Home > Behind the Hands That Kill (In the Company of Killers #6)(21)

Behind the Hands That Kill (In the Company of Killers #6)(21)
Author: J.A. Redmerski

Apollo stands, smacks his hands together again; the smile never diminishes but only seems to broaden. Then he begins to pace back and forth in front of my cage.

“The first few months,” he says, “it was as simple as me being on vacation in Rio de Janeiro, partying my ass off—wouldn’t doubt a few kids of my own were conceived during that time.” He smirks at me. “When my brothers were killed, I didn’t think much of it—people die in my family all the time—but when my parents were offed shortly after, I knew something was up. So, I had a guy get in touch with another guy, who hired some other guy, who found out that my brother, Osiris, had put a hit out on everyone but my sisters. I knew I was next, so I left Brazil and laid low—”

“Tell me again,” I cut in, “why I am the one in this cage, and not Osiris.”

Apollo holds up his index finger.

“I’m not done, Victor,” he says, scolding me.

He continues pacing.

“Now, I understood why Osiris did what he did,” he says, pursing his lips. “Mom and Dad treated Osiris like a red-headed step-child; I mean, sure they beat the shit outta all of us from time to time. But Osiris, being the oldest and all, got the worst of it. I knew one day he’d fuckin’ explode. Osiris loved his sisters though—Hestia was to him like Artemis was to me—but he hated me, and he hated Ares and Theseus. Osiris was jealous of us because the boys in the family were the favorites. But not Osiris. It’s why he was protective of our sisters; he felt more like one of them than one of us.”

“So then why did he put that knife in my hand that night fifteen years ago?” I interrupt again. “If he loved Artemis so much, why did he want me to kill her?”

Apollo smiles, and then rolls his eyes with irritation.

“Because he was using my sister against me, getting revenge for what I did in retaliation for what he did.”

“And what did you do?”

“He was offing our family, and I was next, so I killed his wife,” he answers matter-of-factly. “I—well, I fucked her first, and then I killed her. Needless to say, Osiris was not a happy man. But an eye for an eye, I thought.”

“And you never thought he’d retaliate by coming after Artemis,” I say, figuring it out on my own.

Apollo nods once.

“Yeah,” he says with regret. “Never saw that one coming. But I should’ve. Hell, if he was crazy and cold enough to kill our brothers—who never did shit to him, I should add—then I should’ve known he’d use the only person in the world who I loved—my twin—to get back at me for killing his wife.”

“You are all disturbed,” I say. “Your entire family. And I thought my family had issues.”

He shrugs again. “Yeah, well,” he says, “I guess I can’t really argue with you on that one.”

I step up to the bars, peer at him with focus. “Still, none of this explains why I am the one here, paying for his betrayal. It is not much different than killing the messenger. I did only what I was commissioned to do—by your brother.”

“Ah, but you didn’t,” Apollo tries to correct me, and I fail to understand. “You did something far worse. And you’re just as guilty as he was.”

I am thoroughly frustrated with all of this. More-so with myself. It never takes me this long to figure out the most complicated of puzzles. Quite frankly, it is, as Izabel might say, pissing me off.

Apollo takes a seat again, and props his foot on his knee and his hands on his stomach, just like before. Then he nods at me and says, “Finish the story, Victor. Tell me what happened that night when Osiris got to you before I could.”

“Tell me where Izabel is first,” I demand. “You want to know this story desperately enough—tell me if she is still alive, if she has been hurt.”

“Oh, she’s still alive all right.” He grins. “As far as what has been, or is being done to her, I can’t answer that. But she’s alive, and I can promise you one thing: you’ll see her again before this is all over.”

Nothing about his cryptic promise eases my mind. It does exactly the opposite.

“The story, Victor,” Apollo speaks up over the vociferous sound of my restless thoughts. He taps his watch with the tip of his finger. “Unfortunately, we don’t have all night.”

I tell Apollo about Osiris breaking into the house in the middle of the night after Artemis and I had fallen asleep. I tell him about how Osiris dragged his sister off the bed and held a gun to her head. And I admit to not being alert, or fast enough, to have been able to stop it; another gun was in my face before I could reach mine on the nightstand. And I tell him how Artemis’s life was used against me so an accomplice could tie me to a chair without me killing him. It was not a shining moment in my life—certainly not in my career—but it was one night of mistakes I quickly learned from and vowed never to make again.

Yet here I am again. Because, unfortunately, history does tend to repeat itself.

Fifteen years ago…

Osiris stood and shoved his gun into the back of his pants; his black leather jacket concealed it.

“So,” he said, coming toward me, “you’re saying that if someone above you, from The Order, was to walk in here and tell you to put that bitch out of her misery—”

“Your use of expletives,” I cut in, blood dripping from my bottom lip, “makes it difficult to take you seriously.”

Osiris’s left brow rose higher than the other.

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