Chapter 2

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Her hair ruffles gently in his breath, deep and slow. Waking from slumber he dares not move his arm for fear of waking her, instead he lies there quietly holding her safe from harm. He savours moments like these, the gentle companionship of sleep holding her there with him and he feels the soft glow lighting inside. Slowly he gazes over her, taking in the sweep of her neck, the curve of her hips, the silk sheen of downy hairs that catch the light.

She snuffles and pulls his arm tighter, wrapping herself in him like a blanket, so content she almost purrs, and in that instant his heart explodes all over again.

A yawn now and pale eyes turn to gaze at him, sleepy and soft she blinks through the morning light which turns her skin golden, gently bathing the room through soft billowing curtains. It’s almost too idyllic, he thinks, as he lowers his face to hers, a gentle kiss to welcome another day.

Sleepily they doze on, happy and content to be there and now, existing only with each other. The morning starts to unfold around them, the sounds of neighbours getting ready for their day, the distant clatter of plates, the thunk of toasters and burbling motors churn away down the street. Pet sounds join the bird song and the melody is complete.

“We should get up” she murmurs, a quiet lie to herself.

“We should” he agrees, content that she won’t stir yet, that he has a few more precious seconds and with that thought he wills her back to sleep, desperate to keep her there forever.

Her breathing deepens again and he relaxes with her. His view shifts to the photos on the wall, the happy strangers and their blank stares. The sunlight casting soft echoes across the room, fluttering on the breeze, sliding smoothly up the wall. He knows the patterns of the morning well, the change in the air as the sun pulls itself up and over the balcony, the glow becoming warmth, and the growing babble in the street below permeates the room before being silenced by her presence; taboo sounds of everyday life jostle and bustle on the extremities but know better than to disturb such sacred tranquility.

Movement startles him back to reality as she stretches, feline and supple, and once more he enjoys the sensuous lines of her body, she uncurls from him and her tousled hair drops to her shoulders as she turns to sit on the edge of the bed.

She murmurs something he doesn’t catch and, with a pause, is upright and padding to the bathroom. He watches her go, laughing to himself as the corny line leaps into his head, he does hate to see her go but could spend hours watching her leave.

He rolls onto his back and shakes out his sleeping arm, enjoying the pins and needles and the final remnants of warmth in her bedsheets. He yawns, stretches and finally gives in, dropping his feet over the edge of the bed as he pulls himself up.

“Hey sleepyhead” she purrs as she walks into the room, “what do you fancy for breakfast… and don’t say me”.

With a quiet chuckle he stands and turns to face her, his mouth opens to form the usual reply but as she watches his eyes suddenly slacken. With a tilt he collapses forward, catching the edge of the bed as he spins and slumps heavily to the floor.

The room erupts in noise as she empties her lungs to the air. She frantically scrabbles her way over the bed and lands on the floor next to him, hauling him faceup whilst screaming his name. She feels something wet on her hands, letting him go in horror as the blood begins to flow, a small well of red at the base of his neck, weeping scarlet.

Across the street the sun mirrors off broken glass, jagged in a window frame, and a flicker of movement beyond is captured, a fleeting glimpse as the assasin retreats to the safety of the shadows.