The Merc Series
A Merc Series Short Story
(Rated M For Mature)
“What are you doing?”
“Doesn’t look like nothing.”
Twenty-nine-year-old Elizabeth Donatelli grinned at the man she knew as Nick Summers, as she finished sliding off the bed. The white silk sheets came with her, wrapped around her otherwise naked body.
“Well okay then,” he replied as she left him laying uncovered in just his black boxer briefs.
Something a month ago would have been unheard of for her to do. Her face likewise had a glow to it that hadn’t been there when Nick first met her four weeks ago.
To be fair, he had broken into Elizabeth’s New York apartment and presented her with the katana of the man that nearly killed her.
Hell of a first impression, Nick. It went over almost as well as the first time he made her orgasm three weeks later.
Each night only got better after that.
Which made today all the harder.
“I want you to take my picture,” she said, holding up her expensive work camera seductively.
“I thought that was for work usage only?”
“I won’t tell if you don’t,” she replied, her brown eyes penetrating right into his bright blue eyes.
She’d never met a man with blue eyes so bright, especially one so dangerous.
Elizabeth herself was a dangerous woman. She was one of the best female assassins to ever come out of Italy. And Nick… well, Nick was something else entirely. He was better than her. How could he not be? She had failed her previous job a month ago when she got into a fight with a Swordsman of the Yamato Family. And Nick showed up with the very katana that nearly killed her.
The only way for him to get that was by killing its owner.
But it wasn’t just that. She could tell from their training together, when he was helping her recover from her wound, that he was always holding back. Not just because she wasn’t a hundred percent, but because he was used to always training that way.
Like fighting with both hands behind your back just to keep things fair kind of thing. She thought at first it was just arrogance, but the more time she spent with him, the more she realized he was the least arrogant man she’d ever been with. His was a confidence that she hadn’t encountered before. And not that typical American bravado that was so common among men his age.
Nick was different.
And Elizabeth had fallen for it. She tried to tell herself it was because she was injured and thus vulnerable, but that was a lie. It was an easy explanation that wouldn’t require her to dig any deeper.
Because digging deeper would mean she’d have to accept the truth. That she had feelings for the man before her.
And Elizabeth wasn’t ready for that conversation.
“Besides,” she continued, “I picked us up a Polaroid one to play with.”
Nick grinned and crawled out of the oversized hotel bed and took the old school camera from her.
“I haven’t seen one of these in forever,” he teased.
“Well, what kind of couple would we be if we didn’t have any pictures of our honeymoon…”
Elizabeth had meant to say it in jest, but it came out more somber than she thought she was capable of speaking.
Silence hung in the air between them as Nick looked at the camera.
“Is this too close?”
“How about now?”
Nick looked up from the simple Polaroid camera. It was touching the white silk sheet Elizabeth still held around her.
A look passed between them. It was a look that expressed more than words ever could. A look that said they both knew better. That what they were doing could never work. A look that said they shouldn’t be doing this. That there shouldn’t be this kind of instant chemistry between them.
But there was.
Nick put the camera down. Elizabeth let go of the sheet.
“We have to get ready,” he said, even as his eyes widened at the sight of her before him.
“I know,” she whispered with her hands still up in the air.
Nick intertwined his fingers with hers.
He stopped at the diamond engagement ring she wore.
“We’re good at playing the part,” she said.
“Yes, we are.”
“Nick, I think I’ve…” Elizabeth stopped herself, unable to say the words out loud even as her eyes watered looking up at him.
“I know,” he breathed and kissed her.
A car horn blared suddenly.
Thirty-year-old Nick Walker shook his head and saw a car coming right at him. He swerved back into his lane, their horn still blaring at him as they drove passed.
Nick glanced in his rearview mirror. The street was empty behind him, and before him. Of course, he would find the only other driver on the road at this hour.
Nick took a deep breath. He was almost home.
Well, his alias Nick Summers’ home, that is.
He turned into the parking lot behind his dojo. All the spots were filled, which meant the girls were here at the Boston apartments and not the compound in Maine.
He would have to be quiet when going in. He didn’t want anyone to see him.
Not like this.
His phone blinked with text alerts, but he didn’t look at them. Nick let out a deep breath before getting out.
Even at this hour, the night air was thick with humidity. Clearly, the news wasn’t exaggerating how hot this month would be. He removed the shopping bags from the backseat and shoved them into his duffel bag.
Before leaving New York City to drive back to Boston, Nick had needed some supplies. Supplies only available in two stores in New York’s Chinatown and they were tricky to get as he couldn’t go in himself and purchase what he needed. He knew one store in Boston’s Chinatown carried some stuff, but he could never go there.
Not in the city he lived and worked in.
Fortunately, he had a friend that could help him. He made a list of what he needed, then texted it to Katherine ‘Kat’ Takayama. She had a contact that could get the stuff for him. That contact then paid another person to go buy the stuff. In this case, it was a young kid. Everyone would assume the kid was nothing but a courier for someone important in Chinatown, which was the idea.
Kat’s contact had dropped the stuff at a location Nick had given her only minutes before. The contact never saw him during the entire process.
Nick left the city from there.
There were few people Nick trusted fully in his life. And even then, not everyone saw the real him.
Kat was one of those rare people that really knew him. And not just because they were part of the same clan. She had seen firsthand what he had become during his time back in Japan.
After his parent’s death.
And she still stood beside him.
Defended his honor even at the cost of hers. Her friendship was a once in a lifetime thing, and the two of them had been through more crap than people would ever understand. He trusted her as much as he trusted Megan.
She knew what the stuff on the list was for. And she hadn’t questioned or judged him once. She would keep his secret. It’s what they did for each other.
Kat had raised concerns. What Nick was going to do had only been done by a handful of people in their clan. Nick told her he would be okay.
What Kat didn’t know was that Nick’s mother was one of the few that had succeeded at it. She told him about it because of what happened between him and Stephanie Weathersby.
She joked that if she had just used this ritual after meeting his father for the first time, Nick would have never been born.
Obviously, he was glad she hadn’t.
It would be the last thing his mom would teach him before she was killed.
He used it after he arrived in Japan all those years ago. After he had healed from the assassination attempt on his life. But he had done it wrong. Locked away too much of him in an effort to lock away all the hurt and pain.
But this time would be different. He was the best he’d ever been right now. He would get it right this time.
He had no choice.
Nick locked his car, then quietly entered the dojo from the back entrance and headed up to his apartment on the fifth floor. As expected, everyone was asleep, but he still proceeded cautiously.
He walked silently across the custom designed hallway he made specifically for the floor he lived on. It had come out better than he had hoped for when he realized Kat failed the first three times.
Koori ‘Ice’ Ino, another member of their clan and a kunoichi like Kat, was a quick study though and passed on the second attempt once she realized what Nick had done to the floor. Everyone else failed it except the three of them.
Nick unlocked the door to his apartment, locking it behind him once inside. He normally had an open-door policy to wherever he was, but not right now.
Right now, he needed privacy.
Nick walked to his bedroom in the dark. Even though he hadn’t been to his Boston apartment in almost a month, everything was just as he had left it. After the first two weeks with Elizabeth in New York, Nick had gone home to his house in Maine for a couple days to go over things with Megan. He never made it to his apartment. He went back to see Elizabeth a few days later and stayed longer than he was supposed to.
And he didn’t care that he had.
Nick locked his bedroom door as well. He tossed his bag on his bed, then went into the bathroom. He didn’t look in the mirror because he already knew what he looked like.
He looked like crap.
By the time this was all over, he was going to need another shower.
Nick closed his eyes and took a breath. At least he had timed the first effects right.
He started vomiting into the toilet. Within minutes he had everything out and was drenched in sweat and would be well on his way to dehydration.
But it was a small price to pay.
This was all thanks to the first ingredient on the list.
Nick stood up carefully, already feeling weak. He wiped his mouth with a towel but couldn’t rinse his mouth out.
He went back to his bedroom and pulled everything out from his bag and laid it across his bed and got to work. First, he made a small circle on the floor of his bedroom away from his bed with candles that he lit.
He had to stop once halfway through to throw up again. This time hurt worse, as he was already down to offering only bile.
Not much longer, he told himself as he began mixing the stuff he had bought. Next, he opened a secret compartment on his floor that only he knew about. He pulled out two other ingredients, and a large thick candle. Nick finished mixing everything, then stored all the leftover stuff back into the compartment. He double checked to make sure he left nothing out, then closed the compartment. He lit the thick candle, then tossed the still burning match into the bowl of stuff he had mixed.
It ignited at once, sending a line of smoke up to the ceiling. He pulled out a black and white Polaroid picture from his pocket and placed it before the burning bowl.
Then he stripped naked and sat cross-legged inside the circle of candles, directly in front of the burning bowl. The smoke engulfing his face. The big candle burned to the right of it.
He focused on the picture, allowing the fumes to slowly overcome his senses. His breathing slowed and his arms moved to form hand signs while the rest of him remained motionless. He closed his eyes, his arms slowly coming to a rest on his lap.
Nick shut the hotel shower off, letting the water run down his muscular physique before getting out. He wrapped a towel tightly around him and wiped the steam off the hotel’s huge bathroom mirror.
The mirror wasn’t the only thing huge. Everything about this hotel room was huge and lavish, and while he could afford such luxury, he never willingly partook in these things. Only if the job or mission required him to do so, such as this one. They were a newly married couple on their honeymoon, after all. Only the best for his new bride.
This was his second shower of the day. The first had been after Elizabeth had left.
After he took her picture.
The first had been to get ready for the job.
The second was to get cleaned up from the job.
Both sets of clothing and shoes that he’d been wearing had been disposed of.
Nick didn’t enjoy being wasteful like that, but it was a necessary cost of his profession.
What that profession was on any day depended on what he needed to be at that moment.
Usually, he was a mercenary.
But today he had been an assassin.
He wasn’t happy or proud of how many people he had killed today. But he also would not lose any sleep over it. It was simply who he was. What he had been taught to be from a young age.
A faint knock on his room door made him walk out of the bathroom. His footsteps would have been silent even without the thick carpet that covered the floor.
Nick paused, wondering if the knock would be repeated.
Nick walked to the door. It was the kind of knock that wasn’t really meant to be heard, but still loud enough that you could tell yourself you tried and believed it.
He didn’t look to see who it was. He didn’t have to.
Nick opened the door and Elizabeth stood before him in a sleeveless black dress, looking more stunning than he had ever seen anyone before.
For a moment, she took his breath away.
She didn’t notice, she couldn’t have, because the second thing Nick noticed after her beauty was the look on her face.
Not her face.
The look in her eyes.
All that had transpired in seconds, but it might as well have been minutes…
Elizabeth said nothing. She didn’t have to. They had said their goodbyes hours ago before she had to attend the dinner party while Nick carried out the assassination for her.
They both knew what this was.
They were both professionals.
Professionals who had more blood on their hands than anyone should have in several lifetimes.
It still didn’t make this any easier.
Not when feelings were involved.
The chemistry between them was like nothing else they had ever known. They were two pieces of different puzzles that somehow still fit together. The image was wrong and made no sense, but yet they still worked.
But they couldn’t. They both knew this, but Elizabeth had still shown up. Back at his hotel room. Or rather theirs, if one believed their marriage story.
Nick’s hands went to her tan shoulders and with the slightest touch, he knew her entire body mirrored the look in her eyes. His fingers trailed along her smooth, perfect skin until they met at the base of her neck.
A soft kiss followed by several more. His fingers trailed up her neck, to the clip holding her long dark hair up.
But he didn’t take it out.
His hand went around to the front of her throat and she gave him her neck. He started behind her ear.
A soft kiss, then another. A trail of them all the way down her neck, down her shoulder, stopping at the dress strap on her bicep.
Then he did the same thing to the other side of her.
It wasn’t until Nick started at the top of her neck and was halfway down her back with his soft, warm kisses that Elizabeth finally allowed herself to let out a quiver.
She couldn’t contain it anymore.
She felt like a furnace on the inside. Her black lace panties clung to her, already wet in anticipation.
Nick kissed the side of her neck. This time firmer.
He undid her hair.
He used both hands to grab it and shake it free.
Elizabeth turned into Nick, his fingers still intertwined with her silky black hair.
She kissed him. Gently on his soft lips. The faint taste of coffee still on her lips.
Ever the Italian in her. Nick never much cared for the drink.
She kissed him again. This time not stopping until her lips were wet and his hands were on her lower back.
At which point, Elizabeth pulled the top of her dress down.
Nick picked Elizabeth up and laid her onto the hotel bed in one fluid movement, his lips already back to her neck. He trailed down to the top of her chest, his mouth working on the space just between her breasts. Nick took his time. There was no rush. He wanted this moment to last as long as it could.
Moments turned to seconds. Seconds to minutes, as he worked his lips ever so slowly down her body, to her stomach, to the special tattoo. The one he helped her pick to cover the wound to her stomach and aid in her recovery.
Elizabeth thought her life over when the katana had first cut her and she’d been left for dead.
But she survived.
Only to think her life forfeit when her superiors had learned of her failure and had issued a burn notice on her.
But then Nick had showed up.
He not only put her back together but made her better than before. She didn’t think that had been possible a month ago.
She didn’t want to let go of him, but knew that was always going to be how this ended.
How could it not?
Even with the connection they had between them, there was no future with each other and they both knew that.
It still didn’t make today any easier.
His mouth passed her navel and moved lower still. She opened her legs. His face disappeared between her thighs…
Elizabeth smiled even as she tried to fight back her gasps. Eventually she stopped fighting back. All her worries and concerns leaving her as Nick took care of her.
Today had been the best day of Elizabeth’s career. And this night was going even better. She was going to enjoy every moment.
Those moments turned to seconds. The seconds to minutes. The minutes to hours.
There was no rush cause once it was over, that was it. There could be nothing else afterwards.
They took their time.
They experimented with positions. Revisited others. It was the best yet.
When it ended, Nick kissed her goodbye one last time, his fingers brushing across her soft cheek as he stared into her brown eyes. Elizabeth said nothing as he stood up and got dressed. He had no other belongings. She could enjoy the room for the night. Tomorrow she went back to Italy a new woman. And he back to where ever it was he had come from.
She didn’t know what to say after everything they had been through in such a short time together. The healing, the training, the killing, the loving.
So, she remained silent even as she watched him leave their hotel room. The couple that could have been in another life, another time.
But they weren’t meant to be. Not in this life. Not in this time.
Nick closed the hotel room door behind him. Then a second door.
And a third.
And another. And another.
He locked the last door.
Nick let out a gasp and coughed, momentarily unable to breathe.
It passed just as quickly and his eyes opened. His body soaked in sweat.
Tears ran down his face as he burned the picture of her. He watched as the flames slowly consumed the picture. By the time the picture was gone, so were the tears.
Nick stood up slowly. After he had picked everything up and returned his room to the condition it was in before he arrived, he look at his phone.
At all the texts awaiting him.
He didn’t respond to them.
He went to take another shower then go to bed.
He had another job to do tomorrow.