Home > Behind the Hands That Kill (In the Company of Killers #6)(13)

Behind the Hands That Kill (In the Company of Killers #6)(13)
Author: J.A. Redmerski

But I understand. I don’t approve, and I can never look you in the face and tell you that what you did, you had to do, that you had no other choice. I can’t look at you as a man whose hands haven’t been stained by the blood of the innocent, like I could before. It didn’t have to be you who killed her—it didn’t have to be you. You knew The Order would’ve killed her and your conscience would be clear, your hands would be clean; they could’ve done the job you shouldn’t have done yourself.

But you did it.

And for that I can’t give you the forgiveness you seek. I can’t pretend any longer that…you are perfect.

But I will always love you—that will never change.

I close my eyes softly, trying to force back the rest of my tears. If I’m going to die here today—and I know that I am—I don’t want the last few moments of my life to be spent crying. Because I’m stronger than that, and I don’t want these crazy people who brought us here, to feel the satisfaction.

A powerful, excruciating jolt moves through my body, nearly knocking me unconscious. My heart stops and my muscles tense so tightly I become a rock on this unsteady chair; my teeth catch my tongue and the taste of blood pools in my mouth; my eyes roll into the back of my head. I try to scream, but the gag in my mouth prevents anything but muffled curses.

“I told you!” Victor shouts, his voice banging in my ears as I struggle to stay upright. “I told you I would cooperate! Leave her alone!”

I try to catch my breath, but it’s that much harder when I can only inhale and exhale through my nose. My back is on fire where the cattle prod left its mark.

I want to kill that sonofabitch!

“Oh it gets much better,” I hear Apollo say somewhere behind me. “Marina was just the beginning”—I feel his hot breath on my ear—“wait until he tells you about Marina’s baby sister.”

My eyes, dizzied by the electric shock, find Victor’s again. He looks the same as before, when he was about to tell me the story of Marina, and I’m not liking what I see.

I shake my head again, just as I did earlier when I wanted him to refuse to talk. We’re going to die anyway, and I’d rather die with the man I know and love, not with a stranger that I love. But I know he’s going to tell me anyway. And I know the more he talks, the less I’ll be able to forgive.

I love you, Victor…please, don’t say anymore.


“I killed her, too,” I confess. “No need to go into those details—I killed her. She had to be…put down…because she knew too much, because Marina told her too much.” I sigh, hesitating, because the rest of the truth is worse. “It was not even an official order that the sister be terminated—it would have been, but I did not wait for it; I took it upon myself to tie up that loose end like any skilled operative would have done.”

“A loose end,” Apollo echoes. “Put down like a dog.”

“Yes.” It is all I can say.

Izabel is shaking her head; I feel like she wants me to stop talking. But I cannot. I may not have brought her on vacation to tell her the truth about my past—though I would have told her that, too, eventually—but I did bring her here to tell her other truths. And this was not exactly how I envisioned coming clean. But it is the hand that I was dealt, and it is the hand that I will play. It will be my only chance to tell her.

I notice Apollo, from the corner of my eye, concentrating hard again, and I realize that he is listening to someone, possibly through an earpiece.

So far I have counted five different people, including Apollo, who are in on this. Now I have to figure out which one of them Apollo is answering to. Osiris, perhaps? It would not surprise me, despite their tumultuous past.

“I have to take a piss,” Apollo announces.

He walks past Izabel and me and says on his way to the door, “I hope you don’t miss me too much while I’m gone.”

He slips out and the gray light blinks off as the door closes with an echoing bang behind him.

“Izabel, listen to me,” I say in a rush the moment Apollo is gone. “I need to know if you can move your hands at all. Enough to work them free.”

She struggles against the chair, and then after a moment, shakes her head no.

My heart drops. As ashamed as I am to admit it, I had been counting on her having a plan. This cage around me is not coming open without a key, and I have a feeling Apollo is not the one in possession of it. Izabel’s hair is still growing back from when it was cut in Italy, so there are no pins holding it in place like she wore on occasion with longer hair. She wears no jewelry; her feet are bare; not even her bikini top has an underwire—there is nothing I can use to pick this lock. Frantically I check the pockets of my khaki pants, but they are empty. I am not even wearing a belt.

I sit down against the filthy stones, cross my legs Indian-style, and I let out a long, surrendering breath.

“Taking you away for a while,” I finally say after a moment, “was supposed to be a fresh start for me. I wanted to get things off my chest, to be honest with you about why I did not kill Nora Kessler…but I”—I raise my eyes, look right at her now; hers are full of heartbreak—“but I also wanted to tell you about something that I did. You have a right to know. And I still want to tell you these things, but I feel in a way that now it is wrong, because you cannot speak, you cannot have your say, or ask the questions you have every right to ask—you cannot scream at me, if that is what you want to do. It would just be me talking, confessing, not so unlike Kessler had us all doing not long ago. But bad timing or not, it is the only way…”

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