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Charlemagne Emilia Belladonna lay in a remote field of her family’s property avoiding her life. Her horse was tied to a tree, close enough to get to it quickly but far enough away to not be startled by the shots of gunfire made by its rider. She conveniently left her cell phone in her room at the Manor so that her Sworn couldn’t find her easily. She squeezed off a round, as if trying to banish those thoughts via her rifle.

Still off, she thought as she made adjustments to zero her sight and fitted herself against the stock. She could just see her bodyguards’ faces when they found her room empty before dawn and horse gone without even the stable’s night staff seeing her. The older members of the Council would complain about her shirking her duties while her father would chuckle and mention that she was her mother’s daughter. Being home meant the Council would push her into being the Countess though she wasn’t confirmed yet. Her finger curled around the trigger.

Remember your breathing Char, she admonished. She wished that she could go back to school. There the stigma of her name had no meaning. She wasn’t Countess Belladonna. She was just Emie, full time student and part-timer at her favorite bar. She had friends who didn’t have to worry about protocol or royal decree.

Focus! She wasn’t being completely honest with herself. Her Sworn were her best friends. Her father and nanny understood. They were the only ones who knew her as Char, Charlie. There were no masks, no lies. They could live with the woman, the Countess, and Nightshade. Only a handful of people could comprehend that all of them were her, just facets of the whole. Another shot cracked in the mid-morning air, spending the magazine.

Almost perfect. Reloading the rifle with a fresh magazine, she understood why her mother loved this line of work. There were no other worries beyond the job – just that drive to complete the contract. It was a communion with oneself as you prepared for the hit, watched your job die. Each contract was a chance to better understand yourself, and through that, understand others. A round went through her target some 500 meters away.

Perfect. Now consistency. Finishing the nine rounds left, she rolled away from the rifle. Stretching, she looked at the sky. Her mother’s words whispered across the field with the wind. “Charlemagne, remember that you are both Countess and killer. If you can be both at the same time, you can be anything you wish.” Mother was right after all. She grabbed her rifle and slung it over her shoulder. She turned her horse back towards the manor.

Communion over, she traded her mask for that of Countess Belladonna – the Lady Nightshade – and continued to live her life.
Even Countesses/Crime Organization leaders want some time to reflect.

This is Char, an OC of mine. She's the heroine of one of my books. I had writer's block and I spent some time thinking. Then I wrote this. I think Char needed some time to herself too.
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December 18, 2008
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