He nods nervously looking downward, coiling his pudgy fingers within his lap, his foot steadily tapping against the floor.

“A-Are my daughters OK?”

“I don’t know,” she says without flinching. “The now isn’t important really. How they’re going to be by the time this is all over is what you should be worried about.”

“Is that what you want?” he says. “For me to confess to my wife? To tell my daughters they have sisters? I-I don’t understand what this has to do with anything. I-I don’t see why you’d kidnap them—.”

Nora puts up a finger.

“You’ll figure it out,” she says with a small shrug. “You have plenty of time to think about it.”

Woodard’s bushy brows bunch in his forehead.

“That’s it?” he asks, as confused as any of us are. “That’s all you wanted to know? I thought you were going to try forcing information about the rest of us—”

“I don’t need you to do that,” she says with confidence. “The others will tell me what I want to know, all on their own.”

Confidence just may be the kink in Nora’s armor because somehow I doubt she’ll get anything out of most of us. Dorian, maybe, because Tessa’s life is on the line and clearly he still loves his ex-wife. Me—it’s a very real possibility that she’ll get me to talk because of Dina, and because if it’s just personal secrets that she wants and not information on our Order, then I’m willing to give up my secrets to save Dina’s life.

Have I ever slept with a girl? Sure I have—I lived with dozens of them for nine years when I was a prisoner in Mexico. Nothing to be ashamed of, sleeping with a woman, although it is a little embarrassing. And I wouldn’t want to give Niklas and Dorian that kind of ammunition to get under my skin—they’d love that.

Have I ever stolen anything? Well, theft is sort of something I’m quite good at and I use it to my advantage in the field often. But Victor already knows this. Niklas and Dorian and Fredrik and anyone else in our Order, not so much, because I’ve stolen from all of them to keep tabs on their personal lives for Victor. OK, now that might be damaging.

Maybe I’m not giving Nora enough credit.

Now I’m nervous.

But Victor?

No. She’ll never get anything out of him. It scares me because I want Dina to live and if she dies, the last person in the world I can handle being the cause of it, is Victor. If she dies because of him, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgive him.

Niklas?

I shake my head thinking about it to myself. Niklas, I feel is exactly how he told her he is before he walked out of that room—an open fucking book. So, I don’t know what she expects to get out of him, if there’s anything to get at all.

Fredrik?

Oh, how sad it’s going to be for this woman who has truly—pardon the cliché—bitten off way more than she can chew. Pulling information from the lips like blood from a vein is Fredrik’s domain, one I doubt she wants to tread upon.

“That was too easy,” Dorian speaks up.

Niklas laughs lightly under his breath. “Yeah well look who’s on the stand as the first witness. Victor, are you sure you fully tested this guy before giving him access to everything?”

Victor nods.

“James Woodard is trustworthy,” he says. “He may be skittish, but don’t let that fool you.”

Nora smiles into the camera.

“Who’s coming to confession next?” she says.

I don’t want to go. This bitch makes me uncomfortable.

“I’ll go next,” I speak out against my inner thoughts.

“Are you sure?” Victor says.

I nod.

“Yeah, I want to get this over with.” At least that part is true.

I get up from the rolling chair, tugging the ends of my black dress back over my thighs.

“The sooner we get this over with,” I say, “the sooner we get them back.”

Dorian nods.

Niklas just looks at me with no emotion in his face.

I look at Victor, a sort of quiet contemplation in my eyes. I don’t want them to listen to me confess anything to this woman, but I know that they will need to keep the audio open in case Nora says something important. So, I don’t bother telling them how much I don’t like this, and I leave the room and head for the elevator, passing a rattled James Woodard up in the long stretch of hallway on my way down.

How much could this woman really know, anyway? So what if she knew Woodard’s full name, birthdate, birth time, and parents’ names—all of that information can be found on a handy little document called a birth certificate. She didn’t really say much about anything else, so maybe she was just bluffing. Yeah, that’s a possibility. She’s bluffing, and Woodard was the perfect person to use in order to show off to the rest of us.

I doubt she really knows anything about me, much less all of us.

5

Izabel

After punching the access code on the door panel, I enter the room armed with only my pearl-handled knife hidden within my right boot. I take my time making my way across the room and to the chair, but I don’t sit down once I get there. Nora sits comfortably with her back against the chair, her arms resting along the thin metal arms, her red-painted fingernails draped elegantly over the edges. All except for her left pinky finger.

I smile thinking about it to myself, stopping just behind the empty chair.

“Is something funny?” Nora inquires.

“Actually yeah,” I say with a grin.

I glance at her marred finger just long enough for her to glimpse what I’m referring to, and then back up at her bright brown eyes framed by dark eyelashes and bruises.

“Did someone get tired of hearing your shit and cut it off?”

She smirks.

Then she raises her left hand and moves her long fingers about in a delicate fashion.

“I do miss it,” she says nonchalantly and then sets the hand back down on the chair arm. “But I’m not the one answering questions here.” She motions toward my chair. “Have a seat.”

“I think I’ll stand.”

“No, I think you’ll have a seat,” she says calmly, but with an air of authority.

She smiles.

I don’t. And I don’t sit down, either.

“I really expected you to go last,” she says. “I mean, seeing as how your secret is one of the darkest.”

That gets my attention.


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