I’m a freak. And right now I can’t forgive Victor for putting me through it, for dropping me off into a life that he and I both knew I wasn’t fit for and expecting me to conform. I never wanted it to begin with. And that’s precisely why it never worked.

The tears begin to well up in my eyes. I let them fall. I don’t care.

I sense Victor’s presence behind me, but I swing around to face him with anger twisting my features before he has a chance to touch me. And finally, some of the things I’ve wanted to say to him after all this time come out in a storm of angry words.

“You f**king left me!” I shove the palms of my hands against his form-fitting white dress shirt. “You should’ve just killed me! Do you have any idea what you’ve put me through?!” Rage-filled tears shoot from the corners of my eyes.

“I’m sorry…,”

I feel my eyebrows draw inward harshly. “You’re sorry?” I let out a quick, short breath. “That’s all you can say? You’re sorry?”

Deep down I know that none of this is Victor’s fault, that he only did what he did to protect me. But the bigger part of me, the part that isn’t ready to believe one hundred percent that there’s no hope for me, wants to blame anyone but myself.

The tears begin to choke me.

“Every single night,” I say, pointing sternly at the floor with my index finger, my face contorted with anger and blame, “every hour of every day, I thought about you. Only you, Victor. I lived every single day with hope, believing in my heart that you were going to come back for me. Another day would pass and you never showed, but I never lost hope. I thought to myself: Sarai, he’s watching you. He’s testing you. He wants you to do what he said, to try to be like everyone else, to blend in. He wants you to prove to him that you’re strong enough to take on any circumstance, to adapt to any lifestyle, because if you can’t do something as simple as live a normal life, there’s no way you can live a life with him.” I bite down on my bottom lip and try to stifle the tears. I shake my head softly. “That’s what I believed. But I was stupid to ever think that you had any intention of coming back for me.” A tear-induced shudder rolls through my chest.

Victor, with tormented eyes, which I never thought he could possess, steps closer. I step back, shaking my head over and over, hoping he’ll get the hint that I’m not ready for him to be too close. I want to be left alone in my pain.

“Sarai?” he says my name softly.

“Don’t,” I refuse him and put up my hand. “Please spare me the excuses and the reasons, which I-I know I can’t blame you for—I’m selfish, all right? I know this! I already know you did what you had to do. I already know….”

“No, you don’t.”

I look back up into his eyes.

He steps closer. This time I don’t move away, my mind paralyzed by his words regardless of how few or uninformative they were. He cups my elbows within the palms of his hands and unfolds my arms from over my stomach. His fingers brush lightly against the sensitive skin on the underside of my arms, downward until he finds my hands and takes a hold of them.

“I left the Order primarily because of you, Sarai,” he says and the rest of me is paralyzed. “When Vonnegut found out that I had been helping you, he knew…,” he pauses, appearing to be sifting through his mind for the safest words, “…he knew that I had been compromised.”

I throw my hands up in the air. “Speak English! Please just say whatever it is you’re trying so hard to tiptoe around! Please!”

“Vonnegut knew that I had…developed feelings for you.”

I freeze and my lips snap shut. My heart is beating erratically inside my chest. My tears seemed to have dried up in an instant, only those wetting my cheeks left to linger.

“Being Vonnegut’s Number One operative, his ‘favorite’, the last thing he wanted to do was have me killed. He ordered that I be relieved of duty, taken off the wire for a time until I…came to my senses.”

I give him a what-the-hell-is-that-supposed-to-mean look.

“You might call it brainwashing,” he says.

He waves it off. “That doesn’t matter. What matters is that he was going to give me one chance to prove that my feelings for you were just a fluke and that it would never happen again. Very few ever get second chances in the Order.”

“A fluke?” I sit down on the edge of the coffee table. I look up at him and say, “Sounds to me like Vonnegut wanted you to prove that you aren’t human, that you’re still his obedient soldier who’s incapable of human emotion. What a deranged bastard.”

He nods and crouches down in front of me, interlacing his fingers, his elbows propped on the tops of this thighs.

“Vonnegut ordered me to kill you,” he says gently, holding my gaze. “To prove myself. I told him that I would, that I wanted to, to prove that I was trustworthy, and he let me go. Of course, I had no intentions of killing you. I left that day and went into hiding. Niklas, knowing only the Order his entire life, decided to stay. I thought maybe he just needed some time to figure things out, to decide what was best for him. I kept out of Niklas’ sights as well—if he didn’t know where I was, he couldn’t deceive Vonnegut or feel that he had to choose between us. But then I heard from Fredrik that Niklas had been contracted to kill me and has been looking for me ever since.”

“What a bastard,” I say, shaking my head in disbelief and then backtrack. “You said primarily. Other than me, why did you leave the Order?”

“It was a long time coming,” he says. “When I had to kill my father to save my brother, I knew then it was time for me to leave.” His strong fingers caress my softer ones. “You gave me the final motivation I needed to finally do it.”

I reach out and touch his lightly unshaven face with all of my fingertips. He continues to watch me, his eyes probing mine through the small, confined space between us, thick with passion and understanding. I lean in and kiss his lips.

“I’m sorry about your brother,” I say softly.

He brushes his lips against mine, his touch spreading through my body and down into my toes like a shot of smooth whiskey.

“I wasn’t testing you, Sarai.” He kisses me again.

“Then what were you doing?” I kiss him likewise and wilt when I feel his hands move across both of my thighs.

He lifts me into his arms, wrapping my legs around his waist, my ass fitted in the palms of his large hands. My fingers crawl up the sides of his stubbly face and touch his lips before my own lips do.

“I was waiting for when the time was right,” he says as his mouth finds my neck.

I wind all ten fingers through his short brown hair, raising my chin as his mouth searches my throat and my jawline. My eyes are shut, the lids heavy with a warm, tingling sensation that I know better than to fight against. He walks with me across the room, though to where I don’t know and I don’t care. I tighten my bare legs around his waist, the cool, smooth surface of his leather belt pressing against my inner thighs. My fingers are fitted around the buttons of his shirt, breaking them apart with ease.

Victor never answers my question, but I don’t care about that, either.

His lips cover mine, the warm wetness of his tongue tangling eagerly with my own. Without breaking the kiss, Victor drops my feet back on the floor to slip my panties off one leg at a time. He raises my arms above me and strips off my shirt, dropping it on the floor. My hands fumble his belt, yanking the prong from the leather hole and sliding the rest of it from the loops in one quick motion. He steps out of his pants and tight, black boxer-briefs. He breathes hot and heavily into my mouth as I’m hoisted back around his waist, and he shoves my back against the wall as if he doesn’t want to wait long enough to blindly find our way to the guest bedroom. I don’t want to wait, either. We’ve waited long enough as it is.

I feel his c*ck enter me and before he slides me all the way down on it, a shot of pleasure races through my thighs and up my spine, turning my neck to rubber, causing my head to fall back against the sheetrock wall. The backs of my eyes tingle and burn. The warm, wetness between my legs inundated by a hot, shivering thrill.

He thrusts once, deep inside of me and holds himself there, grasping my hips, my back pressed against the cool wall. I open my eyes slowly, still having little control over my lids, and I gaze into his staring back at me with the same voracious intensity. Tiny, uneven breaths waver through my parted lips. My arms are wrapped securely around him, my fingers prodding the tight muscles in his back.

“I’ve wanted this for so long,” I say breathily.

“You have no idea…,” he says in return and then devours me with a kiss, so forceful that I almost lose control of my muscles. My thighs constrict around his waist when he drives his c*ck into me again. I shudder and gasp, the back of my head falling hard against the wall. He holds my body in place with his arms fitted underneath my thighs as he drives his h*ps toward mine, tiny explosions going off inside my stomach with every thrust.

My back arches, my br**sts pushed into his view where he covers one nipple with his mouth. I raise my arms above my head, seeking something above me that I might use to hold onto so that I can ride him, but I find nothing. I drape my arms around his neck to hold my weight up and I grind my h*ps against his, moving like a wave, gasping and moaning, desperate for every hard inch of him as deeply as I can take it. His fingers dig painfully into my back. His tongue tangles with mine, his moans moving through my body.

I come fast and hard, my legs and the sweet spot between them contracting around him, my muscles quivering. He comes seconds later and holds my nak*d body firmly in place, my ass seized by his powerful hands, as he empties himself inside of me.

In the moment, I couldn’t care less about the consequences of what just happened. But only in the moment.

With my head lying on his shoulder, Victor carries me down the hall and into the spacious bathroom across from the guest bedroom. He sets me on the counter and stands between my dangling, nak*d legs.

“Don’t worry about it.” He kisses me on the forehead and then opens the tall glass door to the walk-in shower.

Confused, I ask, “About what?”

The faucet squeaks as he turns on the water, moving both hot and cold into position until he finds the desired temperature. I watch him from the countertop, the way his tall, sculpted body moves, the curves along the muscles carved in a poetic pattern around his hipbones, the way his calf muscles harden when he walks.

He comes back over to me and I slip his dress shirt the rest of the way off, sliding it down over his muscled arms.

“You won’t get pregnant,” he says and urges me to slide off the counter and follow him into the shower. “At least not by me.”

A little taken aback, I leave it at that.

He closes the shower door and begins to wash my hair. I bask in his closeness, the way his hands explore my body with such careful precision and need.

For a long time, I forget that he is an assassin, whose hands have taken many lives without thought or remorse or regret. I forget that I, too, am a killer, whose hands took a life just hours ago.

Tags: J.A. Redmerski In the Company of Killers Book Series
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