Wednesday 31 October – Sat 3 November 2018
The weight of knowing hung over Catherine Carlisle like a noose around her neck. If she told her husband what Barnaby Williams had wanted her to do, their world would fall apart. If she didn’t tell Hugh that Williams’ next job for her was his execution, it would be just as devastating for them. Either way, Catherine was in a bind. She needed something to take her mind off of it. She needed another job; one that didn’t involve executing her own husband.
There was no fortuitous ring of her phone or perfectly timed email sending her details of a meeting point or a job. There was only normal, ordinary, every day life. Domesticity, Hugh had always told her, was a great equaliser in life. She never actually understood the point of his comment. Domesticity wasn’t an equaliser. Not all women, not all men were lucky in relationships. No, domesticity was nowhere near a great equaliser in Catherine’s eyes. That mantle was reserved for death. In death’s eyes, everyone was equal. And facing death was where she witnessed the mettle of people.
Lost in thought, Catherine hadn’t registered Hugh’s arrival home until he was standing in front of her at the foot of their bed.
‘What’s wrong?’ he asked.
‘What’s wrong? You’ve got that look on your face.’
‘What look?’ she replied.
‘The one you get when something’s wrong. Your brow is all crinkled between your eyes, and your eyes have gone all . . . squinty.’
‘What the –’
‘It’s true,’ he interrupted. ‘You have a look for lots of things.’
‘You’ve never mentioned it before.’ She hoped by diverting the conversation onto something completely insignificant, she wouldn’t have to answer his initial question. It was a long shot on her part, but she felt it was worth a try.
‘You’re avoiding my question. What’s wrong?’
‘You don’t want to know,’ Catherine replied. He sat down on the edge of the bed and looked out French doors to the river. They’d bought the home because of the river views, and he still found it relaxing to sit and watch the river meander along.
‘I do want to know. That’s why I asked.’
‘Barnaby’s next job for me is you.’ Catherine blurted out the words before she realised what her mouth was doing.
‘Wait. What? Barnaby wants you to do me?’ Hugh chuckled at his interpretation of Catherine’s comment.
She replied without thinking. ‘Yes.’
‘The dirty bastard. Can’t believe he wants you to do me.’ His chuckled became a hearty laugh and Catherine finally understood what he found so funny.
‘I’m serious, Hugh. Barnaby wants me to kill you.’
He stopped laughing. Suddenly Catherine’s words weren’t so light.
* * * * *
He needn’t have bothered unpacking the photos and spreading them around on the hotel room floor. He knew exactly who Hugh Routledge was. He’d admired Catherine’s work for years and had created his own dossier on her detailing everything from the work she’d completed to her private life. What he didn’t know about Catherine Carlisle wasn’t worth knowing. It was going to be difficult to eliminate her husband, but it was going to be heartbreaking executing her.
Warner Ford took the job when Williams offered it because he couldn’t bear the thought of some new hack getting their grubby hands on a target so prestigious. He respected and admired Catherine. The new breed, however, had no respect for anyone or anything. They were slap-happy, disorganised, impulsive. Everything a professional hunter should not be. He examined the photos one last time before returning them to the envelope.
He took his mobile from the end of the bed and dialled her number. She answered after four rings.
‘Hello, Catherine. It’s Warner Ford. I’m coming for you.’ He disconnected the call before Catherine could speak. An execution order for a target didn’t mean he couldn’t be courteous and give her a chance to run.
. . . To be continued . . .