“So…about that confession.” She winks at me.
I stand from the chair and straighten my shirt, tucked inside my pants.
“There are still three and a half hours that you get to sit bound to that chair,” I say. “I’m going to make sure that we use every last minute of them. I hope you have a strong bladder.”
“I have a strong everything,” she says. “You wouldn’t believe how strong my will is.”
“That will be for Gustavsson to prove, I suppose.”
“If he shows.” She has little confidence in that, the same as everyone else, it appears.
“But Victor, there’s something I would like to tell you though.”
I look at her with inquiry but say nothing in response because something about her offer seems off. Dangerous even.
“I’ve been watching you for a long time,” she begins, “years, and although you’re a very difficult man to find and to follow, much less get information on, out of anyone I’ve ever studied, you are by far the most fascinating.”
“Am I supposed to be moved by that in some way?”
“No,” she says, “you’re not really the type capable of being too moved by anything—Izabel can pull it off clearly, but again, how long that will last is up in the air.”
“What is your point?” I say, becoming more intolerant every time she makes Izabel a topic.
“My point is”—she lowers her voice to a whisper; an attempt to keep the embedded mic from picking up her words, though I doubt she cares whether anyone else hears her or not—“that I’ve never been intrigued by any man before, and seeing as how it’s like staring into a mirror, I think you and I could offer each other a very interesting kind of relationship.”
I look down at her with a suspicious sidelong glance.
She smiles darkly and says, “We could fuck each other as much as we wanted, and you’d never have to worry about the burdens of loving me, because I’d never love you back. With me you could be who you used to be, never having to worry about my safety, or my…feelings”—her grin deepens—“you could go back to doing the kinds of missions you once enjoyed, the ones on the inside like Niklas used to take, getting intimate with your hit, fucking her until she cries out your name, and coming back to me with no repercussions. Because I don’t get jealous.”
I shake my head, laughing quietly to myself.
“You are unbelievable,” I say. “Is that what you’re here for? For me?” I point at my chest; a look of complete and utter disbelief twisting my features. Though I really doubt that is why she is here. “That will never happen,” I say, slashing a hand in the air in front of me. “And you don’t give Izabel enough credit. She may be new to all of this, but she has more self-control than—”
I hear the door open with boom and see a flash of dark auburn hair whip past me.
Izabel lunges right over the table and spears Nora in the chair like an arrow. The table is pushed violently out of the way, screeching vociferously across the floor as Izabel takes Nora down with her.
“Izabel!” I shout.
Niklas comes running into the room behind me.
Izabel’s fists rain down on Nora’s head repeatedly; the legs of the chair and Nora’s legs bound to them blocking the view as Izabel sits on top of her chest. There’s blood on her knuckles when I finally grab her and pull her off.
Nora’s laughter fills the room, echoing off the empty walls. She chokes on her own blood, stops to spit it out with her head tilted to one side and commences laughing afterwards.
“I’ve had it with this psychotic bitch!” Izabel roars with murder in her voice and I know in her eyes even though her back is to me. My hands grip her at the elbows, holding her at bay.
“Get her out of here,” I tell Niklas as I turn Izabel around.
She thrashes in my grasp, screaming curses—I knew it was only a matter of time before Izabel cracked.
“That is enough!” I shout after forcing her body around to face me, my eyes filled with fury. I shake her roughly and her auburn hair falls down around her face and into her mouth. “I said stop!”
Finally, as if snapped back into reality, she calms down, but her chest continues to rise and fall with rapid breath. Her face is filled with hatred and pain and retribution.
“Take her out of here,” I tell Niklas one more time and then I release Izabel.
She says nothing as she looks into my eyes, but words are not needed to tell me every single thought running through her mind.
Niklas, with his hand folded around Izabel’s elbow, takes her out into the hall.
“I should leave you like that,” I tell Nora once the door closes behind me and we are alone again.
“Yeah, well, I don’t give a shit either way,” she says with laughter still in her voice as I approach.
Lifting the chair with her in it, I set it back on all four legs. Blood streams from both of her nostrils, dripping down into her mouth. She licks it with the tip of her tongue and spits onto the floor again.
“You wouldn’t happen to have a handkerchief or something in those pockets of yours, would you?” She smiles broadly, blood glistening on her otherwise bright white teeth.
I push the table over next to the wall, leaving Nora exposed in the center of the room. Just her and the chair and the paracord and cuffs; a prisoner sitting underneath a bright fluorescent light with her blood-stained teeth and long blonde hair and leather pants and wicked smiles.
“That woman of yours needs a lot of training, Faust. You can’t shadow her forever. You want to, but you can’t and you know it.”
“You proved your point,” I tell her calmly, “but you know that even if you get what you came here for, Izabel’s not going to let you leave here alive.”
“She will if you tell her to.”
“She doesn’t always do what I tell her,” I say. “And at this point, I see no reason to give her that order.”
Nora smiles sweetly, cunningly, and the room grows quiet, thick with curiosity and secrets. What is that look of hers all about? It reeks of anticipation; a calculating woman who knows how to play her cards, not all at once, but one at a time. I get the feeling she’s about to play another one.
“You know, Victor,” she says and I wait for it, “in the six years I followed you, I may have learned little about you, but I did come across a bit of information about someone else that you may find…interesting.”