I nod back.

After a few long seconds that feel more like minutes, I break the silence with the inevitable.

“Did you tell Victor the truth? You know he’ll find out, right?”

“Yeah, I know,” he says. “But I did tell him the truth. There’s more to tell him, like what kind of information I passed along to my superiors, but I wasn’t holding any of that from him. I guess Victor just wasn’t ready to hear it.”

“Why did you crack at all?” I ask. “I mean…well, I thought guys like you were trained not to break, not even to save the life of someone you love. Set aside lying to us about who you are; the fact that you broke in itself is a serious flaw in your character, Dorian. You gave up your identity not only to us, but to an innocent civilian. That tells us you’d be willing to give us up under the right circumstances.”

Dorian shakes his head.

“I know it looks that way,” he says, “but like I told Victor, I was eventually going to tell him who I was, regardless—I was given authorization. I just had to do it sooner than expected.”

“And what if,” I say, “you were never given that authorization? Would you have admitted it?”

He sighs.

“If I said no, would you believe me?” It wasn’t really a question.

“What about Tessa?” I point out. “It seemed easy for you to tell her.”

“Yeah, well that’s a different kind of weakness,” he admits. “Still an inexcusable one, but not unforgivable like being a traitor. Look, I know I’m probably going to die in here; it’s a hazard in this line of work. I accept it and I’m not afraid of it, but I don’t want to die a traitor.”

After a brief moment of pause I say, “I wish I could say I don’t think you’re a traitor, but what you did…I don’t know, it’s hard for me to think of you as anything else…but as a person and a friend, I think you’re genuine.”

“Thanks.”

He pauses and asks, “Is she dead?”

“I’m going to kill her soon.”

“Yeah, well put a bullet in that bitch’s shoulders before you kill her,” he snaps. “Make it all dramatic n’ shit—tell her ‘this is for Dorian!’” He laughs at his own joke but winces and a hissing noise pushes through his lips as he sucks in a breath sharply in response to more pain.

I smile and watch his eyes fall away from the door slot as he lowers his head.

“Is your mom gonna be all right?” he asks.

“Yeah, she was fine when James picked her up, just like everyone else.”

“This has been a really fucked up forty-eight hours,” he says. “I guess you’re not at liberty to tell me what was this big confession she wanted, and from which one of us?”

I shake my head. “Sorry.”

He nods.

“Understandable,” he says and then after a few quiet seconds adds, “I guess that means Gustavsson showed up after all.”

“Yeah.” It’s all I can say; I can’t bear to tell him the rest where he and Fredrik are concerned.

The sound of dress shoes tapping against the floor echoes down the hallway—two pairs to be precise. I swallow uncomfortably and look back at Dorian’s eyes through the slot in the door. He knows. He shakes his head and laughs dryly under his breath.

“He always did want to torture me,” he says. “I think the guy even had wet dreams about it—he couldn’t stand me.”

I push myself out of a crouched position and stand upright, grimacing at the pain and stiffness in my legs for being in the same position for so long. Dorian’s looking back at me now through the Plexiglas window in the top of the door.

Fredrik and Victor come around the corner at the far end of the hall; two tall and frightening men, all business, in dark suits against the dingy white walls and floor. Judge and executioner. Emotionless. Merciless.

I look back at Dorian.

“Whatever happens to me,” he says, “do me a favor and make sure that Tessa gets all of my money. The key to my safety deposit box and other personal things I’d like her to have is hidden in the sole of my left boot. Will you tell Tessa that I love her and I’m sorry for being such a dick?”

“I will,” I tell him.

I leave Dorian and walk toward Victor and Fredrik as they make their way down the center of the hall.

“Can I talk to you for a minute?” I ask Fredrik, stepping right up in front of him.

I’m sick of him avoiding me, and if I don’t try to force him to talk, I know he never will and he may slip out of this building right after interrogating Dorian, and I’ll not see him again for another month.

Fredrik starts to walk around and right past me, but I cut him off, stopping him in his tracks.

“Izabel,” Victor says, “we have important matters to tend to.”

“I know, but this’ll just take a couple of minutes.” I look at Victor through pleading eyes.

He doesn’t want to give me my way, but he does, walking away in the direction of Dorian’s cell and leaving me alone with Fredrik. I hear the key jangling in the cell door and then the sound of the door booming closed as Victor goes inside.

“I don’t have time for this,” Fredrik says.

“Make time. Give me two minutes. It’s all I ask. Please.”

He looks right at me now, his dark blue eyes framed by dark hair, piercing me with irritation.

“I can’t spare two minutes.”

“Yes you can,” I say intently.

He starts to walk past me again, but I grab his arm, the material of his jacket caught between my fingers. His head turns sideways to look at me and his expression grows darker. His teeth are gritting behind an unshaven jawline.

Finally, I let the other side of me take over, the side that is sick of his shit, and instead of having a heart-to-heart talk with the man who was once my brother, I can’t stop myself from telling him off instead.

“You’re an asshole,” I lash out, pushing the words through my teeth. “Look, I understand, I really do, and if I were you I know I’d probably feel the same way. But I wouldn’t shut out the people who care about me.” He pushes past me, intent on ignoring me, but I move around in front of him and shove both hands against his chest, pushing his tall, solid stature, but he barely moves. He just looks lividly down into my angry face.

But he stops—not that he wants to hear it, but that he wants me to get it over with so he can be free of me.


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