To the Heart

“Do I know you?”

“No, sorry.” Go away.

He smiled and sat next to me. “You’re waiting for someone?”

Keeping a relaxed smile on my face, I scan the park. A rosy light from the setting sun brightens the golden leaves. “A friend. We were going for a run.”

My perfect cover story, and I had the tennis shoes and running pants to match. I was prepared.

I couldn’t tell him my real reasons for being here. The knife in my boot, the cold steal of a gun tucked into my pants belt under my shirt in the back, silencer and poison darts in my pack—oh yeah, I couldn’t spill my secrets.

He pulled a book from his pack. “Have you read this one?”

“I’m not much of a reader.” And he even had one of my favorite authors. I read that book five times.

“Then you haven’t found the right books.” He grinned, flashing me a dimple. I liked that smile.

If I could be anybody else, if this could be any other day, I would love to find out what makes him laugh.

Couldn’t this guy just go away? I smiled. “I doubt it. I’m more of an action person.”

“Action movies? Or action life?”

“Business. I’m an entrepreneur.”

“You’re sixteen. Like me.”

“Um, I babysit.” I never messed my cover story before. This guy was really getting under my skin.

A flash of color out of the corner of my eye. A red hoodie, a blue baseball cap—I knew what my target would wear. Leaping up, I followed the figure toward the growing shadows. A brisk autumn chill nipped at my heels as I hurried after.

“Maybe I’ll see you next time,” he called.

“Sure. Bye.” My gaze trailed the target. He was a drug dealer and had hurt children; he needed to pay for his crimes. He headed out of the park, weaved through the traffic on the New York streets, and disappeared down a dark alley. I followed, shadows snatching at my skin.

A pain shot through my leg, and I stumbled to the ground. A shape towered over me, gun in hand. I recognized a glock and silencer. He pointed it to my head.

“You should have talked about the book. I knew it was your favorite.”

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