Hell, I didn't even really have to break in-I could have walked right through the front door, waved at the guard stationed behind the reception desk in the lobby, and taken the elevator up to the appropriate floor. Stroll into an office building holding a vase of flowers, an oversize teddy bear, or a couple of pizza boxes smelling of grease, pepperoni, and melted mozzarella, and no one looks too closely at you. Except to wish they were the ones who'd thought to order pizza.
The delivery ruse was one I'd used countless times before, and I would have done it again today-except my target knew that I was coming for him. He was on his guard, and everyone entering the building was being checked and double-checked for weapons and to see if they even had the right to be there in the first place.
Besides, I preferred to be subtle about these things-to creep around in the shadows, leap out, take down my target when he least expected it, and then vanish back into the darkness once more. As the assassin the Spider, I had a reputation to uphold-that I could get to anyone, anywhere, anytime.
Something I planned on proving once again this evening-no matter how tight the security was.
It had taken me the better part of a week to scout out locations where the hit might go down. Home, office, the route in between, restaurants he liked to frequent, even Northern Aggression, Ashland's most decadent nightclub, where he spent some time after hours. I'd eventually decided to do the job in his office, which was housed in one of the city's downtown skyscrapers. He probably thought he was safe there, but he was going to learn exactly how wrong he was.
It had taken another week, and been a bit more difficult than I'd expected, getting my hands on the building's blueprints and figuring out a way to get close to him, but I'd managed. I always managed. I wouldn't have been the Spider otherwise. Besides, I always enjoyed a challenge.
Now I was into the third week of the operation, and it was finally time to put my plan into action, since the job had to be done before the end of the month. Normally, that wouldn't be a problem, but the target knew about the looming deadline and that I was gunning for him. Every day that passed meant that security got that much tighter and my job that much more difficult.
I strolled into a downtown parking garage, wearing a black pantsuit and matching heels. I'd pulled my dark, chocolate-brown hair up into a high, sleek ponytail, while black glasses with clear lenses covered my cold gray eyes. I looked like just another corporate office drone, right down to the enormous black handbag I carried.
This particular garage lay on the opposite side of the block from the front entrance to the skyscraper I wanted, but thanks to the blueprints I'd looked at, I'd discovered the two were connected by a series of maintenance corridors, which meant I didn't have to go anywhere near the skyscraper lobby to actually get inside the building.
Always take the most unexpected route. That was something my late mentor, Fletcher Lane, had told me more than once, and I expected it to work just as well this evening as it had so many other times.
Still, I'd thought that my target might have a few guards stationed in the garage, hence my business attire, but I didn't see anyone as I walked down the ramp from the street to the basement level. A few security cameras swiveled around in slow loops on the walls, their red lights blinking like malevolent eyes, but it was easy enough for me to walk through their blind spots. Sloppy, sloppy of him not to make sure the entire garage was covered, even if it was on the other side of the block. This was Ashland, after all, the city that showcased greed, violence, corruption, and depravity in all their deep-fried, Southern glory.