Prologue: Armoured Angel

The water running over her skin felt heavenly. Aira raised her face to the warm water, letting it run over her face, washing all traces of makeup and sweat. Over the sound of running water, she could hear voices. One of them, she knew, would have been her client for the evening, one of the bigger names in business who had deep-seated ties to the various politicians in the country. She did not know and did not care. Her job description did not require her to do much during the appointment, but the preparations before it often taxed her. Still, she considered herself lucky. Aira was in such demand that she was able to pick and choose who she slept with, and she was very particular about that.

By the time she got out, she knew, he would have left, the men already having searched for any recording devices she might have kept of their encounter. The only thing that could have fulfilled that requirement was her handphone, and Aira had already removed the SD card prior to the appointment. On its own, the phone did not have enough memory, but Aira was not on a data plan without a reason. She would have her recording, but unlike the clumsy downfall of a local politician from down south, she was not recording for cheap political stunts.

When Aira finally came out of the bathroom, she found herself alone and the door locked. Taking her time, she found her fee in a nondescript brown manilla envelope, in fresh notes and wonderfully thick. A quick flip through one of the stacks found that all the notes were coloured and none were plain white paper cut to the size of the notes. She smiled. Gold would have worked just as well, but she would use cash for now. With the recession coming, she would rather keep her money in commodities. Their value lasted much longer than mere cash, which could disappear overnight. Smart courtesans did not keep their eggs in one basket.

As she pulled on her clothes, her phone rang. She answered it automatically, her husky voice sounding subservient. Once she had received her orders, she left the room, remembering to reattach the small video camera hidden nearby. They would not have known that the camera had been deactivated until they checked the recording, and by then it would have been too late.

No one ever suspects the devil under the angel.