It would be up to me to speak to him about this but somehow, it did not seem he was ready. This left me with many misgivings as he seemed indifferent to the world around him. Even worse, what if it pushed him further away from us into the abyss? I could not have that.
Sighing, I took a few uncertain steps toward the building. If I could not plead with Holden to return to us, I could at least deal with the perpetrator of this tragedy.
And deal with him, I would.
Jedrek’s mouth twisted into an ugly grin as he pointed at the screen. “Here’s a good one. Look at that face! She had no clue my man was there getting pictures.”
He had no idea, but he spat when he spoke, tiny strings of white sputum landing everywhere. It was like dealing with a large, slobbery dog.
I side-stepped in an attempt to avoid the gruesome spittle flying about and smirked. I’d noticed Debra gagging and turning her back whenever he was near which was hilarious to me. Some people had such weak stomachs.
Despite Jedrek’s shortcomings, he was a good man to have on my side, make no mistake about it. For now, was my reward for trusting him to get the job done.
The harsh fluorescent lighting made her features appear harsher than they were. She sniffed and the scowl remained where it was as she looked up at me.
I nodded acquiescence even though I could hear the blood rushing through my head. Calling upon all my willpower, I stilled my shaking hands. With a few more silent, deep breaths, I also managed to produce a benevolent smile. “Goodness, Mr. Brimm. It is freezing in here. I hope you have not been too unkind to our guest.”
“Sorry, Ms., the thermostat broke again.”
Ella looked from one of us to the other in an attempt to determine if we were putting on some kind of charade. Her uncertainty – the sheer belief she still had she would get out of this unharmed – caused me to smile wider.
“Yes, I have seen photos of you dancing, quite lovely.” I paused for dramatic effect then said, “So, you know Holden Sprague.”
“We were dance partners for a very short time. I didn’t know him on a personal level at all.”
“Oh, Mr. Brimm, we must be mistaken.”
Leering at the girl, he said, “There is no mistake.”
“You see,” I said, “in Mr. Brimm’s profession, there is no room for inaccuracy. So, if he tells me something about you, I know it is true.” A single tear rolled out of the corner of one eye and down her cheek, her bottom lip trembling even more. Leaning closer to her, my voice became very low and no-nonsense. The game was over. “You hired Gunner Housen to shoot and kill Holden Sprague, did you not?”
Her face became a mask of terror, her eyes pleading for mercy as she began to cry. “I – I didn’t want him dead. I only wanted him to pay for ruining my life! Please, you have to believe me!”
It took all my strength not to dash her brains against the wall. My hands worked themselves into fists and more deep breathing was necessary. “If his intention was not to kill then why did he shoot the man in the head?”
“He wasn’t supposed to shoot him in the head! I told him to go for his leg and he assured me he could do it!”
Jedrek must have realized how murderous I was feeling because he stepped in. “Who did you think Gunner Housen was, lady?”
“I don’t know anything about him except he answered my ad and he was the only one I could afford! You have no idea how many years it took me to save the money! The sacrifices I made! You don’t understand anything! Dancing was everything to me! When Holden told those lies to our dance mistress, I got fired! But not only fired! I’m blacklisted! I can’t get a job with any company because they all know what Holden said!”
My face must have been the deepest shade of red because it was burning and the pulse in my temple was pounding. “You raped him!”
Her jaw dropped and she shook her head. “No, that’s not what happened. I was playing around. He took some painkillers and didn’t even know it. Then, when I told him later that we had a good time and I wanted more, he rejected me! He rejected me!”
I was certain I was about to lose my mind when I heard her ridiculous rant. “He rejected you because you raped him. I need to hear you say that. Go.”
“You’re crazy! What I did was not rape!”
“Mr. Brimm, leave the room.”
As I motioned for her to stand, I said, “You must need to stretch your legs by now.”
This caught her off guard but she stood, gazing at me without a word.
“What are you going to do to me?” she asked after a long silence passed between us.
“Say it and then you will find out.”
“No.” Her chin jutted out as if she thought she could defy me.
Grabbing her chin between my finger and thumb, I pulled her toward me causing her to stumble. “Do not say it then. I know what you are regardless. It cannot save you either way.” Without letting go of her, I jerked her toward me again.
She pinched her eyes closed and tears sprang from them as she pitched forward again with my movement.
“You do not seem to understand your situation.”
“W-what is it you want to know?” she sobbed.
“So, you have interpreted the only way this can go.” My face was inches from hers, my hot breath hitting her face as I hissed through clenched teeth, “Why? Why did you do it? Was it only because you could not dance again?”
Her shoulders heaved forward as she gasped and sniveled. “It was because I was the best! No one could compete with what I could do! It was the humiliation of not being able to find a job with a ballet company! He rejected me and told people! Then, he turned around and married a different blonde with a similar name! I couldn’t take it, not when he belongs to me!”
Everything she said seemed like such senseless reasons to want someone dead. To want my brother – my twin – dead. All at once, my vision went completely red. I could feel my hands clenching into fists again as the rage bubbled up through my entire body. In a few short moments, my agitation had encased me in a maddened fury I’d never experienced before.
I did not feel in complete control as I stretched my arms in front of me, my rage lifting her from the floor. Her mouth hung open in an astonished “oh” as her body rose several feet in the air.
As I raised my arms further, her body also rose, turning so it was parallel with the floor.
She only hovered there for a few seconds yet it was enough time for her to plead for her life. My anger was not assuaged, though.
All at once, I brought my arms down with force and her body slammed against the concrete floor. I had not dashed her brains out as I’d imagined only a short while ago. But she was quite dead, regardless.
“What did you do?” Jedrek asked as he entered the room.
I was still standing in the same place, gazing down at my ghoulish work.
“She appears rather ghastly.”
“Ms. Sprague, she looks scared shitless.”
For several minutes, I could not take my eyes away from her. Many bones had broken throughout her body, her neck twisted in an unnatural way. Her gnarled mouth caused a small smile to curve my lips upward. No one would ever think this grotesque creature was worth looking at again.
“Are you going to tell your brother?”
That was an excellent question. If I told Holden about this, would he be happy? Would it snap him back to reality to know he and his family were no longer in danger?
I knew him better than that, of course.
“No. Although this is on his behalf, it would horrify him. He has a tender heart, you see. All he will need to know is that Ella will not bother him again. He will not ask for details and I will not volunteer them.”
“My pleasure, Ms. Sprague. You’d better get back upstairs. I’ll get my clean up team in here.”
I felt strange as I returned to the great hall, as if my feet were inches above the floor. What feeling was it that engulfed me, sinking in my stomach like a brick?
Guilt? No, definitely not. Ella Dean deserved it all and more.
Sadness? No. Of course not.
With each step, I considered a new emotion, still unable to put my finger on it. Pretending to view a painting, I considered this further. I was not happy either.
Relief. I felt relieved that it was over. Also, a smattering of shock. Not since dealing with a monster in our house as a child had I felt a power within me like the one that overtook me tonight. Ella was a monster, too, I reasoned.
“Rosetta Darling,” I heard Grayson calling.
“Good evening,” I said as I plastered a smile on my face.
“When I went to your office and you weren’t there, I thought you went home for the night.”
“Uh, no, I had a dinner meeting.”
“Ah, I see.” His green eyes twinkled at me as he took my hands in his.
“We are in a public place of business,” I reminded him.
“This is true,” he said, drawing me close, his lips finding mine.
We were in the great hall where anyone could observe us. Kisses were not my favorite thing. Yet being in his arms, in that moment, was what I needed.