“She has nothing to do with anything,” Dorian growls, growing more incensed, trying so hard to keep his murderous rage contained.

“Anything, meaning what exactly?”

Dorian hesitates, seeming in search of words—words of truth, or maybe words that just sound like truth.

“Look—Tessa knows what I do, all right,” he says, appearing to give in a little. “She’s smart; she knew I was leading a double life. She found my guns. She started following me, thinking I was into some drug shit. I was afraid she was going to get hurt, so I told her the truth.”

“And what is the truth?”

Dorian raises both arms out at his sides, opening his hands palms-up. “That I’m part of an underground organization.”

“What kind of underground organization?”

His eyes harden and he shakes his head in perplexity.

“This kind,” he says, pointing downward.

Puzzled, I look to Victor. “So, that’s his secret, that he told his ex-wife about us?” While that’s a bad thing and Victor won’t like it, I still feel about as confused as Dorian looks.

“No, there’s something more to this,” Victor says cryptically, staring at the screen.

Nora shakes her head and sighs.

“So you’re sticking with that story then?” she asks.

Dorian blinks confusedly.

“Yeah. I am. I don’t know what else to fucking tell you.”

“How about the truth?” Nora suggests.

“That is the truth.”

Nora very casually reaches out and takes the apple into her hand. She squeezes her index finger and thumb around the base of the stem and twists it until it pops off. Then she rubs the bottom of her black silk blouse around the red skin, giving it a nice shine before bringing it to her lips. Dorian watches her with a cold, calculating intensity as her perfect white teeth sink into the peel with a long and slow cruuunch. She takes her time chewing slowly. She swallows and takes another bite, taking her time with that one as well. It’s as if she’s waiting for something, giving Dorian a little more time to change his story.

I’m nervous as hell; that gut feeling of mine doing a number on my stomach.

Victor hasn’t flinched, and neither has Niklas since the brief second we made eye contact—he looks just like his brother in this moment, and it’s a bit intimidating.

Nora stands up.

Dorian follows suit, keeping his eyes trained on her every move as she walks around the table. She moves toward him, and Dorian wastes no time reaching behind him and pulling his gun from the back of his pants.

He points it at her face and my heart pounds in my chest.

But Nora doesn’t appear concerned.

“I wouldn’t have taken her,” Nora says about Tessa, “if I wasn’t one hundred percent sure you’d do whatever it takes to save her life. Could I have been wrong?” She stands just two feet in front of him with her slender arms covered by wrinkled see-through silk down at her sides.

“I’ve told you what I told Tessa—if there’s something else you’re getting at you’re going to have to be a little more obvious.” Dorian’s anger is rising, but then so is the tension in his shoulders and on his face.

In a flash, the apple hits the floor and Dorian’s gun appears in Nora’s hand, trained on his face.

My hand flies up to cover my mouth, an astonished breath sucked swiftly into my lungs.

Niklas jumps to his feet, sending the wheeled chair rolling away behind him, but he doesn’t go any farther.


“Just wait,” Victor says to me, still staring at the screen, but even his nerves are beginning to unravel a little, I can tell by how much wider his eyes are now than they were moments ago.

Dorian, attempting to back away from her with his hands up in surrender, trips over his chair and nearly falls, but catches himself just before.

“What the—you crazy fucking bitch!”

A muffled shot zips through the space and Dorian’s body jerks to the right, his left hand coming up to cover the wound on his shoulder; blood seeps through his fingers. He yells out and stumbles backward, tripping over the chair again but hitting the floor this time. Struggling on his way as he backs toward the wall, he looks up at the camera, at us, and I want desperately to rush down there and help him, but I know that I can’t.

“You fucking shot me!” He glares up at the tall blonde beauty standing over him with his own gun; waves of pain rolling through him, manipulating his features. “Stupid bitch! You fucking shot me!”

“Confess,” she demands with the gun pointed at his face again, “or you die and Tessa dies.”

“I did! I confessed!” He finally makes it to the wall and throws himself against it, needing it to hold him up. His long legs in dark pants are stretched out before him with black boots on the ends—between them are a pair of black six-inch heels.

“Last chance,” Nora says, looking down at Dorian over the barrel of the gun and the silencer attached to its end.

Dorian’s wide eyes dart to and from Nora’s face and her finger on the trigger.

It takes us mere seconds to get to the room, punch in the code and burst inside with guns drawn. But Nora doesn’t flinch; she keeps her eyes on Dorian and the gun pointed at his head.

“If any one of you shoots me,” she warns, “there’s an eighty/twenty chance that my finger will squeeze this trigger the rest of the way and that wall behind Dorian Flynn will look like a Jackson Pollock.”

None of us makes a move.

“CONFESS!” Nora says stridently, and although I’m standing far behind her and can only see her back, I know her face is twisted by furious demand.

I look at Victor standing next to me with his gun pointed at Nora. I know he could take her out with a single shot and somehow keep Dorian from getting killed. I know that Victor is better than anyone in this room when it comes to aim and timing and speed. But he doesn’t want to shoot Nora. He wants to know Dorian’s secret as much as Nora wants him to confess it.

Niklas drops his gun to his side—his is the only one without a silencer.

Reluctantly, I do the same.

A thuddup sound echoes through the room.

“FUUUCCCK!” Dorian cries out again as Nora puts another bullet in the opposite shoulder. “Fucking bitch!” he roars, doubling over with both hands covering his wounds, his arms crossed in an X over his chest.

I start to move forward, but Victor pushes me back with the length of his arm jutting out at his side.

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