Dating an assassin wasn’t easy. Greg had met Michael in a bar and they had got on famously. The only awkward hiatus was when Michael pulled out a pistol, walked over to a man at a nearby table and shot him twice through the right eye.

“I was going to ask what you did for a living, but I think I can guess now!!”, laughed Greg as they fled from the scene.

Michael’s work mostly took place in the evenings, so Greg became used to their dates coinciding with hits. Subsequently, they often met in church towers where Michael would be hunched over a high-powered rifle.

“Be right with you, baby. Open the wine and start on the dips. The hummus is delish!”

“Will do. Happy shooting!”

Greg learned early on not to disturb Michal until the target lay dead. He’d made that mistake early on and was still mortified by his gaucheness. The two of them had been in the toilets of an art gallery on the Southbank.

“So, how did you get into this? Was it, like a friend, or something?”

“Sorry, sweety,” Michael had grunted, “can you give me a couple of minutes?”

Greg felt his face flush with embarrassment and he nodded, watching quietly as Michael finished killing the elderly man with a cheese-wire. Greg shifted his feet as the old man’s legs scrabbled for purchase on the tile floor, his face purple with asphyxia and his eyes bulging with terror and incomprehension.

Michael gave one last grunt of effort and the old man’s throat opened. There was a sound like a coffee percolator brewing: all bubbles and fluid, and a slew of thick arterial blood arced up onto the ceiling.

“Wow! It’s like a mental lava lamp!” exclaimed Greg and they had both laughed.

“It’s great you do something you love. I really envy you”, said Greg as he stroked Michael’s chest in bed later that night.

“It has it moments, but let me tell you: there’s a lot of hanging about”, he said, propping himself up on his elbow, “it plays merry Hell with my feet!”

They had been dating nine months and were at a French restaurant in Chelsea when Michael delivered the bombshell. “This is so embarrassing, but I’m just going to come straight out and say it:  I’m afraid I’ve been assigned to kill you”.

“Oh”, said Greg, placing down his Pinot Noir, “anyone I know?”

“I’m not actually allowed to tell you”. Michael looked apologetic, then broke into a smile. “Oh what the hell! You’re going to be dead soon! It’s a disgruntled ex. James? John. No, Jonathan. That’s right. Jonathan Haynes”

Greg shook his head and smiled sadly. “Aww, bless! Old J.J? He was always such a drama queen. This is SO him!”

“You don’t mind?” asked Michael, “only normally I’d say no in these circumstances, but he’s offering me ten grand and I’ve got my eye on a Mini Cooper”.

“The blue one we saw in the showroom?”

Michael nodded.

Greg clapped his hands together. “Oh, it’s gorge!! Do it, do it. You’ll look so cute driving around in one of those”.

Michael took his glass and tapped it on Greg’s. “You’re a star! To a job well done!”

Greg smiled. He knew he was lucky to have met someone like Michael. And as his life pulsed from his wounds to the rhythm of his dying heart, he looked up at the stars from the bottom of the skip.

“What a beautiful night…I’m so…happy….we met”.

Michael looked down at him. “Aww, me too babe”, he said as he threw in full bin liners of rubbish to cover his corpse.

“And I want you to know: every time I toot the horn of my Mini, I’ll think of you…”

Greg frowned and rolled his eyes.

That was the only thing he didn’t like about Michael: he could be nauseatingly sentimental.