This story is by Nathaniel Ravencraft and was part of our 2019 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
The moon shone through frosty double pane windows. It’s light, beating back the now waning night’s shadows, bathed the room in soft winter hues. This was the time she was most at her ease. The time when the air was crisp and walls seemed to glow. The time when, if she held her breath and stood still, she could hear crystals of ice disseminate over the cold glass. It was a time when she could be forgiven for losing herself in soft whistles and smooth sighs of winter wind. There were sounds of rustling grass and leaves as wind whistled through. There was a deep groan of swaying trees. It was a symphony.
Leaning against the doorframe, she was porcelain and chills. When her fingers moved up and down her arm they gave her goosebumps and her hair stood on end. Her nipples hardened and a shiver crept up her spine. She was beautiful standing there, an overseer admiring the elegance of the room.
Her lover, a fit older man with a salt-and-pepper beard, lay in a large bed half tangled in sheets. A rich fabric. When draped over him, every muscle beneath was accentuated. The way the moon dispersed across his indurate chest and torso left her wanton. She’d had him many times before, each was better than the last. She was always satisfied but never satiated. Such a beautiful man, she thought. She admired him for a moment before walking to her bedside table, the base, a façade. The false bottom hid a cell phone, a large metal knife, and a pair of thick hospital gloves.
Sitting at the edge of the bed, she checked her phone for an unwanted text. It had yet to arrive. Vacant, she stared at the screen. Her mind was elsewhere, lost in thought. She’d never experienced this before. Not knowing what the right thing was. This type of contract wasn’t new to her. In fact, it gave her a sense of control and purpose she needed after everything she’d gone through. Things were different with him. She’d never had to go so deep for a job before. For over a year she’d lived as Rachel. After a few months, knew she loved him. They worked well together. She knew how he felt. Her thoughts and feelings were valued by and important to him. He was a good man. He was good to her and good to everyone else from what she’d seen over the last year. She couldn’t understand why someone would want him gone.
Replacing the phone, she slipped in bed with him. Amorphous, she melted into his firm body and tensed when her nipples pushed against him. She needed him to touch her but wanted him to hate her because she knew how the night might end. She needed him one last time.
Pulling his arm around her, she caressed the chest she was nestled in. Gentle kisses graduated in intensity. The arm around her tightened, making her feel safe. Before biting his chest, her tongue swept circles around his nipple. A low sensuous growl escaped him. Working up to his neck, her nails dug into his torso. Breathing heavy, he woke to nibbles, bites on his neck. She knew every trigger. She knew his body better than he did.
They kissed with passion. After mounting him she bit his lip so hard it bled. When she’d grab his wrists trying to hold him down, he’d laughed. For them, this was the best part. The fight for control. She’d pin him, he’d toss her, around and around they’d go. He was hard pressed against her and she was dripping.
After he reached over to grab his phone and it made her smile. She knew he loved taking pictures of her sprawled out, natural, sweaty, and naked. She was his queen, the goddess he prayed to every night on his knees, and to whom he offered his body. She knew he loved her more than anything.
After putting his phone away he squeezed her from behind and breathed her in. Their breath and heart rates slowed. Quieted. She felt protected. Time seemed to stand still until a muffled buzz broke the silence.
“Was that yours?” Harding asked.
“What?” Did I forget to turn it off?…she’d been so distracted by him. Idiot, she thought.
“Wasn’t that your phone?”
“Nope. I don’t think so. I don’t know that it’s even on.” She rubbed his chest hoping he’d forget it but there came another vzzz vzzz vzzz.
“Hold on baby, listen…” he sat up.
“Babe, don’t worry about it. Let’s just go to sleep, I’m exhausted.”
“Okay. No… I’m sure I hear it. Be quiet for a sec, Rachel… I think it’s coming from your nightstand.” Harding looked in and around the bedside table to no avail. Lucky for her, the vibrations had stopped. “I’m sure I heard it here. I saw your phone in the drawer but it was off. Are you hiding a phone in here?”
“That’s ridiculous, Harding. I have my phone and my work phone, you know that.” He leered at her as she spoke.
“So if I kick this thing over…” he asked, arms folded with authority.
She sighed, pushed him away, removed the false top, presented him the phone.
“Just your work phone and cell phone right?” She could see the disbelief on his face yet, said nothing, only stared down at the phone.
“You don’t know me at all.” Still not looking up from the phone.
“We’ve been together over a year, I’d like to think I know you.” The tone of disappointment belled in his voice.
“Listen. There’s a lot we need to work out. Truths I’ve kept from you, lies I’ve told.” His response; dusky blue eyes, smoldering through moonlight.
“Please, baby, can you go get us some coffee. I’ll tell you everything but it’s going to be a long night.” His face was stoic. His eyes burned a hole through her before he walked away. “Shit” she whispered to herself as she reviewed her messages.
TEXT: It’s time.
TEXT: Charlie, confirm.
TEXT: We’re sending a team for inquiry.
The choice had been made for her. She took the gloves and knife from the nightstand and stood behind the door, to the side, so not to get hit when he walked in. Every step he took closer tormented her and her head flooded with emotion.
Steel yourself. Focus, Charlie.
He was close.
The door opened. Harding walked through, coffee in hand. She watched him look around the room but by the time he’d turned she was on him. Coffee flew, glasses shattered and they fought. Harding slammed her hard into a wall, her knife dropped hard to the floor. A lucky strike. Charlie kneed him in the groin, swept him, and mounted him when he fell. She groped for the knife and managed to grab it as they struggled. She held it to his throat. She was well trained. He had size but that wasn’t enough.
“If this is something you have to do, do it,” he said. She stared him down, unmoved, still holding the knife to his throat. She slid it hard along his skin so it bled. “Just do it…” his eyes softened in surrender and his furrowed brow fell flat. Her eyes watered but she didn’t cry. Weakness. A moment of hesitation. Was it enough?
“I love you, Harding.” She got off of him and stood. “Get up. Someone wants you dead.”
Standing, he looked at her in confusion.
“We have to go,” she said.
“What? How do you know someone wants me dead?”
“Because I am the weapon. There’s no time, pack a bag, only what you need.” She loosened her grip on the knife and exhaled.
“Where will we…” she gripped the handle again, When Harding turned she was there leaning into him, sinking in the knife. She took a step back, tears streamed down her face. “Wh…wh…why?” he choked. Blood pooled in his throat. Slow she walked away, grabbed a long coat from the closet, and flung it on with a flourish.
She turned and leaned against the door frame. Harding fell. He tried to stop the bleeding, clutching at his throat, drowning in his blood. She wiped the tears from her cheeks.
Moonlight shines through frosty double pane windows
Contrasting the soft winter hues is the flush muted glare of moonlight cast from thick red pools.
There is only quiet now, save winter’s symphony.
She’s leaning against the doorframe, overseeing, admiring the elegance of the room.
This is the time she is most at her ease.