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All The Lies: Chapter 2

LANA

To the wicked, everything serves as a pretext.

—Voltaire


“How’s your dad?” I ask Jake as he walks around the room, hooking up a final monitor.

“He’s taking the meds again. You know as well as I do how hurt his ego is that he’s sick. But it’s handled. Now we can focus on this.”

I watch the look on Logan’s face as he steps out of Diana’s house, and I know she told him all she knew.

“I’ll watch Diana’s house, in case they make their move,” Jake tells me, brushing my shoulder with his as he sits down beside me, his eyes flicking to the numerous monitors he has spread out on the walls of the old hunter’s cabin.

The FBI came through, did a sweep of all these, and then Jake set up our temporary headquarters in his father’s cabin that has been empty for years.

I nod appreciatively, but I can’t take my eyes off Logan, seeing the pain in his eyes. Pain for a girl he never knew. Pain for a boy he’ll never know. Pain for a past that has haunted me for ten years.

And he’s not even finished getting all his details just yet. There’s still more to learn.

“He’ll find the evidence he needs, Lana. You’re right about him. He’s the real deal.”

Too good of a man to be sullied by the dark thing I’ve become.

“I know he will. Then my father’s name will be cleared—at least to the people in this town who condemned him.”

“And Marcus will have his vengeance from the grave,” he adds quietly, cueing the music that has everyone in town pausing almost immediately.

Only the ones too young to remember the sound of my mother’s voice singing that song on the church stage are able to shrug it off. But everyone else is growing increasingly terrified.

Terrified of the dead coming back to haunt them.

“You ever wonder what we might have become if my father had never been convicted of those murders?” I ask him softly.

“No. Because if I start wondering, I’ll never stop,” he says without hesitation.

The musty smell of the cabin will have to be washed off me before I leave.

“I’m putting him in danger by letting him go on this egg hunt,” I tell Jake as I turn up the volume on the monitor with the sheriff speaking.

“You have his back,” Jake says, his lips twitching as we see the sheriff turning a precarious shade of white, hearing the music play through the speakers.

He remembers that night. The night my mother sung that song on the church stage for a very important play. Almost the entire town was there.

“It’d better be enough, Jake. If he gets hurt because of me, I’ll fall over that edge, forget what this is all about, and kill without prejudice.”

My hands shake just thinking of the monster I’d become if I lost my entire soul.

Jake’s hand covers my trembling one, and he leans toward me. “I’ll reel you back in.”

I stare at him grimly. “If Logan is hurt because of me—or for any reason—you won’t be enough.”

I feel it when the tear escapes, and Jake tenses, seeing the single bit of wet proof of how vulnerable I am because of one man. His lips tighten.

“Then we’ll both make sure he stays safe.”

I wipe away the tear, and I return my attention to the panicking sheriff as he shuts and locks the door of the town hall, turning to face SSA Johnson.

“That’s Jasmine Evans singing on that speaker,” Sheriff Cannon hisses. “Unless a ghost has come back from the dead, you’re missing something.”

Then the sheriff turns to one of his deputies. “Kill that damned music! Find out how he got into our town speakers!”

Jake smirks. “Good luck with that, Sheriff. I dare you to out hack me,” Jake says smugly.

This is the part he’s been waiting for. The part where we show them what sheep they all really are. The part where we show them how weak their minds are.

The part where we fuck the whole town up.

“I told you this was not going to be easy,” Johnson growls as the sheriff turns back to face him.

“Oh? Because I remember you saying you could control this team. So far, they’ve asked too many fucking questions, and they’re hanging flyers all over my town. It’s just a matter of time before someone gets the courage to talk.”

Gotcha, you stupid bastard.

“Logan Bennett is your problem. The rest of the team, I can handle.”

My gut clenches as dread unfolds in me. I’ll fucking kill him before time if he goes after Logan. And I’ll make an example out of anyone he sends.

“You sure you can get to Kyle without anyone figuring it out?” Jake asks me, his eyes trained on the screen too.

I don’t answer, because I’m busy listening to what’s being said.

“If he takes me down, you’re coming with me. Remember that, Johnson,” the sheriff snarls as he shuts the door to his office, giving them privacy.

Johnson narrows his eyes. “I never told you to go after those kids. This psychopath is targeting you because of them. He’s not targeting you because of Evans. That sick fuck of a son you have needed a leash, and instead, you turned him loose, told him to do his worst. That team is here because you gave that monster free reign.”

The sheriff’s face twists in anguish, and Jake mutes all the other screens, focusing on this one with me. We knew the sheriff wasn’t the original killer, but we never expected to see any remorse, because we profiled him as a sociopath.

“He’s not sick. He was hurting. He saw his sister all spread out like that, brutally raped and murdered.”

Johnson points a finger in his face. “I went along with Evans, because that cunt lawyer from New York got wind of his case and was already well on the road to proving the case was beyond biased. The trial was never supposed to be here, and too many jury members were affiliated with you. He would have gotten free, and my career would have been ended for all the strings I pulled. You have no idea what I had to do just to get on this case so I could clean up this mess. I gave you the real profile. Find the fucker who is killing your people before Bennett finds out what we buried.”

I look to Jake, and he glares at the screen as I speak. “They’re on edge.”

“Right where we wanted them,” Jake says quietly.

The Wheels on the Bus starts playing on the speakers, and one woman trips, falling to the ground as my mother’s voice continues to echo through the town. The voices of so many children accompany her voice, making it a hair creepier. The music dies suddenly, and Jake’s lips twitch as he studies something on his laptop.

“They unplugged it from the server.”

“Just like we knew they would,” I agree.

“When they plug them back in, it’ll alert me. I’ll start it over.”

“Until they have no choice but to leave them unplugged, and no way of telling the town what’s going on when the haunted house opens.”

He nods slowly. “You ready for that?”

A dark grin etches the corners of my lips. “Very much.”

Someone entering the sheriff’s office has my attention. Chad Briggs steps in, wearing his deputy’s uniform, and seals the door behind him. His eyes flick to Johnson, then he addresses the sheriff.

“Some information has come to light.”

“Then spill it,” Sheriff Cannon growls.

His eyes flick to Johnson again. “Some sensitive information.”

He waves dismissively toward Johnson. “He’s not the one from that group to worry about. What information?”

I can tell Briggs is hesitant, but he finally answers. “SSA Bennett and another agent were spotted leaving Diana Barnes’s home. They were there a while, Sheriff, and I just got word that her son is untouchable right now. Staying with some lawyer in New York. I think she told them everything.”

Sheriff Cannon curses, running a hand through his hair as he tosses his hat across the room.

“Calm down,” Johnson says, regaining his own composure. “That’s just the ramblings of an old woman. He’d need proof. There is none. And most of the suspects involved are dead already, so it’s not like they can confirm or deny. We need to focus more on making sure there’s nothing left that could show what we did to Evans.”

“There’s nothing,” Sheriff Cannon says, but my lips twitch.

“There’s plenty,” Jake says, grinning broadly. “You’re just too stupid to know it, Sheriff.”

And we have so much to share. When the time comes.

“Diana Barnes could become a problem if she gets someone to corroborate the story,” I hear the Sheriff telling Johnson, then his gaze shifts to Chad Briggs. “See to it that isn’t the case.”

“They’re going after Diana,” Jake says as Chad nods and heads out of the room.

“Not until nightfall.”

My eyes flick back to the screen where Logan is. I turn up the volume, though he’s almost too far away from the camera for me to hear.

“The coroner died two years ago, so that’s a bust,” Donny is telling him.

“We need to visit the hospital where the kids went,” Logan says, and my stomach sinks.

“Fuck,” Jake hisses. “He shouldn’t be focusing on you. He should be focusing on the corruption.”

“If he goes there and pieces things together the way Hadley did, then we’re screwed,” I say quietly.

“It was fate that Kennedy was dying the same night you needed to survive,” Jake says quietly. “And Kennedy Carlyle? The same girl who was the daughter of the drunk drivers who wrecked into your mom? There’s no way that was all for nothing. There’s no way that wasn’t a sign. We’re meant to do this. Not meant to get caught mid-way.”

“We need someone to speak up and talk about my father,” I murmur absently, watching Logan as he tears off his red tie, frustrated.

Jake stands and goes to the edge of the room, pulling out his wonderful creation of time releasing paint. They’re all labeled differently, each one having a different timeframe for when the paint will appear.

“Then let’s give them some incentive to talk,” Jake says before tugging on his hood and walking toward the door. “Call me if you see anyone slip up on me. I’m going to the school. I’ll disable the school cameras when I get there.”

“Got you covered,” I tell him.

The monitors surrounding us cover the entire town. It’s like staring at hell all day.

“Lana needs to go back home.” Logan’s announcement has me shifting my gaze to his screen.

“Good luck telling Hadley that,” Donny says with a grin.

“This isn’t amusing. She could be in real danger. I knew better than to bring her.”

He looks as though he’s agonizing over this.

“No offense, but you’re just too emotionally invested in her safety to see she’s actually safe. Not one woman has been targeted. Only men. If anything, she’s safer than you are.”

“I don’t trust the sheriff or Johnson right now. This has nothing to do with the Scarlet Slayer.”

Donny’s eyes widen, and so do mine.

“I sound so fucked up. I’m more concerned over two law officials than I am a fucking serial killer. This town is pure toxic,” Logan says on a sigh.

“Johnson is twisted, but he’s not an idiot. He knows he can’t lay a hand on you and get away with it. We need to find some solid evidence to give to Collins so he can give it to the subcommittee.”

“There’s someone obvious we haven’t spoken to since we acquired new evidence,” Logan says thoughtfully. “He only lives about an hour from here.”

“Christopher Denver,” Donny says on an exhale. “Of course.”

Jake’s father. My father’s lawyer. My father’s only friend in a town of traitors.

We knew they’d get around to talking to him sometime.

My eyes pop over to the school screen, seeing Jake with his hood on as he takes quick strokes, hurrying the paintjob. Everyone is inside the school, and the windows are above his head, making it impossible to look out and see him.

I can’t believe he’s doing it in daylight right out front though. Fortunately, the streets are mostly quiet, and when he hears a car, he ducks behind the holly bushes.

Finally, I see Jake jogging around the side, heading into the woods that will spit him out right back here. My attention returns to Logan, and I focus solely on him.

“Who keeps calling?” Donny asks him as Logan silences his phone again.

“Johnson. I’m sure he’s trying to find a way to throw us off this investigation. By now he’s probably already heard we talked to Diana Barnes in private. He may be wanting to find out what we know.”

“Let’s go talk to Denver before he finds out what we’re doing.”

Logan glances at the time on his phone. “Okay, but I want to be back before it gets too late and make sure Lana is good.”

“Call her from the road, lover boy,” Donny says, rolling his eyes as Logan takes the driver’s seat of the car. Logan seems to be laughing about it.

I can’t hear what they’re saying when they shut the doors, but I mute everything when my phone rings.

“Hey,” I say, smiling like a little girl with a crush.

“I need to run out of town to work on a lead. Any chance you’d go back home? I don’t like you being here.”

I smile, loving the way he cares. My eyes flick to the screen where people are passing by the school, slowly gathering as the paint appears.

“I think Delaney Grove is growing on me.”

He groans at the terrible joke.

“Logan, stop worrying. I’d rather be with you, or at least close to you, than sitting around wondering about you and if you’re safe.”

“It’s not me I’m worried about, babe. I can take care of myself.”

I can take care of you better.

My eyes move up as Elise and Leonard arrive on scene, taking pictures of the new message.

“Stop worrying about me. I doubt this guy even cares who I am.”

He grows quiet for a long minute.

“Logan?”

“Sorry. Was just thinking about how you completely ruin psychology.”

“How so?”

“Because you were attacked by a known serial killer because of my job, yet you stubbornly want to stay, acting as though the thought of another coming after you doesn’t faze you.”

I swallow hard. Never once has he sounded suspicious. Even now he sounds more confused than suspicious.

“I have a gun,” I tell him softly. “And I don’t want to be in my house.”

I close my eyes, hating the fact the lie will make him feel guilt.

“Go back to the hotel.”

“No,” I say on a sigh.

“Shit. We’ll resume this conversation later. Elise is beeping me.”

“Love you,” I say without hesitation, finding the words rolling off my tongue with natural ease.

“Love you.” I can hear the smile in his voice even as someone makes gagging sounds in the background.

Just as I hang up with him, Jake walks in, eyeing me as I try to wipe the dopey look off my face.

“As soon as this is over, I’m going to find my own goofy grin,” he grumbles, but the smile in his eyes betrays his Grinch-stole-Christmas tone. “Did I miss it?”

“Just getting started,” I tell him, motioning to the wall of the school.

The lies we tell influences them. The present is pregnant with the future.

The message is getting a lot of pale faces as it finishes appearing like magic.

“Logan is leaving town, and the sun isn’t too far from setting. I’m going to Diana’s.”

As I stand, Jake tosses up my knife, and I catch it by the handle as he takes my seat in front of the monitors.

“Stick to the sidewalks. The boots won’t lie,” he says, eyeing my girly combat boots that are fully equipped with blood red shoestrings.

Walking around with my weighted bags and my men’s boots might be a little suspicious.

The cold has washed in, which is perfect. It makes wearing a hoodie less conspicuous. I nearly froze to death in my dress.

But I wanted to return home in style—wearing the color red.

“Lay out pillows in case she faints,” he says as I walk out, and I smirk while taking the brisk walk, maneuvering the shortcuts through the buildings. The town is built like a circular maze, the roads getting wider as they circle the city. Town hall is directly in the center.

From the sky, it’s amazingly beautiful.

It’s only ugly when you’re in the middle of it and can see the truth.

I walk around back to keep anyone from seeing me at the front, and I knock twice, checking over my shoulder to make sure no one is watching.

When Diana opens the door, my heart unexpectedly sputters. I thought I’d steeled myself against any emotion I might feel when I came here.

I blame Logan. He’s tearing away the ice I put in place.

“Can I help you, hun?” she asks sweetly.

I push the hood back. “You could let me in.”

Her eyes narrow, and her smile slips.

I feel like an ass for scaring her.

“Diana, I need to talk to you, and you know what you told them today.”

“I’m sorry, dear. I think you should go,” she says, closing the door.

My hand shoots out, and I shoulder my way in, feeling worse when she gasps and stumbles back, trembling.

She’s on edge because she told the story no one else has had the balls to.

“Diana, I need you to sit down. I don’t want you to get hurt, and I’m only here to keep you safe.”

“Keep me safe?” she asks, confused as she looks over me, obviously convinced I’m not a match for anyone.

My hoodie hides my knife, but I decide not to show her the blade. She might actually faint.

“Once upon a time you loved a little girl. You betrayed her to save your son. Today, you finally stood up for her and gave her a chance to be heard.”

Tears waver in her eyes as she takes another step back.

“Who are you?” she whispers, emotion riddling her voice.

Adjusting the knife under the hoodie to go to the back of my pants, I pull up the front my shirt, revealing the scars I’ve hidden for too long.

Her eyes drop to my stomach, and she takes another step back.

“I’m that little girl.”

When she hits the ground, I catch her head just in time. Jake was right. I should have put down pillows.

“Well, shit,” I say to the woman who has fainted.

I can practically hear Jake saying, “I told you so,” in my head.


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