The Swan & the Jackal
In the Company of Killers - 3
J. A. Redmerski
What you are about to read is not a romance. It’s not a conventional love story. It’s not erotica. It’s not a New Adult title. As with all books in this series, please do not attempt to read it with any of the above expectations. In the Company of Killers is a series that can only be categorized as Crime, Suspense, Thriller, Mystery, Psychological Thriller and sometimes Romantic Suspense—yes, the series has elements of love, romance and erotica, but not enough they actually fall into those categories.
Some authors—when they want to write in other genres—choose to write under pseudonyms, and for many reasons it’s a very smart choice. I am taking a risk by choosing to keep my name and write several different genres under that name. It’s a risk because some of my readers might assume that everything I write is going to be more of the same they are used to reading from me. But that’s just not the case. I write many different genres. I have published Young Adult/Paranormal Romance, New Adult/Contemporary Romance, Contemporary Fantasy and Crime/Suspense all under J.A. Redmerski—and I will continue to write different genres under that name. All I ask is that before reading any of my books, please make sure it’s the genre you are in the mood to read. This will spare you from being disappointed that it wasn’t what you expected, and spare me from receiving ‘disappointed’ reviews.
If you are ever unclear as to what genre any of my books fall under, the quickest and simplest way to find out is to go to my web site at www.jessicaredmerski.com under the tab ‘Books’ and check out the page for the book in question. The page will state the genre—the first listed being the primary—directly under the blurb next to the publication date.
Thanks so much for all of your continued support in my work! And Happy Reading!
Connie Francis – Where the Boys Are
Connie Francis – Fallin’
Duffy - Mercy
Kendra Morris – Wicked Game
VAST – Winter in My Heart
VAST – Don’t Take Your Love Away
Arcana – Wings of Gabriel
Christina Aguilera – Bound to You
Six years ago…
There is blood on the furniture and smeared across the wall, a beautiful crimson color that only blood can be, stark against the bright white sheetrock even in the darkness of the room. This wasn’t done by a gun. The nearly-naked body of the woman lying on her back against the floor in a thick, dark pool of the crimson stickiness was dispatched by a knife. A very sharp one. Probably with a curved blade and an engraving down the length that reads: Taste the sugary thorns upon my lips. But this wound…I’m all too familiar with the handiwork. The gash in the lowest part of the neck, just above where the center of the collarbone meets. Seraphina, my wife, has been here. Just moments ago. I can still smell her perfume in the air.
I’ve been spying on her for months, since the day I allowed myself to believe she had been betraying me all the time she claimed to love me. But before that she had been betraying my employer, Vonnegut, and our Order by working for another employer and leaking information to our rival. I couldn’t let her die for what she had done. I wanted to help her, to change her, to make her choose a side, my side. So, I began working with her against Vonnegut. It was the ultimate disloyalty, an instant death sentence betraying the Order. But love came first.
Love always comes first.
Though I learned the hard way that love is cruel and dangerous and more fiendish than a man like me could ever be. Because Seraphina played me for a fool, after all. After everything we had been through together. She threw it all away.
Tonight I’ll find her. And tonight I’ll kill her.
I step over the body, remembering the little brown mole on the woman’s lower stomach, close to her hipbone. I remember the shape of her slender thighs, the way they felt in my hands while I was fucking her as Seraphina watched. It had always been our thing, something we thrived on. Dark, forbidden sex.
This dead woman is the second I’ve found in two days. Both of them women who Seraphina and I have shared. Both of them doomed to suffer this brutal fate the second Seraphina’s jealousy switch finally flipped. That, along with her needing a way to get back at me for figuring out her secrets and no longer falling for her lies. These dead women are messages. Come and find me, they say. I’m not hiding from you, my love, I’m just enjoying the game, she’s telling me.
She always did enjoy the game. So did I. Only now I know I have to end it. And I have to win.
I let the body go and it falls against the saturated carpet. As I rise back into a stand, headlights blink on across the street and shine blindingly into the large living room window, illuminating the sheer white curtains that dress it. An engine revs. Come and get me, she’s telling me. With my gun gripped in my hand, I walk, not run, briskly out the front door and into the frigid air. I raise the gun in front of me pointed at the car as I approach it brazenly from across the street. A dog barks vociferously in the backyard of the house on the corner, violently heaving itself against the chain-link fence that confines it. Teeth gnashing. Blood-thirsty. Like all animals, it knows evil when it sees it.
“What are you doing, Seraphina?” I ask in a low, threatening voice as I get closer to the car, my gun still pointed at her, my finger on the trigger. “This is beneath even you.”
Seraphina grins from the driver’s seat, her long, slender fingers draped over the top of the steering wheel. Her shiny jet-black hair, cut short to the bottom of her cheekbones is always in perfect order, not a strand out of place, even in times like this.
The echo of blaring sirens approaching from afar sounds in my ears and I snap my head around toward it. Then I hear a thumping. Thump, thump, thump, BANG! It’s coming from the trunk. My eyes dart to and from it and Seraphina and the south street from where I hear the sirens. I can’t decide which is more imperative.
“What are you going to do?” Seraphina taunts, grinning in such a wicked way it can only translate as complete confidence. She knows she has me in this moment. Even with a gun pointed at her beautiful head, she has me.
I take a deep breath and look behind me again, expecting the police cars to drive up any second. The sirens are getting closer, but I still don’t see the sporadic flashing of their lights reflecting in the darkness of the late hour, so I have a little time. But only seconds.
I look back at Seraphina in the car. My breath exhales visibly in the winter air.
“I’ll give you what you want,” she says, changing her tune to something more serious and less taunting. “But you have to hear me out. Do you fucking understand me, Fredrik?!”
I feel my teeth grinding behind my cheeks, my nostrils flaring, the bones in my hand aching as my grip tightens around the gun handle with crushing force.
We look into each other’s cold, dark eyes one last time and she presses her foot on the gas pedal and speeds away. Reluctantly, I drop the gun to my side and let my breath out in a long, deep sigh of defeat and enragement. Seraphina knows that I can’t kill her until I get information from her. Like an obsessive compulsive need, the information must come first or I’ll never be able to sleep again. No one knows but Seraphina, not even my employer, Vonnegut, that I’ve been torturing and interrogating criminals associated with The Order since I met Seraphina. She was the one who opened me up to it, who…gave me a release for my greatest imperfection as a member of the human race. Seraphina helped me and for that, though not that alone, she knows I can’t kill her. At least not yet.
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