Estimated reading time: 5 – 8 minutes

The job was supposed to be a perfect ending to a perfect career.

No mistakes, no witnesses, and no regrets.

Phillip Donovan lifted his suitcase high above the milling crowd. His feet followed a chaotic pattern of despair as he started, stopped, and pushed through the living piles of flesh.

Phillip had made this particular walk fifty-three times in the last fourteen months. A minute from the platform to the stairs. Forty-four seconds to the street. Six minutes to the building.

Today, however, was a murderous exception.

“For fuck’s sake—move!”

Several bodies hit the concrete. Others automatically parted in face of the menace cutting a swath through their anonymous ranks.

“Asshole! Prick! Psycho!”

The muttered insults rang truer today than ever before.

“Yes, yes, yes, I am. Now move!”

Phillip leapt from the teeming sidewalk and lowered his case, before ramming his key into the scuffed doorknob. Pushing it open, he slammed the door shut less than a second later.

Stilted silence greeted Phillip’s return. The concierge desk stood empty. They’re already here.

He set the suitcase down and carefully slid it behind a grouping of tropical plants. If anyone happened across the case, five million dollars worth of Bearer Bonds would make their day of thievery exceptional.

Phillip didn’t care. He had more than enough money. That’s what had made his career perfect. His hand crept into his coat. Familiar metal warmed his palm with lethal comfort.

Phillip’s long legs rushed across the foyer. He bypassed the elevators and headed straight for the stairwell. Going up, he encountered two ghosts coming down.


“Hurry, Phillip! Hurry up or I’m going to beat you!”

“No fair, Tess! You know I’m not a sprinter like you!”

“Yeah, but I’m getting tired of beating you everyday! So hurry up!”


Baby, run! Don’t let them catch you! The raw pleas faded and reality spread like a cancer in his mind.

Philip knew Tess would never be able to outrun his professional kin.

Approaching the last flight of stairs, he bitterly recognized his only failure. In a meticulous career spanning sixteen years, Phillip Donovan had never allowed pleas, threats, or tears sway him from his work. So why had last night been different?

“Please don’t shoot me in the face. My wife, I just marry her. She love me. You shoot me in the face, she can’t have me in open casket. Please let me do this for her!”

Spontaneity had directed a bullet in the chest and none in the face.

However, divinity stepped in and took a man in the clutches of certain death to the ICU.

Minutes before his flight, Phillip had received concise, chilling words from his employer.

Now four hours later, an assassin’s singular compassion brought ruin to his own wife.

Phillip Donovan had met Tess Donovan a year and a half before. Initially drawn through a coincidence of sharing the same last name, they had quickly found more than companionship.

Two months to the day of their random meeting, they had moved in together.

One month after wards, they had celebrated their first holiday with an engagement.

A week passed and found them ringing in the new year as man and wife.

Now fourteen months later, Phillip and Tess were supposed to leave the city to settle down into the simplicity of countryside living.

Instead, Phillip now found himself on the receiving end of perfect vengeance.

Reaching the fifth floor, he forced his body to stillness. Phillip schooled his features into their familiar mask.

Breathe slow. Listen with your mind. Keep calm. Be perfect.

He gripped the cold handle and slid into the hall. It was empty like the downstairs foyer. No black shadows waited to lodge a bullet in the base of Phillip’s brain.

Which meant they were sloppy or already gone.

He approached his apartment door. Behind this ridiculously flimsy piece of metal and wood lay Phillip’s entire life. A moist palm curved around the knob.

Be locked. Let me be wrong. Don’t let THEM be here.

The knob turned without resistance.

Tess never kept the door unlocked. Ever.

Hot tears burned his eyes. Smothering a guttural sob, Phillip walked into a nightmare. Shattered crystal, broken side tables, and overturned lamps told a tale of hired violence. Blood smeared the once-pristine walls.

Tears stained cheeks gone pale with dread. I should’ve unloaded the clip in that mark’s face before I let this happen to you, Tess. I’m so sorry!

The partially closed door loomed ahead. Tess was the other half of his heart. Without her, Phillip had no desire to live.

He nudged the door open. Phillip stared into vacant blue eyes and lost all grip on reality.

“Put the gun down, Baby.”

“No…no! This can’t be right!”

Tess pointed to the two corpses littering her favorite reproduction rug. “We’re going to have to replace it. I hope you don’t mind shelling out another twenty dollars for one.”

“Did you…”

“Did I kill them? Yes, I did. Apparently they were going to kill me for a job you botched. Baby, I thought you were perfect. Ah, well. None of us really are. We just pretend to be. And you pretended very well.”

“You know about what I do?”

An enigmatic smile showcased two vicious fangs. “Yep. You kept that one secret for all of a day.”

Phillip backed away. “What the hell are you?”

She cocked her head in surprise. “Does it matter?”

“A-Are you a vampire?”

“Hell no! I serve a higher calling, Baby.” Seeing the confusion and terror in his dark eyes, Tess explained gently, “I’m a Sineater. Not only do I enjoy greasy burgers, but also equally greasy sins. Unfortunately, now I’m so full I could puke at the taste of either.”

“Sineater?” Phillip gasped inanely as she fitted her voluptuous body against his.

“Mmm. That’s why I like eating you. Small, little meals evenly spaced out with huge ones.” Tess brushed her lips against his. “Now about that rug…”


This is a complete short story created for the Dark Romance group. Rules: never before released/published, 1000 words or less, follow the theme of “deception.” The book is a future project and will be posted online chapter-by-chapter.

©2005 Claudia D. Christian. All rights reserved. No part of this book shall be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written permission from DelSin Publishing, LLC. DelSin Publishing, LLC and the author assume no liability assumed for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual or fictional events, locations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Image Credit: ba1969 @ Stock.Xchng.

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