Priscila Santa Rosa has written four novels in English and Portuguese and left her home country of Brazil to study creative writing in Orlando, FL. When not writing, she enjoys going to the movies and playing with her cat. You can follow her on Twitter at @priscilassr.
They had found Diana. After years of hiding, of changing identities, and hopping from city to city, they had finally found her. She thought she had been careful. No friends. No lovers. No attachments. But the box was proof she had been careless. So careless she hadn’t checked the windows before opening the door and had forgotten to take her gun out the moment the doorbell rang.
It was a simple wooden square, no bigger than a shoe box. She took it to the kitchen, placed on the table, and, with her arms crossed, stared at it for a long time. She had spent a long time running away from this exact moment, but now that it had arrived, Diana felt adrenaline running through her veins. A part of her wanted closure.
With a steady hand, she lifted the lid to find a cell phone. The second she picked the phone, it rang. Jaw tight, she strode toward the kitchen windows to yank the curtains close. She could picture the rifle scopes searching for a better angle.
Her house was already surrounded. Fine, let them come.
The phone kept ringing as she opened the cabinet below the sink and reached for the cold, hard grip of her hidden Glock pistol, along with an ammo box.
Armed, she finally answered the call, placing it on speaker.
“Diana. We need to talk.”
His voice was the same, soft and sweet as honey. Without even realizing at first, Diana leaned closer to the phone. Of course, the agency would use him as bait. Too much history.
She swallowed her emotions back into the depths of her throat before saying, “So talk.”
“They want you back. This is your last chance.”
“I don’t care what they want, Marcus.” Just saying his name was painful, but she kept going, “I’m done killing people.”
Hie sighed loudly. “You have three minutes before they storm the house and kill you.”
“Three minutes? They are getting rusty.” She grabbed the ammo box. Glancing back and forth between the windows and her fingers, Diana loaded her gun. For the sake of closure, she decided to ask something she never would otherwise, “Why did you take this job, Marcus? To make sure I was dead? Is that it? Or are you just being the good soldier as usual? Did nothing change for you? All these years and nothing changed?”
Silence. As the seconds dragged on, she paused her work. Marcus always had the perfect answer for everything. Against her training and every instinct she picked up after years on the job, her heart raced.
Finally, Marcus spoke, “I love you.”
She had heard her partner lie a thousand times in a thousand different ways. He wasn’t lying now, but why? To distract her. To stall for time until the strike team arrived. Yet, it made no difference. She had waited for those words most of her life.
Diana took a deep breath, then released a sigh. “You should’ve said that years ago.”
Another pause before he asked, “Do you love me?”
The vengeful part of her wanted to lie, to spit the vilest accusations and insults at the man who had betrayed her. They had been partners in everything until she asked him to choose between her or the agency. Country above anything else had been his answer.
“I love you, Marcus. You can say that at my funeral if that makes you feel better.”
He laughed. How that sound had made her heartbeat speed up once. She missed those days when it had been just the two of them against the world. Back when the world made sense.
In a surprisingly teasing tone, he said, “I’ve been waiting for you to say that since the Belgian job.”
She narrowed her eyes at his words. Of all their missions, that one was the least romantic they ever had. In fact, it had been particularly gruesome to investigate explosion sites for months. They had been searching for a vicious separatist with a talent for hiding bombs in the most ordinary of objects. Diana’s gaze fell on the wooden box.
“Still there, Diana?”
Where were the hurried footsteps crushing the grass on her backyard? Why couldn’t she hear the fabric of uniforms grating against the bushes as the agency’s goons approached? Why were they keeping their distance?
Diana reached for the box. A quick inspection revealed a false bottom, and below it, the bomb. Big enough to take out most of the house, but not enough to destroy the rest of the neighborhood. She had been right: Marcus’ mission had been to distract her, but not for when the strike team arrived. The true goal was to give her no chance to fight back. The agency could use a gas leak to explain the explosion, and nobody would know the truth. But they had chosen the wrong bait.
“See you on the other side. Goodbye, Marcus,” she whispered as her finger pressed the red circle.
In one minute, the bomb would give her all the closure she had wanted earlier. Good thing she only needed thirty seconds to escape.
Diana rushed to the basement door and ran down the stairs. She made a sharp left and used the momentum to slide and open a hatch, quickly falling into it. Water splashed under her feet once she landed on the ground. Using the phone to light her way, she followed the sewer system as the ceiling shook above her.
They met at their favorite bar. He ordered a glass of whiskey, neat. She drank a vodka martini.
“Did they follow you?” she asked.
“No. They trust me. After all, I just killed the woman I love.” He lifted his glass with a wide grin. “Rest in peace, Diana. You’re finally dead.”
“And free.” She smiled as they toasted to their new life.