Adam shut the windows and dropped the blinds, the light slipping from the room as they lowered. He flicked the switch on the lamp conveniently positioned on the night stand and then turned to the woman standing awkwardly in the middle of his hotel room.
He knew by now that she wasn’t a hallucination. Enough people had reacted to her as they’d made the trek to his hotel that he would have been convinced even if his body hadn’t ached hard enough that he knew he couldn’t be under the influence of anything.
“Well?” he prompted, looking her dead in the eyes. “Aren’t you going to explain?”
Kat shifted her weight from foot to foot. “What do you want to know?”
The question made Adam clench his teeth. “I don’t know,” he hissed. “How about, maybe, how are you alive?”
Kat flinched and eyed the door. “Keep your voice down.”
“Answer my question,” Adam countered. “And while you’re at it, tell me why you’re so jumpy. Who are you running from Kat?”
She shut her eyes for a moment, putting a hand to her temples. “How much do you know about what happened?”
“I-” Adam cleared his throat. “Iman gave the compound to her grandfather and he, for whatever reason, had it burned after sending in some of his people to kill everyone they could find.”
“You don’t know anything then,” Kat said matter-of-factly.
“What does that mean, Kat?”
She shook her head and he pressed. “What does that mean?”
“It means that you’re being led around like a puppet and you don’t even know it!” she yelled. “Why would your little wife give up the compound? Why now, months later? After you’ve killed for them, even!”
The old hurt twinged for a minute but Adam was quickly distracted by more important things. “Then who?” he croaked. “No one else knew!”
“Exactly!” Kat threw her hands up.
“Exactly what, Kat? Who was it? And why did I see one of Ibrahim Khan’s men on security footage with my own eyes?”
Kat blew out a sigh, pulling out the lone chair and straddling it. “Blackwell doesn’t belong to anyone,” she said softly. “He’s made a career out of stepping on as many people as he has to to get what he wants. If the Khans thought he belonged to them, they were wrong.”
“Then Iman…” Adam’s voice gave out.
“She didn’t do a thing,” Kat confirmed.
The implications of that one little sentence were too overwhelming for him to bear. Adam shoved it all to the side. “How did you get out? I saw the compound, it was ashes.”
Kat gave him a pitying look. “You still don’t get it, do you?” She pushed herself to her feet. “There was no attack, Adam. No one is dead except the people you killed when you went to get revenge for something that hadn’t even happened.”
Adam shook his head.
Oh, God, no.
He bolted for the bathroom, tasting the coffee he’d drunk that morning for the second time.
Kat came up behind him and handed him a hand towel. “I’m sorry, Adam. I really am.”
“Why?” he gasped. “Why would you… I don’t understand.” He coughed.
Kat spoke in a monotone. “You were supposed to kill them all,” she explained, her eyes dead. “You were supposed to kill every single one of them.”
“And then what? You’d come back and I’d just fall in line?”
“How could you think that would work, Kat? How could you even…” He stared at her, unable to believe that she was the same woman he’d mourned for nearly a month now.
“It wasn’t me!” she snapped, with sudden energy. “This has been killing me! You have no idea.” Emotion made her voice thick and her eyes were glassy.
Adam didn’t care. “I thought you were dead!” he yelled. “I thought fifty people were dead, because of me! You know, you’ve always known what that would do to me. How could you just let me believe that?”
“I didn’t have a choice!” Kat flung out her hands. “If I hadn’t gone along with it, he would have killed me!”
“Who?” Adam bellowed, fed up.
“Ali!” Kat sniffed and rubbed at her eyes. “I told you,” she went on, “there was no attack. Ali… I don’t even know why. But he’s been planning this since before you got involved with the Khans. Not to make you kill them. But to get rid of them. I think his plans changed when you got married but I don’t know. It’s not like he tells me stuff.”
Adam felt cold. “And my mother?” He almost didn’t want to hear the answer. Lina had chosen Ali over him before but he didn’t know if he could bear hearing that she’d done it again.
Kat lowered her eyes to the floor, looking regretful. “She has no idea what’s going on. She’s as clueless as you were.”
There was a moment of relief before the guilt set it. How could he be happy that his mother was in mourning?
Again, he pushed it away in favour of more pressing issues.
“Why did you tell me to go when you saw me?”
Kat squeezed her eyes shut. “Ali is furious with you. For messing up. You didn’t kill Ibrahim Khan. You – you missed. He’s been raging for a while now about it. He almost sent me to get rid of you. I convinced him that I’m needed here but you need to go, Adam! If he finds out that you’re in Naples, he will either make me kill you or do it himself. You need to go and you need to go fast.”
Kat looked down at her phone. “And so do I. I’ve been gone for too long. I need to get back.”
“Wait!” The plea was out before he could stop it. “Kat…” Adam hesitated. “I’m sorry for the way we left things.”
Kat gave him a ghost of her usual smile. “So am I.”
He didn’t ask for forgiveness and she didn’t offer it. And as Adam watched her leave, he knew – if Kat had to, she would kill him.