By nightfall, Dorian and I are waiting in the car parked in the front of Kelly Benning’s current place of employment—a liquor store. Two hours later, after following her to a gas station, a fast food restaurant and finally to and from none other than the client, Ross Emerson’s apartment, we have her stuffed in the trunk after she finally makes her way home and parks in the driveway.

Now, we’re back in the same warehouse we used to interrogate her the first time, and she’s just as defiant as she was then.

With my handkerchief, I wipe her spit from my face and then shove the handkerchief in her mouth.

“Mnnmmmnn!” Her stifled screams are most certainly filled with curses and threats. “Dmmnmmm-Mnnnmmooo!” The whites of her bugged-out eyes are in plain view. She thrashes against the wooden chair, causing it to jerk back and forth scraping against the concrete.

I really wish I had my chair to strap her to—makes things so much easier.

Dorian remains off to one side of the room, gun hidden away in the back of his pants, a look of impatience and discomfort on his pretty-boy face as he stands with his back against the steel wall.

Collapsing my hand around the back of an empty chair in a corner, I lift the legs from the floor and walk with it back over to Bennings, setting it down in front of her. Just like the last time. She glares at me through pale blue eyes framed by unkempt dishwater-brown hair. Her shouts and threats continue to come out as muffled nonsense, indecipherable yet completely obvious at the same time.

I cross one leg over the other and c**k my head to one side. Then I glance down at the dirty gauze around her hand tied to the arm of the chair and I smile faintly, recalling what I felt when I drove Izabel’s knife through it—complete and utter satisfaction.

I pull my own knife from the inside of my coat. Bennings’ eyes lock on the blade and she stops screaming.

Leaning forward, I place the edge of the knife against the bare skin of her shoulder and drag it down the length of her arm without cutting her. I had stripped her before I tied her to the chair, and she sits in nothing but her miss-matched panties and bra, her bony legs shaking against the wood, her ribs clearly visible—she’s about ninety pounds of wicked bitch. Pale skin that isn’t beautiful, but sickly. Dark circles blemish the area underneath her eyes. I wonder what her drug of choice is, but don’t care enough to ask and resolve to believe it must be heroin.

But does Kelly Bennings really deserve to die?

Still practically in her face, I say calmly, “If you spit on me again, I’ll cut out your tongue.”

She nods furiously with tears in her eyes.

Hesitating only a moment, I reach up with my latex glove-covered hand and remove the spit-soaked handkerchief from her throat—shoved back far enough that she couldn’t have spit it out on her own—and drop it on the floor beside my feet.

“What the f**k do you want from me?!”

I tilt my head to one side.

“And lower your voice,” I tell her, “because you’re beginning to give me a headache.”

Her eyebrows draw inward and she looks at me as if to say What the f**k do I care? but won’t dare say it aloud. At least not yet. This one is bold and almost entirely fearless—it’s just a matter of time before that mouth of hers gets her into more trouble.

“You set up that hit against your boyfriend, Paul Fortright, with Ross Emerson,” I say, leaning back in my chair again.

“What? What the f**k are you talking about?”

She’s not a very good liar when she knows she’s done for.

“You know exactly what I’m talking about.” I set my knife down on the top of my leg, covering it gently with my hand. “But what’s even worse than setting up the hit on him, is that you were in on it with Ross Emerson to try and have Fortright put away in prison for child molestation—death would’ve been a better sentence.”

Bennings’ eyes grow darker and her mouth falls open.

“You’re—You’re insane! Why in the f**k would I do something like that?”

“Because you’re a worthless bitch,” I say simply, cutting in. “A waste of air”—I twirl my white gloved hand in the air above my shoulder—“It bothers me immensely that you’re breathing mine right now.” I drop my hand back on top of the knife. “You and Emerson set up the hit when the molestation accusations failed to put him away. To get Fortright out of yours and Ross Emerson’s life. You—”

“You’re crazy! Fuck you, you psycho motherfucker!” She thrashes in the chair again. “Let me out of here! Let me go!” She starts to scream at the top of her lungs.

“Shit, man, shut her up!” I hear Dorian say from the wall.

But I’m already leaning forward with the knife pressed against her arm again before Dorian finishes his sentence. I cut long and deep and blood pours from the slit. Bennings cries out in pain and agony as the left side of her body glistens with dark, red, wonderful blood.

“AHHHHH! FUCK!” Tears shoot from her eyes.

Finally, she stops screaming and all that’s left for her to do is tremble and stutter and bleed.

“A-All right! I helped Ross! I did! But what does that matter to you?! You people were supposed to kill him! That’s what you were hired to do!”

I flash the blade in her view and she shuts up in an instant.

“You were willing to ruin an innocent man’s life for another man. You could’ve just left him.” My voice never raises.

She struggles against her restraints regardless of knowing she’ll never free herself from them.

“I couldn’t just leave!” she hisses. “Paul is a bastard! He threatened to take our daughter if I ever left him!”

“You don’t care about your daughter,” I say.

She looks shocked. And hurt.

I’m not buying it, and as much as I know she wants to believe it herself, I know she’s not fully buying it, either.

“I love my baby girl! How can you say something like that to me?”

I inhale a deep, aggravated breath and adjust my back against the seat.

“Oh sure,” I mock. “You love her enough to have her innocent father put in prison for child molestation.” I cut a long, deep slit down the length of her other arm just because I feel like it. She screams out again, but I continue calmly through her screams: “Not to mention, what you and Emerson put Emerson’s daughter through with the police, brainwashing her to make her believe that she was molested.” I’ve no physical proof of this, but I know it’s a fact, nonetheless. “You and your love affair are the lowest of the low, Miz’ Bennings, I have to say.”

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