XXI. Music and Dreams

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The sound was torture. His mind would not let him sleep.

His mind was about to explode if they did not stop it, Richard thought. The muscles on his face, his head—everything—were straining to fight off the deafening sound.

He had seen many of his victims in the past nearly go mad.

And they all talked.

Even moving his eyes was no longer an option. He desperately tried to keep them shut, hoping to shut off the sound as well.

It was not working.

The door remained closed.

How long did he have to suffer this?

Until you start talking, a voice whispered in his head. Was that Theo's voice? No, it couldn't be. His brother was not here.

Just tell them, Richard, the voice said again. They might let you live.

No, he thought.

Tell them. Get it over with. The sound will disappear.

No!

It's over, Richard. We lost.

No. He had to kill her first. Kill that bitch!

You're dead anyway. Let it be easy. Tell them what they want.

Richard was losing his own battle and he knew that.

*****

Theo left the room where Desiree was sleeping, phone in hand.

Walking to the kitchen, he considered his actions.

Kane was dead. She would have been helpful.

Morrison was not answering his phone and it would not be a fucking surprising if he was with Richard somewhere.

Making up his mind, Theo dialed the number.

"Yes?" Petroff's thick Russian voice answered from the other end.

"I'm in," he said.

A very long, breathless silence followed. And then Petroff started laughing. "Too late, Theo. I no longer need your help."

"But we have the authorities on our side. If you can help me get my brother—"

"Ah, so your bastard of a brother is missing. I wonder why I am not surprised."

"If we can get Richard, we promise to help you."

"No deal, Theo. We're done."

The line went dead.

Theo cursed and slammed his phone on the table.

Fuck.

*****

Richard's eyes hurt when he opened them.

But the sound had stopped.

Or paused, more like it, the voice said in his head when he saw Monica Jiang standing in front of him, arms crossed over her chest.

"Enjoying your music?" she asked with a sneer.

He glared at her and bared his upper teeth.

She scoffed. "Really, Richard, you simply have to talk. Just tell us what you've been planning."

"Where's Morrison?"

Monica shrugged. "Past out. Dead. Happily eating. I don't really know."

He met her eyes and he started to laugh. And he laughed even more.

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