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By David Baldacci

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An original short story by New York Times bestselling author David Baldacci.

Frank Becker is a highly sought after, expert assassin. When Becker takes a mysterious job, he has no idea that it will force him to delve deeply into his own past. Undeterred by obstacles he is determined to complete his assignment. But he may realize too late that his success will permanently alter his future.


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An original short story by New York Times bestselling author David Baldacci.


FRANK BECKER was exceptionally good at his job and took great pride at being so exceptionally good. He took his client's orders promptly and carried them out with professionalism and attention to detail. This was not simply being a sound businessman or even demonstrating altruism. It was very much in Becker's interests to sweat the details, to obsess over them in fact. If he wanted to survive.

He was a small man with an ego many times the size of his body. A fat baby, he'd grown into a trim, methodical adult who did not overindulge in anything. He was single, lived quietly except when he was working, and had seen a large slice of the world because in his particular area of expertise there were no borders. He never expected to marry because that would be complicating, and he never desired to have children because that would be pointless.

He now stood outside on the curb in front of a modern building in the middle of a city that had seen more prosperous days. It was making a comeback of sorts, to the extent that steel, asphalt, and concrete and the populations that reside in and on them can have second chances. And it was a historical city with many sites of cultural significance that could draw tourists.

Becker didn't care about any of this. He had flown here for one reason only and it had nothing to do with tourist sites or second chances.

He lit a cigarette and blew the smoke out his nostrils as he'd watched his father do when Becker was a child. For many years he'd longed to release smoke out his nostrils like his father. While some sons pantomimed shaving while watching their old man, Becker had watched his dad smoke and exhale, memorizing the technique and the timing. And at age sixteen he'd accomplished his goal, but not without some coughing and hacking. Now he'd become an expert at nostril smoke exhalation, and he did it with a certain style. That was one of only two things he did that made him stand out a bit. In every other aspect of his life, Becker blended right into the crowd. The bland suits he wore, the low decibels of his speech, his everyman's features, and the vacant expression in his eyes were all designed to place everyone's attention on any location other than him.

He drew a bit of tobacco off his tongue as his gaze flickered like a dying light bulb at the tall, thin man in the excellent suit where each jacket cuff showed the exact same margin of white shirt underneath. He was pushing through the glass double doors of the downtown office building and began walking down the street. Becker bought a newspaper from a vendor and headed in the same direction. The other fellow was a prosperous and pleased-looking gent principally because he was very successful at what he did. Indeed, he owned the building he'd just exited. He'd accumulated lots of money, all of it legally, and gave a substantial portion of it away to good works. He was married to a lovely and refined woman and with her had had three bright children who would soon make their positive marks on the world. He had few enemies in the world.

But as Becker knew, it took only one determined adversary to change your life.


On Sale
May 2, 2011
Page Count
16 pages

David Baldacci

About the Author

David Baldacci is a global #1 bestselling author, and one of the world’s favorite storytellers. His books are published in over 45 languages and in more than 80 countries, with 150 million copies sold worldwide. His works have been adapted for both feature film and television. David Baldacci is also the cofounder, along with his wife, of the Wish You Well Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting literacy efforts across America. Still a resident of his native Virginia, he invites you to visit him at and his foundation at

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