Chapter no 6‌ – The Hunter

Hunting Adeline


It’s not appreciated enough. Not studied enough.

The capabilities of the human body are no longer limited to the laws of physics. The absolute destruction that resides in my fingertips could burn down entire cities—reduce them to ashes and embers. A simple stroke of a match, or a flick of my wrist, and as far as my eyes can see would be consumed in the same black fire that rages inside me.

For now, I turn the destruction on myself. My reflection seethes, overcome with a violence only seen through telescopes. Our universe was forged in brutality, and now the cosmos resides in not one, but two black eyes glaring back at me.

Your fucking fault.

My fist flies into the mirror, nearly shattering it entirely with one hit. Tiny shards explode from the impact, raining down in the sink and across the floor. It imitates exactly what my soul feels like. Fucking shattered.

I’ve only just gotten home from the hospital, and already I’m adding to the list of injuries. But I’m too lost to care.

Snarling, I pull back and drive my fist into the mirror again. Over and over until only a few crooked pieces remain.

Fuming, I spin, searching for the biggest shard I can find, and snatch it from the floor, ignoring the jagged edges slicing into my skin. And then I grab a smaller one with a sharp point before straightening again.

Holding out the large chunk before me, I position it until it’s angled just right, serving as my new mirror. Using the smaller piece, I dig the tip into my skin and start carving.

I go slow, my movements shaky from the tremors racking my body. The glass slips in my hold from both the blood pouring out of my knuckles and from where the edges are biting into my skin, and I continuously have to readjust, creating more cuts.

But the pain barely registers when it’s so fucking loud inside my head. It’s clouded with fury, and every goddamn organ in my body feels as if they’re in a blender.

My little mouse is gone. She’s been stolen from me.

And the man behind it is the same man that I knew had a vendetta against her.

And I left him alive.

I fucking let him go on living, stewing in the anger that I caused.

Chest pumping, I dig harder, bright red bubbling from where the glass slices into my skin.

When I’m done, I drop the shard, my entire body vibrating. I failed Addie.

And I’ll never let myself forget it.

Not with the rose now carved over my heart.



Blood coats the bottom of my boots, leaving a scarlet foot trail behind me as I approach Max’s house.

He finally hired guards.

Little good they did when now, all six of their bodies litter the ground. With bullet holes between their eyes that are staring sightlessly up at the stars, they were snuffed out because they protected the wrong person.

I don’t care how loved they were. I don’t give a shit if they had families and if they had wives and little kids at home, eagerly awaiting their arrival. Daddy’s gone, kids.

I kick open the front door, and loud chatter cuts into different versions of

what the fuck.

Max’s house is nearly all open concept, washed in black and gold with medieval décor. He’s a rich man but no amount of money could protect him from me.

On either side, two large staircases lead up to a balcony that circles the house in a half-moon. The man of the hour appears over the balcony, a wild

look in his eyes as two more guards rush up behind him.

His white-blond hair is mussed, the strands standing on end, and when he spots me, that look turns feral, his eyes rounding with hysteria.

I cock a brow. “Did you rub a balloon on your head?”

He blinks, and before any of them can process my presence, I lift my gun and shoot off two bullets—one for each guard.

Too easy.

Apparently, his money couldn’t even buy guards that are good enough to entertain me. If they were anything like me, I would’ve been shot dead before a syllable could even leave my mouth.

Max’s eyes pop open wide as his men fall to the ground, blood quickly draining past the rails and onto the pristine tile on the ground floor. He turns to run, but my voice stops him cold.

“Come here, Max.”

Slowly, he looks back at me, terror radiating from his eyes. There’s a particular stink to men who are faced with the consequences of their actions.

They’re fucking petrified, but only because they know they’re going to die. And no matter what they believe in, they know damn well there isn’t any chance they’ll be led to those pearly gates.

“Whatever you think I—”

“Don’t insult me further by questioning my knowledge,” I cut in, my voice deadly calm. “You know better than that, Maximilian.”

His lips tighten into a white line, but he has enough sense to turn and make his way down the steps, straightening out his rumpled blazer to reestablish his fragile façade of confidence. He’s struggling to maintain a calm expression, with his fists clenched and shaking, and sweat lining his hairline.

He pauses at the last step, standing before me with his nose in the air. He wants to die with his head held high.

How naïve.

He will bow at my feet, begging for forgiveness and lips pressed so far into my boots that his teeth leave imprints behind.

“Where is she?” I ask, my voice cold and devoid of emotion.

He stares at me, his throat bobbing as he works to swallow. “I wasn’t told the location.”

“But you’re in contact with the men who have her,” I counter. He blinks, licking his lips to stall while he finds the proper response.

“It’s been fulfilled. I transferred Rick’s percentage, and we cut ties.”

Max transferred money to one account, so I figure only Rick Boreman got a cut, though I’m not entirely sure why yet. On the surveillance cam of Addie’s car crash, there were two men, and Rick was not the one to drag her out of her overturned vehicle.

I purse my lips, the scars on my face crinkling, nod my head, and walk toward him slowly, like a cheetah stalking its prey. A trickle of satisfaction drips into my bloodstream when he tenses, solidifying beneath my eyes.

“And you’re telling me that you have no way to contact either of them?”

He swallows and shakes his head. “Rick disconnected his phone after the transfer went through. Probably to hide from you.”

I hum, dragging my eyes up and down his form, noting the awkward stance and the way his feet are angled inward. He’s seconds away from pissing himself.

There’s no self-assurance of being in a public place, knowing the worst of your sins were intimidating a couple of women in a restaurant.

He’s been a very bad boy this time. “So, why’d you do it, Max?”

“You killed my father, so the deal was off,” he spits, fury flashing in his irises. Stilling, I can only stare at him as I process his words.

After I killed Archie Talaverra, I cut off his hands and set them on Addie’s doorstep as a reminder that she’s mine, and no one else is ever to touch her. Max found out and started placing blame on her for Archie’s death, so I made him a deal. I wouldn’t kill his father, and he wouldn’t touch Addie. It took kidnapping and recording a video to drive home the point, but he kept to his word. Until recently.

Funny thing is, I never killed his father. “Excuse me?”

He blinks, his face gradually turning red. “You kill—”

“I heard what you fucking said,” I bark. “What made you think it was me?”

His face contorts. “Because you fucking said it was,” he bellows, taking a threatening step towards me. I do better and lunge in his face, causing him

to recoil and lose his footing.

I catch him by the collar of his shirt and jerk him close. “Explain, Max,” I snarl. “Because I didn’t fucking kill your father. If I had, I would’ve killed both of you. We made a fucking deal, and kept my word.”

He shakes his head, breathing fire. “You sent me the video of you decapitating my father on Friday. On the video, you said, ‘This is for Adeline Reilly.’”

Fire fills my veins, every single one in my body protruding. “Was it my voice?”

“Wha—I don’t know, man! I don’t have a goddamn recording of your voice to compare it to. It was deep like yours, that’s all I know.”

I nod my head, letting him see in my eyes just how much he fucked up.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out who actually killed his father. “Did you bother confirming if it was me?”

“Oh, my bad, bro, I’ll call you up next time,” he retorts.

I grin savagely. “Are you telling me you’re not resourceful, Maximilian? Because I am, and I have many resources to make you suffer. If you’re going to get revenge for a murder, then you better be sure about who actually fucking did it.”

He flounders, his mouth flopping as he realizes that he acted without thought. He saw his father die a brutal death, decided who it was based on a single sentence, and sent Addie to the slaughterhouse.

Red is seeping into my vision, and it takes all of my control to keep it at bay. To see clearly—because I want to witness every fucking second of Max’s death.

“You want to know who killed your father, jackass? The very people you sold Addie off to. The Society killed him so you would betray me, and then target Addie. You fell right into their fucking trap and did all the dirty work for them.”

He shakes his head. “How would they know about our deal and what you did to my father?”

“I don’t know, Max, did your father open his fat fucking mouth and flap it to anyone who would listen? Did you? Whining about how I kidnapped him and threatened him if you so much as touched Addie and Daya. You tellin’ me neither of you didn’t go around bitching about it to anyone that possesses ears?”

His teeth click, confirming my presumption. “It’s not hard to find out about our rivalry when you don’t shut the fuck up about it,” I hiss.

He grunts as I haul him towards the front door, his feet dragging on the tile and nails clawing at my hand in panic. I plan on taking this very slow with him. Getting as much information as I can before I send him down below.

“Wait, wait, it was a mistake. Let’s work something out,” he sputters as I drag him down the porch stairs and towards my car. “I’ll get her back!”

I flash him a ferocious smile. “Don’t worry, Max, I plan on working out a lot of things with you. Or rather, working them out of you.”



The bloody scalpel clatters against the metal tray, and Max’s groans fill the air. He didn’t find it humorous when I started playing Bodies” by Drowning Pool to drown out his incessant screaming.

I laughed the entire song, even though I can’t feel anything right now but burning flames in my hollow chest.

Wires are attached to Max’s chest, leading to a machine designed specifically to restart a heart the second it stops. I built it when I first started in this business, though it’s rarely used anymore. In the beginning, my rage towards sex traffickers went unchecked. But over the years, I found the faster they die, the more I can kill.

I’ve killed Max via asphyxiation twice now. The second his heart stops beating, my machine brings him back to life via electricity, where I proceed to torture him slowly, and then kill him again. Rinse, repeat.

I hadn’t even started asking questions yet, too angry to speak.

He’s gone mad now. So close to death just to awake to my smiling face, over and over. Yet, I still feel nothing.

“Rick Boreman is who you transferred the money to. Who was his partner?”

“R-Rio,” he answers. “Dunno his last name.”

His speech is choppy from the toll his body has endured. “How do you know them?”

“I don’t re… real-ly. C-Connor and Rick were friends. I knew Rick had connections, so I got his number from Connor’s old phone.”

“And how did you know what Rick’s involved in?”

“Connor talked about the Tala-la-verras pos-ssibly sticking their hands in the trade, and he men-mentioned he had connections to do so through Rick. They never ended up getting in-involved, so nothing more was ever said about Rick than… than that.”

I cock a brow. The Talaverras getting involved in human trafficking would’ve been a fucking disaster. Especially with Archie involved and his playboy status—he would’ve condemned a lot of girls to that fate. Suppose I did more good than I initially thought by killing them all.

“Who do Rio and Rick work for?”

Max shakes his head, his mouth curling into a smile. “Rick doesn’t work for nobody. H-he’s just friends with the right people. I knew where y-your girlfriend lived, and he knew how to get her in the right hands. It was mutually ben-beneficial.”

He looks like he’s fading, so I roughly slap his cheeks a few times. He grunts at me but keeps his eyes open.

“And Rio?”

Another grin. “Who else? The Soc—”

“Don’t be obtuse, Max,” I cut in, picking up a pair of scissors and dragging the tip against the web of skin between his two fingers. When he doesn’t come up with a new answer, I spread the scissors and snip the delicate flesh. He screams, but the sound isn’t quite anguished enough.

Not yet.

“I want the names. The people they directly report to, and who they took her to.”

He works to swallow; his face pinched in pain as he struggles to answer. “I-I don’t know, Z. I told you, I ha-hardly knew them! Only what C-

Connor told us about Rick, which wasn’t anything at all other than he was friends with a trafficker. When I saw the ad, I-I asked for his help, and that was the end of it!”

“How did they know how to take her?”

He licks his lips, his eyes drifting again from exhaustion.

“I knew her place was sur-surrounded, so we drew her out. Luke knows where Daya lives, so… so he paid her a visit. Broke in and tied her up and

used her phone to lu-lure Addie out. Rick and-and Rio waited outside of her driveway and followed her.”

I still, going nearly blind with fury at the knowledge that Daya might’ve been taken, too. No one fucks with my girl, and that includes her friends and family.

Addie’s been gone for seven days now, and in that time, all I’ve thought about was getting to Max. It didn’t even cross my mind that Daya hadn’t reached out yet, looking for her best friend.

If I’m being honest, I can hardly think straight with every organ in my body seized by the constant agony with her being gone.

“Where is Daya?”

Max laughs, the sound wet and humorless. “Last I heard, bro, Luke still has her. Reliving his-his favorite memory with her probably.”

Fuck. Looks like Max is going to have to wait to die for good. I need to go murder his friend first and get Daya the fuck out of there.

“Hm.” I clip the skin between his pinky and ring finger. He clenches his teeth, but it doesn’t prevent the scream from slipping through the cracks of his teeth.

“God fucking dammit!” he bursts, panting through the pain.

I’ll keep him alive long enough to get Daya. Then, I’ll come back and finish off the job—permanently. I don’t have any more time to waste on him.

“Who was the person you spoke to when you answered the ad?” I push. “They were anon-ymous. You-you think they introduce themselves when

they answer the phone?” he snaps. “I told them I knew where she was and who was helping me. They told me they’d transfer the money when Addie was in their possession. Th-that’s it!”

I grab his other hand and clip the skin between his pointer and middle finger, purely because I don’t appreciate his attitude.

“Do you know how many men laid in this very chair before you?” I ask casually, glancing at his shredded face.

“N-no,” he cries, dragging the note out in a sorrowful wail.

“Me neither,” I shrug. “Lost count. But what I do remember is that I broke every single one of them.”

Max squeezes his eyes shut when I lean forward, not brave enough to face his tormentor. “But you’re the first one to have broken me first, Max. I

can admit that. You broke me into tiny little pieces when you took Addie from me. Because of you, I’m no longer a man.”

I straighten my spine. “Do you know what that means for you? It means I have no humanity left in me. No empathy. No guilt. Nothing. I could do this all fucking day, and even when your body gives out, I’d just bring it back again.”

Tears spill from the corners of his eyes, but they have no effect on me.

“I’m s-sorry, man. It was an honest mistake,” he groans. “I only did it ‘cause of my f-father.”

“You only got a girl kidnapped and sold into the skin trade, you mean? You only condemned an innocent woman to torture, trauma, and rape because your daddy died?” My voice begins to crack by the end, and I clench my jaw, struggling to hold on to what little sanity I have left. I’m falling apart at the seams, tears building in my vision.

He shakes his head and blubbers, “I don’t know what you want me to say.”

Breathing in and out, slowly I regain control. I nod, accepting that response for what it is. We both know there is absolutely nothing he can say to atone for what he’s done.

“All it would’ve taken was a little research, my guy. Even if you were hotheaded enough to threaten me directly—that actually would’ve saved your life.”

And my soul.

He snivels, having nothing to say. So, I pick up the mini saw and flip it on. His nearly black eyes blow wide, dilated with terror.

I’ve sliced up his face pretty good, but I find there’s a much better use for it.

“Do you know what’s possibly being done to Addie as we speak?” I question, the buckle of his belt clanging beneath the soft whirring of the blade.

He squeezes his eyes shut again as I unfasten his pants and yank them down. I wrinkle my nose. He pissed himself.

“P-please, man,” he cries, sobs racking his throat. Snot leaks from his nose and into his mouth, and all I see is a man who’s only sorry he got caught. A man who was too arrogant and too stupid to think he wouldn’t suffer the consequences for his actions. “Don’t do this.”

The cavern in my chest widens, devouring what was left of my conscience.

My soul has no place inside a monster. So, I got rid of it.

“She’s being raped,” I tell him, my voice deepening with unbridled fury.

Those images haunt me. “Can you imagine by how many men?”

He shakes his head, his legs trembling as I yank down his boxers, glad that I’m wearing thick nylon gloves.

“It’s all I can think about,” I choke out on a whisper. “I’m plagued by the torture she must be suffering through. The pain and how she probably wants to die.”

And how I want to die.

I grab him between the legs, seeing nothing but a slideshow of Addie’s torment on repeat. I could saw off my own fingers, and I’d hardly notice.

They’re hurting her. Scaring her. Making her cry.

The blade cuts through skin and muscle, eliciting a scream that horror movies can’t imitate. That sound can only be born from the type of horror very few humans actually experience.

It sounds like music.

Is it the same sound Addie is making?

Blood spurts, painting Max and me in crimson. He sucks in a deep breath, preparing to let loose another scream no one else will ever hear, but then he passes out.


Quite literally now.

I switch the blade off, curl my fingers in his bottom teeth and yank it down, and drop the now detached piece of skin down his throat. Then I work to cauterize the wound, preventing him from bleeding out while I’m gone.

I’m not quite done with him yet.



It wasn’t hard to track down where Luke lives. The imbecile posts his entire life on social media anyway. Except for the fact that he’s keeping a girl hostage in his house. They always seem to forget those details.

Indiscernible screaming can be heard through the doors of his home. A loud crash follows, and I smile, already knowing I’m going to walk in on Daya giving this guy hell.

I slide my pin into the keyhole and jam it, breaking the lock. And then I walk into his house as if I’m walking into my favorite burger joint.

“Why do you always have to move?” Luke shouts from down the hallway. I slide out my gun and start spinning the silencer on as I make my way towards the ruckus. “I’m trying to take care of you!”

When I round the corner, I stop short.

Daya is tied to a chair, tipped over on the side, with her arms trapped uncomfortably beneath her weight. She’s screaming through the tape stuck to her mouth, death radiating in her glare. When she spots me, her eyes widen, and then she starts wriggling fiercely as if she’s trying to make her presence known.

Can’t really see her any clearer when she’s right in my face.

Noticing Daya’s reaction, Luke turns his head, and his own eyes pop open before he scrambles for his gun. I shoot the back of his knee before he makes it a step, feeling nothing even as he falls to the ground with an agonized shout.

“Simmer down, Daya,” I say, walking over to her. “I can see you. Wiggling like a worm on a hook is only going to rub your skin even rawer.” She huffs, impatiently waiting as I lift both her and the chair up as one, untie her from the ropes, and help her up. She takes one look at me, noting the dark circles under my eyes and the hollowness in my gaze, and wraps

herself around me.

I blink, freezing for a moment before I sling an arm around her. Immediately, she breaks out into a fit of tears, her sobs vibrating my chest. I place a hand on the back of her neck and squeeze reassuringly. It’s the only thing I can think to do to let her know that I’m here and that she’s safe.

My throat is too tight to speak because as relieved as I am that Daya is okay, I’m incapable of actually feeling it.

“Please tell me you know where she is,” she begs, clenching my hoodie in her grip.

I sigh, grab her by the arms, and gently pull her away. She looks no better than I do. Her sage green eyes are bloodshot from crying, black, straight hair disheveled, and bruises mar her deep brown skin.

“Not yet,” I whisper, unable to speak the disappointing words any louder. Her eyes close in defeat, but she nods her head.

“We’ll find her. We will.”

“What did he do to you?” I ask, bringing the conversation back to the parasite dragging himself on the floor towards his gun. It’s resting on a coffee table ten feet away from him. I turn and shoot the gun, sending it skidding across the floor and under his white couch.

I bet not a single ass has ever sat on that thing.

“Nothing that I haven’t let him do before,” she mumbles.

I cock my head. “We both know this time around wasn’t consensual.” She looks away, appearing embarrassed.

“You know you didn’t ask for any of this, right?” I remind her, shaking her just enough to emphasize my point. She nods her head, though she doesn’t look entirely convinced.

“Max is at my place. Let’s take care of Luke here. You can even release some pent-up anger if you want.”

I go to turn, but she stops me, her hand wrapped tightly around my wrist. “Don’t lose your humanity yet, Zade. Addie is strong, and she will

survive this.”

I stare at her, and I wonder if she can see something inside me that I can’t.

“It’s already gone.”



I pound harder. Fuck, I need to do it harder.

The answering moans send a shot of pleasure down my spine.

And every time I hear it, all I can think about is Addie. I can never stop thinking about her, even as the begging follows the screams. Harder.

“Please.” The plea is breathless. But it’s not good enough.

“Please, what?” I demand through gritted teeth, sweat dripping down my temple from exerting myself.

It’s still not enough.

It never will be. Not until I have Addie again. “Zade,” Daya calls. “Please.”

I look over to her, my mallet suspended over the massive nail lodged into Luke’s leg. She looks a little nauseous, but I can’t find it in myself to care right now.

I’ve been pounding the nail into his forearm for the past few minutes, and I’ve gotten it down far enough that it’s all the way through and embedding into the wooden table, but it’s a huge nail, and there’s still some length to go.

Luke’s moans are full of agony, and his desperate pleas make me feel as good as I’m capable of feeling.

Not fucking enough.

I want him to scream so loud until his cries give out and his voice box shatters completely.

Daya’s hand is resting on my arm, her own plea cutting through the noise in my head.

“He hurt you,” I say flatly.

She nods. “He did. And I’m ready to take over now.”

I release the mallet, the heavy rubber dropping painfully onto his arm before clattering to the table. His answering scream vibrates through his house.

Not. Enough.

I swipe at my nose and turn away, my hands shaking with the need to keep pounding down the nail until the head connects with his flesh.

It’s been over an hour since I dragged Luke onto his dining room table and started conducting my torture. I found some tools in his garage and decided to make good use of them since he’ll never get the chance.

Daya clears her throat. “Luke? Stay awake, buddy boy.” I hear skin slapping and glance back to see her roughly smacking his cheek. His head lolls, more groans releasing from his throat.

“Please,” he whispers, his voice hoarse. It needs to be depleted. Even then, I won’t be satisfied.

“You know, I’ve been saying the same thing to you for a week,” Daya says, her voice breaking. Her eyes fill with tears, and it only stokes the flames in my chest.

She and Addie love each other fiercely. And because Addie is my family, that makes Daya my family, too.

It’s best I make an example of him so others will know to never fuck with them again.

Doesn’t help that he played a massive role in getting my girl kidnapped. And that… that is just unforgivable. Un-survivable.

Luke swallows, yet words fail him for several moments. “It wasn’t personal,” he croaks. “I was only doing what Max told me to.”

“Max told you to stick your dick inside me?” Daya counters, her tiny fist curling in a tight ball.

I hope she fucking uses them. I would only stop her so I could deliver a few of my own punches before I let her end his miserable life.

“No, Daya, I just… I’ve missed you so much.”

Daya closes her eyes, a tear leaking past her eyelashes. I’ve no idea if these two had much of a relationship past one night together, nor is it my business. But it doesn’t matter because whatever Luke stole from Daya, she plans on taking it back.

“I didn’t miss you, Luke, you know that, right?” she retorts, her pale eyes blazing. His mouth opens, but she keeps going. “Anytime I thought of you, it was out of disgust. I should’ve known you’d find a way to surprise me and turn out to be so much worse than I thought.”

“L-look, I’m sorry for the role I played, but you have to understand that Max is crazy.” When I step closer, not a shroud of understanding reflected back at him, he becomes more desperate. “Seriously, man! If I didn’t do what he said, he’d have me killed!”

“Did he tell you to abuse Daya? Rape her?”

He flounders, his mouth opening and closing as he searches for the right answer. Or rather, the right lie.

Daya’s eyes cling to him as she holds her hand out to me expectantly. I don’t look away from Luke as I grab a knife from the table next to me and hand it to her, knowing what she’s asking for.

She doesn’t waste time. Doesn’t hesitate for a second. She just grips the black handle in a tight fist, the metal glinting off the dining room lights as

she rises it above him and plunges it down into his throat. Sharp metal cuts through flesh and bone, silencing his pleas.

Luke’s eyes widen into round discs, staring at his reaper with disbelief. It’s always disbelief. As if they didn’t see it coming. Or maybe, they just can’t accept the fact that they’re actually dying.

Men like this, who have lived their lives so selfishly and with no regard for others’ lives, are always the most desperate to live forever.

But they never understood that’s what makes them so goddamn weak. It’s the people who have no regard for their own life—people like me. We are the ones that are the deadliest.

What’s stopping me from taking people down with me when I die? Nothing.

Not a goddamn thing.

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