ORIGINAL CONTENT OF D.C. BLU. DO NOT COPY AND/OR REDISTRIBUTE WITHOUT THE AUTHOR’S PERMISSION. PLAGIARISM IS CRUEL. PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL.
Wearing an elegant red cocktail dress that had splits up both sides of her legs to her hips, Val stood in front of the painting marveling at the grotesque imagery. It was like looking at the entrails of a dead person or animal, she wasn’t sure what. But the picture was so close up, it was hard to tell what it was actually. If the owner of the piece hadn’t been her cousin, she’d just think it was a lot of red and black on the canvas. But Khalid made it a point to “enlighten” her on every piece that she brought him.
“It’s beautiful,” a voice said. A male voice, and by the tone, an older gentleman.
Val didn’t turn to look at him as he moved from behind her to stand by her side. He was too close for a friendly chat. She wasn’t sure, but she had a feeling he was one of many pairs of eyes that had been watching her that night. But that was the plan, to dress so that she caught as many eyes as possible. Especially his.
“Don’t you think?”
“Hmm?” Val blinked her eyes several times as if snapping out of some kind of thoughtful trance. “Excuse me?” She looked over at him, cocking her head.
“I said, its beautiful. The painting.”
Val nodded. “Yes.” She made her voice sound light, airy, as if she was blown away by the sheer scope of the horrid painting.
“I heard that this piece was the first the artist ever painted. He was truly a visionary.”
He was disturbed and high on cocaine, however, Val just said, “Yes, a genius.” Then she nodded in agreement to his words. “The play of red and black… Haunting. As if he can see into the darkest parts of humanity and our soul.” Or maybe he saw the darkness of his own nightmares that led him to commit suicide ten years later. Of course, that act made this piece three times its actual worth. When it came to art, supply and demand drove the cost. If an artist was dead, the supply would be limited indefinitely, therefore driving the demand if that artist’s work up the more popular the art
“Exactly.” The man agreed, but she could tell by his placating tone he didn’t give a shit, he just wanted to get in her panties. “You must know your art. A student?” He asked curiously.
An art student? Dressed in a two-thousand-dollar cocktail dress? He knew better. She chuckled, making it sound girlish, when actually she wanted to laugh in his face. “No, I just appreciate fine art.”
“Ah, of course. A fellow connoisseur.” He smiled, showing off his charm. And if she was a normal woman, she’s be dazzled by such a smile. He was average in height, maybe about five-eight, with brown hair cut neatly, and dull blue eyes. He was a handsome man. His muted blue suit matched the color of his eyes perfectly. His posture and manners screamed money and power. If she wasn’t commissioned to kill him, she’d try to hire him as a client.
“As an art lover, you must be familiar with the gallery owner,” he asked sizing her up. He was trying to figure out how much advantage he could take of her without getting into trouble. If she was just arm candy for someone who was rich and powerful, he would probably try to make a deal to have a night with her. But if she was someone rich and powerful herself, he would be more cautious. And if she was just a brainless heiress, he probably figured she was fair game and could use her to get to her father.
Of course, she had been all of these at one point in her life. But tonight, she was the brainless cousin of a millionaire export mogul. Someone who wasn’t worth anything in this man’s eyes. Yes, she knew the owner of the gallery, her lecherous cousin, but no way was she letting this man know. And Khalid had no clue she was here anyway. “Oh, no, I don’t know the owner.” She lied. “Mr. Ussan just uses my cousin’s export business for some of his work.” She smiled, in a way that looked like she’s proud and yet nervous at revealing too much.
“Ah.” The man immediately understood where she stood on the food chain. Good. “And who is your cousin? I might know him since me and Khalid often do business together.”
Liar. This man didn’t do any business with Khalid. He didn’t even run in the same circles. “Joseph Friar.” Val answered his question.
“Yes, I believe I’ve heard of him.”
Another lie. The real Friar company was too small for him to even know where it was based.
“Really?” She asked pretending to be delighted. “May I ask your name? Maybe my cousin has heard of you.”
“Alton Lesnar.” He held out his hand as if to shake hers.
She took it. “Leia Carver.”
He kissed the back of her red gloved hand in a move she had been hoping for. “Leia. A beautiful name, for a beautiful woman.”
The moment his lips had made contact with her gloves, his fate had been sealed. In the next forty-eight hours, while she was back in the U.S., Mr. Alton Lesnar would die a tragic death. A blood vessel in his head would rupture causing a massive stroke killing him almost instantly.
The rest of the night while walking around the gallery, the two talked art, getting to know each other. Toward the end to the showing, Val received the well-timed phone call, from her “cousin”.
“I’m out front,” Roger said into the phone. “I suggest you hurry, Khalid will be showing his face in twenty minutes.”
“Oh! Hi, cousin…” She pretended. “Yes, I’m almost finished… Oh, I understand. I’ll be outside in a minute.” She hung up as if disappointed. “I’m sorry, Mr. Lesnar, I had so much fun I forgot the time. I need to go. My cousin wrapped up his business and is waiting for me.”
“Pity. I was hoping we could go somewhere for dinner, or drinks?”
She smiled still holding her phone pretending to be hopeful. “Maybe another time?”
He pulled out his card. “Here. Call me when you have some time. If I don’t answer, leave a message because I might be busy.”
She nodded. But she knew men like him. He wanted her to call and leave a message to see how desperate she was to know him. So, she ended their time together with another final lie. “I will.”
She waved and left walking out the gallery to get into the black sedan waiting outside by the curb.
The moment she was inside, door closed, Roger pulled off. In the back seat, Val carefully took off her gloves, changed out of her clothes and into a blue skirt and a beige dress shirt. She took off her wig that was long, curly, and light brown. She stored the wig and clothes into a bag on the floor that would later be incinerated. She then opened a small brief case sitting on the floor and took out a bottle of solution that she used to clean off her arms and hands. Carefully, she wiped down, to neutralize any toxin that might have escaped her careful handling.
Afterward, she took out the face cleaner that would help her removed the professional face mask that was the true work of art. Unfortunately, that too would be destroyed. She then took out the plain brown contacts. They would be saved for another job.
After she got comfortable and cleaned up, Roger had already arrived at their drop point — a parking garage in Dubai’s downtown.
Val did a last check of herself, from shoes to hair and make-up before Roger turned around in the seat to also do a spot check.
“Perfect.” He nodded. The man has seen her dress and undress so many times, it was no big deal to either of them.
Val exited the car, knowing there were no cameras in this blind spot. She walked to the car that was parked next to them and got in. Inside, Norman her other guard, was sitting in the driver’s seat. The moment she closed the door, he handed over her personal mobile.
“Matt called. He wanted you to know that he’ll be in Osaka recruiting a new talent.”
Val groaned an unladylike sound. Her man and his music. He’d drop everything in a minute if it had anything to do with music. It was cute, but frustrating when she yearned to spend time with him.
“Did you book me a ticket to Osaka?” She asked. Because she knew if she wasn’t there, her puppy would work himself to the bone.
“Yep.” He pulled out of the garage. “The plane leaves in three hours.”
Relaxing into the car’s leather seat, she sighed in relief knowing her bags were already packed.
Over sixteen hours later, three glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, and a long nap, Val stepped out of the plane where a contact of the Code picked her up at the airport and took her to Matt’s accommodations in Osaka, Japan. It wasn’t the biggest hotel in the city, but it was still luxurious. It was perfect for those who had the money to demand privacy.
On the tenth floor, she got off the elevator and went to his room with the room key she charmed out of the front desk staff. If she let Norman take care of it, she wouldn’t need to charm or flirt, but her way was more exciting.
Walking into the hotel room, she found all the lights on, sheet music scattered on the floor in neat little piles. On the table by the door was half eaten ramen and a bento box that hadn’t been touched. And this was why Bailey always fussed a Matt.
Sighing, she took off her shoes at the door. She called room service to get some fresh ramen because what was left in the bowl would be too soggy to eat. She opened the bento box and took a mini onigiri to munch on before navigating the stacks of music to the bedroom. She opened the door and found a long lean muscled body laying across the bed on his belly as if he collapsed from exhaustion. And he probably did. He was still clad in his jeans and t-shirt.
He could’ve at least pulled a blanket over himself. Val walked to the sprawled body and tickled his big feet that hung over the edge of the bed. He groaned softly, but didn’t budge.
She crawled up his body and leaned over him. “Matt?” She kept her voice low so not to startle him. Her hand smoothed over his strong shoulder blades. She kissed him on his cheek. She didn’t want to wake him, but she wanted him to be in a better sleeping position. And she wanted to take the blanket to drape on him so he’d feel more secure and sleep deeper.But he was laying on the blanket, therefore he needed to at least roll over so she could wrap him in it.
“Matt, sweetie, roll-“
Before she could finish, his arm came up and around until he was hugging her waist, face buried into her abdomen.
Val groaned, wishing she hadn’t called room service. She would miss her meal. At least she had eaten a little.