I round my chin, but say nothing. Victor easily keeps his cool because Niklas is his brother and he’s beyond used to his behavior by now.
Niklas walks past us. “Izabel’s not the only one too emotionally invested, Victor,” he adds with accusation. He slips around the corner and out of sight. Moments later I hear the sound of the back door opening and closing as he steps outside.
I turn around to face Victor.
“This isn’t the time,” he says, already knowing the kinds of things I’d like to say in retaliation.
But he’s right and I focus on Dina and this mysterious person or people who took her.
“What do you think they want?” I ask, my eyes scanning the rest of the den for anything else out of place.
“It could be a lot of things,” Victor answers.
He steps around me to check out the body himself, crouching down beside it just as Niklas did.
“We are not short on enemies, I’m afraid.”
That’s an understatement.
I swallow nervously and go over to the coffee table. Dina’s favorite glass candy bowl sits on top of it filled with chocolates. She’s had that bowl since before I met her, and always kept it full of my favorite candy—Sweet Tarts when I was younger and then mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups as I got older. I sit down on the coffee table beside it, propping my elbows on the tops of my legs and resting my head in my hands exhaustively.
Victor stands up and turns to face me, the light from his cell phone screen glowing in his hand.
He answers it and puts Dorian on speaker again.
“Tessa isn’t picking up,” Dorian says, his words filled with concern. “I’m going to her house. I’ll get back to you as soon as I know something.”
They hang up.
We’re all thinking the same thing, even Niklas who just re-entered the den after coming in through the back door.
“I guess we’re making that two kidnappings then?” Niklas asks, having overheard.
Victor nods and then slips his phone back inside his jacket.
“Whoever it is,” Victor says, “they’re not amateurs.” He sighs. “They knew where to find Mrs. Gregory even though we’ve moved her three times in the past year.” He points at the dead man. “And I doubt he had anything to do with it.”
“But why take Dina and Dorian’s ex-wife?” I ask.
“The connection is,” Victor says, “that you and Dorian are both part of this organization. So, whatever they want has to do with the organization.”
“Do you think they’ll take anyone else?” I stand from the coffee table.
“It’s a possibility,” Victor says. “I suppose it depends on how many of us still have people in our outside lives who we care about, but hopefully it doesn’t go that far.”
I look between Victor and Niklas, an obvious question on my face.
Niklas shakes his head, manipulating his lips on one side of his mouth. “I think you both know by now that I don’t do giving a shit about anyone else. The only person I care about is my brother.” He looks right at me when he says this.
I smirk at him and turn to Victor.
But Victor doesn’t chime in because like Niklas, Victor has no other ties to the outside world, either.
“What about Fredrik?” I ask, but feel stupid after doing so.
Niklas laughs lightly, shaking his head. “Really, Izabel?” he says with sarcasm and leaves it at that.
I can’t argue with that, or lash out him for being a dick—Fredrik lost the only person in the outside world that he loved, months ago. Killed her with his own hands, forced to put her down like a rabid dog. Fredrik Gustavsson is the least emotionally attached person in our entire organization. And probably always will be.
Three hours later, while waiting in our hotel room in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Victor gets the call from Dorian.
“She’s gone,” Dorian says, trying to contain the trepidation in his voice. “The fucking house was ransacked. They fucking took her, Faust.”
I’ve never seen or heard Dorian react this way. Not to anything. I never even knew he had an ex-wife. He doesn’t seem the wife type.
“There was no note this time. No more bread crumbs.”
“Good,” Victor says. “How quickly can you be here?”
“I can be there before 2:00 a.m.,” he answers, “bet your ass on that.”
“We’ll see you then,” Victor says, but just before they end the call he adds, “Bring Fredrik with you.”
“Fredrik? But I don’t even know where to find him.” Dorian sounds more worried than before, as if forced to waste time by looking for Fredrik is going to cause him to miss the 2:00 a.m. meeting.
“Just try to find him first,” Victor says. “If you can’t within the next hour, come alone and we’ll figure it out.”
Dorian and Fredrik, although no longer partners, still reside in Baltimore. And the partner Dorian was assigned to after Fredrik, Evelyn Stiles, former CIA, Victor relocated her somewhere in France.
Niklas isn’t used to seeing Victor be so lenient—he stands there with a you’ve-got-to-be-shittin’-me look on his face, his arms covered by a long-sleeved black shirt, crossed loosely over his chest, untucked over a pair of black jeans held up by a black belt with a silver buckle, which is the only part of the belt that shows. Niklas always wears dark colors and the same motorcycle boots; a rugged kind of man who always has facial stubble and doesn’t care to style his brown hair. He doesn’t care about much, really, certainly not about impressing anyone. Funny thing is though, he seems to attract women like shit attracts flies, much like Dorian. The two have more in common than any of us. But the difference with me is that Dorian I can tolerate—he’s never tried to kill me.
“I guess it turned out to be a bad idea telling Fredrik he can lay low for a while,” Niklas speaks up.
“I suppose it was,” Victor says, slipping the phone back into his jacket, “but we couldn’t have known something like this would happen. We may not need him. Let’s hope we don’t.”
I look over at the clock on the nightstand between the double beds.
“Well, he has four hours to find him,” I say. “And somehow I don’t think he’s going to have much luck.”
“Neither do I,” Victor agrees. “We’ll work with what we have.” He looks to me. “You could try calling Fredrik. He might answer for you.”