4 Days Earlier
"Do you think our mum loved us?"
I tear my gaze from the street below and stare into eyes eerily similar to my own. Cassie tilts her head to the side, her ash blonde hair rippling over her shoulder at the movement. I mirror her and my deep mahogany hair tumbles down my own shoulder, flashing her a frown to show her that her question has unnerved me.
"I don't know, Cas. Maybe she did, maybe she didn't." She fixes me with a look and I let out a long sigh. "Why the sudden interest? It's not like it matters."
Cassie rolls her icy blue eyes in exasperation. "It does matter, Alex. Aren't you at all bothered that we don't know anything about the woman who gave birth to us?"
I shake my head slowly. Me and Cassie are twins; we'd be identical if it weren't for the difference in our hair colour. But our personalities and thoughts couldn't be more different. Cassie is the optimistic one, the one who believes that there is hope for a better future. So unlike me, who knows there is no hope and that we're most likely going to end up in an early grave.
Cassie looks away from me and stares down at the street, surveying the crowd of mundane people going about their lives, completely oblivious to the fact that two trained killers are currently seated above them.
"She wouldn't have wanted this for us." She says quietly, and even though she's still staring at the people below us, I know she isn't really seeing them. Instead she's seeing a future that could have been, if we'd been left on any other doorstep but the one we had been.
"The sun's almost down, we need to be ready. He'll be leaving any second and if we don't get him before he reaches the docks we'll officially have lost him. Lucas will be pissed if that happens." My words are emotionless, my expression guarded.
Cassie smirks slightly. "You know, the amount of time you spend thinking about murder is unhealthy. There are other things to think about."
The door to the building we've been watching swings open and our target wanders out, followed by two guards with long swords hanging at their belts. I flash Cassie a grin as I check that I still have the daggers at my waist and my own sword strapped to my back. "Yeah I know, but the other things aren't half as exciting when put into practice."
She's still sighing as we set off in a run across the roof and vault off the top, the ground momentarily sweeping underneath us before we land on the next roof with cat-like grace. We move quickly over the rooftops, swiftly making our way across the city, faster than we ever could have if we'd been running down through the streets.
As planned we've overtaken our target and we land on our final roof almost silently. Cassie meets my eyes and her lips tilt up in a grim smile. We scale down the side of the building with ease, vaulting off halfway down and landing in a crouch, our movements perfectly mirrored.
The side road is hidden from the main street and many people are unaware that if you were to follow it all the way down you would reach the docks. Our target believes he is being secretive by using it, unaware that we know every shortcut and every underground tunnel in the entire city.
We stand flat against the side of the building, hiding in the shadows. Our target won't know we're here until we want him to, and by then it'll be too late for him to do anything.
Cassie nudges me in the arm and I flash her a look, warning her to be on guard.
"Let's make it quick, Alex. I don't have the energy to play, not tonight."
I take in the dark smudges under her eyes and nod. "Okay."
There's the scuffle of boots drawing closer and the growing sound of voices. The three men turn the corner and I take them in, my body tense, my muscles locked.
One guard walks in front, his sword out and in his hand now that he is away from the crowd of people in the main street. The other guard brings up the rear, his sword also in hand, mirroring his partner. Henry stands between the two, his head held high, but I can see the sheen of sweat coating his forehead and the way his eyes dart to the sides feverishly, giving away the fact that he is clearly terrified.
A smile tugs at my lips as I meet my sister's eyes. "Ready?"
She licks her lips in anticipation and I know her tiredness has been forgotten; she's as caught up in the thrill of the moment as I am. Her answering smile gives me all the answer I need.
I peel away from the building and take a few steps forward, watching with pleasure as the guards push Henry behind them and raise their swords in my direction.
"Henry, Henry, Henry." I shake my head and sigh. "Are you really so deluded as to think you'd just walk away?"
One of the guards makes to charge and an arrow comes whizzing past my head to thunk into his chest, a direct hit to the heart. Cassie steps out from behind me, another arrow already aimed at the remaining guard. I stare in amusement as he takes in the body of his partner and lets out a cry of rage.
"This one's mine." I murmur to Cassie before I lunge forward, sliding my sword from its sheath and easily deflecting the guards blow. I allow him to push me backwards but pivot to the side just as he fully leans all his weight on me and let out a laugh as he stumbles forward. He swings around, his sword arcing down and I twist, swinging my own sword and slashing a light cut across his cheek. I'm toying with him and we both know it. His fear makes him wild and he swings at me recklessly and I continue to dart away from his blows, making more and more tiny cuts appear on his body.
The arrow thunks into his chest before I can even process what's happened.
"Cassie!" I shout, anger at having my fun ruined already rising up inside me.
"This isn't a game, Alex." Cassie looses another arrow and I turn to watch it skewer Henry's leg, only just realizing that he'd turned to run.
"You're have no sense of humor." I growl in frustration as I wander over to Henry, who's clutching his leg and moaning in agony. He glares up at me in fury and I flash him a smile dripping with false regret. "You've brought this on yourself, you know? Thousands of pounds in debt to Lucas and you thought you could just sail away with that debt unpaid? You're a fool if you ever thought that." I pull my dagger from my side and swipe it across his neck, watching as the thin crimson line appears and blood spills out.
There's a tiny twinge of shame nestling itself in my chest; shame at having toyed with the guard and shame at having added yet another name to the long list of people I've killed over the years. Being an assassin is exhilarating until you've finished the kill. Then the guilt washes over you in waves and the realization that you are nothing more than a murderer hits you.
Cassie comes up behind me and links her arm through mine, understanding how I feel because she feels exactly the same; that much is evident from the haunted look in her own eyes.
"Come on." She gives me a sad smile. "Let's go home."