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

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

“You sure we can trust her?” he asks, his lips tensing.

“You don’t have to trust her. Just trust that I wouldn’t jeopardize your safety.”

He sighs while nodding, and he grabs a phone.

“I’ll drive to the edge of town, just in case.”

I walk out as he carries on with his task, and I hop in the car with the darkly tinted windows. I drive fast out of the forest, and don’t slow down until I hit the town limits. It’s not like the cops are worried about speeding right now, since the sheriff is on the warpath to avenge his son’s death.

It broke him when his daughter was killed. She was put on public display, which is what led to us being raped and beaten in the streets.

I hope it fucking kills him to lose his son. Displaying him to the town was a nice touch to recognize his afore mentioned grief. His daughter was a bitch and a snob, but she didn’t deserve to die.

Kyle? Kyle deserved more than he got.

I park near the pharmacy, and I walk the two blocks to the church, carefully gauging my surroundings to ensure I’m not being set up.

When I’m positive no one is focused on the church, I step in through the back and creep inside. I’m happy to report that I don’t burst into flames, so maybe I’m not completely consumed by evil just yet, despite the fact I desecrated the church bell tower with Kyle’s mostly skinless body.

As I reach the main part of the church, I stop, staying behind the curtain that leads to the stage where my mother once performed for the town plays.

Dev is on his knees, his hands folded in prayer, and his eyes are closed as tears leak from his eyes.

Well…that’s unexpected.

“Please forgive me of the sins committed when I was last in this town,” Dev says hoarsely. “Even though I don’t deserve it. Give me the strength to do what needs to be done now, and keep my sister safe from any harm or retaliation.”

I cock my head, studying him. My eyes flit around the room next, still expecting a trap. No such thing looks to be in place.

To be absolutely certain, I text Jake from my burner phone that I’ve swapped to.

ME: You got eyes on the church?

JAKE: No one is on their way there. The feds are all in the square, and they’re talking about going door to door to unearth new evidence about the original killer. Johnson, Cannon, and the deputies are all at town hall talking about who you might be and how to draw you out. Coast is clear.

ME: Original killer? Why?

JAKE: They want to figure out who it really was. For now, their focus has shifted. Looks like Logan kept your secret…as long as Hadley didn’t lie to me and they aren’t setting up a ruse.

ME: What are they asking?

JAKE: They found out the first killing was on the anniversary of your parents’ first date. And they also learned the women had all the same features as your mother.

I clutch the phone tighter in my hand, and I blow out a weary breath, deciding not to question it. I don’t need distractions right now.

I pull up the mask of a cold-hearted killer, settling into my role with familiar ease. It’s easier to be this version of me. The version who doesn’t care or flinch.

Dev’s eyes stay closed, and I hop down to take my seat on the edge of the stage, sitting right beside the pulpit—still no flames—and approximately seven feet in front of Dev.

He continues praying for a minute longer, and when his eyes open, he stumbles back to his ass, shocked to see someone in front of him.

“Hello, Dev. Long time no see.”

The color drains from his face. “Victoria,” he whispers, surprising me.

I hide my surprise. “You’re the first one to recognize me.”

He swallows audibly while nodding slowly. “I knew it was you when I heard about the killings,” he goes on, slowly shifting back onto his knees, but not attempting to stand. “Marcus swore you’d rise from the dead as an angel that night. He always knew this day would come. And your eyes… Your eyes give you away.”

I roll said eyes, and I lean forward, studying him with a careless coldness.

“I spared you, and you come to this town right as Kyle is flayed and hung from the tower of this very church. Why are you here?”

His lip trembles, and his hands begin to shake in fear. I like that fear.

“I came to do the right thing. To tell them—”

“To tell them a dead girl rose from the grave to exact revenge?” I drawl, a dark, taunting smile curving my lips.

“No!” he says, panicking a little. “No,” he says again, quieter this time as he looks around.

I glance at my phone, using the app to show me the cameras, flicking from screen to screen as Dev recovers. I give him my attention again when I see no one is near me.

“I came to tell the feds what happened,” he goes on. “I heard there was a divide, and that Johnson was getting worked against from the rest of the feds.”

My lips twitch. “Ah, I see. Well, they know what happened.”

“Diana told me she called them.”

My small smile falls. Diana? She’s stayed in contact with him?

Ignoring the bitter sting of betrayal, I continue to focus on Dev.

“So you’ve come to tell them the story they’ve already heard?”

He slowly shakes his head. “No. I’ve come to tell them the rest. The parts they don’t know. The part about Kyle’s mother.”

My breath hitches.

“I also plan to tell them who the real killer was, Victoria. I want them to clear your father’s name, and give your family the rest it deserves. Then your soul can be at peace.”

I laugh humorlessly. “You think I’m really a ghost who has risen from the grave?” I mock.

He shakes his head. “I think you’re selling your soul to the devil for revenge, and I’m trying to help you before it’s completely gone. I want to save you.”

More laughter slips out of me, this time mocking him. “If you wanted to save me, you should have done it ten years ago.”

I hop off the stage, and he tenses as I pull out a knife. “I’m already too far gone now, Dev. You had your chance. Instead, you watched from the sidelines as they tore my soul from my body. It was anger or brokenness. Which path do you think I chose?”

His lips purse. “No soul is above saving, Victoria. No—”

I throw the knife, and he screams while diving away as it slams into the wall beside him, nowhere even close to his body, despite his attempt to flee. I find that a little humorous.

The knife is stuck in the picture of Sheriff Cannon and the plaque that praises him for donating so generously to the church. It’s right between his eyes, and I never had to look to aim it that well.

Once again, the color drains from Dev’s face, because he sees proof I’m no longer the weak little girl they let bleed on the streets.

“I’m stronger. Faster. Smarter. And far more lethal than anyone in this town. If I wanted you dead, you’d already be dead. Kyle had the sheriff’s love and his protection. Yet I flayed him and hung him from the tower for the entire town to witness his demise. Don’t piss me off, Dev. I’m not the girl you turned your back on ten years ago. This girl will carve out your spine if I find your back to me again.”

He gulps as I walk over to pull the knife out of the sheriff’s head, and I look over my shoulder at him.

“And never call me Victoria again, or I’ll cut out your tongue like I almost decided to do already. I’m still not certain you’re in the clear, so don’t remind me about you again. Understood?”

He nods, tears falling from his eyes.

I walk by him, and he shudders in my wake as my icy breeze follows me.

“I’m sorry,” he says as I pass him. “I’m so sorry.”

My footsteps pause, and I clutch the knife tighter, willing myself not to lose control and kill him when it’s unnecessary. It’s hard to forget his part in that night when he’s so close.

“Just remember I can’t be stopped,” I say without turning around. “Don’t make me regret showing you mercy when I’ve withheld it from all others. Jason’s time is coming too. Don’t make me return for you as well. And your father is still on my list.”

“My mother and sister are innocent,” he blurts out immediately.

I stay facing the door. “Your mother’s innocence is debatable, but she’s not on my list. Your sister was always sheltered from the rumors when she went off to college. For her own sake, make her less naïve, Dev. It’s a cruel world to those who don’t believe such evils exist. I would know.”

I walk out without saying another word, and I tuck the knife back into my boot before anyone sees me.

That was not what I needed.

I don’t want one of them trying to save my soul when they’re the reason it’s so damaged. I don’t want one of them trying to preach to me. The hypocrisy is too laughable to even dwell on.

Feeling a chill on my back, I turn, seeing Dev coming after me, and I stop on the sidewalk, cloaked in darkness in this section with no lights.

“I’m going to the feds, but I wanted you to know it was for the right reasons. Can I ask where you’re going?” he asks softly, timidly, like a lamb protesting a lion’s grip.

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