“I have no idea,” he whispers hotly onto my mouth.

His tongue tangles with mine and his kiss is deep and hungry and warm.

“But what if—”

“Be quiet, Izabel”—he thrusts harder, causing me to lose my breath—“and let me fuck you.”

Fifty-percent of the time I always do what Victor tells me—this is that fifty-percent of the time.



Niklas joins us again in the surveillance room the next morning. It feels awkward being this close to him after what he said yesterday; awkward for both of us, I think. He’s an even bigger asshole than he was before; won’t even look at me much less say two words to me. Maybe he’s embarrassed and this is his way of dealing with it; I don’t know. Right now Niklas is the least of my worries.

James Woodard stands by the door with the blood results in his hand.

“No match,” he announces and tosses the print-out on a nearby table. “Nora is officially a fictional woman.”

The news doesn’t surprise any of us.

I turn to the screens with my arms crossed, dressed more for the occasion today in a tight black one-piece jumpsuit and a pair of military boots with good floor-grip, in case I have to fight Nora again. A dress was the worst thing I could’ve worn yesterday—I know Woodard got more of a view than I ever wanted him to.

“I think she actually pissed in the bucket,” Niklas points out.

My face scrunches up, but I look anyway. Thankfully, the cameras aren’t in any position to prove it.

“Well, she’s gotta go sometime,” Dorian says.

Victor continues to watch Nora as she paces the room on her tall legs and in her tall heels. She doesn’t look anxious or agitated, as I know I would be, being locked in a windowless room for this long, but instead she just looks bored. Add patience to her list of skills—Woodard isn’t the only one in this room who feels inadequate.

Victor turns away from the screens, the light from them casting a glow around his back.

“Woodard,” he says, “I need to speak with you for a moment.” He drops his arms at his sides and heads for the exit.

Woodard follows promptly.

“Victor, what is it?” I ask.

Light from the hallway spills into the room. He stands in the doorway and looks back at me. “I have some things I need him to check out,” he says simply.

I nod and they leave together.

Dorian and I glance at one another, sharing the same suspicious expressions. But Victor taking one of us off to the side to speak to privately isn’t anything new. It just never fails to make me incredibly curious, and Victor doesn’t always feel the need to share with me what was said.

I glance over at Niklas. I know he can feel my eyes on him, which is why he doesn’t look back.

The only sounds in the room are Nora’s heels moving across the floor coming from the speakers, and Dorian’s breath blowing the steam rising from his paper coffee cup.

“So,” I say to Niklas, trying to break the unease, “do you think you know any more about her today?”

“No,” he says, but doesn’t look at me.

He continues to stand in front of the screen on the right with his arms crossed, dressed in a pair of jeans and a dark gray button-up shirt with the sleeves rolled up past his elbows. And his biker boots; he always wears those. I don’t think he even owns another pair of shoes.

Disappointedly, I turn away and watch Nora instead.

“I guess I’m going in there next,” Dorian says, and doesn’t seem at all eager—I think he’s more worried about what he might do to her.

I pull out the wheeled chair on his left and sit down next to him.

“We’re gonna get Tessa back,” I tell him. “Just like Dina and James’s daughters. I really believe that.” I have to believe it, otherwise I’d be a mess by now.

Still facing the screen, Dorian makes a small breathy noise; a smile appears in his eyes. “Most women divorce their husbands and hate them for life because of an affair,” he says, and then glances over at me briefly, the smile now lifting the corners of his lips. “Tessa divorced me because I didn’t want to move to Wisconsin.”

My brows crumple in my forehead.


He laughs under his breath. “She hated New York. Wanted to live closer to her family. I don’t do well outside of a city”—his shoulders and head appear to shudder—“get in places like that where you can actually hear yourself think and you start to overthink.” He glances over once more, his eyes meeting mine. “Doing the shit that I do, you don’t want to think about it too much, y’know?”

I nod slowly. “Yeah, I guess I do know.”

“Don’t get me wrong,” he goes on, “I’m not haunted by the things I’ve done, but then maybe that’s why—I haven’t thought about it enough.”

He laughs suddenly.

“But I did have an affair,” he says and it catches me off-guard. He shakes his finger at me as if to make a point. “She cheated on me first though. After that it went back and forth—we cheated on each other out of spite for three years before she divorced me. Hell, I never would’ve done it the first time if she hadn’t”—he takes a quick sip of his coffee—“but Wisconsin was the nail in the coffin.”

I look over at Niklas again. He’s the same quiet, motionless figure standing there as he was before, but I can’t imagine he’s not thinking about Claire, especially considering the topic.

I avert my eyes before he notices.

“Whoever’s coming in next,” Nora says looking up into a camera, “be sure to bring me something to eat. I’m famished.”

“Famished?” I echo with annoyance. “What, does she think she’s British?”

The door opens then and Victor walks back into the room alone. The three of us turn to look at him, hoping he’s in the divulging mood. But he isn’t. I stand up from the chair.

“Dorian,” Victor says, “you go in next. I’ve put Woodard on something that may or may not be a break in her identity. I need to find out first before I talk to her.”

That sounds promising. Victor is more often right about his hunches than he is wrong, which is why for now he’s choosing not to say anything to the rest of us until he knows for sure.

Dorian stands.

“OK, boss,” he says and takes a deep breath.

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