Chapter no 5‌ – The Diamond

Hunting Adeline

At one point in our lives, we’re all afraid to die. For some, it happens the first moment we fully understand what death means—before depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues arise.

For others, it’s before they’ve found something to believe in—whether it’s God or something else that’s spiritual.

And there are those who flounder through life, terrified of the day they take their last breath. I think for some, they aren’t so much scared of death itself, but rather, how they’re going to die.

So, how am going to die?

Will it be painful? Will I suffer? Will I be terrified?

Gigi felt all those things when she was murdered by a man she trusted, and likely cared deeply for.

When she started having an affair with her stalker, Ronaldo, it not only destroyed her marriage, but it took her life. Only not by her stalker or husband like one would expect, but by her husband’s best friend, Frank Seinburg.

For so long, I was convinced I’d have a similar demise at the hands of my own stalker. Instead, I gave in to his dark perusals, and found myself loving him instead.

I tried so hard to run from him, and now all I want to do is run to him.

During the rest of the car ride, I stayed silent. At least, verbally—my teeth chattered the entire way and eventually, one of the men got annoyed and turned up the heat.

An imperceptible amount of time passes before we come to a stop, dread settling deeply in my gut. I steel my spine and wait as both men exit the van, the doors slamming in tandem.

Then, the door to my left slides open, inviting an icy breeze in. A rough, calloused hand wraps around my arm and tugs. It feels like the Grim Reaper is holding on to me, escorting me to my death.

“Ow,” I cry out, on the verge of screaming from how bad it hurts to move. He ignores me and barks, “Let’s go.”

That’s Rick’s voice.

His grip on my arm is unnecessarily tight as he drags me out of the vehicle. As if a woman who was just in a bad car accident and riddled with injuries is going to overpower him and get away.

I don’t even know where the fuck we are.

A gust of freezing wind blows, sending another wave of goosebumps across my body. My teeth start chattering again, the cold becoming nearly unbearable.

The black sack is ripped off my head, and I flinch from the harsh light. It’s dreary outside, but since I haven’t seen daylight in quite a while it has made my eyes sensitive.

Squinting, my gaze immediately jumps to the monstrosity towering before me.

Rick splays his arm out towards the two-story colonial home, presenting the house to me as if I’m at a five-star restaurant, and he’s pulling the lid off my tray to reveal the best meal I’ll ever have. I’ve never been anywhere so fancy, but from the videos I’ve seen on the internet, it looks like a bunch of baby portions of foam and sticks wrapped in meat.

So—not appealing.

The house isn’t as run-down as I would have thought, but still not in the best shape. Vines of moss are running up the cracked white paneling, reminding me a little of Parsons Manor. Just not as… pretty. It’s discolored with boarded windows, a sagging porch and—is that duct tape?

“Looks… inviting,” I murmur.

Glancing around, I note that we’re out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by dense woods. It looks like they just plopped a random house in the middle of a forest. A dirt driveway trails off through a thicket of trees, and I suspect that’s the only way in or out. Unless I want to take my chances out in the wild.

“Let’s go, it’s fucking freezing,” Rick orders, dragging me after him. Rio walks ahead of us, shooting an indecipherable look over his shoulder before he leads me into the house straight out of Courage the Cowardly Dog. Only double the size.

But I imagine the shit that happens in this house is full of horrors much worse than that purple dog ever experienced.

Adrenaline and fear swirl in my stomach, and although there is a heavy weight low in my gut, it’s not the warm heady feeling I’m used to. This is dread.

It spikes higher when Rick hauls me through the entryway and pushes me forward. While the air is stale and musty, it doesn’t resemble a meth lab as I had expected.

This home looks like it comes straight from the 1800s, with an abundance of woodwork, outdated wallpaper, and odd nooks and crannies that make zero sense. I’m standing in a massive living room with brown, cracked leather couches, threadbare floral rugs, and crooked paintings on the walls. The TV is shoved into a corner, Tom & Jerry playing on low and a drooping cobweb hanging above it.

Grime is caked into the cracks, and every surface is coated in dust. The deep brown hardwood floor is wonky and uneven and creaks from the slightest shift of weight. I imagine if this place was haunted like Parsons Manor, no ghost could walk by undetected.

To the left is a dining area, paraphernalia everywhere. Crushed beer cans, needles, and crack pipes litter the table, along with a circular mirror, a small mound of cocaine on it.

Hesitantly, I walk farther into the house, the pit of dread growing wider and wider, like a shark’s mouth right before it ravages its prey.

It’s hard to breathe in here. It smells faintly of mildew and the entire house is wrapped in bad juju like a scratchy wool coat. It’s thick, uncomfortable, and suffocating.

“Welcome to your new home,” Rio declares mockingly. He’s been watching me take in the house, and even though it’s only been seconds, I’ve long since grown uneasy beneath the weight of his stare.

Before I can open my mouth, three men walk in from a doorway straight ahead. It seems to lead to the kitchen, based on the glimpse of a refrigerator from my standpoint. The raucous men were mid-laughter, but the second they noticed me, they quieted. Their movements are slow as they approach the kitchen table, more intent on picking me apart than watching where they’re going.

“This the diamond?” one of the men calls out, his teeth so black, it looks like bugs have infested his mouth.

Rick saunters towards the table and takes a dramatic seat, pride radiating from his face.

Smiling wide, he says, “You fucking know it is! Max already deposited the check so we can do whatever the fuck we want, boys.”

Their cheers arise, and the look on Rio’s face is near murderous.

“Fucking idiots,” he mutters under his breath. Then louder, he reminds him, “No, you can’t do whatever you want, stúpido, because you have a big fucking target on your head in the shape of a Z.”

Rick waves a hand, unconcerned. “Don’t worry, Rio. We’ll hide out until the fucker is dead, and then, we can do whatever we want. This payday is fucking massive, and not only that—we’ll get a taste of her, too.”

I shrink beneath their lewd gazes. Instinctively, my arms wrap tighter around myself, but that only elicits a few grunts of amusement.

“Aw, don’t be shy, baby girl. I promise I’ll make you feel good,” one of them croons, his black hair sticking up in several directions from the copious amount of grease in it. I swallow, a lump forming in my throat as my gaze fixates on a dark red puddle on the table I hadn’t noticed before.

I can’t even begin to imagine what that could possibly be from.

“What, princess, we ain’t good enough for you?” Rio asks. I glance at him and note the smirk on his face. But he’s tense, his grin strained.

I don’t even acknowledge him; my eyes trained back on the pool of blood. Tracking my line of sight, Rio turns to see what I’m staring at. He barks out a laugh when he sees it.

“Want to place a bet on what it’s from?” My face contorts in revulsion as I shoot a glare at him.

“My bet is that some bitch lost her virginity right there,” Rick chimes in, lighting a cigarette with a grin.

I bristle, and anger rises in my chest. “You’re sick,” I spit, my voice watery and full of so much hate. Rick only laughs and goes back to the conversation between his friends. I’m watching one of them inject himself with a needle when I feel someone charging in the house behind me. I startle and turn to find another man, and nearly lose my shit.

There’s a girl slung over his shoulder.

My mouth pops open, and his brown eyes settle on me.

“You got a problem?” he barks.

I flinch, panic rising as the girl’s lifeless limbs sway behind him. I’ve no idea if she’s dead or alive. I’d hope this man wouldn’t be carrying a fucking dead girl inside the house, but then again, these assholes would be the type to do something like that.

I shake my head, speechless as he walks toward me. He reeks of body odor, but that’s to be expected when he looks like he bathes in motor oil.

I’ve never been good at controlling my mouth, but in a house full of rabid men, the last thing I want to do is test my luck. So, I keep silent even as he leers at me.

“You keep your mouth open like that, don’t be surprised when someone sticks their cock in it.”

My eyes round and my teeth snap shut. The man chuckles from the audible click.

My heart picks up speed, and I take a few steps back. The fear pumps through my veins, settling low in my stomach and eating at my insides like acid.

“Jerry, her room is ready. Extra fucking chains this time,” one of the men calls from the table, pointing towards the girl.

My eyes widen impossibly further. Did she escape or something? I have so many questions but know better than to ask any of them. I’m relieved to hear that she’s not dead, at least. Otherwise, chaining up a corpse would be… I shudder from the thought.

The man—or Jerry—shifts the girl on his shoulder and walks off without another word, aiming one last scathing look my way.

Sucking my bottom lip between my teeth, I bite hard as I watch him head towards the kitchen. He’s lucky I don’t bark at him like a dog as I’m tempted to. Anything to make the dickhead think twice about looking at me like that. But that would be stupid, and I cannot be stupid in this place.

The last thing I see right before he disappears is the girl’s head lifting. Dark brown eyes meet mine through tangled tresses of blonde hair, filled with both fire and ice. The look on her face stops my heart cold, but the creepy smile on her face is what sends it sinking down to the pits of my stomach.

Christ, the look on her face is straight out of a nightmare.

My mouth parts again, but they’re gone before I can register what just happened. I’m equal parts scared for and of her.

“Don’t worry. If you’re a good little girl and do as you’re told, we’ll keep you conscious from here on out,” Rio says, pulling my attention back to him.

I’m not sure I want to be conscious.

Furthermore, I’m two seconds away from telling him that the girl needs to be admitted to the nuthouse.

But I don’t say that out loud, considering we are in a fucking nuthouse.

He nods his head towards the direction Jerry and the girl disappeared off into.

“Let’s go. Francesca and Rocco should be back in a few hours, and she’ll come to meet you. But until then, I’ve been ordered to show you to your new room.”

I glance behind me, staring out the still wide-open door and at the shiny black van. My brows furrow, expecting it to be damaged from when they ran me off the road. Instead, this one is brand new, not a scratch in sight. They must’ve switched it out at Dr. Garrison’s, and that makes my stomach roil.

I know enough about tracking that they would’ve made it incredibly easy for Zade to find them in a vehicle with a crushed fender.

But then a smile forms on my face with the reminder that Zade is coming, and he is more than capable of finding me, whether they’re transporting me in a fucking Ferrari or a Volkswagen from the 1980s that farts pollution every time they hit the gas. He’ll find me.

It’s right then, a memory sidelines me, and my smile falls to a dramatic death as horror takes over.

Just get her in the van, Rio. Max is already going to be pissed we fucked up his van…

My eyes blow wide, and when I whip back around, Rio is staring at me with dark eyes, tense and ready to charge at me. My gaze flickers down, noting the gun in his hand.

He probably assumed I was about to make a run for it.

And I can’t say I didn’t briefly consider it, but I’m not dense enough to think I’d make it more than five feet without one of them catching up to me. Or one of their bullets.

I’m injured and can barely stand upright, and I’ve no idea where the keys are. Running right now wouldn’t be wise. And if Zade were here, he’d tell me to bide my time until the right moment.

Don’t act irrationally.

I can’t let my panic and desperation rule my decisions. Not if I want to get out of this alive.

Licking my lips, I take a step forward, indicating that I won’t be running. “Max sent you?”

“You heard that?” He relaxes, unconcerned with my questioning, and jerks his head towards the kitchen, signaling for me to follow. That kind of makes me want to cry.

Clearing my throat, I force out, “Sure did.”

I fall in step behind him, the urge to cry deepening as I make my way farther into the belly of the beast. It feels like a bungee cord is strapped around my waist, pulling me back towards the exit, and the longer I walk, the stronger it becomes.

He shoots a look over his shoulder. “Baby girl, I don’t know what you did to piss that man off, but he has a vendetta against you. You’re plastered all over the dark web with a fat price on your head. Max hired Rick to bring you in, and since the guy is a complete idioto, he asked me to help. If it weren’t for the fact that he knew where you lived, we wouldn’t have gotten a head start and might’ve had to fight some competition to get to you.”

Any moisture in my mouth dries. There’s a price on my head? What the fuck for?

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised because… well, why the fuck else would I be here?

The new information distracts me enough to take in my surroundings through blurred eyeglasses. I cling onto all the insignificant details, like the sagging cabinetry, purring yellow refrigerator, and the endless ocean of brown wood and ugly wallpaper. Now, he’s leading me toward steep wooden steps that creak beneath our weight.

“Does Rick work for the Society?”

Rio glances over his shoulder at me, his brow cocked, seemingly surprised that I know of them.

“No, he’s Rocco’s friend, who is Francesca’s brother. She works for the Society, and Rocco and his friends reap the benefits.”

“Do you work for them?”

“I do, though I answer to Francesca right now.”

I lick my dry lips, then ask, “So who put the price on my head?”

“It doesn’t matter who. Only why. Now hurry up, I have to take a leak, and if you don’t move faster, I’ll unzip and paint a picture on that pretty face of yours.”

The disgusting threat does the trick and snaps me out of my daze. Shooting him a nasty look, I quicken my pace, despite the way my muscles groan in response.

Ending the conversation is best anyway. I need to concentrate on every detail in this house. Starting with how quiet it is.

As he leads me down a long hallway, several doors on either side, I realize it’s not the type of silence deriving from vacancy, but the kind when someone is holding their breath, praying for the footsteps to keep on walking by.

Swallowing nervously, my eyes bounce around, trying to pinpoint any glaring details, but the heart-pounding dread is making everything fuzzy.

How the fuck am I supposed to stay calm and play it smart so I can get out of here when a million alarms are going off in my head, warning me that there is no way out?

There’s always a way out, little mouse. You just have to find it.

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