Chapter no 28 – The Hunter

Hunting Adeline

I pinch the bridge of my nose and wonder how much Tylenol it’s going to take to kill a Sibby-induced headache.

She’s currently in a fucking argument. With her goddamn self.

“Mortis, I told you, the police are looking for me everywhere. We can’t go outside for a walk, or to get some alone time—we’re trapped!”

She quietens, listening to whatever her imaginary boyfriend is telling her.

A disgruntled sound leaves her throat. “I miss those things, too, but this is the way things have to be. Timmy—stop trying to take my clothes off in front of Zade!”

“If you do that, I will literally lose my shit,” I snap, shooting her a murderous look. I’m already two seconds away from losing it anyway. Her eyes snap to mine, wide with innocence.

“It’s not my fault!” she screeches. She points her finger to a random spot, assumingly where she thinks the culprit is. “It’s his.”

Groaning, I rub my hands over my face roughly. The whole argument started because Sibby wanted to be the one to plant the USB drives in Jimmy Lynch’s office. I simply reminded her she couldn’t be seen, and the conversation took off in a different direction.

Apparently, her henchmen wanted to go to some fucking sex shop a few blocks from Jimmy’s office. I said no, and here we are.

Seeing her in her element, fully believing that her henchmen are real despite people telling her they’re not, it’s as fascinating as it is sad.

I know her childhood was horrific—so much so that she created people to keep her company and get her through something incredibly difficult. A young girl that’s known nothing outside of a diabolical cult, wandering a strange city aimlessly, all alone.

Her brain was protecting itself, and the henchmen were born.

“It’s cold outside today. We can bundle you up in winter clothing, and no one should notice you,” I reason with her. “But you cannot go anywhere else. No detours. No pit stops. Nothing. Not unless you want to end up in the psych ward again.”

She looks off in the distance. “You hear that, Mortis? So, don’t try to convince me to be bad. I’ll get locked up again, and you’ll never see me for the rest of your life.”

He must agree with her because she turns to me, a satisfied smile on her face. “We’re all in agreement. Don’t worry about me, Zade. You can trust me.”

“You know what? I believe you, Sibby.”

Her answering grin lights up her entire face. And I realize that Sibby is a beautiful girl.

I hope to God she finds something real one day.



“You look fucking ridiculous,” I state dryly, looking her over with a critical eye.

She stares at me like I’ve personally wounded her. “Why?” she asks, dropping her gaze to her outfit.

She looks like a fucking Cheetos puff, but in bright neon pink. She’s wrapped in several layers of clothing, with a massive puffer jacket three sizes too big, ending at her ankles and barely concealing the yellow polka-dot rain boots. To top it off, she’s been doing her makeup again, however, she has shied away from the broken doll look. I suppose it was too raw of a wound. Thankfully, Addie has been teaching her how to properly apply it, and it wouldn’t be half bad if it weren’t for the monstrosity of a fucking outfit.

I allowed Sibby to do some online shopping soon after she arrived, and it turns out, she has no idea what size she is nor how to dress herself.

She’s only ever worn the clothes provided to her by her father and the costumes Satan’s Affair had in their houses. So, she just ordered a bunch of random shit in whatever size, most of it ill-fitting.

Sibby is tiny. Her stature only comes to about five-two, and she has very little meat on her bones. Addie glances at me, regret on both of our faces for not monitoring her while she shopped.

“Literally, everyone is going to notice you. You’re supposed to blend in, not stand out like a sore thumb.”

Her brows pinch. “You’re saying I look like someone’s thumb?”

Addie bites her lip. “Let’s trade jackets. You can wear mine, Sibby.”

Sibby grumbles but ultimately switches with her. Addie slides on the hot pink puffer and zips it up, the coat not fitting her any better. The grin that slides on my face is nearly slapped off the second Addie spots it.

She points a finger at me, the material swishing from the movement. “I will fuck you up.”

“It’s cute, baby,” I say, grinning wider when she narrows her eyes, giving me a look that promises death and destruction.

I’d love to see her try.

I grab a black beanie and slide it over Sibby’s head and then wrap a thick, black scarf around her neck to help conceal the bottom half of her face, feeling every bit like a father dressing their child.

Despite her wanted status, she’s the least recognizable, aside from Daya. And as much as I would prefer Addie’s best friend instead, Sibby was very excited about being helpful. She’s been cooped up in the manor for the past month, going even more insane than she already is.

It was vital we get her out of the house before she says fuck it and openly fucks her imaginary henchmen on the dining room table. She’s already come close to it, and Addie and I were both deeply traumatized by that event.

I hand her a Bluetooth and instruct her on how to use it, sighing when she asks if her henchmen can have one, too. She claims they’ll get worried if they can’t hear what’s happening.

“You know they can’t all come, right?” I remind her. She twists her lips and nods.

“Mortis and Jackal are gonna come this time. So only they need one.”

I indulge her and hand over two more, which she promptly passes to empty air, the devices dropping to the ground. I’ll have to pick those up when she’s not looking.

When she smiles, satisfied, I move on to the body cam, hooking it to her coat and adjusting it to make sure it’s at a good angle.

“Don’t touch this. I need to see everything you’re doing. I’ll be in your ear guiding you, so listen to everything I say,” I tell her sternly.

She waves a hand, and giggles. “I know. You don’t have to worry, Zade.

I promise I’m not going to run off.”

“Or murder someone,” Addie grumbles from beside me.

Sibby looks to Addie. “If a demon is around, I’ll let that one go. I can sacrifice one or two if it means taking out the biggest one of them all.”

Good enough for me. As long as she listens.

After she’s set to go, Addie stuffs herself into the passenger seat next to me, and we drive to Jimmy’s office, forced to park a couple of blocks away. Sibby will have to walk the rest of the way, and this is the part I’m the most worried about. She’s bundled up and hardly recognizable beneath all the material, but Sibby has a definite… uniqueness to her.

Which she instantly proves when she hops out of the backseat, slams the door, and starts skipping down the sidewalk like a goddamn buffoon.

I groan, swiveling my laptop towards me and pulling up the live feed from her body cam. Addie leans into me to get a better view of the screen, enveloping me in her sweet jasmine scent. I inhale deeply, tempted to take a bite out of her just because she smells divine.

Soon. I’ll do that soon.

Her face is twisted into a mixture of amusement and concern.

Concern for the mission or concern for Sibby’s mental state, it’s hard to tell.

Addie has softened to Sibby, though. While still wary of her—which is the smartest thing to be—I think she sees Sibby for who she is. A lost girl looking for love and friendship. Even when she’s talking to her henchmen or irrationally angry because I ate the last Pop Tart—Pop Tarts bought, by the way—she’s sweet, incredibly loyal, and pretty funny.

I still don’t know what the hell we’re going to do with her yet, but I’ll figure it out after Claire is taken care of.

Sibby is still skipping down 5th Avenue, earning looks ranging from I see this shit every day to I’m so tired of seeing this shit every day. She’s not the slightest bit perturbed by the negative attention.

I suppose she’s used to it.

Finally, she makes it to the block Jimmy’s office is on. Instead of continuing straight, she turns right and heads down a side street so she can get to his office from the rear entrance.

There’s not a lot of foot traffic on that side, making it a little less likely for her to be caught.

When she makes it to the door, she pauses, waiting for my signal. Jimmy has great alarm systems for an unruly teenager, but for me, it’s like breaking past a saltine cracker. His defense system crumbles beneath my fingers and within ten seconds, I’m giving Sibby the go-ahead.

She bends and starts picking the lock, making quick work of it, and opening the door moments later.

The office building isn’t very big, and I have the blueprints already pulled up on my computer.

“Turn left,” I direct when she comes up to a dead end. She does as I ask, making her way down a short hallway before it opens up to the receptionist area.

The obnoxiously large wooden desk smack-dab in the middle of the room is empty, Jimmy’s name displayed across the front. In case anyone was lost and wasn’t sure where they were, I guess.

The area is extravagant. Shiny white tile floors, gray walls, and plants placed around the room to bring life to it.

“Go past the desk. You see that door with Jimmy’s name on the plaque?

That’s his office.”

“Isn’t his name all over the entire building?” she gripes. Addie snorts from beside me, listening in on the call with her own Bluetooth earpiece.

Sibby jiggles the door but finds that it’s locked, and no keyhole in the handle.

“Give me a second,” I say, opening my program to check the security system within the building. He has an automated lock on his door that can only be opened through the app on his phone.

I roll my eyes. Shit like this is so tacky and such a waste of money. Fancy security systems like these appear advanced, but really, it’s incredibly easy to hack into the app and unlock the door.

Pathetic, but it benefits me nicely. “It’s open,” I confirm.

Quickly, she creeps into the room and shuts the door behind her.

“Is it safe to turn on a light?” she asks, her voice slightly muffled from the scarf.

“Yes, but use the flashlight I gave you,” I tell her. His office faces the backside of the building, but you can never be too sure.

He’s currently at a dinner with some colleagues and on his way to getting toasted on overpriced whiskey. I have Daya keeping an eye on him while I ensure that Sibby has no unexpected surprises. All it takes is an employee showing up because they forgot something.

She flips on her flashlight, displaying Jimmy’s ostentatious office.

“Does he seriously have his name engraved into his own desk?” Addie asks beside me, her tone dry.

“Maybe he’s a proactive boss and has reminders everywhere in case anyone gets early-onset Alzheimer’s and forgets his name.”

“I think that would be a blessing if I had to work for him.”

Sibby travels farther into the office, looking around at the several filing cabinets.

“Where does he keep the jumpers?” she asks. Another snort from Addie. “Jump drive,” I correct, though I’m not even sure why I bother. I’ve told her what they’re called a million times, and she still acts like I never told


“They could be in his desk. It has his name on it, in case you’re confused about where it is.”

“I’m not confused, silly,” Sibby giggles.

Addie and I look at each other, grins on our faces. Sarcasm gets lost on her sometimes.

We watch Sibby approach his desk, the cherry wood gleaming, not a speck of dust in sight.

Everything has its own place atop it, arranged neatly and positioned in straight lines. Either Jimmy or his cleaning service has OCD.

She tugs on the top drawer, groaning dramatically when it sticks. “He locks his own drawers?” she whines.

“Just pick the lock,” I tell her calmly, praying she doesn’t throw a tantrum and start stabbing the leather computer chair with the letter opener.

Sighing, she rifles through her jacket pocket before pulling out her kit and getting to work, grumbling to herself the entire time.

It takes her all of fifteen seconds to get it unlocked, and I’m tempted to ask her if it was as big of a deal as she made it out to be. But I’d rather not risk her getting angry. There have been quite a few dishes broken over the last month—unnecessarily. She has no idea how to regulate her emotions, but it’s something I’ve been working on with her.

She slides open the door, finds a basket of drives and gets to work by replacing them with mine while stuffing his in her coat pocket. Later, I’ll pick through them on a spare laptop to see if there’s anything of value.

Next to me, Addie unzips the puffer jacket and nearly rips it off, a sheen of sweat on her forehead. She glances at me, and then crosses her arms.

“Don’t stop on my account, little mouse.”

“I feel like you’re making it super-hot in here on purpose,” she grumbles, reaching forward to turn down the heat.

“If I wanted your clothes off, I would just remove them myself.”

She arches a brow. “You’re saying you currently don’t want them off?” she challenges.

The tips of my mouth curl, and I make sure to keep my gaze slow and blazing as I sweep it down her body. If she thinks the car is overheating her, I’ll show her how hot I can make her with one look.

She flushes brightly, red staining her cheeks as she shifts, those thick thighs clenching. My cock hardens painfully in my jeans, picturing them wrapped around my head instead. She likes to try and suffocate me between them, but I would gladly die between her thighs.

“Quit being inappropriate,” she snaps, her caramel eyes wide. She’s so goddamn beautiful, it hurts. Especially when she’s angry.

“Impossible,” I murmur, but I leave her be for now, turning my attention back to the screen.

Sibby places the basket of drives back in the drawer, softly shuts it, then relocks it with her picks. Afterward, she heads for the door.

“Did you need me to get anything else?” she asks. Before I can say anything, she barks, “Jackal, quit touching things. You’re going to get us in trouble.”

“Sibby, focus,” I snap.

“Sorry,” she mutters, but not before hissing out another demand to Jackal. Nothing is actually being touched, but if Sibby believes it is, she might try to fix it and then actually mess something up.

It’s vital that Jimmy doesn’t notice anyone’s been in his office, even more so with it being so tidy. He might get paranoid and forgo using any of the USB drives.

I’ll completely wipe the cameras, but you can’t wipe physical evidence so easily.

“You did great, Sibby. Leave the room. Don’t touch anything else.”

“It wasn’t me touching things—yes, I’m telling on you, Jackal. You’re the one acting like an idiot.”

Addie stifles a smile, and I decide that while Sibby is a complete pain in my ass, she’s good for Addie. She makes us all feel a little more… normal.

Sibby makes her way out of the building without a hitch, up until she rounds the corner and smacks right into someone’s chest.

The bodycam is knocked off, the camera rolling so only the sidewalk can be seen.

“Sibby?” I ask, my heart rate kicking up a notch. Her face is plastered all over the country. News outlets, social media, and so forth. If this person recognizes her, we’re fucked.

“Oh, shit,” the guy says, his voice muted. “Are you okay, miss?”

“That really hurt,” Sibby groans. “You smell like a berry tree, though, so I’ll let it slide.”

“Oh, no,” Addie whispers. “Sibby, you can’t say stuff like that. It’s known that you associate your victims with smell.”

Sibby quietens, which allows us to hear the man’s response clearly. “What an odd thing to say.”

“I am an oddball,” Sibby says in a strained laugh. He must help her up based on the grunt and ruffling sound.

“Thank you for helping me,” she says, a hint of nervousness in her tone. “Yeah, of course. Guess I should look where I’m going next time,” he

responds easily. Some of the anxiety seizing my chest lessens until I hear him speak again.

“Hey, do I know you from somewhere?”

“No, I’m new to town,” Sibby says. Her voice hardening. “Stay calm,” Addie says softly.

“Man, you look so familiar. You don’t have any family around here?” “I’m from the East Coast, silly. But I have to go, see ya!”

“Don’t rush,” I tell her.

“He’s still staring at me,” she informs, her breathing escalated. “Mortis was probably freaking him out. People don’t take kindly to them outside of the haunted houses. Not used to their makeup and all that.”

“I’m sure Mortis was fine,” Addie assures, staring intently at the computer, even though the camera was left behind.

Luckily, it only takes her a few more moments to get to the car. She swings open the door and nearly dives into the backseat with a relieved sigh.

I waste no time backing out of the parking space. For several tense minutes, everything is quiet. But in typical Seattle fashion, we’re balls deep in traffic and getting even a few blocks away takes more time than I’d like. Just as Addie releases a relieved sigh, convinced we’re in the clear, a cop car rings their sirens from a couple blocks down, followed by flashing lights.

“Shit,” I mutter, confident that we’re the target. We’re both trapped between cars, but already the other vehicles are starting to veer to the side to let the cop through.

That man did fucking recognize her. He must’ve called the police as soon as she left. And as luck would have it, an officer happens to be too fucking close.

“They might not know what car she got into,” Addie assures, yet her voice betrays her nerves.

Just as the words leave her mouth, the cop’s voice blares from their loudspeaker, naming my make and model and demanding I pull over.

“Okay, scratch that,” she says, her tone pitching with fear. I glance at her, noticing how she clenches her thighs again, her nipples hardening beneath her long-sleeved shirt. Fright is palpable on her face, sweat beading alongside her hairline.

Her body responds to fear like metal does to electricity. When she’s at the mercy of the currents, she comes alive.

I smirk but keep my mouth shut considering Sibby is in the backseat, and I have a cop about to ride up and raw dog my asshole. I need to focus, and I have a feeling Addie is going to test my discipline.

It’s not the first time I’ve been in a car chase, but it’s the first time I’ve had to worry about someone else’s life other than my own during one.

“Hold on, ladies,” I say. The cop car rushes right up on me, continuing to shout demands over the loudspeaker.

I take one second to look both ways before whipping my car into a U-turn and speeding off.

The police car quickly follows suit, almost bashing into oncoming traffic and narrowly missing an SUV.

“He sucks already,” Sibby comments, completely turned around as she watches our pursuer from the back window.

“I got in a car chase, too, you know that?”

“I do,” I say, gritting my teeth when I take a turn a tad too fast. My Mustang tilts on one side before dropping back down on all fours, causing Addie to gasp and dig her nails into my leather seat, followed by a little whimper in her throat.

This… this is actually Hell. If we were alone, I’d drive with one hand and reach over and take care of her with the other. I’m tempted to do it anyway, but I know Addie wouldn’t appreciate the little demon slayer in the back witnessing it.

I straighten the car and then take another turn down a side street. Soon, the entire city will be flooding with police cars, with my make, model, and license plate broadcasted across their radios.

I have an extremely small window not only to lose them but get back to Addie’s before I’m spotted again.

“It didn’t go very well,” Sibby shares, unbothered by our current situation.

“Mine didn’t either,” Addie grits out.

“You’re safe with me, little mouse,” I say, my attention snagged on a cop car barreling down a side street toward us.

My bloodstream is drowning in adrenaline, yet my muscles are languid and loose as I weave through traffic and take odd turns. Within minutes, several officers are coming at me from all directions.

I call out to Jay several times, but he doesn’t answer.

Just as I’m getting ready to lead the cops straight to his house, he comes onto the speaker. “I go take a shit for five minutes, and you’re in a high-speed car chase when I come back,” he says with exasperation.

“A man knocked into Sibby on her way out and recognized her. Called the cops, and here we are.”

I hear a flood of sirens in all directions, and my leather groans beneath Addie’s nails, her chest heaving. Her eyes are dilated with fear and pinging in every direction.

“I got a drone tracking you down now,” he says. “I’ll tell you where to turn.”

She shifts again, rubbing her thighs together and making throaty little noises.

Goddamn it.

“Addie, baby,” I say, glancing her way.

“Yeah?” she croaks, her wide eyes locked onto the road. “I’m going to need you to stop distracting me.”

Her mouth parts, and she meets my flickering gaze, half of my attention on the road, the other half on my girl.

“I’m not doing anything,” she insists, yet her flushed cheeks and hard nipples say otherwise.

Sibby pops her head through the seats, swiveling her head back and forth between us.

“My henchmen are already uncomfortable back here as it is,” she says, giving us an evil eye. “If you’re going to be doing dirty things, make sure all of us can join in.”

Addie covers her red face. “Oh, my God, Sibby. First off, we’re not doing anything. Secondly, even if we were, you would not be joining us.”

Sibby appears affronted by that news as I take another sharp turn. Jay tells me to turn left a second later, sending the car careening to the side again.

“Well, that’s not very nice,” Sibby remarks.

“Sibby, not everyone likes to have group sex like you,” I bite out, in disbelief that we’re even having this conversation right now.

Her head whips to me, her brown eyes wide. “Really? Why? It’s so much fun!”

Addie shakes her head. “Maybe for you. Zade already has a long list of heads to rip off for seeing me naked as it is.”

“Damn right,” I agree distractedly, listening to another direction from Jay. The sirens are beginning to fade as I gain more and more distance between us.

Until one comes racing out from a side street, nearly hitting the back end of my Mustang.

I growl out, “Jay. Warning next time?”

“Shit, sorry, my brother came in asking if I could order pizza.” Jesus fucking Christ.

“Zade, you really should consider letting Addie explore.”

“Hey, demon slayer?” I prompt. “I’m going to need you to be quiet now.”

She huffs, but ultimately sits back down in her seat. I still hear her whisper, “He’s such a possessive dickhead. I’m glad you guys like to share me.”

Addie muffles a smile by biting her lip, almost distracting me enough to go flying into a ditch. That’s it. I’m doing this shit by myself from now on.

I have my writhing girlfriend next to me, and a horndog in the backseat who’s testing my patience. I swear to God, if she makes a move on Addie, I’ll kick her little ass.

Another cop car comes sweeping out fifty feet in front of me, nearly colliding into oncoming traffic. They right themselves before heading straight towards me. They’re trying to fake me out by making me think they’re not going to move. They like to do that to force people’s hands. But the dumbass doesn’t realize there’s a side street coming up, and I have really good fucking control over this car.

“You see the street?” “Yep.”

“Once you go down that road, take a right and two lefts directly after.

You should lose them all after that.”

Addie’s hand reaches out, clutching my arm as her back presses deeper into the seat as if that’s going to save her.

“Zade,” she groans, her eyes wide.

“I got it, baby girl,” I reassure gently. I stomp on the brakes and whip the wheel to the side, perfectly fitting my Mustang in the small alleyway. The car fishtails a little, but I easily regain control. Seconds later, the cop car goes careening into the side of a building, failing to accomplish what I just did.

I follow Jay’s directions afterwards and take the turns he directed me to. Just as he said, I lose them all. I expect helicopters are going to be here any second, so I stomp on the gas. Parsons Manor is ten minutes away, but I

make it there in three. They’re going to be searching for my car, but luckily, I can fit my Mustang in the trees until it’s safe to get rid of it.

I come to a hard stop right past the tree line, forcing Addie and Sibby to catch themselves from pitching forward.

Silence descends, broken periodically by Addie’s heavy breathing. The sun is dipping low below the Bay, the light slowly drowning beneath the surface.

“Did we die?” she squeaks.

Sibby leans forward again. “You’re silly. If you’re still breathing, that means you’re alive.” She sniffs loudly. “And you still smell as pretty as ever.”

Addie’s wide eyes drift to her, shock bleaching the color from her face. If heat wasn’t rolling off her in waves and turning my dick into granite, I’d laugh.

“Sibby, exit the vehicle please,” I tell her sternly. She rolls her eyes but listens, herding her imaginary men out of the car before slamming the door shut.

“You’re safe?” Jay asks through the phone.

“We’re good,” I say. “Thanks, man. I’ll call you soon.”

Disconnecting the call before he can get another word out, I train my gaze on Addie. She seems to stiffen further under my stare, and I’d be lying if I said that didn’t excite me.

Without looking away, I find the lever on the side of my seat and crank it, allowing me to slide it all the way back. She jumps, the soft leather groaning beneath her fingers again, while her gaze bounces around. Likely determining how quickly she can get out of the car before I pounce.

The tension is incredibly thick, and my dick is pressing firmly against the zipper of my jeans. It fucking hurts, but I welcome the pain.

“Come here,” I order roughly.

“Zade…” Her husky voice trails off, uncertainty polluting her decision.

She teeters between listening to my command and making a run for it.

Fuck, I hope she does run. God knows how much I love to chase her.

She must remember this because she swallows, and with unsteady movements, she crawls onto my lap. Tendrils of her cinnamon hair fall over my shoulders and chest as she adjusts herself, settling lightly on my thighs. I know she can feel me between her legs, proven by the sharp inhale.

For now, I keep my hands to myself. She’s choosing to touch me—to get close to me—and I know it’s only because she’s still in the throes of fear and adrenaline from the car chase. It’s the same combination that drove her to fight me at every turn while burning and writhing beneath my touch. The second she comes down, reality will smack her upside the head, and she will go back to cowering from me.

I want to remind her how good it feels. Give her something to latch on to when she’s too lost in her head and can’t find her way past the demons screaming at her.

My fingers drift through the curtain of hair hiding us from the outside world, strands lacing around my fingers. It’s dark in here now, and the cool April air is seeping through the cracks. The water ate the sun, and I wonder if she’ll let me devour her, too.

She grips either side of my seat, once more digging her nails in deep, and I feel an irrational surge of jealousy that they’re not clawing into me instead.

“Closer, little mouse,” I whisper. “I need to feel if you’re real, and not just another ghost haunting Parsons Manor.”

A shaky exhale skitters across my cheek as she relaxes her body into mine until every inch of her is molded into me. I can feel every beat of her heart drumming against my chest, syncing to mine in a ballad of longing and sorrow.

One of her hands releases the seat, moving to the center console, in search of something. My brows jump in surprise when she produces a cigarette and my black lighter.

Then, she grabs my hands and places them on her backside. “You have until this cigarette burns out to touch me.”

I grin, delighting in her ultimatum. She’ll expect me to squeeze her tits and run my hand across her cunt, but she’s wrong. I’m not a pussy-deprived teenager that doesn’t know restraint any better than he knows how to last more than thirty seconds.

I’ll touch her in all the places that won’t feel good enough. Her inner thighs and up to where they meet her ass, and her tiny waist up to her ribs and the side of her tits. When she’s left with nothing but the taste of ash on her tongue, I’ll show her that regret tastes worse.

She turns her chin towards the window, but keeps her stare pinned to me as she sticks the cigarette between her lips and lights it, the flame dangerously close to my face. The flare brightens her unusual light brown eyes, creating a startling effect beneath the flickering orange light. Shadows dance across the lines of her face, darkening the freckles on her cheeks.

At that moment, I decide she can’t be real, and that I’ve gone mad just like the little doll who used to haunt the inside of the walls.

I’m ready to set this entire car on fire, content with watching it burn around us if it means I can stare at her beneath the blazing glow. The flame goes out, casting us back in darkness, only the glimmer of moonlight allowing me to see her shadowed curves.

The cherry flares as she sucks in and then softly exhales, smoke whirling between us. My eyes are riveted on her mouth, desperate to see those lips wrapped around me instead.

“Am I tangible, or will you let me slip through your fingers like the smoke from this cigarette?” she asks, her voice raspy. Every single nerve ending lights up from how sensual she sounds.

Instead of allowing me to answer, she twists her hand and sticks the cigarette between my lips. The burn from the nicotine and menthol spreads down my throat and into my chest. She pulls it away and leans forward, brushing her parted lips against mine.

My hands begin to move, whispering across her ribs, causing her to shiver as I flutter them down to her hips, squeezing firmly before sliding to her inner thighs.

I exhale, the smoke trading from my mouth to hers before swirling out between the crevices. She doesn’t kiss me, but remains suspended above me and allows the smallest of brushes.

Then, she’s retreating again, inhaling the cigarette once more. Back and forth, she twists it between us, periodically ashing through the cracked window. My hands never pause, though it only took moments before she began to tremble.

The air crackles around us, and it’s clear that I don’t need to set this car on fire when our chemistry is like dynamite and burns everything around us.

“Our mouths are touching the same spot,” she says shakily. “Does that count as kissing?”

“You tell me, little mouse. When I make you cry out for God, does that count as praying?”

Her bottom lip curls beneath her straight teeth, and a growl forms deep in my chest.

“If you’re showing me where to bite, I can assure you those sweet lips will only be the beginning.”

She doesn’t deign me a response right away and puffs on the cigarette again, then ashes it.

“Would you make me bleed?” she asks, her voice hoarse as the smoke swirls around us.

“If you ask me to,” I murmur. “I’d prefer to see you covered in my own blood, though.”

My answer seems to surprise her, so I take advantage and lean forward, brushing my lips across her jawline. She said I could touch her, but she never limited me to my hands.

“Whatever those men made you feel is not what I’m going to make you feel, little mouse. Whether your skin is between my teeth, beneath my blade, or under my tongue.”

She shivers, and I nip at her jaw to prove my point.

“It’s gone,” she rasps, pulling away, throwing the cigarette out the window, and rolling it up. “Don’t forget to pick that up.”

The tension deepens as I wait for her to open the door and slide from my lap. Sensing her turmoil, I slide my lips along her jaw and toward her mouth until they’re centimeters apart.

“You have until the smoke dissipates to kiss me,” I murmur.

Only a hairsbreadth of a pause passes before she’s crashing her lips onto mine. My hands dive into her hair, curling tightly as I devour her lips. She tastes sublime, and the feel of her tongue sliding against mine is intoxicating.

The world could fall to pieces around us, crumble to ashes as the cigarette did between our lips, and I wouldn’t notice.

Staccato pants and desperate moans blend between my teeth, and all I can think of is all the ways I could make this last forever.

As if hearing my thoughts, she rips herself away, nearly crashing into the steering wheel in her pursuit to get away. Her hair is scattered across her face, and she stares at me with wide, panicked eyes.

She’s strung tight, and those strings are on the verge of snapping.

“Smoke is gone,” she whispers before opening the door and scrambling out, disappearing in a flash.

I grit my teeth and curl my hand into a tight fist, seconds away from sending it into the steering wheel.

Growling, I nearly kick open the door, grab the cigarette butt and throw it in the trash bag in my car, then slam the door shut behind me. Tension and anger build in my muscles, and rolling my neck does little to ease it.

Only my runaway mouse will, and deep down in that dark part of me, I hope she’s suffering from the loss of me as much as I am her.

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