Cecelia Monroe, forty two years old, smiled at her children as she closed the book. “Now, you two, time to go to sleep.” They whinged and they cried, but she ignored them, swinging her legs off Sarah’s bed and beginning to tuck her in. “There’ll be more story tomorrow. Besides, I already know what happens next.”
“You read ahead?” Oliver said, bottom lip jutting out and quivering as his big brown eyes widened. She shook her head and kissed his forehead.
“Nope, I’ve just read it before. My mother read it to me actually, just like I am doing for you. Now, the pair of you, go to sleep!” She kissed Sarah, turned on the night light, then shut the door behind her. She paused for a moment, waiting for the inevitable movement, then, “I told you to go to sleep!” She heard the thud as they both leapt back into bed. She’d been exactly the same as a child, so knew exactly how to deal with it.
She made her way downstairs to where her husband, Phillip, was waiting for her. He held out a glass of wine that she graciously accepted. “Tykes are all tucked in then?”
“Book’s read, nightlight’s on and the cupboard’s even been checked for monsters. Piece of cake. Which gives us a relaxing evening for once.” Cecelia looked at Phillip’s weathered face, a deep nut-brown from where he worked out in the sun, kissed him on the cheek and rested her head on his broad shoulder. “I don’t deserve you, you beautiful man.”
“You need a bloody eye test.” He grinned, then rested a muscular arm over her shoulder, lifting the remote to see what was on the television. A phone started ringing, a jangly tune that cut through the quiet house. “Go on, go and get your phone. I’ll still be here when you get back.”
Cecelia placed the glass of wine on the small table by the sofa’s arm. She mouthed the word sorry at her husband, then rushed through to her study. She checked the caller ID.
She let it ring twice more, hoping he’d give up and try again another time. Or find somebody else. But he didn’t. “Monroe.”
“Cecelia, my girl, how are you? Now, I know it’s late, but we’ve got an urgent one. Think you can manage it? I can send you the details the minute you give the affirmative.”
Cecelia screwed her eyes shut. She should have known that something like this was going to happen, just to interrupt her first night with Phillip in months. She’d been planning this for days and this was going to ruin everything. “I’ll do it.”
“I thought you might say that!” Henson’s voice, tinny and far away through the phone’s tinny speakers, did nothing to convey an image of the man to whom it belonged. “I’ll send it through while you go make your excuses.” The line went dead.
Cecelia sighed and made her way back to the living room to find her husband waiting for her. “You’re going out, aren’t you?”
“Urgent work thing. A client’s flying in tonight and needs to be met at the airport. The interns are in Nicaragua and Jamie’s wife’s having the baby at some point this weekend. Only person left is little old me.”
Phillip swilled the wine around his glass. “Gonna be late?”
“Shouldn’t be more than a couple of hours.”
“Hmph. Try not to wake me up. Now scram!” HE grinned and slapped her butt as she left the room. She hated lying, or even telling the half-truths to Phillip. She wanted to tell him everything, but that wasn’t an option. She grabbed her travel suitcase from next to the door, threw on her coat and made her way to her car. It would be twenty minutes to the airport, giving her an hour and twenty minutes to get set up before she needed to leave.
“Too easy.” She muttered to herself as she slid the keys into the ignition. While she waited for the car to warm up, she popped the suitcase open on the passenger seat, looking at the contents with wonder. Fourteen photographs, all with a small red ‘x’ on the subject’s temple. The rest of it was taken up by her rifle, looking naked and forlorn in it’s stripped down state.
There was a name for her on the circuit. All because she’d never missed a shot. One shot, one kill, clean kills only.
They called her the Cleaning Lady.
The Idiot in Tin Foil