Home > Behind the Hands That Kill (In the Company of Killers #6)(16)

Behind the Hands That Kill (In the Company of Killers #6)(16)
Author: J.A. Redmerski

I cannot find the proper words to say—there are none. Izabel would have been better off if I had killed her myself a long time ago.

Hestia and I have only ever spoken once; we have only been in the same room with one another on one occasion. But one time was all it took to make that woman despise the ground I walk on.

Hestia knew I was not with Artemis simply because I loved her—Hestia knew I was the one killing off her family members; she knew, by gut instinct alone, that I was using her sister to fulfill my contract. But she had no proof. And Artemis would not listen to her:

“Are you really that stupid, Artemis?” Hestia scolded—I was in the restroom listening through the wall. “Ever since he showed up, our family has been dying off one by one. There’s something about him—I can feel it!” Her voice was a whisper, but sharp and strong enough I could hear her almost plainly.

“You always do this,” Artemis snapped. “You just don’t want me to be happy. Hestia, please, just let me live my life—I love Victor! Can’t you see that?” It sounded like she was crying.

“Yeah, I see that,” Hestia came back, “and that’s what makes this whole thing so…fucked up. He’s using you! And you’re letting him!”

“That’s enough! Just stop!” I could hear footsteps stomping heavily across the floor. “I don’t see you for years and you waltz in here one day, out of the blue, and instead of spending time with me, catching up like long-lost sisters are supposed to do, you tell me how stupid I am—you’re just jealous, Hestia. You always do this!”

I heard glass shatter against the floor.

Wanting to prevent Hestia from hurting Artemis, I exited the restroom promptly, and made myself known once again.

Artemis was on her knees on the floor, carefully picking up shards of clear blue glass that was once a dolphin that sat on the coffee table—I never knew which one of them broke it.

“Is everything all right?” I asked, pretending not to have heard anything incriminating.

“Everything’s fine,” Artemis said, despondently.

I went right over and crouched in front of Artemis, proceeded to pick up the glass for her. “No, let me,” I insisted, taking the shards from her palm. “I do not want you to cut your hands.”

“This is ridiculous!” Hestia hissed. “Why don’t you tell my sister the truth? Tell her you have something to do with the deaths of our mother and father and—so far—two brothers. Tell her!”

“STOP IT! Please just STOP!” Artemis buried her face within her hands.

I shot into a stand and turned to face Hestia, stood toe to toe with her.

“I think you should leave,” I insisted.

She glared at me through eyes full of ire. (I thought it was such a shame I was not commissioned to kill her, too. At that time, I did not understand why only the Stone brothers and parents were the ones with bounties on their heads—all three sisters were off-limits. Until that fateful night fifteen years ago.)

“You’re the reason for everything that’s happened,” Hestia accused boldly, completely unafraid of me in every way. “I don’t why, or who else is involved, but I’ll find out.” She pressed the tip of her index finger dead center in my chest, glared more coldly than before. “And if you hurt my sister…so help me God, I’ll hunt you every minute of every day until I find you. I’ll hang you from a meat hook and strip you of your skin, slowly, and I’ll leave you there to feel the pain. And then I’ll kill you.”

I had been threatened by many people in my life, but never had a threat chilled me before—I knew she would do it. I didn’t know why, but something told me that Hestia Stone was more than capable of backing up her threats—she would make sure of it. She was the only woman I ever feared.

A flash of black hair moved suddenly in the corner of my eye, and I lost my footing as Artemis flung herself between Hestia and me. I stumbled backward, grabbing onto the arm of the sofa for balance, but before I could stop her, Artemis was on top of Hestia, a shard of glass poking from the top of her hand. At first I thought maybe she had fallen on it because there was blood seeping through her fingers, running down her wrist, but when she raised her hand on her sister I saw that the glass was not there by accident, but with purpose.

“Artemis!” I ran toward her, tried to stop her.

But I was too late. Artemis’s hand came down, and it all happened so fast: the look on Hestia’s face, twisted by pain and shock and betrayal—most of all betrayal; the sound of glass penetrating the skin; the dark red color that soaked through the white of Hestia’s blouse; the chilling, rage-filled bellow that thundered through Artemis’s core, filling my ears and my heart with something I never could have imagined of her—unadulterated insanity.

Frozen in shock, I could not will my mind to move my legs; I could not form a sentence. My dear, sweet, Artemis Stone, not innocent by any means before this day, but certainly not what she became when she attacked her sister—I could not believe it.

Hestia managed to kick Artemis off of her, and Artemis fell backward into my arms; blood from both of them stained my hands. I grabbed her wrist and squeezed, knocking the shard from her grip; it fell on the floor without a sound. She fought against me, writhing, hitting, kicking, screaming, but I held her with ease in my arms until she calmed.

Hestia picked herself up from the floor, one hand covering the stab wound on her left breast; she was breathing hard, and could barely remain on her feet.

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