The room was still dark, but the gentle climb of my alarm could be heard. It heralded the last job of my trip. The near return to reality was welcomed and abhorred in equal measure. I rolled over to find an empty bed, just the way it was when I got in. The thought of coffee was driving me to get out of bed. Unfortunately my nostrils were not tickled by the usual morning scent of my strong coffee brew. It was a reminder that I was in a lonely hotel room. I missed my own bed, but more so I was missing my automated coffee maker. My alarm had stopped and restarted before I could get the energy to pluck myself out of bed. Suddenly the room and bed were not as warm. The combination of cold room and comfortable bedding was keep me static. I finally convinced myself and reach to get my phone. It was just out of reach forcing me to face the cold and get out from under the warm canopy. The warmth of the plush cushioned carpeting was reassuring and the cool feel of the phone was comforting. I really missed waking up in my own bed, but this was not as bad as I had imagined. Waking in a strange bed had become a familiar process but I still had not gotten the ‘hang’ of it. Bills had to be paid and this was how I got it done. As I opened the heavy drapes the brightness of the morning sun was comforting and exhilarating. I was expecting to see snow, but the joy of seeing the desert and mountain was a real treat. I could feel the heat of the rising sun on the large window panes. I could feel the darkness falling away from my cloudy head and the joy of the new day rising. This was going to be a wonderful few days.

This was the first morning of the new contract and it was important that I started on the correct footing. I had gotten the timing correct, it was 0630 local time. I had gotten in late and went straight from the check-in counter into bed. As I looked around for my bags I noticed that someone had made a every costly error. They should have booked a one bedroom. This looked like the largest one bedroom  or I was in the wrong suite. It turned out to be a three bedroom three bath suite. I finally found my bags in the living room, but could not remember placing them there. Everything looked intact and that is all I could ask for. The suite was more than enough for me and family, but I was alone. I was missing my princesses, but I had to get the this last contract done before I could get home. It was day thirty-one and hotel number seven.

I had the same routine every morning. I unlocked my phone and confirmed my location and started my morning play list. It was my routine. I had learned from my mentor that starting the day with your favorite music was essential to the trajectory of the day. “Great music makes the day”, he use to say. Unlike the other many things he had tried to teach, this was the only one I really took wholeheartedly. I was religious about it. I had a 15-minute play list that was my morning companion. Only thing missing was my cup of coffee. I turned the music up to maximum and jumped into the shower. The water was just above room temp and was invigorating. It was a glass enclose stand-up shower with only one facet. There was no hot or cold. There was just a single tap and shower head. It was adequate.

I heard a loud bang and felt heat moving down my back. I had never been shot, but this must be what it felt like. I was usually the shooter. There was shattered glass on the floor and I fell into it with cool water pouring over my legs. This was a kill shot. I closed my eyes and wished I could have given my girls a hug.