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The King of Hearts

Las Vegas

“I think I’m in love.”

“You’re not in love.”

“Maybe not, but I think I am.” Brandon stood, feet apart, staring at the motorcycle on the turntable in the casino. A sign underneath said in bold, red letters: “Win Me.”

“You know what the odds of winning that bike are?” the nameless woman next to him said. He knew only that she was a part of Solitaire, the semi-secret organization he worked for, and that she was a high-ranking member. The diamonds dangling from her earlobes were at least a carat each, and he didn’t even want to know what the necklace around her pale neck might be worth. Her blond hair was tied up in a bun, at least partly to show off the jewels she wore, he was sure. Not that they detracted from her gorgeous face.

“Well, if I don’t win it, I’ll just buy it.”

“With what?”

“The money you’re going to pay me. I know I’m in love with money. You do have a job for me?”

“They were right about you. You’re no fun.”

“Not true. And who are they?”

“You know I can’t tell you that.”

“You’re not a courier,” he said.

“You’re not a Joker.”

Brandon paused. “No, I’m not.”

“The King rules, nothing more.”

“Indeed,” he said dryly. “What can I do for you?”

“We have a target.”

“How much do they owe?”

“This one is different.”

“Different, how?” he asked.

“This job is of a more personal nature.”

“Who did the target piss off?”

The blond sighed and looked at him. Really stared. Brandon shifted from one foot to the other.

“How long have you been doing this?” she asked.

“Right. No questions. It’s just when I’m not supposed to collect money someone owes, I get curious about how exactly I’m getting paid.”

“Understood. Here’s the address.”

“Fucking L.A.?” he said after looking at the slip of paper she handed him.

“Fucking L.A.,” she replied. “Once you’re successful, there’s a safe in the office behind the Van Gogh on the east wall. Here’s the combination.”

Brandon looked at the slip of paper and saw groupings of letters. MKGPI XLRAU SNJVZ

“What’s this?”

“Solitaire, Code Deck 3.”

“I don’t think I have that deck.”

“It’s in his top left desk drawer. It doesn’t have a lock. Remember, solve the code by hand. No computers, no phones.”

“Got it. Easy enough. Time-consuming though.”

“If he doesn’t get a chance to trip the alarm, you’ll have all the time you need.”

“Thanks,” he said. “I’ll see you—”

But it was too late. She’d already turned to walk away.

When she was out of sight, he turned and headed out the door.

“Get the jet ready,” he said into his phone, hailing a nearby cab. “Henderson Executive,” he told the cab driver as he got in. “There’s fifty extra in it if you hurry.”

The cabbie squealed his tires as he pulled away from the busy casino parking lot and headed south.

Once aboard the jet, Brandon found everything he needed already there. A .38, pocket-sized, gloves, a lock pick set, a phone with e-lock hacking software, and a completely black outfit.

“How long?” he asked the pilot.

“An hour, give or take.”

“Got it. Wake me when we arrive.”

He kicked back on the bed in the cabin after changing his clothes and fell instantly asleep right after takeoff. He woke just in time for the heavy braking that accompanied their landing.

“Thanks,” he told the pilot once they were in the hangar. “Refuel and keep the engines warm.”

“We’re returning tonight, sir?”

“Provided I can finish my business. If not, I’ll text you and we’ll leave in the morning.”

Outside the plane, a red Mercedes S-Class waited for him. He slid into the tan leather seats, punched the address into the navigation and sped off.

Forty-two minutes to go twenty miles? he thought to himself. Fucking L.A.

By the time he arrived at the classic glass-fronted building that served as his target’s home, forty-seven minutes had passed. A motorcyclist splitting lanes had nearly taken out his mirror as he rode by, the paint might even be scratched.

Brandon hated L.A. with a white-hot passion, and the traffic and insane drivers were only two of the reasons.

This story is now available online. Here is the link! 

The next story is available for FREE here: The Queen of Diamonds