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This is the opening to the current WIP, which is still untitled. I have no idea if this would remain or not because it’s fairly heavy in narrative and contains almost no dialogue. Still, I thought I’d share with you.
Setting: futuristic Paris
Mikhail Kasyanov opened the white paper bag that held three freshly baked croissants from the best bakery in Paris. He poured a cup of café au lait for himself and set a saucer and a delicate pink cup for Angel. A pair of chairs was on either side of the glass-top table in the breakfast room in their floating condo overlooking the Seine, even though he had been eating breakfast alone for seven consecutive mornings.
Any minute Angel would step inside, muttering something about the cold and whatever crappy job had made her miss their third anniversary. She’d give him a kiss, something short but affectionate enough to make his mouth soften, and toss her bag onto the spotless mahogany floor, careless of marring the waxy sheen he’d been perfecting. Then the gorgeous orchids — the exact shade of sakura in Kyoto — in the miniature crystal vase in the center of the table would catch her eye. The flowers would brighten her expression, bend her wind-chilled lips into a smile. She might even take a blossom to her nose, inhale deeply and stick it behind her ear. Then she’d sit, sip the coffee and enjoy the buttered croissant — her favorite — and tell him how she’d killed her target in a most spectacular fashion, worthy of her exorbitant rate. And he’d listen, oohing and aahing at the right moments, hold her free hand and feel a deep sense of gratitude and satisfaction at having found her and kept her for three years. Then, when she was up for it, he’d carry her to their bedroom and seduce her senseless, watch her skin flush with passion.
Mikhail saw it play out in his mind whenever he closed his eyes. It was a familiar routine now, something he’d shared with Angel countless times.
So why was there an uncomfortable cold lump in his gut, like the one he’d had decades ago when his mother had died?
Angel was nothing like his mother. Angel shot straight; he’d never seen her miss. A freelance killer of the first water, she fought dirty, tracked her prey with a precision and patience that awed him, and she was impervious to telepathy.
Nothing could’ve happened to her. And yet…
He caressed the velvety petals on her favorite orchids. Glorious Angel, the flower lady had called the breed all those months ago, and just like that, they’d become Angel’s special flower. The warm scent of croissants teased him, but he felt no urge to touch them. Maybe he should wait just a few more minutes so they could eat together. It wasn’t just the breakfast. A small velvety box in his pants pocket rested flush against his thigh. It would be uncouth to start without her.
Movements on the other side of the floor-to-ceiling wall facing the Seine caught Mikhail’s attention. A gaggle of police had gathered on the riverbank. A half-circle of reporters and spectators formed around them. Several aquadroids were dragging the water.
Mikhail zoomed in on them with the two-phase nanocomputer, scanner and multi-purpose comm device embedded in his left temple and the tiny bones of his middle ear. His scouter was modified specially to have a magnifying feature. Illegal, but he hadn’t gotten this far by following the rules.
The police looked impatient, but then expressions of utter impatience and/or contempt were de rigueur for Parisians when dealing with something unpleasant.
Finally the aquadroids hauled something out of the water — a pale humanoid body. A female body.
Mikhail didn’t need to be on the ground to know everyone had exclaimed with horror and shock. His gaze zoomed in on the single boot still on the body.
The buckles around the ankle winked under the icy winter sun. They had an unusual design: two hearts — one made of one hundred white diamonds and the other of one hundred pink diamonds — linked and entwined with platinum. The shoe was black with a stiletto heel with intricately carved initials: A. D.
It didn’t mean anything. Maybe the cobbler sold a pair just like the one Mikhail had special ordered to someone else. That lying fuck. Mikhail had paid extra to ensure that the boots would remain one of a kind. Who could trust cobblers these days? They only cared about money.
Mikhail moved his gaze to the tip of the boot, about three millimeters or so from the sole. Angel had complained about scraping it against the stairs and leaving a small scratch on it. When he’d teased her about how it was all in her head, she’d raised her foot up slowly until it stopped an inch from his face, so he’d had to acknowledge the miniscule flaw’s existence. When dating a woman like Angel, discretion was often the better part of valor.
She’d put a heart-shaped ruby over the minor defect and a matching one on the other boot. So Mikhail looked hard, and tasted the sharp tang of bile at the sight of a small red gemstone about half a centimeter wide on the ebony leather.
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