On the evening of her planned betrothal, a killer shoots down the friend of young system programmer, Zoe Laforge. On the run from a killer and bogus policemen, she is drafted into a maelstrom of violence. Soon her entire existence is at stake. The witness protection program offers Zoe a new identity and a new job. In the beginning, it seems as if her hacker skills are needed most, but suddenly someone's after her life. Zoe's fighting talents surprise her teammates, but even more of a surprise is the data about a terror act of yet unknown quality, which she retrieved. And only Zoe is in a position to make it fail.
Slightly on edge, Zoe hurried from the office to the company parking lot to fetch her car. Once again, it was later than she had planned. Just as she had wanted to shut down her PC, her staff manager had called her. That talk had been unpleasant--somebody trod on his toes during the day and she was the outlet for his steam. If she hadn't been the agency's token Eastie from Philadelphia and alibi woman, he surely would have fired her already.
Privately she wished painful hemorrhoids on him while she refreshed her caffeine-enhanced lip-gloss. She felt guilty because she had promised Rick she wouldn't be late again.
Several times other drivers honked at her while she wove swiftly and recklessly through the already fading evening traffic. She didn't care. This time the evening should turn out better than the last when she was two hours late because she had to procure new photo paper after this brainiac from the artwork department idled that task away during his midday tour. And that evening those three thousand Tabaluga flyers had to go into print.
In front of Rick's door, a parking space had just become available. Hastily she maneuvered her Mini into the gap. A last look into the mirror--fine. She opened another two buttons of her blouse as the stern office look was not to Rick's taste and because she wasn't just flat as a pancake, she could depend on that to titillate him.
Shit. She'd almost landed in the pit, which was gaping in the sidewalk--the municipal services had been in a hurry to knock off work. Well, she could understand that.
In the corridor of the old five-story building, she stopped once again. Today she would go the whole hog so she quickly removed her slip from under the new, trendy black Kate-Moss-look miniskirt, which she had bought last Saturday for this opportunity. For a moment, she pondered where she could leave it, then dropped it into Rick's mailbox with a whimsical smile.
On the stairs to the upper floor, she had to restrain herself. She didn't want to be out of breath--at least not yet. Impatiently she covered the last steps, key in hand. Silently she opened the apartment door. She smiled as she heard the light music from the kitchen. To the left, in the dining room, everything was prepared--candles, bowls, chopsticks--so he would be cooking Asian style. One look to the right--oh, rose petals on the pillow! Yes, Rick knew how to create a romantic atmosphere. The corners of her lips slightly lifted.
There was a loud bang and then Rick's horrified, painful cry sounded from the kitchen. She ran across and jerked the kitchen door open. A cloud of steam gushed toward her. Rick lay on the floor with a blood-covered chest and a dark-red face, rice grains stuck everywhere--to cupboards, ceiling and floor. She leaned down to Rick and lifted his head--perhaps the wonderful curves in her neckline would help to clear his fogged senses--and cried out, "What happened? Are you okay? Does anything hurt? Should I…"
His index finger covered her mouth. "The pot exploded. I meant to change the pressure cooker's valve seal ring long ago--must have been jammed." He looked down his body and plucked a small metal piece from a bleeding wound in his chest. "Mmm. This must have been the bolt to the handle."
He flipped the bolt away as she hugged him, glad that nothing too serious had happened to him. She didn't care that her blouse was soaking up his blood--but she noticed very well how his trousers became too tight for him. With swift fingers, she opened his fly and seated herself on him. A pity about the dinner, but this would become a wonderful evening!
Still totally inebriated by the adrenaline rush of the exploding pot spectacular, their first intercourse was short and intense. Rick just let it happen, but Zoe took control, her sensual perception sharpened by the preceding shock--and resulting fear for his life. When he responded with passionate strength, the sex was better than she had ever experienced.
She'd had lovers before, had been with tender and patient partners as well as indifferent mechanics. She'd had short and intense relationships up to the three-minute balcony fuck--which hadn't been too bad, had wasted painfully long, affectionate evenings with a half impotent Italian-American, but nothing could have prepared her for this moment.
And Rick was insatiable. While she still waited for her heartbeat to slow, his hands slid up her side, found the beginning of her breasts, wandered toward her buttons. Methodically, he opened her blouse, pushed the blood-spattered fabric away, let his fingers tenderly circle her round, firm breasts. Then suddenly he grabbed her waist, pushed her above himself. She tensed, spread out her arms, enjoyed the feeling of hovering above him.
They made love to each other a second time, short but intense, on the groaning, protesting kitchen table. Afterward, she wrapped her legs around his hips, let herself be carried around the kitchen table in waltz time while his tongue played with her nipples. Finally he settled her to the floor, ran his hand across her short black hair.
She admired his toned body as he faced her from the kitchen door and she sprawled herself, purring, on the rice-covered kitchen floor. Her gaze wandered up his trouser legs to his still open fly, followed his chest's muscular curves, where suddenly two red flowers blossomed.
As if in slow motion Zoe watched how Rick's knees gave in, how his breaking gaze ran across her body for the very last time, how his voiceless cry fought to protest, how the stream of his life pulsated from his chest, how his light went out forever.