I think about that for a moment, letting the reality of the truth sink in—Victor is emotionally handicap not because of one, but two people in his life that he loves. It amazes me how he can hold it together, how he can continue to act as if nothing ever bothers him, that he has no feelings, or fears. On the outside, Victor is cold and calculated and detached almost all of the time—anyone who doesn’t know him on the level that I know him might think he was just like Fredrik, but the truth is that he carries more of a burden than any of us do. Victor feels responsible for me and Niklas. He has had to choose, twice now, between me and his brother. And when you have to choose between two people that you love, no matter which way you go there are painful consequences.

I lean over him and kiss the top of his head.

“I’m sorry for doubting you,” I say. “I really thought you were going to let Dina die and I’m sorry for not believing in you.” I’ve been wanting to say this to him since the very moment he confessed his secret to Nora, but I’ve been avoiding it out of shame and guilt. But more than that, I needed time to think about all that transpired because of it.

He looks up at me.

“And because I won’t lie to you,” he says, “just like I can’t lie to Niklas about Claire, the truth is that I almost did let her die.”

I nod. Because I understand. It was a choice between me and Niklas. And it was never going to be an easy choice.

“I know,” I tell him and drop my hands from his hair.

Then he curls his long fingers around mine between my legs and raises one hand to his lips and kisses my knuckles.

“What are you going to do about Dorian?”

He stands up and cups my face in his hands, pulling my lips to meet his.

After he kisses me, long and soft, his lips so warm and his tongue so tender, he says, “That will all depend on what Fredrik gets out of him.”

An uncomfortable shiver moves through me.

“You’re going to let Fredrik interrogate him?”

Victor moves from between my legs and begins stacking the photographs on the table into a small pile.

He doesn’t answer, which is an answer in itself.

“When are you going to kill Nora?” he asks, steadily stacking things.

“Before the morning,” I say. “I wanted to deal with everything else before I see her again.”

He nods.

“Have you thought about it?” I ask. “About what she said?”

“No,” he answers and makes his way over to his briefcase with the photographs and files.

“Not even a little bit?”

He glances at me. “I’ve thought about it,” he says, “but not considered it, if that’s what you mean. I admit, it was a bold move, but she should have thought more about the consequences of her actions than she did. She killed one of my men in Mrs. Gregory’s house. She turned my brother against me. Kidnapped your loved ones and used them against you. And she has wasted a lot of my time, quite frankly.”

“True,” I say, pursing my lips contemplatively, “but she did kind of prove herself in the process.”

Victor raises his eyes momentarily and then clasps his briefcase shut with two clicks.

“Are you trying to tell me something?” he asks suspiciously.

I shake my head. “Not what you’re probably thinking—I don’t want her here as much as any of us—but I saw the way you were looking at her in the surveillance room. It uh, well, it just seemed like you wanted the chance to dissect her.”

A faint, almost invisible smile appears on his lips as he lifts the briefcase from the table with his hand clamped about the handle.

“You saw that, did you?”

I shrug and grin. “Yeah, I kinda did.”

“Well, the answer is no,” he says walking toward me. “She’s caused enough trouble. Kill her and be done with it.”

He kisses me on the lips one more time and heads toward the door.

“I’ll be back in a few hours,” he says from the doorway. But just before he walks out he stops and looks back at me.

“And I’ll talk to Niklas soon.”

I nod with a little smile of support and he leaves.

20

Izabel

The cell floor has only ten cells left which Victor wanted to keep for reasons just like this one—detaining traitors and other kinds of prisoners. The cells are named A through J. I head for cell C with a lot of mixed emotions and a heavy heart. I don’t want to think about what Dorian will go through with Fredrik later, but as I pass down the dingy hallway and cells A and B that are wide open and empty, it’s all I can think about. I don’t want to think that Dorian is a traitor, either—maybe the things he told Victor are true. Maybe he’s not our enemy and never intended to be. But he lied. And he worked with us under false pretenses. And he gave information about us to the government and that alone is enough for Victor to kill him.

I step up to the heavy steel door and push up on my toes to see inside through the small box Plexiglas window.

Dorian is laying against a cot on a metal bed jutting from the wall. Bloody bandages are wrapped about both shoulders. All he’s wearing are his dark-colored jeans and his Rolex. His boots have been kicked off onto the floor, laying sloppily with the long strings strewn against the tile.

Reaching up my hand, I tap on the window with the tip of my finger.

Dorian raises his blond head and after a second of looking at the blurred face in the window and trying to distinguish it he mouths ‘Izabel?’ and with difficulty forces his wounded body from the cot to sit upright. His face twists with pain and he stops, takes a deep breath and pushes himself to his feet and walks to the door.

I crouch down in front of it and slide away the metal covering over the food slot that’s long and wide enough to pass a tray through.

“How are you doing?” I ask.

“Feel like shit,” he says and sits down on the floor on his bottom, wincing with every abrupt movement. All I can see now are his bright blue eyes and his forehead through the opening.

“Sorry,” I say. “Hey, I wanted to come here and tell you that Tessa is fine.”

His eyes light up a bit and relief washes over him through all the pain and discomfort.

“In fact,” I go on, “she was fine the whole time. Nora didn’t hurt her at all.”

“Where is she now?”

“James took her back home.”

Dorian nods.

“Thank you, Izabel. For letting me know.”


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