Mitch first saw her at the hotel bar. She was a little shorter than him, maybe early twenties, short bobbed dyed blond hair, miniskirt, black high heels and legs that brought out the animal in him.

Hello, he thought, the wife’s away, and when the cat’s away, the mice will play, right?

He summoned the waiter over, pointed to the girl at the bar, and then made a drinking motion. The waiter nodded, and went up to the her. He talked to the woman, who ordered something – he didn’t see what – and they whispered conspiratorially. She clearly asked where it came from; the waiter pointed in Mitch’s direction. He raised his whisky glass and smiled and she grinned back and waved.

Half-way there already Mitch, he thought. This delicious little piece is going to be so nice.

She stood up from the stool and started to walk over to the table. Halfway across the floor she tripped a little, and reached out a hand to steady herself. Mitch picked up his glass to keep it out of trouble, but the table didn’t go over.

“I tripped over my own shoe,” she giggled. “Can you imagine that?”

He smiled. “I never had that problem.”

“You don’t,” she said, slurring her words a little. “You don’t, because you men don’t wear high heels, do you? I’m short, that’s my trouble.”

“I’m Mitch,” he smiled, putting the drink down on the table. “What’s your name?”

“Veronica,” she replied. “At least, it’s actually Josephine, but everybody calls me Veronica. It’s my middle name, but nobody ever uses the other one. You see?”

He nodded. “I get it.”

She stood there, staring at him.

“Would you like to sit down?” he asked.

“Oh yeah,” she said, as though the idea hadn’t occurred to her. “Yes, please.”

She sat on one of the chairs facing him and the corner booth. She smelled of gin. The waiter brought over a large glass with ice and lemon, and a huge green handbag.

“That’s a big bag,” Mitch said. “What have you got in there?”

“Oh it’s my life, this bag,” she replied. “All my life is in here.”

She opened the top of the bag and started poking around.

“See?” Veronica said, holding up some keys. “These. Need them to get home.”

“Uh huh,” Mitch said. She was maybe a little more drunk than he thought. That might be a problem.

Veronica held up a black woollen-looking thing and grinned. “Case it gets cold.” She winked and replaced it in the bag.

Mitch leaned forward a little, trying to break the subject and get his hand into his front jacket pocket unnoticed.

“What have we got here?” Veronica smiled, and drew out two condom packets and licked her lip as she wiggled them around. She winked, and put them back. “Maybe we find a use for these, huh?”

“Maybe we can.” Mitch eased back in the seat. She was flirting with him. No need for the roofie.

This is so easy, he thought. She couldn’t be making this any easier for me if she tried.

“Anyway,” she looked up. “What do you do for a living, my little silver fox?”

“I work in a bank,” Mitch replied, face set in his poker face smile. “Trading desk.”

“Ohhh,” she replied, sipping at her drink. “I used to work in a bank. But only on the phone, you know. Not properly in the big money places, like you. I got out though, it was kinda…”

She stopped, and looked at him, carefully. She stared, raised her eyebrows and tilted her head on one side.

“Let’s split,” she said. “You wanna take me somewhere we can have a little fun?”

“I thought you’d never ask,” Mitch said. “I’ve got a room here, upstairs. A suite, actually.”

“A suite?” she grinned. “Do they have champagne? We should order champagne.”

She clicked her fingers at the waiter.

“Champagne for room…” she looked at Mitch. “What’s the room?”

“Put it on my bill,” Mitch said to the waiter. “And have room service send it up.”

The waiter nodded. “It’ll be about ten minutes.”

“Come on,” Mitch nodded, picking up the glass of whisky and downing it in one warm, satisfying gulp. “Let’s go fool around.”

She smiled, creased her nose and grinned. She was lovely, Mitch thought. This might be a night to remember. She certainly seemed keen, anyway.

The walked out of the bar together, and headed to the lift. Mitch pressed the button to call the lift and Veronica giggled.

“I like your ring,” she said. He held out his hand and she admired the manicured fingers, examining them like a jeweller might a precious jewel.

“It’s just a signet ring,” Mitch clasped both hands together, as though afraid she was going to try to steal it. “My father gave it to me when I got my first job.”

“And MK?” she asked, looking up at him. “Your initials, right?”

He nodded, “Mitch Knight.”

“Oh, so that little horsey is a knight, like in chess?”

“Yeah,” he replied.

“It’s beautiful,” she said, and looked up, grinning. “You must be a rich man to have such nice things.”

He shook his head. “Not rich so much, but… I get by, if you know what I mean.”

“I bet you do,” she winked.

She was clearly flirting with him now, making puppy eyes at him. They were nice eyes, cornflower blue.

A man can get lost in those, Mitch thought. If he’s not careful.

The lift arrived and they got in. Mitch pressed the button and Veronica leaned over, putting her arms around him.

“You smell good,” she whispered in his ear. “So good.”

“So do you,” he replied.

She turned her face up to him, the red painted lips open slightly. The arousal was strong now, desire burning hard. He hoped they would get the champagne to the room before they got there, otherwise he might have to wait. Still, a little waiting would spice it up a little…

“I have to have you,” he said in her ear.

“You’ve got me,” she whispered. “Tonight I’m yours. Heaven is a place. Take me there.”

The lift door opened and they spilled out, her incongruously large bag bumping against her leg as they walked along the corridor.

“Shh,” she said. “We’ll wake… you’ll wake the neighbours.”

“Let me worry about that,” he said. “They’re my neighbours.”

She grinned and playfully nibbled one finger, fluttering her eyelashes at him.

He smiled back at her, reaching into his pocket, and pulled out the card key for the room. They walked in together, him behind her. He clicked the key card into the slot and the lights in the room came to life.

“I gotta go,” she said. “The bathroom.”

“OK,” he replied. “Let me pour us a drink.”

Veronica walked, a little unsteadily, to the bathroom. Mitch went over to the minibar and opened it. He could wait for the champagne, but why kill the mood? Besides, it didn’t have to be very alcoholic.

He split a can of tonic water between two glasses and poured a small measure of gin in each. He considered, for a moment, adding the roofie to hers, but decided against it. She was pretty well gone already, and it didn’t look like she was going to need much persuading.

“Hey Mitchie baby,” she said from the bathroom. “Close your eyes and I’ll come give you a wonderful surprise.”

He grinned as he took the drinks over to the table.

This is going so well, he thought. This girl is dynamite.

He put both drinks down on the table, sat on the sofa and closed his eyes.

“I’m waiting,” he said.

He heard her come out of the bathroom. There was no click of heels this time, so she clearly had left the shoes behind.

Maybe she’s naked? he thought, and the idea set his pulse racing.

He sensed, rather than heard her come over to the couch. She put her arm across his chest and leaned over from behind the sofa.

“Where’s my surprise?” he grinned.

She grabbed at his hair, hard, and pulled. He gasped, but had no chance to speak as the other hand swiped immediately across his throat. The pain was immediate, intense, burning. He opened his eyes and in panic could see a jet of blood spurting across the room, landing on the white fur carpet at the other side of the table.

They’re going to charge me a cleaning fee for that, was his last thought as he sank down into unconsciousness.

Veronica held onto the hair and kept the wound in the throat open until the blood stopped flowing. She dropped the scalpel onto the floor and walked back to the bathroom. He had at least chosen a place to sit that meant she didn’t have to step in the blood, which was a good thing.

She took the black thing she had shown Mitch out of her bag. She unzipped it and drew out a black shirt and leggings, which she put on. She put on a pair of laceless athletic pumps, then loaded the zip bag with the dress, wig and the contact lenses she had been wearing. Removing the other items from the bag, she held them in one hand, turned the bag inside out, replaced everything in the now blue bag and walked out of the suite.

Nothing had been left to chance: these things always had to be planned properly. Although she had never been here, she had studied the plans of the hotel. She took a turn to avoid the route that the room service waiter would no doubt be taking any minute now, and left by the south exit from the hotel.

She walked down three flights of stairs and was outside in under a minute.

She took the phone from her bag and called a number.

“Hello?” a woman’s voice answered.

“It’s done,” she said.

There was a sharp intake of breath at the other end of the line.

“Did he… Was he…”

“He tried to pick me up, as you said he would,” Veronica said. “The rest was easy.”

“Good,” the woman replied. “Was it… are you sure it was him?”

“The chess piece on the signet ring?”

The other woman was silent.

“It was him”, Veronica said.

“Good.”

“The money as we arranged?”

“Of course.”

“Now destroy this phone,” Veronica said. “Don’t just turn it off, smash it. As we talked about. OK?”

“OK.”

Veronica ended the call, turned off the phone and took out the battery. She snapped the phone with one hand, put half in one of the litter bins beside the canal walk, and held onto the other for a while.

She kept walking for a while, looking for all the world like a waitress on her way home.

If there was a perk to this job, she thought, it was being able to get rid of some of the Mitch-creeps of this world.

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