In the Beginning

I walk into the office soaked in sweat and loaded with an already bad attitude. After two months of forced bench warming, thanks to a few bullets, I’m soft. Well, I’m soft for a mercenary, not so much for the typical 28-year-old woman. I’ve spent the last four hours with training with my team leader, who everyone calls Devil. He earns the name. I’m tired, I’m sore and I all I want is a beer but Greek, my bastard boss, told me to come see him so I’m here.

And so apparently is someone else. For a moment, I’m glad I threw a sweatshirt and sweats on against the chill of Oregon air and cooling sweat. As I start to drop into one of the sprawling leather armchairs Greek raises an eyebrow at me. I sigh, and sit on the edge of his desk. Greek is a killing son of a bitch if you mess his office up. From my perch I take a closer look at the visitor in Greek’s other chair. I know the face but can’t place a name; I can see his face on a screen though. Movie star probably. He oozes sex and confidence and I grin a little in anticipation, I’ve been feeling frisky lately. That fades pretty damn fast when he opens his mouth.

“This is the best you can give me? A girl who can’t weigh 120 sopping wet! I said I wanted the best, not your bests’s girlfriend.”

I keep the snarl from my face as I tell myself not to get mad but to get even. Behind me Greek leans back in his chair, “You want the best for this job? Then you want her.”

“What are her qualifications? Sucking cock? I can get that without paying a price. I have a serious fucking problem right now, and it ins’t as simple as a jealous ex-girlfriend.”

I feel Greek stand behind me, but this time I don’t stop my mouth. “You want a good suck laddie?” I start to rise and Greek’s hand grips my shoulder.

“Take a walk Ciara.”

Under his hand, the muscles beneath my black sweatshirt are rock hard. No one has set me off quite this fast or easy in a few years. “I’ve had a shit day with the Devil. My shoulders bleedin’ again and it hurts like there’s an ice pick shoved through it. I don’t have to take that fuckin’ shit just cause he’s gonna write us a check.”

Greek heaves a sigh, “Ciara, please take a walk.”

I look at him for a moment; see the stress lines on his face. Losing Lance has been hard on him too, it’s been three years but some mornings when I wake up it rips through me like it was yesterday. I shove the rage back and throttle it into submission. I grin, putting on a different face to make it a little easier for him, it’s a skill that’s kept me alive numerous times. I glance at the green-eyed hunk in the chair on my way by, “Keep an eye out laddie I may suck that cock and if i did you’d beg me t come back.” I head for the door and stop with my hand on the knob, “Then again, I might cut it off.”

Hours later I emerge from the lair that is my room in the bunk house and meander downstairs to the game room. I hear the sound of pool balls and let the idea of a few drinks and some bullshitting cheer me up. That idea sours when I see the asshole sitting at the bar with Bad Willie. Willie sees me at the door before I can turn and leave. “Ciara, I hear you took down the Devil.”

I nod my head. “Aye, I did. Ripped open my shoulder again doin’ it.”

Bad Willie winces, “Don’t tell Doc that. He’ll be on your ass. Have you met Nolan?”

I look at the asshole, “In passing. The fuck’s he doin’ down here?”

Willie whistles through his teeth, “Already pissed her off there boyo. That’s not a wise thing ta do. She gets mad and she gets even. Greek said he wanted to watch the people who’d be keepin his ass safe.”

Nolan eyes me slowly, “She did bluster about cutting my cock off.”

Across the pool table Jake snorts a laugh, “She doesn’t bluster. She makes promises and she keeps em. Wouldn’t be the first cock she cut off either.”

Nolan hasn’t stopped looking at me. “Sounds like an interesting story. I’d like to hear it sometime.”

Willie pours us all a shot of tequila, I swallow it, letting it slide down my throat, relishing the burn. I’m cursing that damn frisky feeling riding low in my gut. I ignore it, stomp it down and compartmentalize. When I speak my voice has a rasp to it, “I tell stories with my friends. You aren’t one of ’em.”

“Hey, I know I was an asshole earlier. But hey, how can I trust you to protect me if you can’t let a little thing go.” He shoots me a smile that is meant to dazzle and probably does most of the time. In me, it just creates the ridiculously contradictory urge to slap him stupid and then jump his bones. Bad Ciara, bad.

I take a second shot as Bad Willie starts to pour another. “If I take a contract with you, I’ll bleed and die for you. I’ll follow you wherever you go and I’ll know every facet of your life cause that’s my job and I’m damn good at it. But if you want to make your life easier in the process, you better watch what you say to me. Greek won’t always be there to save you.”

Bad Willie yips a laugh, “And believe me boyo, you’ll need saving if she has a go at ya.”

Nolan grins a little, in anticipation I think, and I give him points for balls. Then again it could be stupidity. “Where and how did you meet Miss Ciara?”

Bad Willie yells across to Jake, “Jake my man, Nolan here wants to know when and where we met the Irish love of my life.”

Jake leans against his pool stick and scratches an ear, “That’s a little hard to do in the short non-classified version. Let’s see, about 3 seconds before she slit a prison guard’s throat with his own knife. Where? Some hellhole in the Middle East. And I must say, she’s my favorite woman that I’ve never fucked.” He tips his copper cup at me and I tip my shot glass at him.

Nolan looks at me and raises an eyebrow, “Hellhole in the Middle East huh? Sounds like another interesting story. So, I’ve figured out that this place is ripe with nicknames, Keno is Devil, Milo is Greek. What’s your’s?”

“Her’s is The Ghost.”

I glare at Bad Willie a moment, “You’ve a big mouth tonight William.”

“Sorry mam.”

“Why Ghost?”

I look at Nolan, “Ask the people who gave me the name, they’d know.”

“Where are they at?”

I smile again, “They’re long dead darlin’.”

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