Price of a Bounty - By S. L. Wallace


I lifted the pillow and checked for a pulse. Vacant eyes gazed at the ceiling. Yes, he was gone. My work here, done.

I pulled on my black leather gloves and wiped down every hard surface I’d touched. Not that it was necessary, but one could never be too careful in this line of work.

As long as it looked like he had died of natural causes, no one would push for an investigation. And without a pending investigation, the Gov wouldn’t waste resources or money on anyone, not even a member of the Elite.

He had no immediate family, and my client certainly wouldn’t say anything. Even the staff would be long gone by the time anyone from the Gov arrived, especially if I left them some good pickings.

People look out for themselves – it’s the nature of the beast inside.

They’d pick through his belongings, and then disappear. Someone would come looking, eventually. The Gov would send in a cleanup crew who, in addition to removing the body, would sell off any remaining assets. All proceeds would go to “benefit the Realm” which really just meant that Gov officials would receive a nice bonus.

My heels clicked on the white and gray marble tiles as I walked through the front hall. It didn’t matter whether or not anyone heard me leave. They all knew he’d brought a woman home. I ran my hand through my long wavy red hair. It was time for a change.


Café de Rivoli

We show one face to our family and another to the world. Who are we really? Who am I, and who do I want to be? I’d been trying to figure that out ever since my father died.

My thoughts were interrupted as my target moved into view and approached the Café de Rivoli, a classy restaurant on the northwest side. Small apple trees covered in tiny white flowers surrounded the outer dining area.

The man followed the hostess inside. I walked just to the entrance and watched from the doorway. Previously, all I’d seen of him was from video surveillance and from a distance as I’d tailed him. Tonight, he wore a black pin-striped business suit. He was tall, just over six feet, and had short light brown hair. It was shorter now than it had been in the vid. I retreated back to the sidewalk and waited for a few minutes. Then it was time.

“I see my party,” I said quietly to the hostess as I walked past.

“Hello, is this seat taken?” I asked, looking straight into his eyes. I could swim in the deep blue of those eyes. Stop! No distractions, Keira, not while you’re working. “It’s so busy in here tonight. There’s no place to sit.”

I removed my stylish pale green raincoat to reveal a flowing black skirt and pale pink top. With my left hand, I brushed back some loose strands of wavy black hair and flashed my most dazzling smile.

“It’s not a problem.” He gestured to the empty chair across the table. “Have we met before?”

“Does that line really work for you?” I asked with a wink.

“I have no idea what you mean.” He straightened the knot of his navy blue tie.

“Separate orders please,” I said when the waitress arrived. “I’ll have the soup of the day and an iced tea.” I needed to order light. The prices at this establishment were outrageous, especially for any dish containing meat. Meat was reserved for the Elite and the military, and by not ordering any, he would likely, and correctly, assume that I was neither.

“The orders can go on one bill,” he insisted. “Chicken Kiev, a side of mixed vegetables and a bottle of your best Chardonnay.” He paused, and then said, “Would you like the same?”

I looked up in surprise. Chardonnay came from Mediterra, and all imports from there were very expensive, ever since the last war. Who did he think I was? No one would pay that much for a stranger’s dinner without expecting something in return, but I would play this his way for now.

“All right.”

He returned his attention to the waitress. “Please cancel her previous order.” He smiled at me and waited for the waitress to leave before he continued. “For whom do I have the pleasure of buying dinner?”

“Madeline Jones.” I reached across the table and offered my hand as I gave him the name on the fake ID I always carried. He reciprocated with a polite handshake. It was the hand of an executive, smooth and soft, not the hand