Chapter no 36 – The Diamond

Hunting Adeline

“Xavier’s disappearance made national news,” Daya tells me over the phone.

“Do they have any idea who did it?” I ask, massaging the muscle in my shoulder. My entire body aches from the training session with Sibby, and I’m damn near ready to collapse on the floor and just stay there forever.

I’d make a good fertilizer, and vines of roses could grow from my rib cage while I become one with the earth again.

Zade would probably call me dramatic for thinking that.

“All they have to go off of is the debacle at Supple. Of course, your faces were hidden, which helps.”

“I was wearing a wig, too,” I say.

“They won’t be able to identify you. At least, the public won’t, but I’m sure Claire will know it was you two.”

“But they can’t prove it.”

“They don’t need to. She controls the entire government and all the worker bees that run it. Including the police force, feds—all of them.”

I chew on my lip, digging at the spot on my shoulder harder. “So what, do you think Zade’s face is going to end up on the evening news?”

She’s quiet for a beat. “Or yours.”

My heart drops, thudding heavily in the pit of my stomach. Claire pinning the murder on me would actually be convenient. It will absolutely destroy any reputation I have as an author, but that wouldn’t be the worst of it. They could press charges, fabricate evidence against me, and convict me. And I wouldn’t be going to jail, but right back into Claire’s hands.

Fuck. Me.

“Zade isn’t going to let anything happen to you, Addie,” Daya assures. “Don’t panic. We’ll figure it out, and I’m sure this is something he would’ve planned for.”

Though she can’t see me, I nod my head. It does little to calm my racing heart.

“Maybe I shouldn’t have—”

“Addie, don’t be one of those where you’re only sorry you got caught. Be sorry because it doesn’t sit right in your soul, if that’s truly how you feel. If I’m being honest, I feel nothing about ending Luke’s life, so I guess we’re both on God’s shitlist or whatever. Regardless, what we’re doing with Claire? It’s huge. Bigger than you or me. And it’s going to save a lot of lives.”

I nod my head again, squeezing my eyes shut tightly.

“I know, you’re right. I’m not sorry for what I did.” I blow out a heavy breath. “I just don’t know what’s going to happen, and I’m scared.”

“We’re going to be okay. Remember who you have on your side.”

On cue, I feel a touch brush away my hand from my shoulder before replacing it with his own, digging his thumb into that persistent knot.

My hand drops, and a mix of pain and pleasure erupt from where his skilled fingers work my muscles.

“I remember,” I murmur, trapping a moan in my throat when he hits a particularly painful spot. “Thank you, Daya. I’ll call you later, okay?”

The second we hang up, I let loose a groan. I figured if Daya heard that, it might disturb her. His other hand joins the assault, drawing out more sounds of pleasure. It hurts so fucking good.

“Daya break the news?” he asks quietly in a deep timbre. “Yeah,” I answer with a cracked voice.


“Is going to happen to me, I know,” I cut in. “But sometimes things don’t go to plan.”

He directs me around, and I turn with a tired sigh. His scar crinkles from his amused grin, noting the sassy look on my face.

“You’re going to want to tune into the news at eight o’clock then.” My brows knit, and a frown curls my lips down. “What did you do?”

“I haven’t done it yet, but I’m going to.” He flicks my nose, and I sputter in response, slapping away his hand. His smile grows, taking over his scarred face and brightening his yin-yang eyes.

Jesus, his smile is fucking dangerous. It easily stops my heart.

“Eight o’clock, little mouse. It’ll hurt my feelings if you miss it.”



“You can’t sit there, Addie! You’ll be sitting right in Baine’s lap. And he’s awfully bony, so he won’t be very comfortable.”

My ass is popped out mid-air, suspended over my leather couch when she stops me.

“Uhm, okay,” I sigh, a smidge tired of avoiding my own damn furniture because Sibby’s imaginary friends are sitting all over it. Can’t they stand? It’s not like their invisible legs are going to get tired.

I straighten and Sibby gasps loudly, causing me to jump and almost drop my wine.

“What?” I ask, alarmed, searching the couch for a spider or something. They don’t scare me, but Sibby tends to morph into an even smaller child when bugs come out.

“I am so sorry, Addie. Baine grabbed your ass. Baine, don’t do that! Zade is going to kill you, ya know? He gets his balls in a knot when people touch her.”

“Balls in a knot?” I mutter, both confused and utterly fucking frazzled. I hike a thumb over my shoulder awkwardly when she continues to berate Baine.

“I’m gonna go over here,” I mumble, just a little disturbed. I turn on the TV and flip to Channel 8. They’re droning on about Xavier again, and I immediately break out into a sweat, waiting for my picture to pop up as a person of interest.

I think if I were, the police would have already come knocking, but my anxiety gets away from me anyway.

Taking a large gulp of wine, I glance at the time on my phone and note that it’s 7:59 PM. If I know Zade, whatever he’s about to pull, he’ll be on time. Eight on the dot, to the very second.

I take another sip, rolling my eyes when Sibby’s hand slides up her thigh, pushing up her black polka-dot dress, and then proceeds to slap at her own hand, yelling at Mortis for trying to hit on her in front of me. She’s getting better about keeping the sexual activities to herself.

My heart trips over itself when the image of the reporter on TV begins to skip and then turns to static before cutting out. I gasp when a picture of a man replaces the reporter, his black hood drawn over his head and face covered with a familiar black mask with a dramatic frown, and a slash through the eye.

No fucking way.

Slowly, I stand, my mouth open as I near the TV.

Greetings, fellow Americans,” Zade starts, my brows jumping when I hear how abnormally deep his voice is. He altered it. “In light of the disappearance of oil tycoon, Xavier Delano, this is a message for the police force, all government officials, and as always, the people of this country.”

Zade crosses his black-gloved hands, seeming to get comfortable.

“Xavier Delano was buying young women as sex slaves from human traffickers, then murdering them when he grew bored. I have released all evidence of this online. Pictured above are several women who he bought, tortured, raped, and killed. Remember their names. I have. In honor of all the women who lost their lives to this man, I took matters into my own hands. Xavier Delano is not missing. He’s dead.”

Zade leans forward and cocks his head. An eeriness pulses through the radio waves emitting from the screen. Raw danger radiates throughout my bones when I look into the bottomless holes where his eyes are hidden. I shiver, delighting in the feel of it.

“He is not the first to suffer the consequences of his actions, and he will not be the last. I am Z, and I am watching. No one is safe. Especially not those who have betrayed me.”

His video disappears, cutting back to the news reporter’s pale, slackened face.

A loud crunch snaps me out of the hypnotizing effect I’d gotten lost in. I whip my head toward Sibby to see her shoving a handful of popcorn in her mouth. She must feel my stare because she stops mid-chew, her cheeks puffed out, and looks at me with wide innocent eyes.


“He took responsibility for it all,” I say, dazed.

Sibby blinks, appearing confused. “Well, of course he did. I mean, he wasn’t entirely lying, but Zade would do anything to protect you.” She cocks her head. “Did you honestly doubt him?”

My mouth parts. “I guess I just wasn’t expecting… that.”

Sibby shrugs, scarcely swallowing the first mouthful before she’s stuffing her face again. “It was smart.”

It was. No one is going to believe a city girl, who is also a popular and well-respected author, murdered Xavier over Z. They would look stupid if they tried to blame me still. Plus, everyone knows I’m a victim of sex trafficking. They could try to spin it that I sought revenge, but then they’d have to deal with the added stress of Zade leading an absolute riot over a survivor being wrongfully convicted. Not to mention that Zade would quite literally never let them just cart me away to jail. He’d put me into hiding and take the blame for that, too. And once again, the people would be rooting for Zade over the government, which is the last thing Claire wants.

Shit. Zade really did fuck up any plans Claire might’ve had, and all to protect me.

“Oh!” Sibby shouts, causing me to jump again. “You should write a book about it. Your readers would swoon over the big, scary guy coming to your rescue and then murdering your abuser.”

She’s not wrong. Even I’m swooning.

But I’ve been too mentally drained to write. I scrounge up the energy to post little updates every so often before dipping out again, too exhausted to even read the comments. My personal assistant has been intercepting all messages and questions until I’m ready to get back into my career again. I don’t think I’ll be able to truly focus on writing until Claire is dead.

“Did it bother you that he took the credit?” Sibby asks, misinterpreting my silence.

I laugh. “I don’t care about the glory.” “Then why are you so tense?”

Because my blood has turned into liquid lava. God help me if Sibby is in the vicinity when I see Zade because I’m not sure I’ll be able to stop myself from tackling him, and lord knows the weird little doll wouldn’t willingly leave the room.

A plethora of emotions are running rampant in my body, and at the very forefront of it all is my need to thank him. And there are so many fucking ways I want to thank him.

Seeing him on screen, with his deep voice and black mask, putting himself under fire to protect me—all I could think about was how much I

love him. And how badly I need to show him that. How badly I need to tell

him that.

Zade will suffer little to no consequences for killing Xavier, at least not from the public. He doesn’t need the support of the people to keep doing what he’s doing. It’s just something has always had regardless. And whether people choose to shift their alliances because he took a predator off the streets, it won’t matter.

In the grand scheme of sacrifices Zade has made for me, it wasn’t really much of one. Yet, it means the world to me anyway.

What we’re doing is so much bigger than writing books, but it still would’ve devastated me to lose a career I love so much. It would’ve felt like losing yet another piece of myself, and I already have so little to spare.

“Oh…” Sibby says softly, realization dawning. “You want to fuck him. I understand now.”

My cheeks burn, but I don’t deny it. Because she’s right. My thighs are clenched tight, and that familiar heady feeling is swirling deep in my stomach.

I won’t lie and say that watching him just now didn’t turn me on. My blood is on fire, and I’m nearly vibrating with desire. It was… well, it was fucking hot. What else can I say?

Sibby groans, sitting up with a pouty look. “Why do you guys get to have loud sex, and can’t?”

I turn to her, eyes wide and an expression that says, are you shitting me right now?

“Because you try to do it in front of everyone, Sibby.”

She slams her back into the couch with a huff, shoving a sorrowful handful of popcorn into her mouth. “Not my fault you guys are boring.”

I roll my eyes. Zade and I are many things, but boring is not one of them.

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