Chapter no 27‌ – The Diamond

Hunting Adeline

The sound of Francesca’s heels rebound against the ceiling, sending my heart flying into my throat. Daya glances upward, unsettled by the sound but used to Parsons Manor’s shenanigans.

I, on the other hand, am having a silent heart attack. I’ve been hearing those sharp footsteps since I’ve been home, and though they’re not actually Francesca’s, I think the wicked ghosts in this house know they haunt my nightmares and enjoy bringing them to life.

I curl my hands into tight fists to abate the shaking, racking my brain for something to distract me.

“Maybe I should just become a nun,” I announce, causing Daya to pause mid-pour. She’s filling up a glass of red wine, and it feels… weird. Like I shouldn’t be standing here enjoying wine when I’ve murdered people and escaped sex trafficking.

We’re sitting at my kitchen island, and I can’t help but bask in the nostalgia. I was gone for two and a half months, but it feels like years. It’s weird, but it feels good, too. To be here with her again, drinking like no time has passed at all.

Daya blinks at me, thrown off from my declaration, and slides the glass over to me. “I love you, but you wouldn’t even last a day.”

“Rude,” I mutter, taking a sip of the wine. I cringe, the bitter taste invading my taste buds. I like my wine sweet, but it’s what Daya had in her fridge.

“You want to become a nun because you can’t tolerate touch in general, or touch from a man?”

I pick at a hangnail. “Men, which is proving very difficult with training. He has to touch me, and every time he does, I fucking panic, then waffle between freezing up and going ballistic.”

After Zade and I agreed to take down the Society together a month ago, I felt something shift inside my chest. A purpose was born, and it serves to get me out of bed every morning and train.

But it’s not a magical fix-all. I look at Zade, and I feel everything I felt after giving in to him. The magnetism, the connection, and the love. He’s given me the space I so desperately need, even though I can see that it’s killing him inside. While I feel guilty every time I pull away, I also feel relief.

But now I feel other things—things that I know have nothing to do with him, but with sex. The thought of it makes me want to vomit, and there’s this fear ingrained in me that every time Zade shows me any affection, that’s what it’s going to lead to.

It played such a huge part in our relationship before I was kidnapped; it’s difficult to train my brain to think it’s going to be anything else. Zade is a flirt, and while he’s made plenty of sexual remarks, he hasn’t made a single attempt to seduce me.

“And then I get angry,” I continue, frowning into my Merlot. “I lash out at him and say horrible things, and he just fucking takes it.”

“Baby girl, it’s going to take a while for you to work through your trauma. You have PTSD, as anyone would. Don’t rush yourself.”

“I think it’d be easier if I wasn’t in love with him,” I admit, circling my finger around the glass. It creates a soft sound that is soothing to the turmoil in my head.

“I still feel attraction, ya know? Like every time he touches me, I want to enjoy it. I just can’t. He hasn’t even made any advances. Nothing sexual, but that’s where my head immediately goes, and then I’m right back in that house with Xavier.”

“Did you talk to Zade about him?”

I take another gulp of Merlot before responding, “Yes. After we agreed to work together, we sat down, and I told him everything. Well… not everything. Not the gruesome details. But he knows the CliffsNotes of what I went through, and he explained how he found me. Talked about some brotherhood and told me all about Max.”

A sadness cloaks her sage eyes, and I can tell she’s anxious because she starts fiddling with her nose ring.

“Yeah, he… saved me, too. From Luke.”

I reach over and grab her hand, squeezing tightly. Zade told me what happened with Daya, but I was waiting for her to bring it up to me first. If there’s anything I understand, it’s not wanting to relive certain things.

We’ve all been suffering in very different ways, yet the source of our pain is the same.

The Society. Claire.

Daya was the decoy to draw me out of Parsons Manor so Rio and Rick could kidnap me. Of course, Luke was the one to put her through hell, but none of that would’ve happened if it wasn’t for Claire leading Max to believe that Zade killed his father, and then putting a target on my head. One that Max immediately jumped on, angry and intent on getting revenge.

“I’m so sorry, Daya. I’m so sorry he did that to you.” My voice cracks by the last word, an unexpected rush of tears blurring my vision.

Daya covers her face, trying to hold in her own tears. “Goddammit, Addie,” she snips without heat. “Don’t you dare make me cry.”

But it’s too late, a sob hiccups from her throat by the last word. I scoot my chair closer to her and pull her into a hug; my own demons be damned. Her arms circle around my waist, and we both let go.

Grief pours out through the cracks while we hold each other, like two pillars falling together, both incapable of standing without the other’s support.

By the time we pull apart, snot is running down my splotchy, red face, and I just know mascara is running down my cheeks. She’s got drool on her cheek and makeup circles around her eyes. With how bloodshot they are, coupled with her dark brown skin, her light green eyes are almost startling.

Regardless, we both look ridiculous, and immediately we burst into laughter, which fades into another round of tears. In the end, neither one of us can tell if we’re laughing or crying, but it feels good either way.

“My head hurts now,” I croak, wiping my blackened tears away, and then I grab a tissue and loudly blow my nose.

“Drink more wine, it’ll make it worse, but at least you’ll be buzzed.” I laugh, taking a sip as she also blows her nose.

“Where is Zade, by the way?” she asks.

“I don’t know, actually. After our training session, he dipped out pretty quickly, saying he had to take care of something. He didn’t say what it was about, and I was too sweaty and mentally exhausted to care at that moment.”

We both shrug it off. He could’ve realized we ran out of toilet paper and needed to replenish for all I know. I think if it were anything important, he

would’ve said.

For the next hour, Daya and I finish off the bottle of Merlot and I’m pleasantly buzzed. I also decide that I’m going to have to be very careful with drinking from now on. It feels a little too nice, and I refuse to use it as a crutch.

I’d rather work through my trauma the healthy way. You know—by murdering Claire with my bare hands.

We’re in the middle of laughing over a stupid video someone posted on social media when the front door bangs open, and two voices are snapping at each other.

One is Zade’s. The other is a girl’s.

Sage and caramel eyes meet in a collision of confusion, and what the fuck.

With a slight wobble, I stand up and make my way toward the front door. And then turn right back around, rushing for my friend when I see who Zade brought home.

“Daya, there’s a crazy chick in the house. Run.” “What?” she asks, alarm in her tone.

“Don’t call me crazy!” the girl screeches from the front, and I grimace. I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting her, and I was okay with living life without that pleasure.

Shoulders hiked up to my ears, I slowly pivot and watch Zade stalk toward me, appearing exhausted and annoyed. Behind him is the murderous girl who lurked behind the walls in Satan’s Affair.


“Baby, we have a guest.”

Glancing at the girl, I shift uncomfortably, unsure of how the fuck to respond.

Clearing my throat, I settle with, “I can see that.”

Sibel is staring at Daya and me with a broad smile on her face. The last time I saw her, she was dressed as a doll with makeup that made it appear like her porcelain face was fissured.

While her chocolate brown hair is still piled high in pigtails, her face is bare of doll makeup. She would be beautiful if the unhinged look in her eyes wasn’t so distracting. She looks exactly how she did on the TV after she was apprehended for murdering four politicians.

With Zade.

Except he was never caught for those murders.

“Ladies, this is Sibby,” Zade introduces tiredly, waving a hand at her before coming over to my side. I tense as he nears, splitting my attention between watching the space between Zade and me close while keeping an eye on the crazy girl.

The four men she murdered doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the number of people she’s killed. For five years, she stayed in that haunted fair and went on a spree. Whoever she deemed as evil was killed in very gruesome ways.

I’ve had enough experience with murderous girls, and I really, really don’t want any more.

She waves her hand animatedly at us, excitement twinkling in her brown eyes. Then she turns them to my house, slowly taking in Parsons Manor.

“Wow,” she breathes. “It’s creepy in here. This is so perfect.” Her head whips back to me, and I’m not proud of the not-so-subtle flinch. “I hope you don’t mind my henchmen and me staying for a bit,” she says.

“There’s more?” I ask Zade, turning to him with pinched brows. He sighs.

“Some people say they’re not real, but they are,” Sibel explains, not looking the least bit ashamed of admitting she sees people that others can’t see.

Zade meets my stare, a grin on his face. “Sibby is crazy,” he says.

She stomps her foot, shooting a glare at him. “I’m not crazy, Zade. Just because you can’t see what I see, doesn’t mean I’m the weird one.”

I cock my head, completely baffled at how she’s even here. Last I heard, she was locked up in a psych ward awaiting trial.

“She escaped,” Zade supplies, noting the confusion on my face. “Oh,” I say, because I have no idea what the hell else to say.

“That’s… good?” Daya chips in, sounding wholly unsure if that is actually good.

Zade sighs for the millionth time. “Sibby is on the Most Wanted list. She took matters into her own hands—” Zade pauses to send a scathing look her way— “and broke out of the psych ward. Considering she took the fall for

something we both did, I felt that it was only fair I gave her a place to stay.


She nods once, as if Zade summed up her entire life story perfectly.

“I’m going to take her back to my place. I’m not expecting you to let her stay here—”

“But it’s so creepy here!” she exclaims, as if that’s a good reason to stay.

And well… it kind of is.

“—so, I’ll be dropping her off soon. I just wanted you to properly meet her since I’m…” he trails off, glancing at her. “Stuck with her,” he decides, turning to look back at me. “I’m most definitely stuck with her.”

Sibel frowns, opening her mouth to say something, but Daya cuts in.

“Uh, wait a second, took matters into her own hands how?” she questions, sending Sibel a suspicious look.

“I killed my therapist,” she answers, her smile dropping. “I didn’t want to kill her. She smelled like pine trees, so she wasn’t a demon. The first and last person I’ve ever hurt who wasn’t deserving, I promise.”

My mouth drops. “Zade,” I whisper, my discomfort growing. Sibel looks to me, noting my deepening fear.

“Please don’t be scared of me. You smell like the most wonderful flowers. I would never hurt you.”

“She’s not going to hurt you, baby,” Zade reassures quietly. I look up to meet his gaze, mismatched eyes full of sincerity.

“I would’ve discussed this with you first, if I had any idea this was going to happen,” he swears. “I was meeting up with Jay when the news broke that Sibby escaped. She happened to be hiding out in the area. Helicopters and shit everywhere. I went looking for her and found her trying to get into a sewer drain. It was a split-second decision.”

“Okay,” I say, offering a tight smile to let him know I’m not angry. Despite Sibel’s presence being a little disconcerting, I understand why Zade made that decision.

She took all the blame for what they both did, and she never ratted him out. That’s something very few people would do, especially when they owe you nothing. And that, I can respect the hell out of.

Sibel holds up a wicked, pink knife. “And he got my knife back! The police had it as a murder weapon, and Zade got it out for me.”

“She was literally losing her mind over it, and didn’t give me much choice,” he clarifies dryly.

She shrugs, content with having her knife back regardless of how it happened.

I stare at her and toss around an idea in my head, a little hesitant but deciding it’d be easier for Zade to only be in one place. He’s pretty much moved in with me, and it’s been oddly comforting. The selfish part of me doesn’t want to give that up.

“There’s plenty of room here. Sibel can stay.”

She yips loudly, bouncing on her toes and clapping her hands like a little girl. Her reaction makes me feel slightly better, only because it’s a little cute.

“My friends call me Sibby,” she says, and based on the eager look on her face, it seems like she’s hoping I’ll consider her as one.

“Or demon slayer,” Zade cuts in. She pins him with a sassy look in response.

“Okay, Sibby. Welcome… home.”

Her dark eyes snap back to me, pure delight radiating from them. A wide smile takes over her face, resuming her bouncing once again, and it eases my concern a little more.

“Addie, you don’t have to do that.”

I wave a hand. “It’s fine. She said she’s not going to hurt us, and if you trust her, that’s enough for me.”

He looks like he wants to kiss me, which makes me a little nervous, but he quickly smooths out his expression and offers me a simple, appreciative smile.

“The second you want her gone, she’s out. No questions asked.” While Sibby doesn’t look too thrilled to hear that based on how she stops bouncing and glares at him, Zade clearly gives no shits.

I nod, the last of my tension bleeding out.

“Sibby is already really good at fighting. Partly because she’s—” “—Not crazy,” she cuts in, narrowing her eyes.

Zade shoots her a look, one that says, yeah, okay, and I’m Jackie Chan.

“Regardless, she can fight. She could help you with training.” My heart softens, hearing what he’s not saying.

You can’t stand my touch, so here’s someone who can give you what I can’t.

“Thank you,” I whisper. Now more than ever, I’m frustrated with myself. I will take him up on that offer because I recognize it won’t change overnight. But I vow to try harder, so I can give Zade what he deserves, too.

All of me.



Zade plops an ice pack on my shoulders, and I groan both from the freezing temperature and how good it feels. Training has been taking a toll on my body, but also in the best of ways. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, and that feeling is addictive.

Since Sibby arrived a couple of weeks ago, I’ve only gotten better. She’s smaller and moves with a quickness even Zade doesn’t quite possess, and she’s far more unpredictable.

We’ve been sitting around my kitchen island for the past several hours, working out the kinks of drawing Claire out of hiding. Not only did everyone in Francesca’s house disappear, but she did, too. And now that Zade has me, there’s not a damn thing in this world that’s stopping him from finding her.

Zade believes the best way to locate her is through her lawyer, Jimmy Lynch. He’s been working for Claire and her late husband for twenty-seven years, making him a trusted friend.

He also has a taste for children.

Last week, Zade was able to hack into his phone, noting the copious amounts of child pornography he has downloaded. So, he started pushing ads on the child porn sites Jimmy uses, waiting for him to take the bait. Unsurprisingly, he did, both on his phone and laptop over a period of three days.

Of course, Zade designed the virus, so unbeknownst to Jimmy, it was released on his devices as soon as he clicked on the ad. Within seconds, Zade was able to infiltrate his system and implement spyware on them.

From there, he watched the email interactions between him and Claire. While he could try to implement a virus onto Claire’s computer through a

phishing email, she’s too intelligent for that, so Zade’s only other option is to manipulate her into putting a drive into her computer, which will contain the virus. And our best way to do that is to create a massive lawsuit against her. It’s common practice for lawyers to transmit information through drives, especially if there’s a mass amount of evidence stacked against them.

Unfortunately for Claire, since she’s gone into hiding, she’s fired a lot of staff who’ve worked at her estate. Cleaning crew, a couple of chefs, and a groundskeeper. Evidently, she has no plans to return to her mansion—or to keep it.

Zade has spent the last week contacting these staff workers, asking them about their experiences, and ultimately encouraging them to sue Claire for workplace harassment as well as assault.

In return, Zade will offer his protection and money. Thankfully, they all agreed. Because honestly, their lack of safety and resources was the only thing keeping any of them silent. Mark sexually assaulted many of his employees and threatened to harm them and their families if they spoke out. And Claire was physically abusive and prone to getting violent when something didn’t meet her standards.

They’ve already filed their lawsuits, so tomorrow, we’ll be putting the second step of the plan into action by replacing Jimmy’s drives with Zade’s.

Once Zade has access to Claire’s laptop, he’s going to take his time watching her. In the meantime, we’ll be focusing on our other goal.

“Francesca and Rocco are slimy little snakes,” Daya informs us, ire in her glare as her fingers fly over the keyboard. “And Xavier is a pussy.”

Daya is assisting us with tracking down my former captors—and rapists

—while Jay continues to focus on Claire.

“Satellite image showed a red pickup truck parked in their driveway under Rocco’s name. That hasn’t been seen anywhere?” Zade asks, adding extra shredded cheddar on the mac ‘n’ cheese before sticking the casserole dish back in the oven to crisp. Seeing him doing something so domestic is… odd.

I never thought I’d see oven mitts on a stalker and professional killer, but here we are… All he needs is an apron, and I’d be convinced I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole and hit my head on a tree root.

Shit, I think I already have because now all I can imagine is Zade in nothing but an apron. That… shouldn’t be enticing, yet it is.

“We found the truck abandoned in Northern California. From there, we lost track,” Daya answers, unknowingly saving me from traveling down that dangerous road. I have a feeling that fantasy would’ve only gotten weirder.

“No street cams nearby?” I ask.

“Nope,” she replies, popping the P. “They haven’t made it this long by dumb luck. They know how to avoid cameras. I imagine the car they switched to has also been abandoned by now.”

Zade nods, keeping silent as he processes the information. From here, I can see his inner gears turning.

“Since we can assume they’re driving, look at cameras in gas stations in the surrounding area to start with. It’ll take time but check in on anyone you deem suspicious. It’s possible that they will stay hidden in the car and use a decoy to pump and pay. I’ll get a few more of my men on it to help you. And while they’re probably paying in cash only, it doesn’t hurt to check if they used credit cards as well.”

“Francesca is eventually going to have to use the bathroom,” I chip in. “I mean, I honestly can’t see her squatting on the side of the road or using a porta-potty. So facial recognition would be valuable.”

“It would,” Zade agrees, shooting me a small smile. I wrestle down the pride that wants to bloom throughout my body. My inner feminist doesn’t need no man’s approval.

“You can set up a facial recognition bot that’ll alert you if any cameras spot her. Whether it’s from restaurants, stores, or gas stations. We can’t rely on it, though, because while Francesca is the one most likely to appear in public, she also has the advantage of disguising herself better than men. Facial recognition is advanced, but it’s not foolproof.”

I tip my head side to side in a you have a point gesture. “If anyone knows how to use makeup, it’s her,” I concede. She’s had a lot of practice bringing the dead to life—with her own face and with the girls she held captive.

Daya’s hands continue to fly, following Zade’s directions without hesitation.

Sibby has her chin in one hand and drums her fingers on the table with the other—clearly bored. Her interests lie more in taking action than the planning aspect.

“I’ll track down Xavier Delano,” Zade says, shooting a loaded glance my way. “We should be able to find him easily. I have a good feeling he’s not as smart about covering his tracks as the others.”

“That’d be awfully egotistical of him. It’s not like he didn’t know that I was… uh, with Z… or whatever.” Zade smirks over my stumble. I roll my eyes, intent on ignoring him, but then Daya betrays me and snorts, flicking her gaze at me with amusement.


The lot of them.

“Shut up,” I snap. “I don’t know what to label it.”

“Fuck buddy?” Daya provides, but that doesn’t sound quite right. The brow cocked on Zade’s forehead tells me he feels the same.

“Lover!” Sibby chips in cheerfully.

My lip curls in disgust. Hate that label.

“Oh, admirer,” Daya says, snapping her fingers as if she hit the nail on the head.

“One true love,” Sibby sighs wistfully. She glances off to the side, seeming to listen to something before she rolls her eyes. “Okay, five true loves.”

My eyes pinball between the two idiots as they continue to toss out words that could define mine and Zade’s relationship.

“How about just stalker,” I cut in dryly.

“Come on, baby, that’s not what you were calling me when you were screa—”

“Shut up, or I’ll start screaming other men’s names and I promise I don’t need your dick anywhere near me to do it.”

Challenge sparks in his eyes, signaling that this conversation is quickly taking a nosedive.

“You really want to cause mass extinction for those names? Moan them, little mouse, I dare you. Whichever ones you choose, not a single man by that name will fucking exist anymore. How about we start with Chad? We can definitely live without the Chads in the world.”

My mouth pops open. “That is so… excessive.”

He shrugs, turning to take the mac ‘n’ cheese out of the oven, “Doesn’t change a damn thing.”

My wide eyes drift back down to Daya’s, hers equally as rounded as mine. I give her a look that says, you see what I have to deal with? in which she returns, good luck, Sister Susie.

I look at Sibby and find her staring off into space, whispering to one of her henchmen about unsanitary ways to use the popsicles in the freezer.

Oh my God. I’m living with nothing but psychopaths. I knew this but fuck me.

Hey, God? Do ya mind sending down some medication to correct your gross mishandling of these two demented souls?

Shaking my head, I turn to Zade, who is now serving the mac ‘n’ cheese on plates for us, alongside the steaks he cooked on the grill. Something I was surprised to learn—Zade can fucking cook.

“How long do you think it’ll take to locate Xavier?”

“It depends on how accessible he is. I may find him within an hour, but if he’s stationed on a remote island with an army surrounding him, it’ll take time to get to him. Keep in mind that this man is stupid rich and has nothing better to spend his money on, so this is entirely possible.”

I tilt my head in curiosity. “Richer than you?”

“Absolutely. I have no interest in collecting more than what’s necessary. Money is an illusion, and a powerful one. It turns men into spineless assholes with no real regard for human life except their own. Xavier will use his money to protect himself. Especially because he’s a little bitch and, well…” he peers up at me with a savage smile. “I’m pretty fucking scary.”

He serves dinner, saving me for last. The hairs on the back of my neck rise as he approaches me; my body warming as he draws near. He crowds over me when he sets my plate down, the heat radiating from him sinking beneath my skin. Then, he leans down, and my brain short-circuits. I can’t decide if I want to embrace the darkness or run from it.

Hot breath fans across my ear as he whispers, “Not only am I scary, baby, but I’m really, really angry. And when I’m angry, I’ll make them pray for Hell.”

A shiver rolls down my spine, and goosebumps spread across my body like the Black Plague. I tip my head towards him, meeting his stare. My

pounding heart climbs into my throat, creating an erratic pulse in my neck, and a palpable tension circulates the space between us.

Against my better judgment, my eyes slide down to his mouth, thickening the tension. Deliberately, he skates his tongue across his lip, and like a magnet, my gaze latches on to the slow and sinful act.

By the time I force my eyes back up to his, my mouth is parted, and my lungs are deprived of oxygen.

“I hate to cut into this beautiful moment, but Sibby is taking her clothes off.”

Daya’s voice snaps me out of whatever trance Zade has pulled me into, and almost violently, my head whips towards Sibby.

Sure as shit, she’s in the process of slipping off her neon green tights.

“Sibby!” I shout exasperatedly. “Stop taking your clothes off, we are not having a fucking orgy!”

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