“I do trust you, Victor,” I tell him in a quiet, intent voice.

He squeezes my hands one last time and leaves me to finish getting dressed.

~~~

Nora is sitting alone in a generously-sized room with thick brick walls painted white. A square metal table sits in the center with two black metal chairs—one on each side—and a row of dome-shaped lights running along the high ceiling, bathing the room in bright light. There are four vents set in the wall close to the ceiling to pump heat or air into the space, but it’s neither too hot nor too cold right now to need it. The floor is made of white tiles, blemished by scuffmarks and scrapes from the various pieces of furniture that were taken out of the room months ago, turning what was once some kind of storage space into a confinement and interrogation room. A heavy steel door is the only way in or out, unless one is the size of a toddler and can fit through the vents near the ceiling. Nora is not. She’s a little bigger than me; taller and heavier by a few pounds, and I know I couldn’t fit through an opening that small.

As requested, Nora was allowed a bath—Niklas was happy to volunteer to be the one to stay in the bathroom with her while she did, not because he wanted to see her naked, but because she hit him in the face and he hoped that watching her bathe would make her uncomfortable. It didn’t. I think he’s already beginning to hate her more than he hates me.

She was also given food and wine. And only because she knows where Dina is, I gave her some of my clothes to change into. A pair of black leather pants, long-sleeved black see-through silk shirt, and a pair of black six-inch heels. Her special request was a tube of dark red lipstick—I thought about giving it a few strokes across a toilet seat before giving it to her, but it would take too long to walk back to the restroom.

Niklas has been standing guard inside the interrogation room for the past hour while she ate her meal—lamb with rice and mashed potatoes—and drank her wine all as if she were on a date and enjoying a night out that she didn’t have to pay for. Dorian was persistent about getting his turn to sit in the locked room with her, but seeing as how he wants to beat on her as much as I do, Victor told him to stay out.

Victor is inside the room now, sitting in the empty chair across the table from her when I finally make my appearance. I push up on my toes to look into the room through the small square window, covered by thick Plexiglas.

“Has she said anything?” I ask Niklas.

He’s standing outside the room with Dorian now. The tall steel door is closed and locked from the outside. There is no way to hear anything being said inside, except from the video surveillance room located two floors up.

Niklas shakes his head, leaning against the wall with his arms crossed.

“I don’t like not being able to hear what they’re saying,” I say, pressing my ear to the door, knowing it’s too thick and I’m wasting the effort.

“The only thing she’s said to me really,” Niklas offers, “is that she’s not pleased with the accommodations.”

Dorian paces the brightly lit hall, his black boots moving heavily across the floor, a look of anger glazing in his features. A thick vein is visible near his temple. His jaw constantly moves as if he’s gritting his teeth.

“We’re going to find them,” I tell him, trying to sound optimistic, even though I’m not so sure I feel that way myself.

He glances at me, but continues to pace.

“I don’t like being out here,” he says, “when I should be in there finding out what she wants.”

“Victor knows what he’s doing,” I say.

He nods. “But I still want to know what she’s saying.”

Just then, there’s a knock at the door from the inside. When Niklas sees that it's Victor, he punches in the code on the panel on the wall and there’s a clicking sound. The door opens and Victor steps out into the hall and then closes the door behind him.

“So what’s the word?” I ask, growing more anxious by the second.

Victor shakes his head.

“She won’t start telling us anything until we’re all in the same room with her,” Victor begins. “And she wants a larger room, preferably something with a couch.”

“Picky little bitch, isn’t she?” Niklas chimes in.

“I told her she wasn’t getting another room.” Victor looks at each of us briefly. “We’re not going to give her everything she wants. It’s unacceptable. And it will also make her think that there are no boundaries, no limitations to what we’ll do. She may be the one with all the cards, but she’s also sitting in a room handcuffed to a chair—she’s not completely in control, and I won’t give that kind of control to her. No matter whose lives are on the line.”

I bite my lip and remain quiet.

Dorian grits his teeth harder.

Niklas licks the dryness from his lips and looks nonchalantly down the long hallway—the only part of any of this he cares about is what this woman might know about the organization.

James Woodard; short, stubby and balding in the back center of his head, comes walking briskly down the hall, his too-long khaki pants shifting underneath his loafers as he walks. He wears a blue and white plaid shirt, short-sleeved, and tucked sloppily behind a belt underneath his oversized belly. Sweat glistens in his hairline and in tiny beads under his nostrils.

“Is she here?” he asks, winded, “the woman who kidnapped my daughters?” He points to the steel door. “Is she in that room?”

“She is,” Victor says with a slight nod.

“So what are we waiting for then?” Woodard says, looking at each of us in turns.

He presses the tip of his index finger in the center of his glasses and moves them back on his face.

“Apparently, we’re waiting for Fredrik,” Dorian says with acid in his voice. “But we’re gonna be waiting a long damn time.” His bottom lip is swollen and a blue-yellow bruise runs along his jaw.

“No,” Victor says, clasping his strong hands in front of him, “that’s something else I refused to give her. She didn’t like it at first, but she agreed to start talking when Woodard arrived. But she won’t tell us everything until Fredrik is here, so we’ll need him eventually.”

“It shouldn’t be hard to find him at all,” Niklas cuts in with disapproval. “You’re his employer. And last I checked we didn’t have vacation schedules and 401k plans. If he doesn’t pick up the damn phone when you, of all people, call him, his ass should be dealt with.”


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