“What the hell?!” I snapped.
Cynthia’s eyes were cold and her face expressionless as she held the pistol firmly. I couldn’t move as my feet were firmly rooted to the spot. Obviously, it was taking my body an awful long time to recover from the shock. Damn…if only I could’ve reached for my gun…
But what would I have done with it? I couldn’t shoot her after what we’d been through! I mean, she may have been a stubborn bitch sometimes but I…there’s no way I could’ve killed her!
So why was it that she could kill me?
“What the hell is this about?” I said, after not receiving a response from Cynthia. “Why are you doing this?”
“You don’t need to know why.” Cynthia said.
“And why is that?” I said, having recovered from the shock. “If you’re going to put a bullet in someone’s head, you should at least give them an explanation why.”
“Why should I be up front with you after you just lied to me?” Cynthia said coldly.
“What are you talking about?”
“The whole sob story you told me about you being ‘set up’? Did you honestly expect me to believe that?”
My expression darkened and, for the first time in an uncomfortably long period of time, I cracked my signature dark, sarcastic smile. She had seen through my cleverly concocted lie. I guess I’m not the amazing liar I thought I was. I stared at Cynthia, both intrigued and worried by her wealth of knowledge. Now, only one question remained.
“How do you know?”
“Well,” Cynthia said, wearing a devilish grin similar to my own. “I haven’t been entirely honest with you either.”
She reached down and opened a small drawer, hidden in her coffee table and pulled from it a leather-wrapped binder and threw it toward me. I snagged it out of the air, hesitating to take my eyes off of her. But take my eyes off her I did, because I’ve never been any good at resisting the allure of sticking my nose in where it doesn’t belong.
I opened the binder and inside I found a complete profile of myself on the very first page. Everything, down from the color of my eyes to the small market I tend to go to every now and then for groceries. I was astonished. Littered throughout the remaining pages were spy photos, locations of my favorite haunts, and an unsettlingly detailed documentation of my daily habits.
There was only one possible explanation for why she had all of this information on me.
“How long?” I said calmly, dropping the binder to the ground, strewing its contents across the hardwood floor.
“Hmm?” Cynthia said, almost mocking me.
“How long have you been an assassin?” I said once more.
“Longer than you’ve known me.” Cynthia replied silkily.
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing or hearing. My senses seemed to blur. My mind was having a hard time believing what my eyes and ears were telling it. The line between my imagination and reality grew thinner by the second, to the point where I almost couldn’t tell if I was in a twisted dream, or if the world only seemed that way.
I was in desperate need of someone to pinch me.
“So,” I said in disbelief. “How much are you going to make when I’m dead? Ten grand? Twenty?”
“That’s between myself and my employer.” Cynthia said. “Although, I will say one thing, my employer isn’t going to be happy knowing I didn’t kill you earlier when I had the chance.”
As if on cue, a sudden realization hit me like a bolt of lighting from the heavens.
“That was you with the sniper rifle earlier, wasn’t it?”
Cynthia’s expression darkened.
“Yes.” She said quietly.
The pieces were beginning to come together as I struggled to rebuild a proper perception of reality.
“So…I’m guessing you were meant to kill me there. The enforcers were merely a contingency plan, put in place to chase me into position for you to take me out and to put a few bullets in me themselves if you happened to miss.”
Cynthia remained silent, her gun still held at the ready, telling me more than words ever could.
“But you changed your mind and went back on your contract.” I smirked again. “My earlier hunch was right…you do still care about me…”
“I feel nothing for you!” Cynthia exclaimed suddenly. “The only reason I didn’t put a bullet through your head in that alleyway is because I wanted to do it face to face.”
“That’s how you feel about me now? So that look I saw in your eyes earlier wasn’t real?”
“You don’t know how long I’ve waited for this Alex! When your contract crossed my desk, I didn’t hesitate to take it on. I already had all the information I needed from the beginning, the only issue was deciding when I wanted to do it.”
“Then why now? Why here? What, was killing me in my sleep a bit too cliché for you?”
“Why here and now? That’s simple. I wanted you to die standing before me in the same room in which you broke my heart.”
There was an ear-shattering silence between us after those words left her mouth. I had never heard her speak to me with such anger…such hatred…If only she knew why I left her so long ago…
“Cynthia…you don’t understand.” I said quietly. “I didn’t mean to hurt you…”
“You knew how much I loved and cared for you and yet you still left me! You stand here and continue to lie to my face! I can see now that, no matter how much I cared for you, you never returned the favor.”
“I was protecting you!” I snapped suddenly. “I left you because I knew I was getting involved with the wrong kind of people and I didn’t want you to get dragged in behind me! Little did I know you were a damned assassin and involved with the same kind of people I was trying to keep you away from…”
“It’s too late for you to make excuses now.” Cynthia said.
I held my arms out to my sides.
“Well…if that’s what you want to do, I’m right here.” I said firmly.
Cynthia froze in place, her eyes growing big under her long, red bangs. I held firm, holding my head high as I stared at her.
“Hold on, let me make it easier for you.”
I began to walk toward her. Cynthia held the gun tighter with both hands, aiming now for my head. I could see her hands shaking now. I took another, unwavering step…then another. Her finger was frozen on the trigger. Her eyes grew wider, her steely resolve vanishing before my eyes. My chest was now touching the tip of her gun. I gazed into her always expressive eyes as I took hold of her hands and steadied her aim, holding the gun directly into my chest.
“I’m right here.” I whispered. “I’m sorry for what I did to you and I know me saying this isn’t going to change anything.” I closed my eyes. “Perhaps you can find peace in this world when I’m no longer in it.”
My arms slowly dropped to my sides and I stood motionless, waiting for her to pull the trigger. Tears began to stream from Cynthia’s eyes as she released her grip on the gun, dropping it harmlessly to the ground and fell into my arms.