Home > Death Angel(9)

Death Angel(9)
Author: Linda Howard

He went into his bedroom and removed his clothes, dropping them into a hamper in the closet, then went naked into the bathroom and carefully peeled the flesh-colored latex from his earlobes. He constantly changed his appearance in small ways, on the theory that he couldn't be too careful. Surveillance cameras were everywhere these days, thanks to the bastard terrorists. He always did his homework and located the most obvious places for surveillance to be set up, assumed he was being filmed, and worked the angles.

He could have showered here, instead of in Drea's bathroom, but she was far more astute than she wanted people to know. Short of an emergency, not many people would forgo washing off after four hours of sex-unless they knew they could shower very soon somewhere else, like maybe somewhere else in this very building. She might not have come to that conclusion, but he hadn't wanted to take the chance. Anyone sharp enough to pull the wool over Salinas 's eyes wasn't a person he could take lightly.

The afternoon had been...satisfying. Very satisfying. Not only had he learned a lot about Salinas, but he'd pushed the boundaries of his own self-control and had a great deal of pleasure from it. He'd wanted to know how much Salinas needed him, and the answer was obvious: very much-enough that Salinas had agreed to share his woman, which ran contrary to the basic foundation of his heritage, his position, and his ego. The only time someone in Salinas 's position would give away his woman was when he was tired of her, and the assassin was damn certain that wasn't the case.

The identity of his latest target, a major drug trafficker in Mexico, had made the assassin curious. Salinas was a major distributor, but his operation was on the delivery end of the drug chain. Drug dealers were constantly knocking each other off, but for a distributor to have a supplier eliminated was...odd. Something else was going on, something that could prove to be very lucrative to a man who was the best at what he did.

The assassin had carefully considered all the angles and possibilities, and devised a way to find out what he wanted to know. If the answer was "yes," then Salinas would soon desperately need the assassin's services, which in turn meant the assassin could name his price for the job. If the answer was "no," no real harm was done, because while he'd have to stick by his implied threat to never work for Salinas again, there was never any shortage of jobs. There was, in fact, a surplus of people who wanted him to kill other people. Economically, there was no downside for him, and a "yes" answer also gave him a nice physical bonus: Drea.

He was a solitary man by nature, but he wasn't a monk. He liked women and he liked sex, though he regarded both much as he regarded his own physical comfort: something he could do without if necessary. Normally he stayed far away from other men's women, because the situation could get sticky and he didn't want that much attention drawn to himself. But something about Drea had caught his interest the first time he'd seen her.

It wasn't her looks. He didn't have a particular type that he liked, but at the same time he'd never gone for the skinny, overly sexual, big-haired bimbos. Yet the attraction he'd felt for her had been instant and strong. He supposed skin chemistry outweighed all the negative factors, and led him to take a second look, which was when he'd realized that, regardless of how she looked and acted, she was far from dumb.

What had given her away wasn't anything she'd done, really. He had to admit, her act was flawless. Rather, it was his own heightened awareness of her. He'd always been, by nature and by practice, a skilled observer; the predator instinct in him accurately read minute changes in expression, in body language. He couldn't pinpoint what had alerted him, only that he abruptly knew there was a sharp brain under all that hair, that she was playing Salinas like a violin.

Realizing that had only increased both his attraction and his admiration for her acting ability. She wasn't running a con, he had no doubt Salinas was getting good service for his money, but she was definitely running a risk. Salinas wouldn't blink at having her killed if the least thing made him suspicious of her.

The assassin respected survivors, and Drea was that. When he saw a way to have her, he didn't hesitate.

He'd been faintly surprised by her initial reaction. Women like her, who traded on their looks and bodies to get what they could from men like Salinas, usually saw sex as a commodity. At first he'd thought her reluctance was just an act, to pander to Salinas 's ego, but when it became obvious she was truly terrified, he'd mentally shrugged and decided to drop the whole thing. He'd found out what he wanted to know, just by Salinas 's reaction.

When she ran out on the balcony he'd started to leave, but an unusual impulse had sent him after her. She looked terrified enough to jump, and he didn't want that. Going out there had been risky-hell, the feds had to have Salinas under constant surveillance-but ultimately worth it. He'd touched her arm and felt the burn and sizzle of an almost electric connection, and within seconds she'd been responding-still frightened, but she'd felt that potent chemistry as strongly as he had.

He liked taking his time with sex, but today had been unusual. Once Drea had gotten over being so scared, she'd turned hot enough to scorch him. In the intensity of her response, he'd read how starved she was for attention, for being seen as she truly was, seen how much she needed to be stroked instead of being the one doing the stroking. Salinas had to be a lousy lover, selfish and lazy, to leave a woman that hungry.

As enjoyable as the afternoon had been, the assassin didn't plan a repeat. As he'd told her, once was enough. Now he would disappear until Salinas made contact again, and focus on turning this developing situation to his financial advantage.

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