Home > Behind the Hands That Kill (In the Company of Killers #6)(7)

Behind the Hands That Kill (In the Company of Killers #6)(7)
Author: J.A. Redmerski

Artemis frowned, pouted, the way she always did when she was trying to get me to baby her. I liked it—that childlike frown, and babying her. I reached out and grabbed her around the waist, pulled her down on top of me, and with a little less aggression than she had with me, dug my fingertips into her sides.

A peal laughter filled our small apartment bedroom; she kicked and screamed. “Please stop! Victor please! I’m going to pee—PLEASE STOP!”

Of course, I didn’t stop.

And, of course, she did pee.

When I saw the look on her face—I was on top of her by then—that blank, horrified expression that could only be caused by pissing one’s self, I finally stopped tickling her, and I roared with laughter. I laughed so hard and for so long that tears steadily seeped from the corners of my eyes.

“Victor!” Her size-seven foot hit me square in the chest and sent me flying across the bed.

It made me laugh even harder—I thought I might piss myself, too.

Present day…

I snap out of the private reverie.

Laughter. Smiles. Tickling. That was a time so long ago, when I was the one still wet behind the ears, despite my progression in The Order. Still so young. So incredibly foolish. But most of all, vulnerable. Needless to say, I learned from that mistake.

Or so I thought I did.

“Judging by that look on your face,” Apollo says, “I don’t believe you.”

I look over at him.

“Yes,” I answer with honesty this time, “sometimes I still think about Artemis.”


The woman holding me hostage in this room looks over at me, expecting some kind of response, knowing it’s the moment she’s going to get one. A shift of my facial expression? The tensing of my shoulders? The holding of my breath? How about all three?

“I don’t want to hear this,” I tell her, looking away from the speaker on the desk where I’ve been listening to Victor talk to some guy for several minutes now.

“You don’t have a choice,” she says.

She’s wearing all black, every part of her covered but her head and her hands. Black boots that stop just below the knees. Black bodysuit that zips up the front from her navel to just beneath her chin. Black hair pulled into a tight braid that drops to the center of her back. Black eye shadow. Even the gemstone on her only ring is black.

“Does it bother you?” she asks, stepping toward me with a gun in her right hand.

“What exactly?” I can’t look her in the eyes.

The soft sound of laughter finds my ears.

“That the man you love,” she begins, drawing closer, “loved someone before he loved you.”

I laugh lightly, though it’s fake. And forced. Swallowing my pride, I keep the woman in my sights, but keep my eyes on the wall beside her.

“Why would that bother me?” I say, pretending that it doesn’t. “It would be ridiculous—everybody has a past.”

I can sense the woman smile, I can feel her eyes on me, studying me, laughing quietly at me like a bearded woman in a freak show circus.

Then I feel the cold metal of her gun press against my temple.

“Go ahead. Shoot me. I have a feeling before this is all over, you’re going to anyway.”

There’s a pause, and then she says as if she’s bored, “As much as I’d like to, me killing you wasn’t part of the plan.” Not sure I’m comfortable with the emphasis she put on ‘me’.

“Well, if using me to get Victor to talk was part of your plan”—smirking, I turn my head to look her in the eyes, despite the barrel of the gun—“then you’re going to be disappointed.”

She smiles, and the gun falls away from my head.

“That’s probably true,” she says. “Because a man like Victor Faust—specifically Victor Faust—is incapable of choosing a woman over his nature.”

She has no idea what Victor would do for me—I know, but I don’t want her to know, or this could end badly for both of us.

“But surely you knew about Artemis,” she says. “Or did he have you believing he’s never been in love with anyone but you before? Think you popped his love cherry, huh?”

I want to smack that mocking look off her gorgeous black face, but she’d probably retaliate with a bullet in my glowering white one.

“I don’t care what Victor did in his past, or who he loved.”

“Are you sure about that?”

“Yeah.” I nod, pursing my lips defiantly. “Pretty sure.”

She smiles. Ah! I hate that!

“I wonder if you’ll change your mind before you walk out of here—if you walk out of here.”

Both of my brows rise curiously. “So then it’s a choice?” I ask, leery of the prospect, and the conditions surrounding it.

Her smile melts into a mysterious smirk; she looks at me sidelong, without moving her head, to follow my movements, which are few.

“That’ll be Victor’s decision,” she answers, cryptically, and for some reason I can’t figure out, a chill moves up my spine.

The woman walks back over to the desk, fits her thumb and index finger on the volume knob of the computer speaker, and Victor’s voice fills my tiny cell of a room.


The Stone Family are royalty in the crime world, primarily Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba, and Brazil. And the siblings—once a total of seven—were all named after mythological deities. Osiris Stone, the eldest, is who started all of this fifteen years ago. Gaia Stone, the second eldest, was a black widow. Ares, third eldest, did not live up to his ‘God of War’ namesake—I killed him as he ate a pancake, sitting on a barstool in a Waffle House; his embarrassing death brought shame upon the Stone Family. Hestia, fourth eldest, was in a Guatemalan prison last I heard, and murdered nine prisoners in her first two days—she was the deadliest one of them all. Then there was Theseus; nothing special about him—I killed him too.

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