Home > Behind the Hands That Kill (In the Company of Killers #6)(8)

Behind the Hands That Kill (In the Company of Killers #6)(8)
Author: J.A. Redmerski

Apollo and Artemis, the youngest of the Stone Family, were born eight minutes apart, Apollo’s cord wrapped around his sister’s neck. The family, coming from a long line of superstitious people, thought that when the twins grew up, there would be jealousy and conflict between them, and that Apollo was destined to kill his sister because he tried to do it in the womb with his umbilical cord.

But that was not what happened.

And that was not how they lived.

And that was not how she died.

Apollo and Artemis were as close as twin brother and sister can be. Vengeance—it is most certainly what fuels Apollo now. But money always lit a fire beneath him, too. As with the entire Stone Family. And now he has me. And now he can have everything he has ever wanted since his sister’s death—his revenge, and my head for the biggest payday of his life. And it is my own fault that we are here.

“So then shall we get on with it?” I suggest. “No need to drag this out, I suppose. What do you want?”

Apollo’s smile softens, but behind it I know there is nothing but malice.

The chair legs, uneven on the stones, tap against the floor as he stands. He walks around my cage, his eyes never on me, but I know they are watching every move I make. Then his tall figure disappears into the shadows again, and although I cannot see him, I can plainly hear his voice.

“I know you probably wonder why I never came after you for killing my mom and dad and two of my brothers.”

“I never thought about it much,” I say, “to be completely honest.”

“But you’re thinking about it now—aren’t you?”

He knows that I am. No need to answer the question.

Apollo moves around in the darkness; I cannot make out what he is doing, but I get the distinct feeling I am not going to like it.

“Then tell me,” I urge. “Why haven’t you come after me sooner, for killing them?”

He shrugs. “Dear ol’ Dad and Mommy Dearest deserved what they got. Ares was a smart-mouthed little shit and I’m still not that fucked up over his death, if you wanna know the truth. Theseus?” He shrugs once more. “He was like a blip on a screen—easy to miss—and he fucked my girlfriend, so there’s that.”

Growing tired of the runaround, I ask, “Is that what you want, Apollo—the conversation?”

I don’t have to see him grin to know that he is.

“Actually, Victor, that is exactly what I want from you.”

His answer surprises me.

“You…want to talk?” I ask, leery. “About what?”

“About you, of course.” He steps out of the shadow, carrying a cattle prod in one hand. Interesting. Perhaps I am just too accustomed to the macabre interrogation methods of my Specialist, Gustavsson, but I am curious as to what Apollo expects to get out of me with a simple cattle prod.

Waving his hands in gesture, he says, “I want to know all that I can about the man behind the hands that kill, the man I hear about in dark corners, the man I think of whenever I eat a fucking pancake”—he points at me with the cattle prod—“I used to love pancakes; had to ruin that for me too.”

“Then your revenge will be that much sweeter,” I say, not trying to provoke him, but surely it does anyway.

A long, deep sigh rattles in his chest; his shoulders rise and fall heavily.

“Yeah, I guess it will,” he says, and leaves it at that.

Apollo turns as a door opens behind him, flooding the dark, dank room with dull gray light from what appears to be a hallway.

I practically throw myself against the bars of my cell, gripping them in my hands, furious that I can go no farther, when I see Izabel, bound and gagged, sweat and blood and grime dripping from her face. Behind her is a woman. Tall and angry. Brown hair pulled into a ponytail behind her. A birthmark underneath her left eye. Breasts bursting out of her blouse. A knife in a sheath around her upper thigh. She looks Latin, with no Haitian roots like Apollo.

Izabel’s eyes find me almost immediately when the woman pushes her farther into the room. She loses her footing; with her hands tied behind her back and no way to cushion the fall, she hits the stone hard. A sharp muffled sound and a painful grunt follows. I grit my teeth, my eyes staring the woman down with purpose and malice, with retribution and threat. She smirks, turns on her open-toed heels and leaves the room.

Izabel raises her head from the stone, and she tries to speak, so desperately, to tell me something, to warn me, I do not know, but her words are muffled and I can make nothing out.

Apollo moves in behind her—I grip the bars harder, grind my teeth together more harshly, wanting to get at him, daring him to hurt her. What am I doing? This will get me nowhere.

Upon realizing I am acting absurd, I drop my hands at my sides and steady my erratic breathing.

“There is no need to hurt Izabel,” I say calmly—on the inside I feel the rage vying for control. “I will cooperate, Apollo; all you need to do is tell me what you want.”

He lifts Izabel to her feet, his hand gripping the rope binding her wrists behind her, and shoves her harshly onto the chair just feet from my cage, close but not close enough. I look only at her; many emotions are well-defined in her eyes, but not one of them is fear. Anger. Vengeance. And desperation—mostly desperation. But for now, nothing will be getting past her lips; a thick cloth has been packed tightly inside her mouth, and another has been wrapped around her head, tied within her dark auburn hair.

Apollo looks at the wall, pauses in some kind of concentration, and then turns back to me, and although I find his behavior peculiar, I focus only on Izabel, and what he intends to do to her.

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