was nothing like the others, and that unnerved me. I hadn’t been trained for this.

Her back was to me as she carefully placed four slices of bread into the white toaster that sat on the counter. After adjusting a few knobs, she turned back to me and smiled. “How many more days will you be here?”

I stilled my fingers and returned her smile, “Oh, today should be the last day. I’ll be back on the road by this time tomorrow morning.”

“I suppose it has already been a few weeks, I’m sure your family is anxious to have you back.” she said, with a nod.

My smile didn’t falter as returned her nod, “No doubt, my mother hardly knows what to do with herself when I’m gone. But, I sure do appreciate you letting me stay here, Alice.”

She waved her hand dismissively, “Oh, please. I’m the one who should be thanking you. It’s been great having you around to help out. I’d gotten so used to having Mark by my side, I wasn’t sure I could cope with everything after his death.”

Alice brushed absentmindedly at her eyes with the back of her hand, “It really is kind of you, Derek. Giving up your own time to come help some grief stricken girl you hardly know.”

I rose from my chair and wrapped my arm around her shoulders, letting her lean her head against my chest. If she knew what was really happening, she wouldn’t be so grateful, and she certainly wouldn’t let me be this close to her. Everything she thought she knew about me, it was a lie.

My name wasn’t Derek. I didn’t even have a family. And I certainly was not here to help her. Of course, Derek had been a real person and he had been sent by his mother to aid Alice after her recent tragedy. But, he had an unfortunate…accident before arriving. And chances were, he was in the same place as Mark.

It was always easier to have someone else’s place to fill. I didn’t have to create my own story or come up with a consistent set of lies, I simply had to fit into character. I was an excellent actor, and an even better hitman.

I’d been taking jobs since the day I turned 18, and by now, five years later, I was as close to perfect as one could be. Untraceable, yet easy enough to find if you were looking for someone with my skillset. Cold and calculating, yet capable of gaining trust and affection from my targets. I never refused, I never backed out, and I never missed.

I had no idea what Mark had done, it didn’t matter to me. It didn’t even matter to me that Derek was likely innocent and in no way involved with whatever this situation was, I needed a character to fill and he was available. The only part of this job that had caused me to hesitate was the moment I met Alice.

She was the final target of the job, I needed to eliminate her. But, I’d never come across anyone like her, and I had to admit that I wasn’t sure I could take the shot. She was too gentle, too kind, and too wounded. It would be like taking out a baby animal.

Surely, if I didn’t take the shot, someone else would come along and finish what I hadn’t and I would be out a large amount of money. But, what if I told her the truth? She would have a warning that way, she could leave and at least buy herself some time. It would ruin my reputation, but maybe she was worth it.

Alice stepped back from under my arm, and I gave her another smile as she moved back to the toaster where the bread had just popped up. She grabbed two plates from one of the cupboards and put two slices on each.

I massaged the back of my neck, shifting my weight between my feet. It had been so long since I’d felt any emotion, let alone fear or anxiety. I didn’t let myself. But, Alice… she made me feel again.

I took a step closer to her. “Alice.” And then she was falling. I caught her in my arms, careful not to stain myself with the blood pouring from her chest, and lowered her gently to the floor. “I’m sorry.” I whispered.

Standing back up, I let my eyes linger on hers for a moment as I wiped clean my blade and concealed it once again. I watched as each emotion flashed through them, and eventually their light faded. Then, I walked away, taking a bite out of my toast as I went.