The Hitwoman’s Dying Wish
Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman Book 38
Maggie Lee is just doing the right thing when she drives her boyfriend to the hospital so that he can donate part of his liver to a stranger, but things quickly go wrong.
On her way home, Maggie witnesses a car crash and rushes to try to help the driver, but he is dying. He implores her to help him “make things right” by finding his “real” Last Will & Testament, but then passes before he can tell her exactly where it is hidden.
Feeling obligated to fulfill the man’s dying wish, she does her best to decipher cryptic clues and searches for the missing document.
Soon she discovers that she’s not the only one looking for it, and that’s when things get dangerous.
You just know it’s going to be a bad day when you’re dealing with a broken heart while contending with an ass.
That’s the situation I, Maggie Lee, found myself in as my grandfather, Herschel, bemoaned the loss of the companionship of his girlfriend, Nonnie. I was doing my best to act sympathetic despite the fact the crazy woman had accused my friend of thievery, been mean to my nieces, and threatened to kill both me and my best friend, Armani. Knowing he was hurting, I refrained from reminding him about these pesky details, but Irma, the donkey who was standing just a few feet away, was not exercising the same sort of thoughtful restraint.
“She accused poor Rowdy of being a thief,” Irma brayed indignantly, ears flat.
Because I was excelling at holding my tongue, I didn’t point out that she’d once said the same about the young raccoon.
“She bullied Alicia and Katie,” the donkey continued.
My grandfather hung his head in shame.
I raised my finger to my lips, in a futile attempt to silence Irma, hoping she’d take the hint and end her diatribe. Herschel looked physically pained at the reminders of the wrongs his girlfriend had committed. Taking in the strain around his eyes and the pallor of his skin, I found myself worried about him. The toxic relationship was taking a toll on him.
“And she could have killed Maggie or Armani if Marlene hadn’t shown up and whacked the witch with the very pitchfork you’re holding,” the donkey concluded. For good measure, she reared up, giving the back of her stall a half-hearted kick.
Herschel moved his head slowly from side to side, as though he were trying to shake off a bad dream, as he stared at the pitchfork. “I still can’t believe one of my granddaughters was capable of that kind of violence.”
God, the anole lizard, who’d been watching the exchange from my shoulder, chortled.
“Hush,” Piss warned. The one-eyed cat had been curled up in a corner of the barn, cleaning herself, but she’d leapt to her feet at the lizard’s outburst. Every hair on end, looking as panicked as I felt, she glared at God.
Like me, Herschel can talk to animals. I held my breath, praying the lizard wouldn’t say anything that could inadvertently reveal to my grandfather that I’m a part-time assassin. I wasn’t sure how the man would react if I tried to explain that I only kill bad people.
Thankfully, he was too caught up in his misery to notice the exchange. “I can’t believe I fell for a murderer. I have terrible taste in women.”
Considering Nonni was awaiting trial and his ex-wife, my grandmother, had been a horrible person, I couldn’t disagree with his assessment.
Hearing girlish giggles approaching, we all turned to watch my nieces, Katie and Alicia, approaching the barn. Marlene, my aforementioned “violent” sister and Alicia’s mom, trudged behind them.
“Time for school already?” I called out.
“We’re getting instruments today.” Eyes glittering with excitement, Katie bounced on her toes, grinning.
My heart squeezed as I was struck by how much she resembled her mother, my sister Teresa, at that age. Grief is a funny thing. It can catch you off-guard at the most random moments, making the loss of a loved one feel fresh. I swallowed hard, trying not to cry in front of the little girl.
“What kind of instruments?” my grandfather asked.
“Instruments of destruction,” God whispered so that only I could hear.
“Recorders,” Katie said. “We’re going to make music.”
“Make music, not war,” God murmured.
“Are you excited about that, Alicia?” I asked my other niece, to bring the reserved girl into the conversation.
Looking more somber than usual, she shrugged, glancing back at her mother.
I noticed that Marlene looked tense and drawn where she stood a few paces away, arms crossed over her chest. I wondered if there was tension between the mother-daughter duo. I hoped not. I loved them both and didn’t want to be forced to choose sides between them.
“There’s Miss Lassalan!” Katie yelled, pointing at the car inching down the driveway toward us.
“Is she always such a cautious driver?” I asked no one in particular.
“She’s cautious because of the animals,” Marlene explained. “Apparently, the llama and peacock both like to run in front of her car.”
“I’ll talk to them about that,” I said automatically.
Marlene gave me a look, indicating she thought I was weird.
“I’ll do it,” Piss offered, trotting off.
I waved at the girls’ teacher as she emerged from her car, trying to cover up the fact I’d just said to my sister I’d talk to the animals with a straight face.
Lorraine Lassalan waved back and then pulled a large tote bag out of the back of her car.
“Be good and have fun,” Marlene muttered at her daughter and then headed back toward the house, shoulders drooping.
“Is everyone here?” the teacher asked, walking toward the classroom built into the barn.
“Dominic hasn’t gotten here yet,” I replied.
She glanced at her watch. “Three minutes until he’s tardy.”
I wondered what the boy’s grandfather, Delveccio, would say if he knew that tardiness was being discussed. I truly hoped that the teacher wouldn’t bring up the subject to the mob boss.
“Here he comes!” Katie yelled, pointing at another car headed toward us. She jumped up and down, waving.
“Excellent,” Miss Lassalan approved, disappearing into the classroom.
The girls waited for Dominic to climb out of the car, then the three ran, hand-in-hand, into the classroom.
The driver of the car opened the door and stepped out. I grinned as my boyfriend, Gino, winked at me and called, “Morning, Herschel.”
“Morning.” My grandfather waved a hand in greeting and then shuffled off.
Ever since Gino had accepted Aunt Susan’s invitation and survived Easter dinner with my family, my life had seemed easier. Only Griswald, Susan’s husband, seemed unhappy about Gino’s role in my life. Not that I could blame the retired U.S. Marshal for disapproving of my dating a mobster’s henchman.
“Is he okay?” Gino asked once Herschel was out of earshot.
“He’s broken-hearted,” I admitted. “In a funk.”
Gino nodded sympathetically. “A bad relationship can do that to a man.”
“Didn’t expect you to be playing chauffer today,” I said, walking toward him.
“My last day for a while,” he said. “We’ve got a go for the surgery.”
My heartbeat hiccupped. I wasn’t sure if it was because I was worried about him donating a portion of his liver to a stranger, or because I was proud of him. Before I could really think about my reaction, he swept me up in his arms, pressing a kiss to my lips that stole my breath and, apparently, my ability to think straight.
“Oxygen deprivation is not good for one’s organs,” God griped.
“What did he say?” Gino whispered.
“Oxygen deprivation is not good for organs,” I admitted.
Gino threw back his head and laughed. “He may have a point.”
I rested my forehead on his shoulder, delighting in the ease with which he accepted the quirks of every member of my family, both human and not. “When?”
“I go in tomorrow and the surgery will be on Wednesday.”
“I’ll take you,” I offered.
He drew back so that he could see my face. “Are you sure? I can take a car ser—”
I pressed a finger to his lips, silencing him more effectively than I had the donkey. “I’ll take you.”
He grinned and kissed my fingertip. “Awesome.” Pulling me into a tight hug, he asked, “Have dinner with me tonight?”
“It’ll be my last meal,” Gino wheedled.
Deciding not to remind him that he was expected to make a full recovery after donating part of his liver to a stranger, I nodded. “And what would you like your last meal to be?”
“You,” he murmured in a tone that sent a shiver of excitement down to my toes.
“I think we can arrange for that,” I told him breathlessly.
He tightened his grip and I gladly melted into him, wishing dinner could be served immediately.
“Oh, get a room,” God spat out with disgust.