Home > Behind the Hands That Kill (In the Company of Killers #6)(3)

Behind the Hands That Kill (In the Company of Killers #6)(3)
Author: J.A. Redmerski

“Fifty-five thousand,” he answers.

My eyebrows crumple under wrinkles of confusion. Fifty-five thousand? That can’t be right; Victor never takes a job under one hundred thousand anymore.

“So then you admit,” I say, ignoring the meager payday for the moment, “that this whole vacation idea really had nothing to do with you and me, alone time, away from all the chaos—it was just an excuse.”

Victor shakes his head. “No, Izabel,” he counters, “it wasn’t an excuse, and yes, I brought you here to be alone with you.”

“But you wouldn’t have chosen this place,” I say, not with anger, but with disappointment, “if your target wasn’t here. We could be soaking up the sun and breathing in the clean air of The Bahamas right now, but your hit was more important.”

“That is not fair, Izabel, and you know it.”

He’s right, I’m not being fair. I know more than anyone that our lifestyle is far from ordinary, normal. I knew getting into this—the relationship with Victor, the profession—that ‘normal’ would always be an illusion. So yes, he’s right, I’m not being fair. But he didn’t have to lie to me about it, either.

Victor sighs heavily and looks off toward the wall.

“I just wanted to make it seem as real as it could,” he says. “I could have told you the truth, I know, but I did not want to ruin it for you.”

“I know,” I tell him, forgiving him.

I go back over and sit sideways on his lap; he hooks his hands around my waist.

“So tell me about the job,” I say. “And why only fifty-five thousand?”

He kisses the side of my neck.

“It came at the perfect time,” he begins. “We needed to get away from Boston—I could kill two birds with one stone, so I took the job.”

“So then I’m a bird that needs to be killed?”

Victor frowns.

I smile.

“I’m just messing with you,” I tell him, and kiss his lips.

Victor smiles lightly, and then helps me off his lap.

“I apologize,” he says. “I know I could have—should have—just set everything else aside and taken you where you wanted to go; made the vacation about you. About us.”

“It’s OK,” I say. “This is who we are, Victor. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Besides, you’re the Great Victor Faust, and you have a reputation to maintain. Bein’ all God-like and stuff.” I scrunch my nose up at him, and smile. I’m just trying to lighten the mood again.

“Izabel,” he says, walking away, mood not lightened, “you give me far more credit than I deserve.” He pulls his gun from the back of his pants and sets it on the table beside the ice bucket. And then he strips off his shirt. “You’ve only ever seen two sides of me. I’m not perfect. I’m skilled, yes. But immortal? No.”

I want to laugh—how could he assume I believe something so ridiculous? But I don’t laugh. I don’t because I realize that all this time I’ve never really believed that anything could ever happen to Victor; I can’t think of a single instant when I was truly afraid for him—he’s right: without realizing it, all this time I’ve considered him immortal. And maybe even perfect, too.

I walk over to him, touch his bare arm lightly, brush my fingertips over the curvature of his bicep muscle. “Well, maybe you’re right”—I press my lips to his shoulder; his skin is warm against my mouth—“maybe when I look at you I see something more…complex, more advanced.” Walking around him slowly, my lips leave a trail of kisses across his back, his sides, and then his chest when I make a full circle.

I stop and look at him gazing down into my eyes. What is that in his gaze? Lust? Indecision? Struggle? For the first time in a long time I can’t tell the difference.

“There’s something I need to tell you, Izabel.”

The words, although vague, are cryptic enough to stop my heart. No one ever starts a sentence like that unless the rest of it is going to suck.

I take a step back and away from him immediately.

“What is it, Victor?” I’m afraid of the answer.

He sighs and his gaze drops to the floor; a hand comes up and his fingers cut a nervous path through his short hair.

He looks right at me.

My heart stops again.

“There was more to the mission in Italy than what you were lead to believe.”

I blink twice, and then just stare at him for a drawn-out moment.

“OK,” I finally say. “Then what? Tell me.”

Victor pulls out a chair from underneath the table and he takes a seat. I remain standing. I feel like I should probably sit down for this too. But screw that.

“I want you to sit down,” he says kindly.

“No, I’m fine right here,” I respond with a little less kindness—I cross my arms.

He sighs, and then slouches in the chair somewhat, letting his long legs fall apart before him; his left arm rests on the tabletop.

There’s a long pause, and although only a few seconds, I feel like I’m going to die with impatience.


“There are things about me,” he begins, “that you will never understand, or be able to accept, things that I cannot change.”

“Can’t or won’t?”


That stings. But I say nothing.

And where the hell is this stuff coming from? I’m getting whiplash trying to figure out how we went from almost-sex to you’re-gonna-need-to-sit-down-for-this.

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