that doesn't mean it's been edited at all, guys. proceed with caution.
Black Coffee in London
"Cream or sugar, hon?"
"No, thanks. Just black."
Mabel the waitress raised an eyebrow, smiled, and left Erin to her fate. To tell the truth, she would love extra cream and just a touch of sugar or even a rich cappuccino. Or tea... how lovely it would be to sit in a London cafe with a proper English pot of tea. But tea didn't have enough kick, and she wasn't here to enjoy herself. She needed the coffee and it was best if it didn't taste good.
She leaned over the cup, inhaled, and made a face. Fantastic. If she couldn't even take the coffee anymore, what was she doing here? It was supposed to be a rhetorical question, but it nagged at her. What was she doing here?
Doing her job, her rational mind told her firmly. It wasn't for everyone, but sometimes drastic measures had to be taken and when that happened, they called Erin. She didn't enjoy it exactly, but she was able to put aside the immediacy of it, make it less personal. It was a matter of defense of principles, of being at war, and the deaths were an unfortunate but necessary part of that war. They were soldiers who knew the risks as well as she did.
Well. Perhaps not quite as well as she did. Erin smiled just a little as she picked up the coffee, trying to decide if it was cool enough to drink without scalding her or if it even mattered. If she couldn't take the heat...
The jobs had been getting worse, though. Every target felt more and more innocent to her. She took a drink and made another face. Not that anybody is really innocent, she told herself. Certainly not the person who made this wretched coffee. But lately, she was starting to see the grey areas, starting to see farther into the lives of the targets... families, friends, communities. Erin downed the coffee and shuddered.
She was definitely getting soft. The coffee was awful, her dreams were awful and getting worse, and she knew deep down this could be her last job.
Her waitress reappeared. "Black?"
"You're a braver soul than I am, dear." Erin stoically accepted her second dose. After a second or two the waitress came back, and she looked up expectantly.
Only it wasn't Mabel. Erin's mind shifted a few inches to the left as the man she'd come to London to kill sat down across the table from her. She was a pro, though, and kept a neutral face. Held it. Held it a little more...
"Can I help you with something?" Puzzled, nice, more curious than annoyed.
He smiled, and he looked so damn normal. She took a gulp of coffee, giving him time to respond. Why was he just sitting there, looking charming? All at once Erin knew this job would decide whether she could banish the bad dreams and get back on track, or slip away quietly into retirement.
There was a third possibility that didn't occur to her. If it had, she might have noticed the telltale sheen of a foreign substance added to her coffee.
if my wireless is working, i'll have pictures of the graveyard toad next.