Hero Duke had the face of an angel…
…which was precisely what made her an ideal undercover operative.
Many people were convinced that Hero was honest, open, completely above-board, even–he chuckled over the word–angelic. Up to and including her own cousin.
Even now, standing on a balcony in the semidarkness, her face turned to the view of the city spread out below them, she managed to convey a sense of innocence, of vulnerability. It was her neck, he decided, exposed by her upswept hair and the low back of her dress, illuminated by the light filtering out of her cousin’s engagement party still going on inside. It gave the impression that she had nothing to hide and little to defend herself with.
John knew better. It wasn’t vulnerability. It was confidence.
He moved forward, footsteps echoing. Hero betrayed no reaction.
“Nice night,” he commented, stepping up beside her.
“Your cousin throws a good party.”
Still no acknowledgement.
“You know. funny story, at the drinks table I ran into – ”
“You sold me out.” Her voice was quiet; she didn’t take her eyes off the cityscape below. Still, John felt the hairs on the back of his neck prick. "You blew my goddamn cover and you sold me out.“
"Collateral damage?” he offered. "We got the bastard on ten counts of extortion, not to mention money laundering and organized crime. Besides, I knew you’d come through alright in the end.“
It had been a risky move, granted, but they’d put mafia kingpin Claudio behind bars. And though she’d done it successfully, John thought Hero’s faking her own death ploy had been a tad dramatic and unnecessary.
Hero finally turned toward him, eyes cold. ”Don’t,“ she hissed, "not for a moment, think that this is over, Donaldson.” And then she smoothed her face into a pleasant smile and pushed past him, back towards the party.
As the clip of her high heels faded behind her, John wondered if he’d made a terrible mistake.