I sat in the backseat of the bulletproof SUV on the tarmac and stared at the name on the dissolvable strip one more time: JORDAN BLACK
. The word GO
was written under his name. Hell’s bells, this mission is a go
. I watched the driver of the vehicle through the rearview mirror and waited until he looked away before I placed the minty message on my tongue and let it melt.
The details for this assignment came to me the old-fashioned way, on paper and other trinkets, not digitally, which told me that Mr. Black’s problem was a digital one. Small packets of information arrived over the last week via a different messenger every time—tucked in a napkin at a restaurant, slipped into a coat pocket from the dry cleaners’, and wrapped in an old newspaper with my fresh veggies at the market. I worked alone; the rest of my team was remote—which only made their work more impressive.
The specifics came first, but his name only arrived twenty-four hours ago. Sometimes missions are called off, and if that happens, no one else’s cover has to be blown, so names come later. But the strip with the word GO only arrived this afternoon.
The name of my former best friend and one-time lover, who I hadn’t spoken to in over ten years, slid down my throat and churned my guts. My eyes scrunched so tight I might as well have been sucking on a disgusting black licorice. I waited for the familiar feeling of being kicked in the belly by a mule once again. I was terrified. So overwhelmingly terrified to see the man who shattered my heart into a million pieces all those years ago. I was even more afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep the only man I’ve ever loved alive. The Jordan Black I knew wasn’t one for cooperating or taking orders well. I had no idea who was after him yet. I needed him to fill in some blanks.
I lived in Seoul and did my best to blend in by coloring my hair and wearing large Audrey Hepburn sunglasses to hide my light gray, non-Asian eyes. For times when I couldn’t cover my eyes, I had brown contacts and eyelid prosthetics. Lucky for me, Seoul was an international city which hosted many foreign workers and travelers; therefore, I didn’t stand out too much. I didn’t work in South Korea, though. I took assignments only in other countries, and I preferred it that way. It gave me a modicum of peace to not bring my work home.
But once again, Jordan Black was forcing me to break all my rules for myself. And once again, I couldn’t do a damn thing about it, which only pissed me off even more. He was in some sort of trouble, and Seoul was the most logistical place to hide him.
The sound of a small jet landing snapped me back to my mission. Right. I had one last job to do, and then I was free. Free of the government and free of being responsible for anyone else’s missions. I could live for only myself for the rest of my life if I wanted to, or I could make my own missions. Alone.
I surveyed the arena of gold spotlights under the heavy, black sky, looking for anything out of place. The first fog of a clear-day cycle was descending and creating a dome effect only as far as the lights of Gimpo Airport could reach. Summer’s rains had washed away the dusts of spring, and the deepest, brightest blues of October skies would soon be boasting. Autumn in Seoul was perfect in every way; it was festival season and my favorite place to be on the planet.
The sun would be up in about two hours, therefore I needed to get Jordan back to my place ASAP to debrief him. And calm him down. As far as I knew, his hot-headed self was unaware of this mission. He chartered his jet from Hawai’i to Tokyo, but I intercepted his route and brought him to Seoul. My superiors had enough clearance to change his destination without his permission or notifying him. I smiled briefly at the image of him madder than a sack of rattlesnakes when he figured it out. There was going to be hell to pay over this one but knocking him off his high horse would simply tickle me pink. Serves him right.
I told the driver in Korean to stay put, grabbed the bag next to me, and approached the halted plane. I glanced one more time around the tarmac for anything—even the slightest of movements—out of the ordinary. I slowly inhaled a marathon of a breath and waited for the airstairs to unfurl.
Just keep him alive, Stormy. He’s the target in the crosshairs, which means you are too now. So, it’s time to act the part.
Keep Jordan Black alive. That was my one job.