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An Assassin's Death: A Reverse Harem Series (The Huntress Series Book 1) by A.K. Koonce, Harper Wylde (1)

Stroke the Night

It’s a strange feeling of calm that drifts through my chest as I watch him settle in for bed. My heartbeat is a steady sound. It’s a lazy rhythm that no longer holds reckless adrenaline for what I am about to do. Somewhere along the lines, the eeriness of stalking a person as if they’re prey has become normal in my life.

I’ve become detached. I have to be. As a huntress for the Lifeless League, I have to keep the idea of killing in a numb place within me.

It’s hard. It’s all I talk about. All I train for. All I think of.

And yet, it holds no meaning.

The moonlight strikes across his smooth features, highlighting the angles of his strong jaw that’s tipped up to the ceiling. The lighting is perfect; dark enough to hide within the shadows but bright enough to spot a major artery on your next target.

Yes, just the way I like it.

A small amount of warm streetlight showers over the worn brick building. It’s late into the night. I haven’t seen anyone on the quiet street down below. Not one single car. People often romanticize the nightlife. And they’re right to. Nothing says romance like not noticing the woman perched on your balcony watching you as you stroke yourself slowly.

Seriously, will this guy never let himself come?

I have three other men I have to get to, and this guy’s having a late-night date with his right hand. Just get on with it and go to bed.

It’s so much easier when they’re asleep. I hate the look in their eyes. I hate the fear that slips into their gazes. It keeps me up at night.

That’s a lie, my backlog of assassinations keeps me up at night.

I’m almost a month behind. If I could be fired from the Lifeless League, I’m sure they would have canned my ass by now, but I’m flawless at what I do.

I’m hanging just outside his bedroom. My boots scrape roughly against the concrete balcony that’s hiding me from my target. It’s uncomfortable but manageable. My fingers dig into the cold railing, threatening to drop me to the ground at any minute. Annoyance prickles through me and my eyes narrow on my target.

Who has time to masturbate for thirty minutes? Does he have no other priorities? Nothing else going for him in his life?

I’d think a wrist cramp would be a real concern for him at this point.

It’s late. I can’t hang—literally—outside this asshole’s house all night. It’s a quiet neighborhood, surrounded by thick trees and shadowed alleys; no one to notice the darkly clothed woman who shouldn’t be here.

I thought this would be quick. This morning I tracked the four men I was assigned to and found that they all resided in close proximity. I thought I’d start here and take care of them all tonight.

I peek over the ledge to find Target One with his head still tipped back, his palm making slow work of caressing his cock.

Fuck, at this rate, I should find some popcorn, kick my boots up, and settle in for a tediously long performance.

Should I move on to Target Two and circle back here?

Annoyance simmers through my chest. I’m not deviating from my plan. Mistakes happen when plans are changed.

And I don’t make mistakes.

So if he wants to die with his dick in his hands, I guess that’s the way he’s going to go. It could be worse.

Tension fills my arms as I haul myself slowly over the balcony. My leather gloves are smooth against the brick, my steps are quieter than the wind. In just a few short paces, I’m staring up close and personal through the glass double doors. The room is dark, but a dim light shines from the far corner, casting his body in a soft golden glow. My own reflection shows against the glass; clear blue eyes are the only feature that can be seen, my long, dark hair is tucked carefully away within a heavy hood.

Slowly, my gaze peers past my features, taking in the hard panes of his bare chest, the fluid movements of his arm. A tattoo swirls across his forearm but it’s a minor detail. As much as I’d like to say I’m measuring him up for the possibility of a struggle, I’m also, very blatantly, measuring him up. It’s an impressive size. I can see why he gives it so much attention.

But thirty minutes? Now he’s just being egotistical. Cruel, even.

The knife I keep strapped against my outer thigh is now in my palm as I continue to watch him with rapt interest. The cold, hard metal of the handle presses into my glove. With careful movements, I pull the door open. My clean boots are silenced against soft, beige carpet. It’ll be quick. His jugular is perfectly exposed to me.

It’ll be messy, but quick.

He has no one to mourn him. A slashing death will not bring an outraged family forward.

I stride toward him. My heart beats a steady rhythm. I’ve done this a thousand times. Never… quite like this, I suppose. I arch a brow at his length and try my best to focus on absolutely anything else about him.

Target One, Tylin Valderban, is approximately seven inches taller than I am. Corded muscle tone. Dark hair and darker eyes. A dominant stance is all I found him in today when I shadowed him. From our short time together, I learned nothing personal. Not one hint of his private life. No friends, no hobbies, no pleasures.

Until now.

I guess this could be considered a hobby. He’s certainly treating it like an in-depth pastime.

My head tilts to the side, giving his rolling wrist one more long look before I raise my knife. Three more steps bring me behind him, his tall frame shadows me and I lean into him, careful not to touch. Just as I’m hovering above him, poised and ready to slice through the vessel along the side of his throat, something in him shifts.

He stills beneath my ominous actions.

It all happens too quickly.

One minute the guy’s jerking off and the next he’s throwing me to the ground. His body dominates mine, and a rush of air escapes my lungs as he slams my back into the floor. Pain shakes through my chest, but I push it aside. Big palms grip my wrist, holding down my blade as he looks into my eyes.

“Did Armond send you?” His lip curls with a sneering smile. It’s a look of menacing anger and smooth beauty. He didn’t smile once today, but this eerie hint of happiness doesn’t seem pleasant at all.

The use of my leader’s name sends a prickle of fear crawling down my spine.

His dark eyes glint against the warm lighting. Of all the things I should do in this dangerous moment, looking down to make sure his dick’s tucked away is not one of them.

But I can’t help it.

It’s carefully hidden away within his jeans. It seems he had enough time to find his modesty.

Not that I haven’t already burned every inch into my memory.

My knee comes up—hard—at the same time as my head slams against his. I attack him from all angles in less than a second. It’s what I’ve been trained to do. A rumbling groan shakes through him, and I have the upper hand once again.

The pain doesn’t surface in my mind. Adrenaline takes over, pumping through my veins with strength and determination.

Using my slight weight, I roll his big body, shifting until I’m above him. My blade is quick, slashing through the air in one fluid movement.

When it’s skimming over the scruff of his five o’clock shadow, it halts. My actions freeze as I press the blade over his throat. It’s shoved there, right where it needs to be. It would take the smallest of movements to take his life.

But the tattoo inked along the side of his throat gives me pause.

The sharp arching angles are familiar. The mark is one of promised comradery. It symbolizes loyalty and life.

It’s a symbol I was given years ago by Armond himself.

This man is marred with the Mark of the Hunter.

Just like I am.

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