Laughter dying away, the beautiful man in front of me takes a step toward Ivan and reaches out, ripping the tape off that covers Ivan’s mouth in one swift movement.

Ivan groans and I wince. That looked incredibly painful, especially with all the dried blood that came off with the tape.

“Well?” our captor says with a bit of disgust, dropping the tape to the floor. “Do you have anything to say for yourself, Ivan?”

Ivan eyes our captor warily and then slowly shakes his head.

“Are you sure?” the beautiful man presses. “You don’t even want to know why I’ve brought you here?”

Ivan takes in a breath, licks his bloodied lips, and then his eyes flick to me. “Why have you brought me here, Lucifer?”

Lucifer? This is the same Lucifer I hear Ivan talking about so often?

Lucifer grins and says with some satisfaction, “Well, with everything I’ve been hearing through the pipelines, I figured you had something you wanted to tell me.”

Taking in Ivan’s pale face and compressed lips, Lucifer scowls. “No? I was mistaken?”

Ivan’s eyes dart around the room with a hint of desperation as if he’s looking for an exit or way to escape this. I feel my own panic growing inside of my chest even though I don’t really understand what’s happening.

“Ah, well, if you have nothing to say, Ivan, I guess this was all just a waste of our time…”

Lucifer turns towards me and for a brief, glorious moment I truly believe this has all been a big misunderstanding and he’s going to release me.

Then he reaches down, pulls a gun from his hip and presses it against my forehead.

The blood in my veins freezes and my heart stops beating.

I can’t move, breathe, or blink.

I’m going to die. This beautiful man is going to blow my brains all over the concrete.

Thanks to Ivan, I’ll never see my daughter again.

The weight of my life hanging in the balance is more than my mind can process. My thoughts race but everything around me begins to move in slow motion.

“No!” Ivan bellows and I watch the shadows behind Lucifer separate. A man steps forward, forming out of the darkness.

“No?” Lucifer repeats, sounding confused as he glances towards Ivan.

I can’t look towards Ivan, my eyes are locked on the dark newcomer, drawn to him like a magnet. He takes a step forward, into the light, and for a hysterical second, I wonder if he means to save me as his hand drops to his hip.

But then his features come more into focus, and any hope I held withers inside of my heart.

The man looks so mean, so angry, his black eyes smoldering with such intense hatred as he glares at me, I realize he’s probably just one of Lucifer’s goons. Ready to back him up and shoot me dead if I somehow manage to escape the gun pressed against my head.

I hear Ivan clear his throat and say, “Perhaps there was something I wished to discuss with you…”

“Perhaps?” Lucifer repeats, incredulous. The barrel of the gun presses harder against my forehead and I whimper as it digs into my skin. “I don’t have time for this shit…”

Lucifer’s finger begins to move over the trigger and I squeeze my eyes shut, hoping it’s quick.

“No! Wait!” Ivan cries out again. “There are many things I would like to discuss with you. Just don’t hurt her…”

“What things?” Lucifer drawls out, sounding like he doesn’t believe Ivan.

“Things regarding some mutual acquaintances of ours… from Japan.

I feel the gun pull away and my eyes pop open.

Lucifer’s lips quirk up into a smirk and I see something flashing across his eyes. Satisfaction with a hint of amusement?

“Go on,” he prompts Ivan.

There’s a heavy pause and I watch Lucifer stiffen with irritation. He begins to lift the gun again, and my nose tingles painfully while spots dance in front of my eyes.

I don’t know how much more I can take of this before I die of a heart attack.

“I want assurances that you won’t kill me… or my mistress…”

“You’re in no position to bargain.”

“I know the person directly responsible for ordering the hit on your wife.”

Lucifer laughs. “You do, do you?”

“Yes,” Ivan says quickly. “I also know that there’s to be another hit soon, on your children…”

The room, cold and silent up until now, feels like it explodes with a flurry of whispers and movements.

“Keep talking,” Lucifer growls angrily. The gun drops away as he forgets about me and focuses all of his attention on Ivan.

“Only if you agree to my terms…” Ivan stammers.

Lucifer stiffens then his head turns towards me. His eyes, so bright, so cold now, I feel the full force of his anger and loathing.

If I were a bug, he would stomp me out of existence.

“Andrew,” he snaps, and the man that formed in the shadows takes another step forward, into the light.

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