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Authors: Vesper Vaughn

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Hitman's Hookup: A Bad Boy Romance

BOOK: Hitman's Hookup: A Bad Boy Romance
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HITMAN’S HOOKUP

BY VESPER VAUGHN

© 2016 VESPER VAUGHN
 

 

CONTENTS

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

CHAPTER NINETEEN

CHAPTER TWENTY

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

CHAPTER THIRTY

STAY IN TOUCH

ALSO BY VESPER VAUGHN

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

AUTHOR’S NOTE AND SOUNDTRACK

CHAPTER ONE
 

LILY

A three-month sabbatical.
Sabbatical.
What a ridiculous thing to call what I was going through. It wasn’t like I’d had a cake made for me along with
Bon Voyage!
banners strewn across the hospital break room.

No. It hadn’t been a party.

I’d nearly been escorted out by security. I’d cleaned out my locker in the middle of my last shift. Everyone knew what had happened.

The memory still kept me up at night.

I was restless. Less than forty-eight hours into my hospital-mandated “vacation” and my need for the adrenaline rush that always came so steadily to me inside the walls of the hospital was so all-encompassing that I was about to climb the walls of my apartment.

I turned off the television. I’d been sucked into a marathon of some reality show where women with faces frozen by plastic-surgery just screamed at each other endlessly. I picked up my phone, unlocking it with no real purpose in mind. It wasn’t like there was anyone to call. All of my friends were doctors. My entire family, such as it had been, was long-deceased or estranged.

The one thing I’d learned in the last two days was that if I wasn’t cutting somebody open? I had no purpose. I had no life.

Even if my doctor acquaintances answered their phones, the last thing I wanted to hear about was some thrilling surgery or medical procedure they’d scrubbed in on that day; that was even assuming any of them were off-duty.

I looked over at the stack of newspapers piled onto my dining room table. I’d absentmindedly opened all of them and absorbed nothing. It was like my mind couldn’t settle. I was only craving my very next fix of adrenaline at all times.

There was an equally messy, unread pile of glossy celebrity gossip magazines on my coffee table. I thumbed through the top copy that was loudly proclaiming the latest failed marriage of some trashy celebutante. My brain refused to process the inanity of the words on the paper. I threw it back on the table in disgust.

I stood up, thinking I might go for a run. Then my eyes traveled to my bookshelf. A four-inch-thick, fabric-covered tome rested there, the gold letters on the spine glinting in the light. It was my grandfather’s dictionary. He’d left it to me in his will.

A rush of nostalgia came over me. Suddenly I was eight years old again, sitting in a dusty room that smelled of old books and pipe tobacco.

“M-m-maria s-s-s-said that she-she-she didn’t wa-wa-want to be friends anymore,” I choked out to him.

My grandfather was drying my tears with his handkerchief; the one with his initials hand-embroidered across the white woven cloth. “There, there, Lily Billy,” he said, using my nickname. “Sometimes people are in our lives for as long as they need to be. Then they leave. That’s just what they do.”

I sniffled and looked at him, confused. “But she was my friend forever. We said forever!”

“Nothing is forever, Lily Billy. People come and people go. It’s okay to be sad, but you know what?”

“What?” I asked him, looking at his perfectly wrinkled face.

“New people come along for both of you. That’s how life is. You’ve got to make room by letting people go if they want to leave.”

“But I’ll have you forever, won’t I?”

Poppy smiled kindly, sadness in his eyes. “I wish it could be that way. But you know what? I won’t always be
here
, but I’ll be around as long as you carry me in your memory.”

I turned this wise thought over in my brain. “But I want you
here
,” I insisted, stomping my tiny foot into the musty, thick emerald carpet.

Poppy laughed gently. “I know. But remember what I said? You have to make room.”

I nodded, even though I didn’t want to believe it.

Poppy clapped his hands together loudly. “Enough of this serious talk, Lily. I know some magic that will make it better.”

My puffy, tiny face looked up at his wrinkled, wise one. “What, Poppy?” I asked him through harsh sniffles.

“Don’t you know that I know magic? I can tell you the future,” he said proudly, puffing out his chest dramatically.

I tilted my head. “No such thing as magic, Poppy,” I replied indignantly.

He chuckled and pointed a crooked, arthritic finger over my shoulder. “There’s my magic book over there, on the shelf.”

My eyes went wide and I turned to look at it. I followed his finger until my eyes landed on a worn, blue-fabric-covered book that looked like it weighed half as much as I did. “No such thing as magic,” I said again, this time with less conviction.

Poppy shrugged. “Well, now that I think of it, you’re probably not big enough anyway.” He spun around in his chair.

That got my attention. I stomped my foot on the ground, feeling self-righteous anger. “I am
too
!” I yelled.

Poppy spun around. “I really don’t think you are. You see, only big kids can carry the magic book. And you’re definitely not a big kid.”

That was the final straw. I was going to prove him right. I marched over to the shelf and grunted as I lifted the book. I realized it was a dictionary. The weight and size of it nearly sent my small frame tumbling backwards, but I recovered valiantly.

I heaved the book onto Poppy’s lap with a grunt. His face lit up. “Well, would you look at that. I guess you
are
big enough to know the magic after all.” He lowered his voice conspiratorially. “Now, the rule is that what the book says is
absolutely gospel
, do you understand, Lily?”

I nodded, wide-eyed.

Poppy rubbed his gnarled hands together. “This is how it works. When you’re feeling low, or life isn’t going your way, you open this dictionary.” He rapped his knuckles on the cover sharply. “And you hold it in your hands, with the cover completely shut. And then you say ‘Book, show me the way.’” He studied my face for a reaction.

“Then what?” I asked, biting my lip eagerly and bouncing on my small feet in excitement. I’d completely forgotten about my tears already.

“Then you close your eyes, open the book, flip through the pages without looking, then stop. Keep your eyes shut, and drag your finger down the page until you feel like you’ve found it.”

“Found
what
, Poppy?” I wiggled my eyebrows in confusion.

“Your guide for what to do next,” he explained. “Here. Let’s try it.”

I shut my eyes and Poppy flipped through the pages for me until I yelled for him to stop. Then I ran my finger down the page. I opened my eyes to see my tiny finger resting on a single word. “Frosted,” I said, reading the text easily. “What does it mean?”

Poppy stared at me seriously. “What do you
think
it means, Lily Billy?”

I paused. My stomach grumbled as if in answer. “I think it means I want to go to Wendy’s for a frosty.”

Poppy let out his trademark bark-like laugh. Then he ruffled my hair good-naturedly. “I think that sounds like a wonderful idea, Lily.”

The daydream of the memory overtook me so completely that it took me a few moments to realize that I was standing in my own, grownup apartment in the Upper West Side of New York City. I was over by the dictionary in three long strides. I picked up the tome and took it back over to the sofa. “Book, show me the way,” I whispered. I shut my eyes and flipped through the pages so rapidly I could feel a light breeze on my face. I drew my finger across the dusty pages until I felt like I should stop.

Pyre
.

“Pyre?” I said out loud. Something pinged in my brain. Then I laughed out loud. “Oh, Poppy.” I pulled up my phone and went into the app store. I searched for the word, and the app I was looking for popped up.

One of my coworkers had told me about Pyre last week. “It’s the new dating app for people over twenty-one,” she said. “It’s like, for professionals mostly. You can scroll through people’s profiles and double-tap for yes or hit the X for no.” We’d all giggled over the clearly-fake profile photos of the men and women. So many of them were from stock photography sites I couldn’t believe that anyone would fall for it.

I’d been planning on downloading it for laughs, but a code had been called on my service and I’d taken off at a sprint. Who needed random sex with strangers when you could feel the rush of zapping someone’s heart back to life?

The answer was clear to me now: in the absence of medical drama, I needed random sex.

The app downloaded and I signed up for a new account.

This was absurd. It was reckless.

It was exactly what I needed.

 

CHAPTER TWO

CRUZ

The streets of New York were pulsing outside of my window. A blood-covered t-shirt rested on the floor; enormous puddles of crimson glinting in the neon lights shining through the windows of my temporary penthouse apartment.

I was glad that my employer had splurged on a place with hardwood floors.

Last time this happened, I’d ruined five hundred square feet of snow-white carpeting.

I flexed my upper arm in the mirror to assess the extent of the damage. I winced slightly as blood gushed out of the two-inch long slash in my arm and flooded the white ceramic basin with splashes of violent crimson.

This would need stitches.

I dug around for a first-aid kit. Inside the sleek white tin were only weak fucking butterfly bandages. Those wouldn’t do shit. I looked around the bathroom and grabbed a perfectly fluffy towel. I ripped it into long strips and wrapped the wound with them. Pain shot through my arm, but I grunted through it.

I didn’t want the maids asking questions. Better to keep the mess contained as much as I could at this point.

I dug through my black suitcase, the towel strips quenching the stream of blood and found a tiny black sewing kit. Within a few minutes I was curving one of the silver needles with the flame of a disposable lighter. I chose black thread and set to work. This wasn’t the first time I’d had to do this, but it didn’t make it sting any less.

There’s no crying in assassin work.

Showered, changed, and my bloody clothes disposed of in a restaurant dumpster three blocks over, I sat back in my apartment waiting for my phone to ring.

I needed the details of my next hit, but my contact was late.

I fucking hated waiting.

The phone finally rang thirty-five minutes after it was supposed to.

“Yes,” I said simply.

“Your target is headed to a restaurant. I will message you the details on your burner.”

The line went dead.

I fished around in my pocket for the shiny new iPhone 6s+ that had been taped under the mailbox in upstate New York along with twenty thousand in U.S. dollars. It was my first iPhone, and I had to admit I was going to be sad to have to destroy it when this was all over. I thought numbly of the stack of cash that was now gone.

BOOK: Hitman's Hookup: A Bad Boy Romance
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