Home > Paint It All Red (Mindf*ck #5)(3)

Paint It All Red (Mindf*ck #5)(3)
Author: S.T. Abby

“Where is she? I won’t ask again.”

His eyes grow colder. “As I said, we’ve prepared for every possible outcome of every situation.”

He raises his hands slowly, like he’s going to put them behind his head, but instead, he puts something in his ears.

“I should mention, I even estimated the amount of time this conversation would take.”

Before I can even question that, a high-pitch, piercing noise attacks my ears, and I drop the gun to clutch my head that seems to be wobbling like a drum under attack. I’m forced to my knees as the sound grows excruciating to my ears, and my eyes screw shut as I fight to stand back up.

Just as suddenly as it began, the noise stops, and even though my hearing might take a few minutes to get right, I feel instant relief. My eyes fly open to see that Jake is already gone, and I look at the box on the wall that just brought me to my knees.

He really has fucking planned everything down to the last detail, just as Lana has. Only she had hoped for a different outcome.

My mind feels like it’s gone through a mind-fuck blender. Up is down. Right is left. Good is bad.

Before I can stop myself, I slam my fist into the wall, ignoring the searing pain that shoots up my arm when my knuckles strike the unforgiving wood.

I learned to control all my emotions long before I joined the FBI. I learned to hide the anger. Learned to be stoic. Learned to taper any sort of feeling that was too strong.

But not today.

I fall apart, tossing everything in the cabin as my heart gets yanked out of my chest, and I lash out for the first time in over fifteen years.

Chapter 2

By that sin, fell the angels.

—William Shakespeare


Alyssa Murdock grimaces as she takes a sip of her drink, unaware that I’m watching her through the trees. Every time her shirt rises up, I see the bruises on her back.

Hearing it and seeing it are two different things.

Very few of my victims have children. Alyssa is the only offspring who isn’t an adult.

At eight, she’s still a child, with far too many bruises in her history, and too many scars on her heart. Despite the shit-hand life has dealt me, I never once felt the strike of my father’s anger. He never hit me. I was doted on and loved. As a child should be.

But Greg Murdock has hit his daughter too many times.

He gets bumped up on the list because of that.

Turning away and leaving her to hide her bruises in front of her friends who are playing on the treehouse with her, I pull my hood back up and leave my lurking shadows.

Hadley’s number silently flashes on my screen again, and I ignore her call once more. My eyes flit over her text, and a twinge of guilt hits me, even though no other emotion is infiltrating the barrier I have in place right now.

HADLEY: Logan knows!

I know she’s worried, which is why she keeps calling. But right now, in this moment, I don’t trust myself to speak to anyone.

Since Jake left earlier, my tears have all dried up, and my heart keeps garnering a new layer of ice with each passing moment.

I’m back in survival mode, shutting off everything to keep from drowning in the pain. If I allow myself to feel right now, I’ll never stop crying.

And there is no time for tears.

ME: I know. Look after yourself. Don’t worry about me.

ME: And thank you for accepting me and understanding.

My finger hovers over the option to send that last message, but I finally press it and turn my phone off, removing the battery. Then I head back toward the house we’ve commandeered, courtesy of the Dalia family that only lives here during the Christmas season and summer.

It’s secluded, the house hidden from the main road by a veil of thick trees. Only a slender driveway leads to the home, and we have sensors in to alert us if anyone passes over them.

The end is coming.

But I almost don’t even care anymore.

My dispassion is just one repercussion of turning numb to survive.

A car rolls by me as I walk down the long driveway, and I glance over, seeing Jake’s eyes meet mine through the window. I cut my gaze away, because he’s searching me, watching me, worrying about my intentions now that the light is officially gone.

My brother sacrificed his own life to save mine. Even without Logan standing by me, I owe it to my brother to survive, regardless if it is a soulless, empty existence. I just don’t have the drive to make that my ultimate goal any longer.

My main priority is to see this through, grant my brother’s dying wish, and finally lay to rest all the misery from the past.

Jake drives on, parking at the end of the driveway, and he gets out, heading straight toward me.

“So you disappeared into the woods again?” Jake asks.

“I did some recon. Hitting Murdock tonight.”

“Tonight?” he asks, a worried note to his tone.

“I need something to stab, and he needs to be stabbed. Seems like we could help each other out,” I tell him dryly.

He grabs my arm, halting me from walking by, and I stare into his concerned eyes.

“Lana, take a minute and regroup. Logan—”

“Logan is a guy who was never meant to be in my life,” I answer coldly, ignoring the trickle of pain that slowly starts sparking across my heart.

I suppress the urge to rub my chest, knowing it would give me away, and I walk inside the house with Jake following me. When I turn around, I hate what I see.

So much pity is staring at me right now through my best friend’s eyes.

“You should see this,” he says, pulling out his phone. “I spoke to Logan.”

My eyes widen, and my mouth falls open. “What?! Why would you risk that?”

“I didn’t risk anything, and for you, nothing is too big of a risk. He wouldn’t hear your words, so I made him listen.” He turns and walks away, but I follow on his heels.

I blink back the tears I’ve barely been staving off all day. “You had no right,” I growl.

He spins, facing me as he walks backwards.

“He figured out all the good parts by himself by the time he found me. Don’t worry, Lana. I’m playing the game your way.”

My feet freeze to their spot, and that coldness reforms, stealing away the tears that almost fell. It’s as though Jake sees it, because his face falls.

“I’m not playing a game, and there’s no longer a prize.”

He groans as I pass him. “Damn it, Lana. That’s not what I meant and you know it.”

“I do know it. I need to go for another run, and then we’ll talk about tonight’s murder.”

He grabs my wrist, and I react, slinging him around and coming down on top of him as he crashes to the living room floor. He grunts as I pin him, working all my muscles to hold him in place.

“How is it that we both took all those damn classes, but you’re the fucking master and I still feel intermediate.”

Despite my best efforts, my lips twitch as the shield around me thaws a fragment.

“For the same reason I took all those same tech classes and can barely work my smart phone, whilst you create virtual empires.”

He smiles up at me, and I climb off him, helping him to his feet. When his smile starts to slip, I know the seriousness is about to come back.

“There’s something you should see.”

Curious, I follow him as he grabs his phone from the ground, where it fell during his takedown. As he lifts it and moves his fingers rapidly over the screen, searching for something, I stare idly through the window.

Delaney Grove was once my home. Then it became my hell.

Now I just want out of here because it’s nothing to me anymore.

But it was something to Marcus.

To my mother.

To my father.

Their bodies are all buried here, just like Kennedy Carlyle is. Although her tombstone actually says Victoria Evans.

What a fucked up mess we wove so delicately.

It was a fool-proof plan. I thought the worst thing I could do was go insane from the dark depths I had to reach. Turns out, falling in love was truly the worst. The darkness is just my twisted little friend.

“Here,” Jake says, pressing play on his phone.

He sits down as I study the screen, seeing the time stamp on the video being almost an hour old. It doesn’t stop my heart from pounding just seeing Logan.

He slams his fist into the wall, and I grimace, ignoring the heat of my tears as they beckon to fall. From there, he loses it, slinging a chair across the room. One thing after another gets smashed as he yells at nothing and no one.

He grabs a bat from the corner, and he slams it into the window, busting it out. Then he takes the bat to the rest of the room, smashing anything he can break as he loses all control.

I slowly back against the wall, and my body slides down it until my ass touches the floor. And I watch. I watch the man who never loses control have a meltdown.

This is my fault.

I should have walked away.

“He loves you,” Jake says, clutching my shoulder, no longer sitting as he crouches beside me.

I move away from his touch as Logan continues to annihilate the room, destroying anything that will break.

“He doesn’t love me like I love him,” I say hoarsely. “I love him enough to burn the world to the ground in his name.”

I touch the screen as Logan’s warpath comes to an end, and his chest heaves as he drops his head back, staring up at the ceiling. Finally, he stalks out of the cabin, his mask of composure back in place as he slams the door behind him so hard it simply bounces open again.

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