Alanna grinned. “Don’t stop now, boys. Kill them all, and salt the earth.”
Jeramie paled - targets, plural? - and the conversation faded to an indistinct buzz. Numb, he watched Alanna “soothe” little Ryan, aided by Kristian. He managed to walk over. Got Alanna’s attention. Made up a pretext to get her alone.
Once outside, he slammed her against the wall, eyes wild. She stifled her cry, glaring up at him. “Yes, dear?” she said mockingly.
“Targets. Plural. Did I hear that correctly?”
“The order was for Marcus alone. Marcus killed and Jessamyn and Capri brought in. Capri as leverage. Am I remembering this incorrectly?”
She shrugged, smiling, her eyes on him. “I changed the orders.”
He sagged. “Jessamyn.”
She nodded, watching him avidly. “The new order was to take Marcus down first. Then Jessamyn… slowly. With the little girl forced to watch. With Jessamyn knowing that, after we tortured her to death, we would do even worse to her daughter.”
“Capri. Her name is Capri. She’s twelve years old.”
Alanna suddenly looked far older than her years. “I was twelve.”
“Why did you change the orders?”
“The goal was to teach them a lesson, yes? This serves that purpose.”
“You didn’t have to kill her!”
Alanna laughed. “How many dozens – hundreds – of people did we order killed? What’s one more?”
His hands dug into her arms. “Why?” he growled.
She looked up at him for a long moment, then smiled, cold and deliberate. “Because you loved her.”
He slammed his hand onto her throat, eliciting a sound halfway between a grunt and a gasp. “I could kill you for that.”
She laughed again, high-pitched and high-strung. “No, you can’t. You need me. More than anyone needs you. Kill me – and then what? Tell everyone ‘ooh, sorry, Alanna never was the Lishaya’? You’re stuck with me, Jeramie. And I do mean with me. Thou shalt have no other gods – or loves – before me. No more pining over your little crush. You are all mine.”
He released her, and her hand went automatically to her throat – just before he backhanded her across the face. She cried out then, to be sure. Alanna, sprawled across the floor, hand to her face. “You psychotic little bitch,” he hissed.
She gave him a shaky smile. “I am what you made me,” she replied, her voice raspy and unsteady. “And you made me in your image. Happy?”
Refusing to answer, he summoned four Hounds. “Take her upstairs. Find a bedroom. I’ll be up with your instructions momentarily.”
She laughed wildly. “There’s nothing you can do to me anymore. There’s nothing that will hurt me anymore.”
“Oh, yes,” he said softly. “Yes, there is. And I will begin to show you tonight. I can’t kill you, Alanna. But there is so much that I can do to you.”
Uncertainty flickered across her face as he gestured to the Hounds to remove her. She stumbled after them, newly wary.
Oh, poor Alanna. She really had no idea...
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I am a smart girl and have taken my drugs now, while Adam and irana are here and awake to keep me alert through the side effects. See how clever I am? I'm clever.