Home > Behind the Hands That Kill (In the Company of Killers #6)(9)

Behind the Hands That Kill (In the Company of Killers #6)(9)
Author: J.A. Redmerski

Izabel’s entire body tenses and her face twists with pain before she falls over sideways and out of the chair; the static sound of the cattle prod rings sharply in my ears long after it’s gone. So it is Izabel who will suffer the torture if I refuse to speak—knife, box cutter, fire, ‘simple’ cattle prod—suddenly there is nothing simple about any of it.

“That’s enough, Apollo!” I grab the bars again, letting the rage have the control, my teeth crushing together so hard that pain shoots through my lower jaw and up the back of my skull.

In my peripheral vision I see Izabel, lying on her side against the stones, trying to catch her breath, but my eyes and my focus remain on Apollo.

He places the cattle prod on the floor behind him, and then approaches the cage.

Yes, that is it—come closer, Dead Man Walking, and give me one opportunity, just one, and I am going to take it.

He stops just shy of the opportunity.

“Let’s begin,” he says, taunting me, “with Safe House One.” His smirk deepens, and my confusion grows.

“Safe House One?” I ask.

“Yeah. That’s what I said.”

“I do not understand—what about it?”

Apollo helps Izabel back onto the chair; she tries to wrench her arm from his hand; words that can only be of a profane nature push through the fabric in her mouth and come out as a series of high and low sounds. But her eyes say everything her voice cannot: “I’m going to fucking kill you.”

“Her name was Marina, if I remember the way Artemis told the story.”


I try not to look at Izabel anymore, but it is difficult to avoid. I just hope she does not see the guilt in my soul.

“So, Artemis told you about Safe House One—how is that relevant?”

“My sister told me everything about you before she died,” Apollo reveals. “She and I were close, being twins and all; she didn’t keep secrets from me.” He seems lost in a memory suddenly, the pain of losing his sister evident on his dejected features. But he shakes it off, looks at me again. “Except your sexual relationship”—he waves a hand dismissively—“I drew the line with that shit.”

“Why do you want me to talk about Safe House One?”

“Marina,” he corrects me.

“Why do you want me to talk about Marina?”

For a fleeting moment, Apollo’s eyes skirt Izabel sitting on the chair.

Ah. Now it makes sense. Now I understand—everything. And my heart stops beating; I feel a crushing sensation in the pit of my stomach.

This is it.

Today, it all ends.

Finally, I make eye contact with the woman I love, still hoping she does not see the guilt, but in my heart I know that she does. There is a brief but distinct flicker in her eyes as she gazes at me; the fact she is no longer attempting to speak is proof that Apollo has her attention.

“Izabel?” I whisper, but not in an attempt to conceal my voice. “You probably know why we are here. Do you know why?”

Izabel nods slowly—she has an idea, but she cannot possibly know what I am about to tell her.

Ignoring Apollo’s amused gaze, I keep my eyes only on Izabel.

I take a deep breath. “We are here because of me,” I say. “And you are…” I cannot finish the sentence; my breath feels like it’s fleeing my lungs; my heart pounds in my ears and in my stomach.

I look away from her, but the sound of her mumbling voice beneath the fabric brings me back, to face her—to face and to accept and to tell the truth.

I owe her that much.

“Izabel…you are going to die today”—my hands begin to tremble and sweat—“…and…and there is nothing I can do to stop it.”

I see Izabel’s chest fall, followed by her eyelids; tears seep from their confines and stream down her dirty cheeks. If only I could kiss the tears away, just one more time.

I am sorry Izabel. I am sorry for the day we met, for not taking you back to Javier Ruiz’s compound, for not handing you over to Izel when she came for you in the motel; I am sorry that my weakness has put your life in peril; I am sorry that because of me you will die long before you have had a chance to live your life. A real life. A life untouched by the pain and the horrors in which suffocate me and the only life I know. I am sorry for falling in love with you. I am sorry for everything.

These words I wish to tell her.

But I cannot.

I cannot because…I am afraid.

I look down at the soiled stones beneath my feet as if they can comfort me somehow. But they turn their backs on me instead, leaving me not even a shoulder.

“No need to scare the girl,” I hear Apollo’s voice distant in my ears—mostly all I hear are my thoughts. “You didn’t have to tell her the truth. And I wouldn’t have said anything, bro. As a courtesy. But whatever. Your fuckup, not mine.”

“I will tell the truth about Marina—I will tell many truths on this day,” I announce, but then turn my face to Izabel. “But let it be known that I will do this only because Izabel deserves to know the real me.” I look away from Izabel and glare at Apollo. “Nothing that I say is because you want me to say it.”

He smiles.

“You don’t have to say anything,” he says, laughter in his voice. “If you know you’re gonna die—that she’s gonna die—then why dig your grave that much deeper? You’re a fucking enigma, Victor.” He laughs out loud.

I look Izabel in the eyes again, and all I can think about as she stares wordlessly back at me, is if she will be able to forgive me for all that I have done.

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