THIS IS THE WAY
Saul steals glances at me in the mirror as he attempts to fix the bow tie wrapped around his thick neck. His stamps in frustration and I smile. Rising from the desk, I approach the mirror and wait for him to stop. With a grunt, he drops his arms to his side.
“I’m not cut out for this domestic shit. I’m a killer in case you forgot.”
“Oh, how can I forget? You never tire of telling me.”
Without waiting for me to ask, Saul gets on his knees so I can fix his bowtie.
“Men can be such intolerable babies. Do you ever shut up?” He opens his mouth to reply but I put a hand over his lips. “Not today. Just don’t. We have new recruits to interrogate. I need you to look the part.”
His jaw clenches, but he doesn’t respond. I finish with the bowtie and motion for him to rise. He’s a handsome man in a tuxedo, but I won’t tell the little shit, or he’ll put on airs all day.
I exit the bedroom and don’t need to look behind me to know Saul follows. No matter his endless complaining about wearing the tuxedo, examining the new recruits brings Saul as close to what you might call joy as he can experience. I mean, he is a certifiable psychopath so I can’t claim he feels real emotions. I’d be lying.
As we approach a set of double doors, Saul gets in front of me. He swings the doors open with a flourish as my name is announced.
“Miss Ella Thomas, Master of Holden Farms.”
I enter the room, my heels on the hardwood floor the only sound. The recruits are bound to upright gurney like contraptions, duct tape enforcing mandatory silence.
“You may not call me Ella. Ever. If you remember that, you just might live to see lunch.”
“I wouldn’t bet on it, tho,” Saul says, putting a cigar into his mouth. He approaches the closest gurney to him and rips the duct tape from the prisoner’s mouth. “Well, what’s it going to be? You were explained how this works by the butler.”
The man glances at Ella, but Saul steps to the side blocking the view.
“I’m not sure I understand the options.”
Saul lights the cigar and grunts with displeasure. “This doesn’t bode well for you, meat. It’s not rocket science. You were convicted by a jury of your peers of violent crimes against multiple women. Somehow you were given parole after only six months of a ten-year sentence. Something about cutbacks due to pandemic. Ella has revoked that parole. You have two choices. Join her or die.”
Saul scans the room. When he’s sure all the men understand, he returns his attention to the first prisoner.
“Yes, the butler explained that. But he didn’t tell us what join her means. Join her for what? What am I agreeing to do?”
“You will hunt down rapists and murderers. Men like you. You will do this to atone for your sins. Or you will die.”
The man clears his throat and takes some time to collect himself. “Let me see if I understand. To atone for my sins against women I’m to become an assassin of men like me and in all other times perform servant duty for the women of Holden Farms?”
Saul smiles and blows smoke into the man’s face.
“This is the way.”
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