Fiction: The Art of Mutual Destruction Chapter Sixty One

I am a terrible person.

Chapter Sixty One

How nice to see you again,” a familiar voice commented.

Iman spun around.

Hello.” Ali Cassim smiled charmingly at her. His eyes were still just as dead as they always had been, ruining the handsomeness of his face.

Iman took a step back, looking around and cursing silently. No one. She’d loved this route because of how quiet and deserted it was and now that preference was going to kill her.

What do you want?” she demanded, proud that her voice remained steady.

Lots of things,” Cassim replied. “Money, power, respect. For now, I’ll settle for you coming with me – and not making a fuss.”

And if I don’t?”

Cassim’s eyes hardened. “I will have to hunt you down. And it will not be pleasant.”

Iman looked around again, wishing for Adam.

He’s not coming,” Ali told her, a sick satisfaction in his voice. “He was going to – that’s part of the reason I took him down so easily. He was so absorbed, he didn’t even notice me until I was almost right on top of him.”

Ali shook his head in mock sorrow. “Such a shame. You really did ruin him, you know. I put so much work into that boy, into making him perfect and you went and spoiled him.”

Anger began to overwhelm Iman’s fear. She thought of the things Adam had told her about his childhood, then remembered several far more recent conversations. This man was to blame for all the pain she and Adam had been through. Ali Cassim had been the true cause. He’d deliberately manipulated her husband.

And now he wanted her.

No, Iman decided.

Ali Cassim had gotten what he wanted for long enough. She wasn’t going to let him use her to hurt Adam.

She ran. Faster than she ever had in her life, praying that she would be fast enough.

There was an ugly laugh behind her. “The hard way it is then.”

She ran until her lungs ached, until she was sure her next step would be her last. She pushed past it all, refusing to give in. She would not stop.

Enough games.”

Hands shot out and grabbed her, one wrapping around her waist while the other pressed something sharp into her side. “Look down,” Cassim instructed.

Iman did.

That is a very real, very loaded gun. If I shoot you with this, you will die. Do you understand?”

Yes,” Iman gasped.

Good. Now, are you going to keep kicking up a fuss?”

No.”

Cassim smiled that ugly smile again and Iman tasted bile. “Excellent.”

He holstered the gun and hoisted her into his arms properly. He was even bigger than Adam, Iman realized. And he wasn’t even breathing hard. He’d been toying with her.

Let’s go see Adam.”

No, Iman shouted silently. No, no, no.

Tears slipped down her cheeks as she was jostled against Cassim.

No.

How could he have been so stupid? Adam railed as soon as he’d awoken. His shoulders ached from the unnatural position they’d been twisted into behind his back and his head throbbed angrily. He had no idea what cocktail of drugs Ali had injected into his bloodstream but whatever they were, the after effects were almost as incapacitating as the dose itself.

He struggled into a seated position with a groan and turned his attention to the ropes that secured his limbs.

You don’t want to do that,” a calm voice told him.

He jerked his head up wildly and saw Ali peering down at him, an indulgent smile on his face. “You’ll make them tighter,” he said, referring to the ropes.

What is this?” Adam demanded. “Why did you tie me up? You don’t need to do this to kill me – or aren’t you as good as you always maintained you were?”

Ali swung a hand lazily and the heavy metal of the gun in his hand bit into the side of Adam’s face. “Don’t be rude,” he admonished. “You always did have a problem with that.”

I had a problem with a lot of things,” Adam snapped. He twisted his wrists again.

Stop. That. Or that little girl in your bedroom is going to have a much harder time of it than she needs to.”

Adam’s blood ran cold. Iman. “What did you do to her?” he choked.

Nothing, yet,” Ali said pleasantly. “Behave and I won’t have to break her.”

You’re sick,” Adam gasped, his heart hammering in his chest. “Leave her alone!”

No worries over yourself?” Ali inquired.

No. Just leave her alone!” As if he could worry about himself when she was in danger! “Please,” he added. “Just leave her alone.”

How precious,” Ali cooed. “But I’m afraid I can’t do that. She needs to die, you see.”

Adam’s mouth turned dry and the scream that had been building in his throat came out as an unintelligible croak. No, he begged in the depths of his own head. No, no, no.

Not her. Let Ali kill him. But not her. Never her.

The monster standing above him sighed. “It’s such a pity,” he said conversationally, “that you had to go and fall in love with her. I had finally gotten you right. You were cold and deadly – a perfect weapon. And then the Khans had to go and ruin everything. I hadn’t planned for things to go like this, you know. Originally, Blackwell was supposed to kill Ibrahim Khan. And then, of course, I would have made you kill Blackwell and take his place. You might even have gotten to keep that little girl you’re obsessed with.”

Adam couldn’t stop the choked sound of rage that left him.

Simmer down,” Ali scolded. “Honestly, where are those manners I took so long to beat into you? You’d think we let you live like a savage.”

He was the savage. No, he was a demon. How had Adam never realized?

Where was I?” Ali mused. “Ah, yes. I was explaining to you how all of this is your fault. You see, Adam, if you had just killed Ibrahim Khan, I would have been happy. You would have passed my test and I would have been able to let you keep running after that little girl. But you couldn’t even kill a geriatric old man right. And then the next time you pop up, you’re a bloody mess. It’s a disgrace and it makes me look bad. Now I have to fix you.”

How’s that?”

What’s her name? Iman? Yes, I think killing Iman and making you watch will go a long way towards getting you back where I want you.”

Ali bared his teeth in a mockery of a smile. “Ready?”

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