Sei "Assassin Mama" Thriller Bundle
Sei "Assassin Mama" Thriller Bundle
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Read An Excerpt - Contract: Bait
Read An Excerpt - Contract: Bait
The massive beast charged out through the tangle of brush. Its two front hooves dug deep into the soft forest floor, propelling it to top speed in only a few feet. It had dark eyes, small and deep set, and a thick neck that held its mammoth head steady like a battering ram. Four-inch tusks curved upward from the sides of its mouth, popping against the coarse coat of black bristles. The mane running down its spine, a pronounced Mohawk, signaled its aggression. Its throaty growls grew louder as it closed the distance.
In an instant, my senses erupted.
The wild boar stood larger than any I had seen in the forest. From my estimate, it had a shoulder height of at least forty inches and a weight in the high four-hundred-pound range—nearly the size of young brown bear.
The attack triggered a tingling in my skin and threw the beats in my chest into overdrive. I lowered my head and ran toward the snarling animal. I had enough time to take the few steps needed to leap upward and tuck my body into a tight ball, rotating once before landing squarely behind it. The boar’s size didn’t hamper its agility, and it deftly pivoted, resuming its attack.
I had expected that.
The momentum from my somersault propelled me forward toward a birch tree, allowing me to run straight up the smooth silver trunk before pushing off with my second step. As I rotated back over the black beast, I withdrew a razor sharp knife from a sheath I had strapped to my hip. I timed my rotation perfectly and landed on the back of the boar, driving the seven inches of hardened steel into the base of its skull. The blow crippled the animal, causing its forelegs to give way, but I hadn’t killed it. And I didn’t want to leave it to suffer.
Still thrashing its head from side to side, the boar could easily shred my arms with its sharp tusks. A throat slash to the neck would be too risky.
Instead, I yanked the knife out and reached back to its hind legs, severing the tendon. The boar fell over to its side. I quickly grabbed the exposed front leg, lifted it up, and drove my knife deep into the soft, vulnerable armpit and into the animal’s heart. The end came quickly.
I removed my blade and used the boar’s hair to wipe it clean. It had been only minutes ago that I ran peacefully through the forest. I couldn’t understand why the animal had decided to attack me. I looked the boar over carefully and discovered a small bullet wound near its hindquarter. It was the case of a novice hunter using an inadequate gun for such a large animal—a small caliber, most likely. Had they hit the boar anyplace else, the bullet probably would have bounced off. But it hadn’t, and the animal had run off. And into me.
Barking dogs in the distance told me the hunting party was near, and I didn’t necessarily feel like explaining why I’d finished their job. I wasn’t that big of a meat eater, but I was sure someone would enjoy grilling the animal’s carcass. They should be thanking me, I thought as I hurried away.
It was early autumn and colorful leaves blanketed the floor of the Ardennes forests. Mostly narrow birch trees populated the region, which sometimes gave certain areas an almost impenetrable thickness, but I knew the area fairly well and could thread through them easily. Pine trees made up the other half of the forest. Other ground vegetation consisted of lush ferns and grasses.
That day, thick, gray clouds padded the skies, giving the forest an appearance worthy of a Grimm’s fairytale. But it was those very days that I found the forest to be at its liveliest and most serene. Experience that, and it was not hard to understand the attraction to the woods surrounding Saint-Hubert, Belgium.
Unlike most residents of the town, I chose to live away from the center. My cottage sat on a large patch of property near the forest’s edge. I had no neighbors, well, none close enough that I would be bothered. No need to explain my existence, what I did, or why a single woman chose to live alone in the woods. Those were questions nosy individuals asked, and I had no intention of revealing information about myself to anyone. I relished my privacy. Living like a hermit was justifiable if I wanted to stay alive.
I picked up the pace for the remainder of my run. Boar blood had splattered on my insulated running pants, and I was keen to wash it out. At about two hundred yards out from my property, I slowed down. It was the same careful approach I had always taken when returning home.
With the cottage in view, I stuck to a thicket of waist-high ferns and slowly circled the property. My skin prickled, thanks to the chilly autumn weather and the diminishing effects of my run. My body had cooled faster than normal, and I wanted badly to jump into a warm bath, but I stuck to my protocol.
From behind a tree, I scanned each window carefully, looking for movement. It wasn’t a big house: two bedrooms, two baths, an office, a cozy living room, and kitchen. I had the attached garage remodeled into a training space: mirrored walls and padded floors. Various punching and grappling dummies, even a wooden Wing Chun training dummy. Free weights and a stationary bike rounded out the remaining equipment.
I was confident that those who knew of me didn’t know I called this idyllic town home, but still, I took precautions as I moved closer. I had gone through great lengths to establish this safe house, and I preferred not to leave anything to chance.
Satisfied, I moved toward the back door. I never entered from the front. People get killed entering their homes from the front. Happens all the time.
Once inside, I walked the premises like always before stripping down, throwing my clothes into the washing machine, and stepping into the shower. Under the rush of warm water, I stood still, arms resting against my sides and my head tilted forward. My hair clung to my face, neck, and back as the soothing water lulled me into a standing coma. I allowed myself another thirty seconds of bliss before lathering and washing the day’s grit off of my body.
I towel-dried my hair in the warmth of the bathroom. It was long, hovering just above my lower back. Up until two years ago, I’d never allowed it to grow beyond my shoulders. It was less of a liability at that length. But since I had stopped accepting contracts, I relaxed that rule.
I picked out a matching set of black lingerie from my dresser drawer; I loved how the color popped against my skin. As I stood nude in front of the mirror clutching my panties, I stared at the barely visible four-inch horizontal scar above my pubic bone. Although it was barely visible, it was still the only thing I saw when I looked at my stomach. I pushed the thought from my head and finished dressing.
The sun had set, but I wasn’t one to keep all the lights on. I switched off the bedroom light and navigated to the kitchen in the dark, turning on the small lamp above the sink. I put a kettle of water on the stove and switched it on before opening a Mason jar I kept on the counter. Into a hand-painted, porcelain teapot I put two pinches of premium jasmine tealeaves before retrieving a five-inch tactical push blade I kept in the drawer. I placed it on the counter next to me.
“Haven’t you heard the saying that you shouldn’t bring a knife to a gunfight?” said a male voice from the darkened hallway behind me.
“Just because you’re inferior with knives does not mean I am,” I said, my back still facing the hallway.
A floorboard creaked. “How did you know I was here?” the voice asked.
“I spotted you outside, in the tree.”
“Is that so?”
I turned around, and my lips widened into a smile. Standing in the kitchen doorway was my childhood friend, Long. “I thought you would have come inside sooner.”
“One of these days, I’ll approach you unseen.” He moved into the kitchen and threw both arms around me, giving me a mighty bear hug. “Sei, it’s really good to see you.”
It had been nearly five years since we last saw each other. From the ages of five to fifteen, we were nearly inseparable. We were both orphaned and taken in by the same clan of assassins and raised as such. That link kept us joined at the hip throughout our childhood and most of our teen years. We both also specialized in high-value targets. There were plenty of run-of-the-mill assassins for hire if a jealous wife had enough of a cheating husband, but we were a rarer breed.
“Your hair is longer,” he said, still grasping me.
My head was turned to the side, resting against his chest. “Do you like it?”
He pulled back a bit, and I watched his brown eyes trace my forehead, down the side of my cheek and to my shoulders before he gently spun me around. “I like it. It’s…silky.”
“Yes. It looks good on you but it’s…”
Long smiled that same crooked grin. “So fill me in? No one has seen or heard from you in a while, including me. You’re not working; I know that much.”
The kettle whistled, interrupting our reunion. I switched it off and poured water into the teapot and covered it. “What have you heard?”
“Eh, it’s a little slow, to tell you the truth,” he said, running his hand through his short black hair. “It’s those damn drones. People are anxious and would rather just bomb an entire building to get a target. There’s an art to being an assassin, it’s a—”
“I’m not talking about work.”
“Oh…you mean the other thing.”
“Surely you’re wondering why I went underground.”
“Yeah, people are talking. Some say you lost your marbles. Some say you turned your back on your clan. No one heard from you in awhile. Even Ma thought you abandoned us. She thought you were dead. She fell ill over it.”
The figurehead and leader of our family of assassins was a woman we called Ma.
“And you?” I asked. “What is it that you believe?”
“Come on, Sei. You know I support you no matter what. I don’t care what the answer is. Never had an opinion on it. We all live off the grid, but what I don’t get is why you stopped working. You were in such high demand.”
I grabbed two mugs from the cupboard and filled them with tea. “It wasn’t easy. I felt like I needed time to think.”
Long blew into his cup before taking a sip. “Mmmm, you always have good tea. Nothing like the cheap stuff I’m used to slurping.”
I followed him into the living room. His strides were long and light as usual. I switched off the lamp he had just flicked on.
“You having trouble paying your power bill or something?” He sat in one of two armchairs.
I let out soft chuckle and sat in the other, opposite him. “I like it this way.” Enough moonlight shone through the windows.
“So this thinking you needed to do, what’s come of it? You’re not planning on retiring, are you?”
I took tiny sips of my tea as I thought about how to answer Long’s question. I was eager to know the answer myself. But I wasn’t sure all the thinking I had done provided me with one. “Maybe.”
“You can’t be serious.” Long’s expression flattened. “What will you do if not this?” He tilted his head slightly and crinkled his brow. “You plan on living like a hermit for the rest of your life, gardening and stuff?” He shook his head. “I don’t believe it.”
“Why is that so hard to believe? I can do other things.”
“I’m not saying you can’t, but this life, what we do, it’s who we are. It’s not like you can join the local book club and start blending in.” Long placed his mug on the coffee table and leaned forward. His stare intensified, and his eyes disappeared against his beige complexion. “Sei, there are people who want answers from you.”
“I won’t deny that. By the way, what gave me up?” I didn’t think there was a weak link in my planned disappearance. Plus, I wanted to change the subject.
Long drew a deep breath and let it out. “It wasn’t easy, I’ll say that. So don’t think you’ve gotten rusty. It took months and some luck, but I eventually cracked your real IP address and traced it back here.”
“How? I mask my online identity using multiple VPNs and accessed the Internet with a TOR browser.”
“Like I said, it wasn’t easy. At some point you used a public WiFi system. Had I not been looking for you around that time, I probably never would have discovered it. That’s the lucky part.”
“You didn’t answer any of my messages. I was worried and had no choice but to track you.”
I said nothing and only stared at my friend. I had purposely ignored his messages, along with many others. I had shut a large steel door onto the world and thrown away the key. Why? Well, that was a hard subject for me to talk about, but I figured I owed my friend an explanation. I stood and walked over to a wooden hutch in the corner of the room and removed a small item from a shelf inside of it.
“What is that?” Long asked, squinting from his chair. He took the item from me and unfolded it, revealing a tiny pink blouse. “You’re pregnant?” His eyes shifted between the blouse and my tummy. “I’m not sure I understand.”
I took a seat and chewed my bottom lip before answering. “I lost the baby while giving birth two years ago.”
“Sei. I…I had no idea.”
“It’s okay. I should have told you.”
“I could have been here for you. I could have helped.”
“I needed to be alone.”
“This is why you stopped working?”
I nodded. “Shortly after the doctor confirmed the pregnancy, I decided I didn’t want to bring my child into the life I live. I couldn’t. I wanted her to have a chance at a proper, normal one.”
“A baby girl.” A smile formed on Long’s face. “I would have been her uncle, sort of.”
I smiled. “I had planned on naming her Mui.”
“Mui? That’s a pretty name. She would have been beautiful just like her mother. But who’s the—”
“Someone I met in America. He didn’t know about the pregnancy, or my profession.”
Long nodded. “It’s better that way. Having him involved would have complicated things. So now what?”
“That’s what I’m struggling to answer. Losing the baby was akin to losing a part of myself. For a long time I didn’t feel like doing much of anything. I contemplated continuing with my self-imposed retirement, as well as resuming work, but hadn’t any strong feelings toward either direction. My instincts lacked strength. Essentially I had a horse but no carrot to dangle.”
“And then a few years goes by.”
Long slapped his hands against both of his thighs, and a broad smile lit up his face, showing off his cosmetically enhanced whites. “Well, it’s a good thing I came along. It’s time you got back in the saddle, and I’m here to help.”
Read An Excerpt - Contract: Sicko
Read An Excerpt - Contract: Sicko
The following morning, the Le Frecce high-speed train zipped me from Milan to Rome in two and a half hours, putting me at the Roma Termini train station at seven p.m. I would have taken an earlier train, but the tickets for the high-speed train had sold out and only the slower regional train, which took ten hours, was available. Either way, I wouldn’t arrive at my destination until early evening, but sitting cooped up on a train for that long wasn’t inviting.
After dispatching Matteo, I stuffed his body under a table in the corner of the office. It would be found, but not without effort. There was blood on a small area rug, which I simply flipped over. The stains weren’t as visible on the reverse side. His office had a small bathroom attached, and I was able to quickly clean up. Thankfully my dress wasn’t too soiled—nothing warm water and a little soap couldn’t take care of.
I was able to slip back downstairs and into the party undetected. It probably had to do with the fact that I wasn’t anyone of significant importance and therefore not worthy of an extensive chat, or even a smile and a glance, for that matter. Being a nobody had its advantages that night.
After exiting the train station, I walked over to a bank of taxis waiting for fares. I traveled light, just a small knapsack that fit close to my back. Inside I had a change of clothes, a few personal amenities, a titanium fixed-blade knife, a garrote wire, a Sig Sauer P320 with sound suppression, two extra magazines, and a couple of throwing knives.
My destination was the Borgo Pio neighborhood, an area located just north of Castel Sant’Angelo, the Castle of the Holy Angel. Compared to other parts of Rome, Borgo wasn’t a heavily touristic area—mostly apartments of working-class Romans. I had been instructed to meet my CIA contact at a small Italian restaurant.
Wanting to continue on by foot to survey the surrounding area—habit—I had the taxi stop a few blocks away from the location. I had spoken to Kostas Demos, my handler with the CIA, shortly after I left the Abbandonato residence the night before. I kept the conversation brief and informed him that I had the information and would see him the following day. I didn’t bother to elaborate beyond that. I wasn’t much of a phone person.
I first met Kostas a year ago in Turkey. A job had gone wrong and I’d needed to get out of the country quickly while staying under the radar. My employer had hired Kostas as a driver. At the time, I’d had no idea he worked for the CIA, and neither did my employer. I spent almost a week with a man I found irritating and charming all at once. When the jig was up on his identity, we came to an exclusive agreement that mutually benefitted us both.
Il Quartiere, The Neighborhood, was the name of the restaurant Kostas chose for our meeting place. It was hidden fifty yards back on a quiet street just off of Viale Giulio Cesare Boulevard. By the time I arrived, it was seven thirty p.m.
The restaurant was quaint, only seven tables, and most likely frequented by only the surrounding residents. The décor inside was charming and played up the neighborhood theme. Strung across the ceiling were clotheslines with laundry drying. The lines were attached to murals on the wall depicting the outside of a residential building: windows up high with doorsteps, mailboxes, and flowerbeds below.
Kostas had chosen a table off to the side near the rear of the restaurant. He was dressed casually, a white button-down tucked into faded blue jeans. The waviness in his brown hair had been trimmed a bit, but it still retained its thickness. As I approached, he stood and reached his hand across the table for two. “You killed him.”
“Should you be speaking so openly?” I shook his hand and then removed my knapsack and leather jacket.
“We own this restaurant,” he said as he sat. He then poured San Pellegrino into my glass.
I looked around at the empty tables. “Explains the crowd tonight.” I removed the memory stick from my knapsack and handed it to him. “It’s all there, the entire content of his laptop.”
He took it from me and dropped it into the front pocket of his shirt. “Are you going to explain to me why you ignored my directive?”
“I didn’t ignore it, but you know this business we’re in. Things can go wrong fast.”
Kostas shifted in his seat and shook his head. “Sei, you could have given me a heads-up when we spoke last night. I was blindsided by my superiors this morning with the news.”
“I did my best to get in and get out. You should know that deadly force was a last resort. It could have been me lying dead on that floor. Did that thought cross your mind?”
Kostas sat there befuddled as he managed a response. “I didn’t mean it that way.”
“You’re a bit cold. What happened to the playful puppy dog who drove me across Turkey?”
“Puppy dog? I would say the attraction was mutual.”
“Attraction?” I let out a burst of laughter. “Me avoiding eye contact and ignoring your questions is what you view as signs of attraction?” When we first met, I wasn’t as friendly as I could have been but I never was with most people. “With this candle-lit dinner, I suspect you’ll want to marry me straight away.”
“Be careful what you wish for.”
“Back to the topic at hand. Isn’t this wrinkle the reason you utilize someone like me, so that if something does go wrong, it won’t come back to your agency?”
I watched him swish his lips swish from side to side. His olive complexion was still smooth. His appearance still youthful.
“Look,” he said, “I’m glad you got out safely. I would have felt bad if you got hurt or—”
“I did get hurt.” I pushed back the sleeve of my thin black sweater, revealing the bruising along my forearm.
He must have warmed up because he kissed two fingers and placed them gently against my arm. “Does that help?” Just then, a server appeared carrying two plates of food.
“I hope you don’t mind, I ordered for us. Truffle gnocchi. It’s excellent.” He flashed a smile that showed off his dimples.
While we ate, I relayed the events of the night to Kostas and why Matteo Abbandonato ended up dead. When I finished, he agreed that I really had done my best to stick to the plan.
“I forgot to ask about your daughter the last time we spoke,” he said.
“Yes, you were all business.”
Almost a year had passed since I discovered my daughter was alive. Two years before, I was led to believe she had died during childbirth. I even buried a body. Turned out she was kidnapped from the clinic shortly after I gave birth.
“Last I knew you were chasing down a lead by an ex-employer.”
“That turned out to be a monumental waste of my time. Three months to be exact.”
“Ouch. That’s not good.” He forked a gnocchi into his mouth. “And other than that?” he asked in between chews.
“Nothing. But to be honest, when I vacated my safe house in Belgium, I left behind a large stockpile of cash and expensive weaponry. I’ve been working to replenish that inventory. That requires accepting jobs—lots of time and energy. A necessary evil.”
“You have a new safe house?”
“I do, and I’m not telling where.” I used my fork to cut a gnocchi in half.
“Have you thought of what you will do when you find your daughter?”
“The plan remains as it always has. I’ll do my best to give her a normal life, one far from this. It’s always what I had intended.”
“Is that why you went into your self-imposed exile?”
“Exile? I believe it’s referred to as retirement.” When I discovered I was pregnant, I cut ties with the father, a fling really, stopped working and bought a nice little cottage in Belgium. Even after giving birth, I remained off the grid, still unsure of what to do with my life. Resuming my work as an assassin was never a consideration until I received news that my daughter was alive.
“For some reason, I find it hard to see you playing house, not that I don’t think you’re capable of it, it’s just that…”
“You’re so good at what you do,” he said with a shrug.
“I appreciate that pat on the back, but the last thing I want is for her to be exposed to this world.”
“I think that’s the right thing to do. I can become cool Uncle Kostas. The one who always says yes when you say no.”
I choked out a laugh before raising my glass.
“What? You don’t intend to cut me out of your life, do you, when you find her?”
“Here’s to you not having me at your disposal for very long.”
We both laughed and clinked glasses. “Speaking of our little arrangement, may I remind you that it’s reciprocal? I’ve seen very little in return on your end.”
Working for the CIA, Kostas had access to an unprecedented amount of information and resources. In exchange for my services, he had agreed to help me with the search for my daughter.
He swallowed a bite and then wiped his mouth with a cloth napkin. “Well, today that changes. I have something for you.”
He removed his phone from his pants pocket and tapped at the screen. “This is Midou Feki,” he said, showing me his picture. “He emigrated from Tunisia to Paris about twelve years ago and since then has worked a number of odd jobs to survive.”
“And that’s important to me because…?”
“One of those jobs happened to be a security guard at the clinic where you gave birth to your daughter.”
My heart nearly punched a hole in my chest. Since learning that my daughter was alive, I hadn’t come any closer to determining her whereabouts. The only information I had was that an assassin, the Black Wolf, supposedly had her. And even that wasn’t one-hundred-percent confirmed.
“Are you sure? I mean, how do you know?”
I had thought to question the workers at the clinic but the man who arranged the kidnapping provided the staff that day. They weren’t actual employees of the clinic but freelancers. To make things worse, Parisian law enforcement had raided the place shortly afterward for fraudulent activity. Someone had tipped off the owner and the employees right before they arrived. They disappeared, as did my opportunity to simply speak to anyone who worked there. The only person I was able to make contact with was Dr. Remy Delacroix—the doctor I had hired to perform the birth.
“How did you find this man?”
“Feki had an ongoing relationship with the Parisian police. Mostly petty crime.” Kostas tapped at his phone briefly. “I just emailed you the photo along with his last known address. I can’t guarantee that he’s still there, but it’s a lead.”
“Thank you. Thank you very much.”
“Good luck, Sei.”
This heart-stopping, explosive bundle includes the first five "Assassin Mama" ebooks in the series. Plus a FREE Bonus Ebook: the first book in the Mui Thriller series. Only available here!
"Hutchinson has given us an amazingly strong character in Sei." — Blog Critics
" I never thought I would be cheering on an assassin, but it's hard not to love this character." ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ — Reader Review
Cheer on Sei as she embarks on a daring mission to uncover the truth about her lost daughter. Can this assassin mama unravel the mystery in time?
Series: Sei Assassin Thrillers
- Contract Bait: Sei searches for the daughter she thought she'd lost.
- Contract Sicko: Sei must befriend a sicko if she wants to find her daughter.
- Contract Primo: Sei's daughter is older and has questions about her mother.
- Contract Wolf Den: Sei closes in on the assassin who kidnapped her daughter.
- Contract Endgame: Sei plans a daring escape from the assassin's compound.
- A Book of Truths (Bonus): She's feisty. She's fearless. She's the assassin's daughter.