“Perhaps,” I say in response, staring off toward the floor-to-ceiling kitchen window overlooking the backyard, “but I believe that in time she’ll have more to tell me.”

“But I don’t understand,” Greta says with a hint of motherly desperation in her voice. “How can she tell you now or later where a person is whom she claims she doesn’t know? And not that I would ever want you to interrogate her and do the awful things you do to others, to Cassia, but if you believe she’s holding the truth from you, what is sparing her from that?”

I look right at Greta, disciplining her with only my eyes.

She blinks nervously and looks downward at the counter, grazing the bottoms of her fingers over the tops of the knuckles on her other hand. She knows better than to question my tactics. Her concerns may hold merit, but my reasons for not torturing Cassia are very personal.

Silence fills the room.

“You’re free to go tonight if you’d like,” I say. “I’ll be in town for a few more days.”

“Thank you, sir, but what about dinner?” She glances over at the fresh vegetables sitting in the strainer inside the sink, and the pans on the stove; one has been boiling for the past few minutes.

“Leave it,” I say. “You can clean up tomorrow.”

She bows her head and walks over to turn the fire off the stove. Afterwards, she removes the strainer from the sink and places it in the stainless steel refrigerator.

After taking up her yellow purse from the chair near the kitchen window and shouldering it, she walks over and places a silver key into my hand.

“Would you like me here at the same time tomorrow, sir?” she asks.

“Yes, that’ll be fine,” I reply, dropping my hand to my side with the key confined in my palm behind my curling fingers.

Greta disappears around the corner and seconds later I hear the front door closing behind her.

I turn and look toward the hallway, where just at the end of it a door is set in the wall which leads down into the basement. I picture Cassia’s face, so soft and doll-like, her big light-brown doe eyes and perfect, plump lips. And that treacherous little black heart that sits behind my ribs, as always when I think of her, begins to beat to a slow and ominous rhythm, betraying me so cruelly that I wish I could rip it from my chest and be free of it forever.

Moments later I’m standing in front of that door and sliding the key that Greta gave me into the lock. And without another thought, I head down the dark staircase and toward her. Cassia. The woman who if I let live, will certainly be the death of me.

Chapter Four

Cassia

I love this spot, the way my back almost fits into the corner of the wall. The length of my spine running along the space where one wall meets the other. Sometimes I try to press myself against it so that my spine will touch the cool sheetrock, but my arms and shoulders are always in the way.

Something is always in the way—the shackle binding my right ankle, secured to a chain that stretches across the length of the room so that I can walk about. The ivory-painted walls unaccompanied by even the smallest of windows. The bottom of the concrete staircase on the farthest side of the room, at least six feet out of my reach. The door at the top of them that I know is always locked from the outside, so even if I could make it out of these bonds, I’d never see the other side of it. But more than anything in the way are the unanswered questions that constantly elude me.

Answers are the keys to my freedom.

Freedom to be able to feel the sun on my face whenever I want. To be able to sit underneath the stars and stare into their infinite silence. Or, when I hear the rain pounding against the roof, I’d love the freedom to go outside and dance in it, to splash about the puddles like I used to do when I was a little girl.

But I happen to like where I am, confined in a sunless, starless, rainless room with only my thoughts for company on some days.

I guess it’s the price I pay for being in love with the Devil.

I’m not ready for freedom yet. Fredrik needs something from me that I can’t give him. But I still try. Only when I can will he give my freedom back. And only when I can, will I accept it.

Fredrik frightens me. But he isn’t cruel. He is an enigma, that man, and I’ve never known another man like him. But then again…I can’t remember.

I hear the door at the top of the stairs clicking open and I wrap my bare arms around my thinly-covered legs, drawn up against my chest. I’m wearing the sheer cotton white gown that Fredrik bought for me, which covers my legs and doesn’t leave me exposed. He would never leave me exposed. He is kind to me. Most of the time.

His feet must be bare because I don’t hear the bottoms of his dress shoes tapping against the concrete as he descends the steps. But I can hear the fabric of his dress pants touching as he moves down them, and I see his shadow cast against the wall growing larger. My heart begins to thrum against my ribcage to the composition of desire and fear. Because when it comes to him, the two always come hand in hand.

“Cassia.” His voice is deep and sensual, like water moving over rocks, all-consuming, yet delicate. “I’ve asked you not to sit on the floor.”

He steps out of the shadow and into the light before me, his tall height towering over me, casting its own shadow in the small space that separates us. I always feel controlled by his shadow, as if it’s another entity in and of itself, another part of him which watches me when his back is turned.

“I’m sorry,” I say looking up at him. “I just like it here.”

He offers his hand to me and hesitantly I reach up and take it, placing my small fingers into his large ones. His hand collapses around mine as he carefully pulls me to my feet, the chain secured to my shackle clanging in the quiet. My slim gown tumbles down to just above my ankles when I stand up all the way. Fredrik looks me over with the sweep of his dark blue eyes, like he always does, searching for imperfections on my clothing or on my skin. I don’t know why he does this. It’s not as if I’m an object of fascination in which he feels some obsessive compulsive need to retain perfection of. He told me once when I asked, that he was making sure no one had tried to hurt me while he was gone. Greta would never hurt me. She’s like a mother to me. I think Fredrik should have more confidence in her.

Fredrik walks with me toward the bed on the other side of the room, turning me around by the shoulders when we get there and guiding me to sit. Only after my bottom presses against the soft mattress, does he take a seat on the armless chair next to the bed beside me, where he always sits when he comes here.


Tags: J.A. Redmerski In the Company of Killers Book Series
Source: www.StudyNovels.com
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