The envelope was right where he said it would be. At the corner newsstand inside the pile of PEOPLE Magazines with Angelina Jolie on the cover, beneath the twelfth magazine in the pile. She scooped it out and headed back to her apartment building, which was just around the corner from the newsstand. As she entered her living room, her cell phone rang. “Did you get the envelope?” the man on the line asked. “Yes, is it all here?” she asked. “Yes, $50,000 as we agreed, with the second $50,000 after the job is done,”he replied. “When do you want it done?” “I need it done in two days,” he said. “No later.” “Got it.” “There are instructions and photos inside the envelope. If anything isn’t clear you know how to contact me,”he said. “I’m sure it’s very clear,” she responded coldly. “All right then I’ll...” he said before she hung up on him mid-sentence. She didn’t much like talking to her clients. Not only that, but there was something strangely familiar about this particular client’s voice. It had a sort of “Boston meets Louisiana” twang that she believed she’d heard someplace before. Perhaps he was a repeat customer. She had plenty of those. She liked the money and doing the job itself, but she could barely tolerate the occasional conversations with her clients -- most of whom she saw as weak or lazy. Too lazy and weak to handle their own problems, so she had to do it for them. To her, this was just business. An extremely profitable business, that she didn’t much like talking about. Still clutching the manilla envelope, she walked over and sat down on the living room couch. She opened the envelope to find $50,000 in $100 bills and two photos of an attractive blonde woman wearing a red bikini on a beach. They were snapshots -- vacation photos, and on the back of the first photo, handwritten, was an address and a time. It read: “Thursday, 897 Carvelette Street, 10:30A.M.” She sat there staring at the photos for a few minutes then placed the photos back inside the envelope and put it down on the coffee table. Then she walked into the kitchen and placed the bundled cash inside a box of rice krispies that sat on the counter -- already filled to the top with rolls of bills.She walked back out into the living room and sat on the couch, grabbing the TV remote control that sat on the couch beside her to flip on the evening news. The next morning at 8A.M. her alarm went off. It was time to get up and be ready to take care of the 10:30A.M. job. A shower, breakfast followed by the morning news shows, and then it was time for the thirty-minute drive downtown to 897 Carvelette Street, which was the address of the chic David Maxton Salon. She arrived there at 10:11. She always liked to arrive at her jobs early. It gave her a chance to check out the area for the best and fastest ways to get in and out quickly. At 10:30 on the nose, the tall blonde in the photograph, wearing the red bikini, showed up driving a blue Mercedes convertible. Wearing a scarlet red Tahari suit with black Christian Louboutin heels and carrying a black Chanel clutch, she was just as striking as she was in the photographs on the beach as she exited her car. She watched the woman from across the street before crossing it and heading inside the salon. The David Maxton Salon was the most expensive and exclusive salon in town. Everyone who was anyone went there for highlights, cuts, perms, manicures, pedicures, facials, everything. She walked into the salon keeping a safe distance from the blonde woman, who upon arriving at the reception desk, was greeted with a smile and a big hello from the receptionist. “Hi, Greta!” the receptionist said. “Hello, Nadine, it’s good to see you” the blonde woman smiled back. “How was your trip?” the receptionist asked. “It was just lovely. The Greek Isles are just the most fantastic, romantic place in the world! I hated to leave. Frank and I had such a great time. It was just the most magical vacation ever!” “That is wonderful! Did you bring pictures?” “You know I did.” “Now you’re seeing Lisa today for highlights, right?” “Yes, and Ruby for a massage later.” “Lisa just called and said she’s got a flat tire, so she’s going to be late. “Why don’t you have the massage first then?” “Okay, that’s fine.” “Good, then. Just go on straight through back to the locker room, and change into your robe. You’ll be in Spa Room 4.” “Great. Thanks, Nadine. I’ll see you later,” the blonde woman said as she started walking back towards the locker room. “Can’t wait to see those vacation photos!”the receptionist called out after her. The blonde woman made her way through the salon area and back inside the locker room area which led to the spa services area on the opposite side of the building. The salon had just opened for the day, and she was the only customer inside the locker room area, which was all-white -- white tile floors with giant black and white glamour photos of Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo, Ava Gardner, Lana Turner, Dorothy Dandridge, Jean Harlow and Grace Kelly, each encased in large silver-trimmed picture frames which adorned the white walls. Large silver chandeliers hung from the high ceilings. There were large, plush white couches with silver pillows in the center of the room as well as smaller white chairs next to each locker. The blonde woman changed out of her clothes and into a beautiful, white plush, terry cloth robe, and matching slippers, both complete with the David Maxton Salon logo on the right lapel. She placed all of her clothing and her purse inside the locker, twisted the key and slipped the little rubber bracelet, which was attached to the key around her wrist. She walked past the juice station complete with a selection of freshly-squeezed orange, apple, carrot and pomegranate juices, and headed into Spa Room #4. As she shut the door behind her, she heard a voice coming from the small supply closet inside the room say, “I’ll be with you in a second, just lie down on the table and get comfortable.” “Thank you” the blonde woman answered. She untied her robe and lay face down on the table, covering herself with the sheet there. Ten minutes later she was nearly asleep when the woman from inside the closet entered the room. “I’m already so relaxed. I almost don’t need a massage now,” the blonde woman joked sleepily. The woman who entered from the closet picked up the plush, white, terry cloth robe, which had slipped off the small seat where the blonde woman had placed it when she took it off. She held the robe in her left hand and in one long pull with her right, slid the belt out of the loops and dropped the robe on the floor. She walked over to the table and gently lifted up the blonde woman’s head, sliding the terry cloth belt under her neck, crossed the ends, as she climbed up on top of the table, and placed a knee into the small of her back as she pulled her head back towards her. After the blonde woman stopped struggling, she gently let go of the belt, letting her head rest back on the table. She repositioned the body and the sheet covering her so that there was no visible sign of a struggle, and walked out through the salon back outside and into her car, which she’d parked three blocks away. Once inside her car she pulled out her cell phone. “It’s done,” she said. “Oh, my God,” the man said, his voice shaking. “Did she?” “Did she what?” she asked coldly. “Did she suffer?” the man asked. “No, I told you during our first conversation it would be quick.” “I know, but I just wanted to ....” “Have the remaining fifty-thousand in the same place within an hour!” she interrupted him before hanging up, again annoyed by the familiarity of his voice. She started the car and began the ride home to her apartment. Forty minutes later she arrived at her apartment building. She parked the car and walked over to the newsstand, found the pile of PEOPLE Magazines and underneath the twelfth magazine found the manilla envelope. Upstairs in her apartment, she tossed the envelope down on the coffee table in the living room, took off her jacket, and sat down on the couch. She grabbed the remote, sat back and flipped on the TV. “Once again, we interrupt ‘The Young and the Restless’ for this breaking news story. The wife of Governor Francis Patrick Doyle has been found dead inside a spa room here at the exclusive David Maxton Salon. My sources tell me that Mrs. Greta Doyle was brutally strangled as she waited to receive a scheduled massage here this morning. The masseuse who was to have given Mrs. Doyle her massage entered the room and found Mrs. Doyle lying on the table unresponsive. The Masseuse called 911 and when paramedics arrived, they determined that Mrs. Doyle was already dead. My sources also tell me that Mrs. Doyle had ligature marks on her neck that were consistent with strangulation, and that they believe Mrs. Doyle was strangled with the belt from a terry cloth spa robe she had been wearing. The entire salon has been shut down as police continue their investigation into this shocking and horrific murder. The salon is now a crime scene and employees of the spa are being detained. Again, Greta Doyle, wife of the governor, former model, philanthropist, and mother of four, found dead here today. She was 43. We await comment from the governor’s office. We are told that the governor may give a statement but it is too soon to tell. Of course if he does give a statement we will bring it to you live. I’m Gretchen Fowler reporting live on Channel 2 News. We now send you back to ‘The Young and the Restless.’” The room was spinning as she picked up the remote and muted the TV sound. This wasn’t just some hit on a nameless, faceless, nobody. She’d just murdered the governor’s wife. She tried to slow down her breathing as she sat back on the couch. She’d never had one of her jobs reported on television for the world to see and hear. She never had to think about what happened afterwards before. But now she had to. The governor’s wife was dead and she was the killer. She’d had no who the woman was. The only thing she knew for sure now was that it was time for her to leave town until things died down. She walked over to her coat closet and began pulling out her Louis Vuitton luggage from the top shelf. She’d decide where she’d go once she got to the airport. For now, she knew she needed to get out of town. Suddenly, her cell phone rang. “Hello.” “Hello, yes, did you look inside your envelope?” the man asked. “Not yet. Why are you calling me now?”she said trying not to let on just how upset she was. “There’s an extra $10,000 inside the envelope for you.” “That really wasn’t necessary. We agreed on a hundred thousand. Now if you don’t mind ---” “But I wanted you to have it as a token of my appreciation of a job well done,” the man interrupted. She was becoming slightly annoyed. She wanted to get packed and out of there. She sat back down on the couch and glanced at the TV. They had cut back in with another special report on the killing of the governor’s wife. As she sat there with the cell phone pressed against her ear, she could hear someone say, over the phone, in the background, “They’re ready for you, governor.” “I have to go now. Thank you again,” the man said before the line went dead. She dropped the cell phone onto the floor and picked up the TV remote that she’d placed on the coffee table in front of her and un-muted the sound again. Her heart was pounding and she felt dizzy. Now she knew the reason the voice sounded familiar. Governor Doyle had hired her to murder his own wife. “We’re here live at the governor’s office where Governor Doyle is about to give a statement regarding the murder of his wife this morning. Here is the governor,” the reporter said. Governor Doyle stood at the microphone wearing a dark blue suit, a white shirt, with a red and white striped necktie. His eyes were red and his hair was mussed. He choked back tears as he began to speak: “Today is one of the hardest days of my life. Today I lost my wife, my best friend, the mother of my children, and the First Lady of our great state. My wife Greta was a bright, beautiful, loving and caring woman. She could light up the world with her smile. This senseless act today is an example of how much work needs to be done in fighting crime in our state. Today, I join other families of crime victims across our state and across our nation who have been touched by senseless violence. It is my hope that my wife’s death will spring us all into action, into making our world a safer place. That’s what she would have wanted. Thank you.” The governor, surrounded and helped by aides, turned slowly away from the microphone, tears streaming down his face. “That was Governor Francis Patrick Doyle choking back tears while speaking about the murder of his wife Greta today. Governor Doyle had been experiencing record low approval numbers as of late. There was even talk of a recall election. But it is safe to say that everyone across the state has put that aside right now as this husband and father of four grieves for his late wife, killed so senselessly today during a visit to a spa.” Pictures of Greta Doyle began to flash across the screen. Pictures of her smiling, with her husband, with their four young children. She muted the TV sound again. And as she sat there stunned, trembling with tears running down her face, she watched the governor, who’d paid her cold cash to murder his wife, surrounded by aides and security, grief-stricken, having to be helped away from the cameras. She began to wonder for the very first time in her life about what she was doing with her life and about the person she had become.
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