She took the day off, relying on the remote camera to tell her if the mark did anything unusual. She tried to relax by hitting the gym and watching a movie at her hotel, but she couldn’t concentrate. It often happened before jobs, her focus narrowing to the task at hand, running over her plan, her tactics, potential pitfalls, in her mind. She took three showers, simply because the activity was mildly distracting.
She put on tight pants so it would look like she had been jogging, and a light windbreaker, one with cloth that didn’t hiss against itself, to cover her light flak vest. She would look like any other local mom coming back from a jog or yoga class. The jacket was loose enough to hide the shoulder holster that she carried the Sig in. She had her phone and a few other small items in her other pockets.
She had long ago jettisoned the Town Car in favor of a simpler rental sedan, and she climbed into that, watching a real-time update of the remote cam watching the mark before she started the car. She’d chosen the right day. When she rewound fifteen minutes, she saw the mark and a local woman drinking wine in the living room. Her lip curled.
She parked around the corner from the mark’s building and walked through the gate. The remote camera showed no activity in the condo, which meant they were still in the bedroom. She climbed the stairs to the third floor, walked up to his door, wrapped a small shape charge around the base of the doorknob, rigged to blow if the door opened, pulling a small cord away from the detonator. The main entrance and exit was now compromised. The only window on this side of the condo, to the bedroom according to the floor plans, was painted shut. The only other way out was windows to open air, or the balcony, three floors up.
She turned and took a stroll down the walkway, past the doors of other condos. She stood and gripped the railing, looking like she was doing nothing in particular while she watched and listened for any observers. It was late enough that the kids were all inside. No one was watching.
She climbed up on the railing, turned to face the building, gave a short jump and caught the edge of the roof. The slope was gentle, and she was able to place her palms flat on the roof and get enough purchase to pull. When her chest was level with the roof, her weight on her elbows, she whipped a leg over the edge of the roof and rolled onto it. She crawled along the roof, away from the edge, and took a moment to catch her breath.
Keeping low, she made her way to the opposite corner and the mark’s balcony. The remote camera showed no one in the living, and in ten more seconds she was securely on the balcony, between a small kettle grill and a spindly deck chair. The balcony door was unlocked, of course, the mark’s instinct for security as absent here as everywhere else.
She slipped on black latex gloves and used a tiny can of WD-40 to grease the slider at the base of the glass door. She put both hands on the handle and pulled slowly. The seal broke and the door opened slightly. She waited for a moment for the air pressure to stabilize. She heard nothing. There was no breeze.
She slid the door open an inch, then another, and then there was a gap wide enough for her to slide through. She silently closed the door behind her. She was in a dining room of sorts, the kitchen ahead of her on the left, the living room on the right. She crouched in the shelter of the couch while she attached the silencer and brass-catcher to her pistol. The latter was a small plastic hutch that snapped over the ejection port, catching spent rounds. There would be a clean-up crew later, of course, but it was a precaution she always took.
She had just stood and was moving to the bedroom when there was a small sound. A moment later, the woman, wearing only panties, came into view, crossing the hall to the bathroom. Falconer never hesitated. She had been trained that hesitation is the first, and often last, mistake you could make.
The gun whapped, a sharp noise in the stillness of the apartment, and there was a click as the spent round popped into the plastic catcher. The almost-naked woman gaped in surprise, then her shoulder sagged as she exhaled. The killer took two rapid steps and caught the woman as she fell, easing her onto the floor.
Then she whirled and kicked open the bedroom door. It was empty. The bed was a shambles. The bedroom window hung open on a hinge.
It was one of the early precautions Baxter had taken, just like making contact with the bartender and keeping a car ready to go at any time.
Clearly, even if he’d stopped thinking about security precautions, part of his spy brain was still waiting and ready for this to happen. There had been no doubt, no question, no hesitation. The instant his eyes had snapped open, he hadn’t thought about what the sound was, that decision had already been made by his unconscious mind. Instead, just like a surprised police officer, a voice screamed “Gun! Gun! Gun!” in his head even as he was coming awake. There was a pin in the corner of the window that released it from the frame and it swung open on a hinge he had installed himself. It was drafty in the winter, but it was a small price to pay for a fast emergency exit, no fucking around with latches and sliders.
In less time that it takes to say it, his bare feet were on the walkway outside his condo, and he was racing down the stairs to his car, never more conscious of his nudity in his life as his flaccid cock slapped against his thighs.
The spare key was under the driver’s side door in a magnetic box. The box clattered on the pavement as he calmly unlocked the door, sliding in, hissing as his naked ass met the cold leather seat, and then he was screeching out of the parking lot.
He had never looked over his shoulder, confident that he would make it or he would not.
Falconer was out the window in chase, and she saw that he was still fast, even if he was out of shape. His white flesh flashed in the night, and she knew that she wouldn’t have a clean shot from here, not with with a handgun, certainly not one with a silencer on it. She watched him pull out of the parking lot, grinding her teeth. She didn’t like improvising. She liked plans.
She pulled out her phone and touched a few keys, sending several automated messages. The first message was to Smith, it said the mission was underway. The instant it was received, Baxter’s accounts would be frozen, which would limit his mobility. Complications were not part of the auto message, and she didn’t want to admit to that anyway. The second automatic message went to the contractors in the area, the ones who were twiddling their thumbs just in case she needed them. The third message went to another contractor, a local cleaner who would take care of the condo. Then she brought up a specialized app and activated the tracking device on the mark’s Jetta.
She considered her Sig, removed the silencer and bullet catcher, threw them in through the open window, shoved it closed, and left the mess for the cleaner.
A minute later her breath was steaming the inside of her rental car as she pulled into the street, tracking the mark.