******** Excerpt Reveal*********
Two men are seated in a large room with ornate gold leaf bookcases and a deeply toned, hand-painted mural covering a large, domed ceiling. The mural features the Archangel Michael in a battle with Satan. It was painstakingly created for this room based on the Baroque painting, “The Fall of the Damned,” and it took an artist three years to complete.
Although one of the men seated owns the home this beautiful room is in, he is not sitting in a place of power behind his mammoth hand-carved mahogany desk, but rather both men are seated in matching wingback chairs covered in the softest of plaid cashmeres and are situated near the room’s French doors, which overlook the estate’s vast grounds.
“We have some loose ends to tie up regarding Montrovia,” the owner of the home says after taking a sip of amber-colored liquid from a heavy crystal tumbler.
“We shouldn’t have trusted the girl,” the other man says.
“Easy to say in retrospect, especially considering she came very close to succeeding. If she would have become Queen, it would have made things much easier for us. We will prevail, regardless.”
“What is our next course of action, then?”
“We continue with our plan,” the owner states. “Although, I’m afraid there will have to be a few slight variations.”
“Does one of those variations have to do with why the Eagle wasn’t present at our meeting today?” the man asks, the understanding of an unusual event earlier in the day showing in his furrowed brow.
“He isn’t doing what he promised. Now that he controls the world’s most powerful military, he seems to have forgotten who put him into power.”
“That was a very expensive endeavor.”
The owner of the home nods in agreement. “One of which we are not reaping the reward from. So, I’m afraid we have no choice. We must liquidate our bad investment.”
The man sets his drink down, trying to keep his hand from shaking, knowing it could just as easily be him if he dared to cross the man in front of him. “But he’s our friend.”
“Something he has also forgotten. Do it. And I only want the best, for obvious reasons.”
“Sadly, the best is dead.”
“Are you referring to The Priest?”
“Yes. He was killed after the Eagle’s father hired him for a hit then double crossed him.”
“I don’t believe he’s dead. Find him.”
“I’m sure we can find someone equally as talented—”
“I want The Priest and no one else,” the owner interrupts.
How in the world am I supposed to hire a dead man? he thinks, but he doesn’t dare say.
“It’s going to be dangerous for us to even try to find him, but I will see what I can come up with. What if he is still alive, but says no?”
“You will make him an offer he cannot refuse. And see if he will give us a group discount regarding the outstanding Montrovian situation.”
The assassin known as The Priest enters an empty bar in France. The hole-in-the-wall drinking establishment is supposed to be open this afternoon, but the owner just hung the closed sign on the door.
“What is this nonsense about an offer?” the assassin asks, freaking out a little. “Everyone thinks I’m dead. We’ve worked hard to establish ourselves here. How did they contact you?”
“Through a secure network. I left a few trusted assets in place in case we ever needed the money.”
“We could be traced though that.”
“No, we can’t. I’m good at what I do. Are you interested in hearing the offer, or not?”
“It doesn’t matter how much it is. I’m not interested.”
“So are you saying that fifteen million dollars wouldn’t sway you?”
“Fifteen million? Who the hell is the target?”
“It’s a series of three hits, but they have only revealed the first one.” He whispers the man’s name.
“You’ve got to be kidding. No way.”
“This money could set us both up for life.”
“We’re already set up for life. Sort of. Besides, I retired. With good reason.”
“They will go as high as twenty.”
“You know how well-guarded a man of his stature is.”
“Are you saying no because you don’t want to do it, or because you don’t think you can do it?”
“Whether or not I can do it is not the question. I always complete my tasks. However, in this case, getting away with it would be another story. I’d have a whole country after me. And they’d find you first, since you are the one brokering the deal.”
“You don’t trust my skills?”
“All I know is that I’m lucky to be alive. It’s been over six years since I was double-crossed, and you know as well as I do, that when Lara was killed it should have been me driving. I had gotten careless with my cover.”
“That was four years ago.”
“Two years after I was presumed dead. Men like that never forget. For all we know, this could be their way of setting me up.” He pushes himself away from the bar. “No. We can’t risk it.”
“If we could get them to twenty-five million, we could buy our own island and live in paradise forever.”
“We already live in paradise, my friend.”
“I’m tired of running this bar.”
“This bar is your cover. Hiding didn’t work before. Hiding in plain sight is. And we will continue to make it work.”
“Whatever,” the bartender says, his disappointment showing in both his expression and gestures. But he does as told—logs into a secure network and declines the offer.
He’s surprised when there is an immediate response.
“They just offered thirty million.”
The assassin closes his eyes. The thrill of the hunt is something he craves, but he can’t.
He shakes his head no.
The bartender relays his decision, then his eyes go wide with shock.
“You need to see this for yourself,” he says, handing him the laptop.
The assassin reads the instant message.
Thirty million is my final offer, but I suspect it’s not about the money. I have other information that may interest you. The first target is not only a powerful world leader, but he is the legacy of the man who double-crossed you six years ago.
He’s rereading it again just to be sure, when another message pops up.
Does that change your mind?
The assassin drains the beer in front of him. “Tell the man that it most certainly does.”