Home > Behind the Hands That Kill (In the Company of Killers #6)(4)

Behind the Hands That Kill (In the Company of Killers #6)(4)
Author: J.A. Redmerski

“When I met you,” he goes on, not looking at me, “or I should say after I fell in love with you, I thought maybe I could change.” Now he looks right at me, hooking my gaze and holding it. “That part of me that loves you wanted to…adjust”—he motions a hand casually—“certain things about my personality, to better suit you as your…lover.”

“My lover? You’re not a robot, Victor,” I snap, “so please speak normal, everyday English.”

“I love you,” he says, “but I can never change who I am for you.” (That didn’t sting—it gutted me.) “And I was a fool to ever consider it. Changing is impossible. I knew that all along. I tried to find ways around it, but in doing so I got myself in tight situations.”

My mouth pinches bitterly on one side; my arms stay crossed. I want to argue, but he doesn’t give me a chance.

“If I was myself, Kessler never would have made it out of that auditorium alive the night we apprehended her. But because of my feelings for you, I played her game to save the life of your mother. I changed who I am, how I work—for you. And as long as you’re alive, as long as I’m in love with you—as long as you are mine—I’ll struggle with who I’ve become, and who I am. And the consequences will be that I get myself, and you, and everyone else, into tight situations. Because I am not used to caring for someone, Izabel. I am not used to…caring at all.”

“So what are you saying?” I ask, bitterly. “Is this your way of leaving me? Is that why you brought me here: show me a good time, give me the last part of who you tried to be, and then send me on my way?”

Wait. Or could it be…? No…that can’t be what’s happening—did he bring me here to kill me?

I take two more steps backward, my legs becoming unsteady underneath my trembling weight.

Victor stands, and my eyes dart to see his gun still laying on the table beside him. In his reach. My heart is pounding against my ribcage. I’m losing my breath.

“No,” he says calmly, regretfully, and walks away from the gun, moving toward me. “I brought you here to tell you the truth. About Italy. About Nora. About everything.”

About Nora? Why does it feel like my stomach is in my throat all of a sudden? What the hell does Nora have to do with this?

“Then tell me, Victor. Tell me and get it over with.”

He stops abruptly, just feet from me, and cocks his head curiously to one side. He looks stunned, maybe even a little wounded, and I can’t quite place why. I think he’s going to say something—maybe he’s hurt by how afraid I am of him suddenly. No, it’s something else…something entirely—


His eyes appear heavier, unfocused; his legs seem to struggle holding up his weight; he’s like a tree moved by a steady wind.

“Victor, you’re scaring me.” I move toward him. “Victor?” He collapses, and instinctively my arms shoot out to catch him, but the heavy weight of his body falls against mine; we crash onto the carpeted floor together.

“Victor! Victor wake up!” I crawl from underneath his hip and sit on my knees beside his seemingly lifeless body. “Victor!” I shriek. My hands probe his face; his eyes are wide open, but empty—thank God I feel breath emitting from his mouth and nostrils.

What the hell is going on? What just happened?

My fingers graze something foreign when I grab him by the neck. I turn his head to one side to see a tiny golden piece of metal jutting from his skin. Yanking it out quickly, a trickle of blood follows, trailing down his throat. I drop the strange-looking dart on the floor.

The balcony. Victor’s back was facing the open balcony doors. Panicked, I struggle to get to my feet, intent on making it first to Victor’s gun on the table and then to the balcony doors to close them. But I don’t even make it to the gun when I feel a sudden hot prickle in the side of my neck. And just like Victor, I stop, stunned, instantly feeling the drug moving through my bloodstream, and into my brain. The room begins to spin; my legs feel boneless; I can’t feel my hands or my chest or my face.

Two dark figures, blurry and colorless, appear at the balcony doors. All I can make out is the movement, and their feet. Am I on the floor again? How did I get here?

“She’ll fit in the suitcase,” I hear a man’s voice say.

Suitcase? What the fuck do you mean suitcase? I feel like I’m screaming at these people, but for some reason I don’t think they hear me. I could swear that I’m thrashing, trying to fight them off, but I don’t think they notice.

Moments later I feel my body being lifted into the air. No, I don’t feel it, I see it—I don’t feel anything—and although everything is out of focus, I can still vaguely make out the furniture in the room. I can see one body standing over Victor. I can see things moving as I’m carried away. Then I hear, muffled in my ears, the ominous sound of a zipper.

No! Don’t put me in there! Please! NO!

I realize now that I can’t move and I can’t speak. But my eyes are open and I can see. And I can hear. And I can smell. Perfume. Peppermint. Dial soap. Nail polish. Leather. My sense of smell is intensified, but my sight and hearing have diminished severely.

The zipper sounds in my ears again.

“Hurry,” a woman’s voice urges. “They’re coming.”

What little light I could see, and everything within it, goes black as the zipper closes around me, sealing me inside a leather tomb.


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