Home > Behind the Hands That Kill (In the Company of Killers #6)(12)

Behind the Hands That Kill (In the Company of Killers #6)(12)
Author: J.A. Redmerski

But I knew I had to. What I wanted did not matter.

She began to gasp for air; her slender, womanly hands reaching, grasping for anything, her fingers digging into my neck as my arms tightened around hers. I could not look at her; I somehow shut my ears off to the desperate sounds she made as she struggled in my hold. I squeezed tighter. I could feel the breath from her nostrils rapid and shallow against my arm; the violent beating of her heart bursting through her jugular vein; the life slipping from her like water slipping through my fingers.

I held her limp body there for a long time, staring into her dead eyes, mourning her life and her beauty and her innocence that I stole from her.

“I am sorry, Marina,” I whispered. “I am sorry…”

Carefully I laid her body on the floor, and I sat back down on the bed again, with her at my feet. Killing Marina was, at that point in my very short life, the hardest thing I ever had to do.

My cell phone rang on the nightstand. As I knew it would.

“Faust,” I answered.

“You did the right thing,” the voice on the other end said. “I thought I’d have to send someone in and deal with her—and you—myself.”

“Was this a test?” I asked.

“Actually, no,” he said. “But her house has been bugged since day one. I’ve been listening to the conversation. I always do.”

It was a significant detail that I should have remembered—all Safe Houses run by The Order are bugged, or were at least supposed to be—but because of Marina, and how easily she clouded my judgment, that detail completely slipped my mind on this night when she started talking. How could I have been so stupid to forget such a thing? How could I have gone so far in The Order only to come so close to letting a woman destroy everything I had gained? But the second Marina said the name ‘Brant’, the memory came back. And I knew that what I did to Marina could not have happened any other way. My and Marina’s relationship, whatever kind of relationship it was destined to be, was doomed from the very beginning.

“Pack up and check into a hotel for the night,” my mentor said. “Report to me in the morning; Vonnegut has a new job for you in Los Angeles.”

“What about the girl?” I inquired about Marina.

“A Cleaner will be sent in after your car leaves,” he said. He paused and then added with a tinge of humor in his voice, “Are you all right, Faust? I know she was an irresistible woman, but this is the way things are.”

“Yes sir, I know,” I said. “And yes, I am perfectly fine,” I lied.

“Good,” he said. “Well, I’ll talk to you in the morning.”

“Wait—I am curious,” I said, stopping him.

“About what?”

“Why you chose the name ‘Brant’. You always use the same one.”

He chuckled.

“It was the name of the first man I ever killed,” he said. “No other reason than that, really—it’s sort of like a trophy. Why did you choose the name ‘Victor’?”

I paused and said, “Victor is my real name.”

“Ah, I see,” Brant said. “Well that’s as good a reason as any. Pack up and leave the residence, Faust; the body ain’t gettin’ any fresher.”

I set the phone on the nightstand. I spent another ten minutes with Marina, apologizing to her in my mind, before finally getting dressed, grabbing my belongings, and leaving the tiny house in the Oregon wilderness that was the only place I felt at home since I was a boy and was forced into The Order.

Present day…

Apollo shakes his head and smiles.

“And why did you kill her?” he asks, already knowing the answer, but wanting Izabel to hear it. “It wasn’t because you thought you were being tested, was it?”

I give only Izabel my attention, because as hard as this is for me, she deserves to know.

“I knew that Marina was telling the truth—I saw it in her eyes, I felt it in her touch, heard it in her words. The truth is that I cared about her…too much.”

Izabel does not appear to blink for a long time; she just looks at me, and I cannot read what it is in her eyes. And then finally she shuts them softly and takes a deep breath. And I know—I know that she is disappointed, that she is hurt, not because I cared about a woman other than her, but because I killed that woman, and why I killed her.

“So you murdered an innocent woman,” Apollo drills me like a prosecuting attorney, rubbing vinegar into the wound, “because you cared about her.” He clicks his tongue, shakes his head.

“Yes,” I admit. “I killed her for no other reason than my feelings for her. Even if I could never love her, the way that I love you”—(a tear slips down Izabel’s cheek)—“I knew I had to kill her, or The Order would have killed me.”

I stand up and move close to the bars, crouching to Izabel’s eye-level, wishing now more than ever that I could touch her.

“And Marina was not the first,” I say.

Another tear tracks down her cheek. And another.

It will all be over soon, my love.

It will be over soon.


I love you, Victor, with every shred of my soul. I wish I could tell you—can’t you see it in my eyes, in my tears? Can’t you fucking see it?!

Or is the pain all that you see? The disappointment and the disapproval? What you did was awful, Victor. That poor, innocent girl, who was not so unlike me. She needed your help. She trusted you, and you cared for her, yet you chose to take her life rather than to save it.

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