Home > Scarlet Angel (Mindf*ck #3)(10)

Scarlet Angel (Mindf*ck #3)(10)
Author: S.T. Abby

“Yeah, though I don’t understand the significance yet, either. We just figured out the night stalking killer, and we’re on our way to Pennsylvania right now.”

“You remember how you said you met Lana at a coffee shop you don’t normally visit?” she asks randomly.

Weird shift in conversation. “Yeah. Why?”

“Tell me again how all that went down.”

I snort derisively. “Okay… Craig went to hit on her and she shot him down. I paid for her food and coffee without her knowledge, and then gave her my card when she acted all pissed off that I was doing something nice for no reason other than the fact she amused me. I wasn’t looking for more than that, but I still told her to call me, because after spending those five minutes with her, I wanted to know more. When she finally called, she was…everything I didn’t realize I wanted.”

“So you approached her, and you sort of chased her.”

“It was all me,” I tell her, confused where she’s going with this.

“And the case…You told her Boogeyman details. Do you always share case details?”

“The first share was an accident, but she helped us identify him. I kept her in the loop later because she was a target, same as we’d do for any target. She doesn’t want me sharing details of cases because she doesn’t like me breaking the rules for her. She respects my position, and doesn’t want me getting in trouble.”

“So she never asks for any other case details?” she asks, still dragging me on a confusing trail.

“No. What’s this about?”

“Nothing,” she says on a heavy sigh. “You know I’m suspicious of every girl you date and their motives. Lisa used your name to get a promotion. I still don’t like her.”

That’s hard not to laugh about.

“Look, Lana is great, Hadley. She’s compassionate, understanding, thoughtful, and she really fucking cares. It’s more than I ever thought I’d have with this career choice. She’s also insanely independent and smart. But if she was using me, I’d be aware of it. She has zero interest in the FBI as a career path, even though I think she’d be one hell of a profiler.”

“Right. You’re right. Sorry. I need to go over some more lab stuff. Talk later?”

“Yeah. Let me know if you find anything else weird like a nail in the stomach contents.”

“Nail in the stomach?” Donny asks from beside me.

“Lawrence Martin had one. Why?” I ask him.

He shakes his head. “Sounds familiar is all. Just can’t remember where I’ve heard it.”

Donny, like me, was recruited straight out of college. He’s only been in our unit for six years, but he’s been with the FBI for eleven total years.

“I’ll talk to you later,” I tell Hadley.

“Peace out.”

Rolling my eyes, I hang up my phone. At least she’s starting to sound more like herself. Meddling and quirky.

Donny looks lost in thought, and keeps drawing a nail over and over, confusing me. But it’s his thought process when he’s trying to resurrect a memory.

“You think he’s killed before?” I ask him.

“No,” he says immediately. “I think I’ve heard that before though. Nails in the stomach. It’s actually a brutal torture technique. It tears you up as you swallow them, then punctures your stomach lining. Not to mention what happens if you manage to pass them. But just one nail? It means something.”

“Lawrence was the son of a cop in Delaney Grove. But he left that place right around our ten year time frame. Several of them did. They went on to be successful. They never showed any signs of violence in their lives, and all had a healthy conscience, it seems. Never the self-destructive spiral of guilt-wrenched minds.”

“So you think they are being targeted, but didn’t play a part in what happened that night?” he muses.

“I don’t know. I’m just profiling them. It’s what I do.”

He looks down, drawing the nail again, tracing the lines over and over.

We’ll figure him out, and we’ll stop him. It’s what we do.

Eventually, good conquers evil, because evil works alone.

Chapter 7

The devil can cite Scripture for his own purpose.

—William Shakespeare


In one week, I’ve marked off two names from my list. We’re getting closer. Jake is sweating bullets.

I’ve sped up the timeline and started hiding the bodies. I’ve changed my MO. I’ve also started adding the nails, something I hadn’t planned to do until later in the game.

My wax apple also has a lot more nails to mark the new debts I’ve collected, but we’ve moved my murder room to Jake’s house.

The media are no longer interested in me since Craig delivered the profile of the Scarlet Slayer. Yes, the media named me. Somehow, Jake got me the name he wanted.

It’s ironic the media lost interest in the hero side of me in favor of the dark side of me. Just goes to show how twisted and ugly this world can be.

“I hate how fast you’re cruising through the names,” Jake grumbles as I mark off the latest victim’s name.

“Two in a week isn’t too fast. I wanted to drag it out, but I’m sick of this. I’m ready for it to be over.”

“Because of Logan?” he asks, studying me from his seat.

“Yes and no. I’m tired of being tied to the past and unable to let it go. Aren’t you?”

He leans up, perching his elbows on the rails of the chair. “Tell me something, Lana, what do you think happens when this is all over—if we even survive it. Do you think he doesn’t find out? Do you ride off into the sunset—the agent and the killer? I want to know what you think for real. I’m good with ending this where we are, and moving on the best we can. I think that’s the only way you’re going to be able to keep him, if that’s your true endgame.”

My lip trembles, and I clear my throat. “Stopping now would be wrong. Marcus and Dad…they’re still dead and haunted by the way they died.”

He leans back, his eyes on me. “Sometimes I think I feel Marcus. I think he’s right here beside us, keeping us from being discovered. Other times I realize it’s ridiculous, and that our luck will eventually run out.”

“Do you want to stop?” I ask quietly, sitting down on the edge of his desk.

“Honestly? No. I want to kill them all for what they did. I want them to suffer. But it’s not fair for me to expect that from you when you seem to finally be healing. And it’s because of Logan you’re healing. He gave you back something you lost.”

“What?” I ask as he moves to the other side of the room, grabbing a drink from the mini-fridge.

“Your heart,” he tells me, looking at me with sadness in his eyes.

“You could move on,” I tell him, shrugging. “Marcus would want that.”

“I’ll stick to my torrid affairs with no emotional connection for now,” he answers with a brittle grin.

“Every time I think I can walk away…that’s the only time I close my eyes and see it happening all over again,” I say to him, sighing long and hard. “Sometimes I think I really did die, and that I’m truly the avenging angel my brother said we’d be together.”

I feel as though I only have one purpose in life.

“Maybe you are,” he agrees. “But maybe you’re allowed to give up vengeance for hope.”

“Then why do I see the nightmares when I consider stopping?”

His lips tense.

“Exactly,” I tell him, motioning around the room. “If my life was spared to right the wrongs of that time, then I won’t be at peace until they’re all dead. Others in that town are suffering. You know it. People just like Lindy who speak out against the ‘justice’ they dole. Women like Diana who has spent the last ten years worried one day her son would turn up dead or missing. People like my father who was killed for crimes he didn’t commit.”

He nods dully, knowing I’m right.

“It’s your choice, Lana. I’m just saying I’m with you regardless of what you choose.”

Tears. I hate tears. But they keep reappearing in my eyes at random.

I go to plop down in his lap, and he wraps his arms around me, pulling to me to him as I hug him. “You know you’re my second favorite brother, right?” I ask him, a joke I’ve said since we were kids.

He laughs against the side of my face. “Yeah. I know. Just like you’re my favorite sister, but only because you’re the only one I have.”

As we both laugh at the small bit of the past we’ve held onto, my mind turns over the past events of the last few days. The newest additions to my string of kills.

“Scream for me,” I tell Anthony, smiling while he bleeds, his cries of agony like sweet music to my ears. But the melody is off key, not hitting the same notes as it usually does.

This normally feels so much better.

“You fucking cunt! I knew you were evil. Just like your father.”

“No. I was sweet,” I tell him, meaning it, as I slowly slide the blade across his chest, leaving a shallow cut there. He gives me nothing more than a wince. “I was naïve. I wasn’t a virgin, but I wasn’t the whore you labeled me. My body was my temple and all that, until you all held me down, took your turns, and left me for dead. You killed Marcus. And he gave his life so that I could come back and pick you off one at a time.”

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