Home > Kiss Me While I Sleep (CIA Spies #3)(2)

Kiss Me While I Sleep (CIA Spies #3)(2)
Author: Linda Howard

The easiest way to take out this restaurant, and all its infamous patrons, would be with a guided missile. Anything short of that would depend on luck, and at best be unpredictable. Unfortunately, she didn’t have a guided missile.

The poison was in the Bordeaux that would shortly be served, and it was so potent that even half a glass of the wine would be deadly. The manager had gone to extraordinary lengths to procure this wine for Salvatore, but Lily had gone to extraordinary lengths to get her hands on it first, and arrange for it to come to M. Durand’s notice. Once she had known she and Salvatore were coming here for dinner, she had let the bottle be delivered.

Salvatore would try to cajole her into sharing the wine with him, but he wouldn’t really expect her to do so.

He probably would expect her to share his bed tonight, but he was destined to be disappointed once again. Her hatred was so strong she had barely been able to force herself to let him kiss her and accept his touch with some warmth. There was no way in hell she could let him do more than that. Besides, she didn’t want to be with him when the poison began to act, which should be between four to eight hours after ingestion if Dr. Speer was right in his estimation; during that time she would be busy getting out of the country.

By the time Salvatore knew anything was wrong, it would be too late; the poison would already have done most of its damage, shutting down his kidneys, his liver, affecting his heart. He would go into massive, multisystem failure. He might live a few hours after that, perhaps even a full day, until his body finally shut down. Rodrigo would tear France apart looking for Denise Morel, but she would have disappeared into thin air-for a while, at least. She had no intention of staying gone.

Poison wasn’t the weapon she would normally have chosen; it was the one she had been reduced to by Salvatore’s own obsession with security. Her preferred method was a pistol, and she would have used that even knowing she herself would be shot down on the spot, but she hadn’t been able to devise any method of getting a weapon anywhere near him. If she hadn’t been working alone, perhaps… but perhaps not. Salvatore had survived several assassination attempts, and had learned from each of them. Not even a sniper could get a clear shot at him. Killing Salvatore Nervi meant using either poison, or a massive weapon that would also kill any others nearby. Lily wouldn’t have minded killing Rodrigo or anyone else in Salvatore’s organization, but Salvatore was smart enough to always ensure there were innocents nearby. She couldn’t kill so casually and indiscriminately; in that, she was different from Salvatore. Perhaps that was the only difference, but for her own sanity, it was one she had to preserve.

She was thirty-seven years old. She’d been doing this since she was eighteen, so for over half her life she’d been an assassin, and a damn good one at that, hence her longevity in the business. At first her age had been an asset: she had been so obviously young and fresh-faced that almost no one had seen her as a threat. She no longer had that asset, but experience had given her other advantages. That same experience, though, had also worn on her until she sometimes felt as fragile as a cracked eggshell: one more good thump would shatter her.

Or maybe she was already shattered, and just hadn’t realized it yet She knew that she felt as if she had nothing left, that her life was a desolate wasteland. She could see only the goal in front of her: Salvatore Nervi was going down, and so was the rest of his organization. But he was the first, the most important, because he was the one who had given the order to murder the people she’d loved most. Beyond this one aim, she could see nothing, no hope, no laughter, no sunshine. It meant almost nothing to her that she probably wouldn’t survive the task she’d set for herself.

This in no way meant she would give up. She wasn’t suicidal; it was a matter of professional pride that she not only do the job, but get away clean. And there still lurked in her heart the very human hope that if she could just endure, one day this bleak pain would lessen and she would again find joy. The hope was a small flame, but a bright one. She supposed that hope was what kept most people plugging along even in the face of crushing despair, why so relatively few actually gave up.

That said, she had no illusions about the difficulty of what she wanted to do, or her chances both during and after. After she’d finished the job, she would have to completely disappear, assuming she was still alive. The suits in Washington wouldn’t be happy with her for taking out Nervi. Not only would Rodrigo be searching for her, but so would her own people, and she didn’t figure the outcome would be much different if either caught her. She’d gone off the reservation, so to speak, which meant she was not only expendable-she’d always been that-but her demise would be desirable. All in all, this wasn’t a good situation.

She couldn’t go home, not that she really had a home anymore. She couldn’t endanger her mother and sister, not to mention her sister’s family. She hadn’t spoken to either of them in a couple of years anyway… no, it was more like four years since she’d last called her mother. Or five. She knew they were okay, because she kept tabs on them, but the hard fact was she no longer belonged in their world, nor could they comprehend hers. She hadn’t actually seen her family in almost a decade. They were part of Before, and she was irrevocably in After. Her friends in the business had become her family-and they had been slaughtered.

From the time that the word on the street had said that Salvatore Nervi was behind her friends’ deaths, she had focused on only one thing: getting close enough to Salvatore to kill him. He hadn’t even tried to hide the fact that he’d had them killed; he had used the deed to drive home the lesson that crossing him wasn’t a good idea. He wasn’t afraid of the police; with his connections, he was untouchable on that front. Salvatore owned so many people in high positions, not just in France but all across Europe, that he could and did act exactly as he pleased.

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