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Scarlet Angel: Chapter 14

LANA

The screams sound like music, and Hadley shudders beside me. “How’d he do that with the paint?”

“I can’t answer that. They’ll be asking you to solve that mystery. Wouldn’t want you figuring out too soon.” I grin over at her as she rolls her eyes.

Jake, like me, has had many years to plan this. He’s mastered several crafts, and the mind-fuckery is just getting started.

Three years ago we committed to it and started planning it all out. But we’d been fantasizing it and creating hypothetical revenge plans. It was easy enough for me to string together one massive plan, and when I took it to Jake, he just made it that much better by infusing all his ideas.

“I guess you won’t tell me about the cameras or the red fountains either, will you?” she asks as she drives.

“I already helped you with your forensics on Morgan so we could leave sooner. I’m not leaving Logan alone for that long. But I’m not helping you more than you need help.”

She groans.

“Lube is what you told me the reason was for the lesser scorched places on his body. You didn’t give me much else to go on. Why burn him?”

“Figured he needed to get an early dose of what hell would be like,” I say absently.

“Why turn the fountain red? Can you tell me that?”

“It’s not just the fountain. It’s the entire town’s water supply. Don’t worry. It’s not toxic. I wouldn’t risk the children and Logan to that.”

She groans, and I grin, knowing she has a love/hate relationship with me right now. Weirdly, she’s the only female sorta-friend I’ve ever had, other than Lindy. We weren’t ever too close, since Lindy was much older. But she was my sitter when I was growing up and we talked.

Never mind. I’ve never had a real female friend.

“Want to tell me what you learned from Monroe’s crime scene that I didn’t tell you?” I muse.

“I learned you didn’t walk on the soft ground to leave a boot impression.”

“Always a bonus when I get to skip those heavy boots. Love a good sidewalk.”

“There was nothing to implicate you,” she says on a sigh.

“I’m too good for that. I was just curious what you learned.”

“Can we talk about something normal?” she asks, exasperated.

I turn to face her a little better. “Like girl talk? Girls talk about penises, right?”

She grimaces. “Considering you dismember them from bodies, I’d rather not discuss penises with you.”

“Logan’s penis is safe, just so you know.”

“Forget I said anything,” she grumbles.

“Oh, never mind. Logan mentioned you were into girls, so I guess penises don’t really appeal to you.”

She grows quiet for a minute before finally saying, “Logan has a big mouth.”

I shrug, settling back into my seat as I watch the people scream and run, just as I knew they would. I love technology. Delaney’s terror is conveniently wired to my phone.

The Boogeyman doesn’t have shit on me.

“You shouldn’t be ashamed of who are,” I tell her quietly.

“I’m not. I just don’t like people telling my business. Besides, I don’t really put myself in a box. I’m not one hundred percent sure of my sexuality. It’s just…men are attractive but harder to trust than women,” she confesses softly.

I flip through the screens, checking out all the pretty camera placements Jake has found. He was a busy boy last night while I was finishing off Morgan.

“My brother was gay. Jake is bisexual. Jake was too scared to tell anyone he and my brother were in love. People made my brother feel like he was a walking sin or abomination when he came out a few months before they killed him.” I try to say it with no emotion, but it’s a lot of effort.

She sucks in a breath, and I rub my chest where the pain, that always accompanies my brother’s memory, starts to form.

“Jake always says his biggest regret was being too scared to show Marcus how much he meant to him. Marcus knew he wasn’t ashamed of him. He knew how toxic that town was. He didn’t confess his sexuality to prove his love for Jake. He did it to be honest with himself. He never once doubted that Jake loved him.”

“But Jake is doing this to prove his love?” she asks sadly.

“No. He’s doing it because he’s a romantic.”

The confusion on her face doesn’t surprise me, but she doesn’t press for me to elaborate. We drive in relative silence after that, until we’re nearing Delaney Grove. Then the conversation mostly veers toward a few other cases the team is working on.

Jake sends a text while we’re talking, and I read it.

 

JAKE: Olivia called and said Dad is giving her a hard time about his medicine. I’m going to go take care of that, but I’ll be back soon. Step one of our plan is already in action.

ME: Call me if you need help.

JAKE: Don’t worry about me. Should only take a couple of hours. Just watch the fun stuff. I’m about to send you some pictures you’ll appreciate.

 

Hadley asks for my opinion on some of those cases, drawing me away from Jake’s texts, and I give it. Then she makes voice memo notes.

“Logan will think I’m twice as genius as he already thinks I am if I go spouting off these facts,” she says, laughing.

But I don’t laugh, because I get distracted. Jake sends me a picture of a street. Of the street. Of the words written in red.

The angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire. There shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

“What?” Hadley asks.

Jake also sends me a picture of Logan studying the message, and I pull up the video footage, watching the man I love as he observes the people around him. Most are pale and terrified.

They know what happened on that spot. They painted over it. Made it black again. Pretended as though the red stains aren’t there just because you can’t see them.

Logan doesn’t seem disturbed or terrorized, just as I knew he wouldn’t. He’s a logical man, after all. He doesn’t believe in ghosts.

But Delaney Grove…they’ll fall to their knees soon.

“I don’t understand why they’re all falling for that,” Hadley states.

“It’s called conditioning. They’ve been conditioned to be sheep. Sheep follow sheep,” I tell her.

“I don’t get it,” she argues.

“You have someone you look to for inspiration?” I ask her.

“Queen Latifah. Why?”

I smile to myself. “My father was an Einstein man. My mother loved Confucius. My brother, the hopeless romantic who was too easily emotional, lived and breathed Shakespeare.”

“What does that have to do with sheep?”

Smiling, I face her. “Personally, I was always in love with the words of Voltaire.”

“All that sounds a little pretentious to me. But your family liked dead people who had something to say that people felt the need to recite. Proceed.”

Still smiling, I say, “Voltaire said, ‘Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.’ For too long, Sheriff Cannon has ruled the county, and very few ever break away from the corruption he instills. Women are beneath men. And his word is gospel.”

I gesture to the flock who are crying, panicking, and already on the verge of an all-out mutiny against the sheriff by now. After one single day of mind-fuckery.

“Sheep,” I repeat quietly. “Fucking baa.”

She blows out a shaky breath as we drive the rest of the way into town, and she texts someone. I look around, seeing the place that has jaded so many and broken many more.

“I’m back, motherfuckers,” I say quietly as we pass the town hall. “And I’m going to make your life hell before I paint your town red.”

I try to find Logan on the cameras, using the app Jake installed for me before the first kill, but can’t. He’s apparently in some blind spots.

I don’t even notice we’re parked until Hadley turns off the engine.

“I’m letting Logan know you’re here, in case—”

Her words end on a shrill scream when my door is ripped open, and Logan reaches in, heaving me out of the car with one pull. I grin against his lips the second he kisses me, and I wind my arms around his neck, enjoying the feel of his body pressing against mine.

“Sheesh! We’re in the middle of Fucking Madhouse Hollow, on the edge of the woods, and you give a girl a heart attack?! Not cool, Bennett. Not fucking cool,” says the redheaded girl who knowingly drove the killer into town.

Logan smiles against my lips despite the crazy he’s had to endure since he arrived early this morning. I’m trying not to laugh at the irony of Hadley screaming and freaking out like he was the killer coming to get us…when…yeah…

As he lifts me, my legs wrap around his waist, knowing their place. He holds me to him as he carries me inside what I assume must be our cabin. I don’t look around, worried it’ll be the cabin where Kyle used to take me.

Back before I knew the monster he was.

Back when I unknowingly trusted someone so dark.

Back when I was a sheep stuck in the same flock I intend to tear apart.

He bends, and a sense of weightlessness hits when I’m momentarily falling, before a bed hits my back. I grin up at him as he tugs his shirt off.

“You act like you missed me,” I say, committing every moment with him to memory.

I’ll need it to hold onto. I’ll need it to remember. I’ll need it to get me through the rest of this. Hopefully alive.

Then I’ll need it when it’s just me and Jake looking back on the chaos we created; the justice two killers achieved under the guise of avenging angels.

“I’m seriously considering seeing a shrink about this mindless obsession I have with you,” he mumbles, but his lips twitch with a smile before he pushes down his pants.

The timing of our arrival is perfect. Halloween is just around the corner.

There’s a reason I picked Myers as a surname.

But I don’t think of any of that right now. Nothing else exists when it’s just us, because my time is limited. I know that. He doesn’t.

He still loves me like it’s the last day when he comes down on top of me, pushing my dress up on my hips.

“You wore a red dress just to drive me insane, didn’t you?” he asks.

Before I can answer, we hear Hadley through the door. “I put your bags in here, you horny fuckers. You’re welcome.”

Logan laughs against my neck, and I run my fingers through his hair, getting high on heaven. That’s what he is to me.

“Sometimes I think you’re an illusion, and that none of this is really happening. That I really died ten years ago after the accident,” I tell him softly as he starts tearing my underwear down.

“I’m real, Lana,” he murmurs against my neck as he finally peels off the last of my clothes.

Just the feel of his body sliding against mine as he undressed me has gotten me ready for him.

“And I’m yours,” he says before he kisses me, swallowing the words I try to return.

Mine.

Just like I’m his.

For as long as he’ll keep me.

“I love you,” I say as he slides inside me, shuddering as though the feel of me was exactly what he needed.

I know the feeling.

The words mean more to me than he knows, because they’re words I thought I’d never utter in that context. Thought I’d never heal enough to feel that connection.

“I love you,” he says, opening his eyes to stare into mine, watching me as he rocks in and out.

It’s everything I need and more.

He’s everything I wish I could be.

A hero.

A hero loved by a monster.


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