Chapter 1: Till Death Do Us Part 

She stood in the opulent foyer with her back against him. The top of her black, very tight, very short dress was pulled down, exposing her tawny brown skin. She leaned on him for support as he branded the side of her neck with his lips. One hand caressed her generous chest while the other, wet with her need, teased the swollen bud atop her sex. She turned around to taste him. Their tongues wrestled for control as she slowly backed him up toward the living room. With her mouth still locked onto his, she unbuttoned his pants, pushed him down on the couch and swiftly mounted him. 

    His cadence steady, her rhythm sure as passion surged between them. A tiny thread of sadness crept inward. 

    A thread.

    That is all she would allow. As she reached up and undid the clasp of her barrette, a cascade of inky black waves tumbled down and around her shoulders. 

    From the base of the barrette, she pulled an ornate jewel, unsheathing a needle coated with a sticky white substance. As her hips increased their tempo, she stroked the top of his head and peppered him with feathery kisses. He was near to completion when he called out her name.

    "Sophie."

    Her rhythm faltered. She hated that name.

    He opened his eyes. "Sophie?"

    She inserted the needle between his top two vertebrae.

He froze with a look of mild surprise on his face. He tried to speak, but his mouth would not move and, to his horror, neither could he. 

"Shh..." she whispered as she placed the tips of her fingers on his lips and reverently watched him struggle with the encroaching darkness. As he closed his eyes, she kissed the top of his head, then said a prayer. 

She always said a prayer. 

Death was sacred, even if she was the one dealing it. 

She got up, righted her dress, walked back into the foyer toward the console table to grab her purse then up the stairs to the door just left of the landing. It was a steel security door with a digital keypad lock. She reached into her clutch and took out a small aerosol can. Upon first glance, it looked like hairspray. She sprayed the substance on the keypad and when it dried, it left a residue on the keys from the oil that had been deposited from the owner’s fingertips. 

Taking out a cell phone, she pulled a cord from its base and inserted that into the lock. She plugged in the numbers then waited for her modified phone to go  through all possible configurations in less than a minute until triggering the lock. The door opened to a home office, ordinary in scope except for the almost half-million-dollar security system. There, for one thing only, she detached the portable hybrid external drive and left the way she came. She took out her cell phone again and this time used it as such.

     [Ring.]

     [Ring.]

     Then, finally: [Click.]

    "I'm listening," said the voice on the other end. Exact. Male.

 

     "Seven," she replied. Flat. Hollow.

    She put her cell phone back in her handbag then reapplied her lipstick in the mirror above the entryway table. 

    Red lips reflected back.

    The mirror shattered and red ran down her arm. Red dripped onto her very tight, very short dress and it mattered none as she put on her sunglasses, grabbed the hard drive and walked out the door. 

    She drove away in her black SLK convertible. Reaching into the armrest, she brought out a remote control, pushed its lone button, then threw it in the back seat. A great boom sounded as she neared the corner. In  the rearview mirror, she saw smoke and flames painted the sky black and red.