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Scarlet Angel: Chapter 3

LANA

The course of true love never did run smooth.

—William Shakespeare


My brother was a Shakespeare lover. He lived and breathed the words of a man his generation took for granted. The people of that time didn’t respect or appreciate the anguish and torment tied into each tragedy he produced under the guise of true romance.

Marcus was a romantic to the core, with nothing but light and beauty shining from him.

The world around us snuffed out that light.

They stole his grace.

Shamed his name.

Killed him.

Destroyed us.

With great amusement, I watch as the Boogeyman exhales his last breath. No longer will he steal lights as bright as my brother’s.

The Boogeyman will no longer be seen as the immortal that taunts the police or FBI. He’ll no longer be the nightmare who terrorizes women, haunting their lives. He’ll be revered as a mortal who died at the hands of a weak woman he failed to kill.

A woman who got lucky enough to kill him first.

Curious, I pull on a glove and check his pockets, finding a remote. Hmmm…

I look around, and spot what the remote goes to. There’s an out-of-place little contraption next to my fireplace. I’m fairly positive it’s a cell phone jammer. My phone was working before I came in, so he shut it on at some other time.

Putting the remote back in his pocket, I stand to go to my cell phone. It was dropped within the first five seconds that he blindsided me. Sure enough, there’s nothing going on when I try to dial out. No signal.

Good. That gives me an excuse as to why I watched him bleed out for over thirty minutes—the same way he let his victims die.

I glance over my shoulder, a horror movie flashback hitting me, but he’s still dead. No disappearing act for the mortal who has drawn his last breath.

I return my gaze to my phone and carry it toward the couch. A normal girl wouldn’t notice a cell phone jammer—or even know what one was—so quickly after the traumatizing experience of killing a man.

I turn off the music, removing my iPod from the dock. Asshole.

I hate my things being touched by people. Now he’s gone and bled all over my floor too. It’ll take me forever to clean all that up.

I’d call him inconsiderate, but since I’m the one that sort of stabbed him, then I guess it’s my own fault. I should have let him run into the knife on the tile floor instead of the carpet.

Oh well. I can finally get that hardwood I’ve been considering. I usually don’t update my homes, but with Logan living somewhat close by, I’ve had more reasons to stay than go.

I wonder how long it’ll be before someone checks in on me. Or should I run and scream down the street? How does a normal person act after being attacked by a homicidal maniac and miraculously killing him by fluke?

Do they rock in a corner? Do they cry? I hope not. I can’t fake tears, and I don’t like rocking. Makes me nauseated.

Do I scream and pretend to be inconsolable or terrified? I don’t like screaming. Hurts my throat. And acting terrified will be hard to pull off, because…I can’t remember how to be afraid.

Obviously he wanted to rape me. I do remember how to feel after that. Numb. Broken. Suicidal. But that was much more than one man that brought me to that point.

It was much more than the rape that left me so broken.

So really, I guess I don’t know, which it doesn’t matter. He sure as hell never made it that far.

Do I act stunned or shocked? Do I show remorse even though he deserved to die? I’ll start laughing if I try to fake remorse for that sadistic piece of shit.

I may can pull off stunned or shocked. Maybe play it off like I haven’t been able to really wrap my head around the fact I just killed a guy?

Normal girls are hard to understand, because I can’t remember the last time I was normal. Normal girls spend too much time reacting to their actions. They take for granted the air they get to breathe, because they’ve never been deprived of those painless breaths.

Me? I’ve already walked through hell, so I’m desensitized to all else.

I decide to go with shocked. It’s the easiest to fake.

So, while I wait on someone to show up—and they will eventually when Logan realizes I’m unprotected—I practice my blank stare. I keep holding the knife, giving it a white-knuckle grip, certain a girl in shock would do just the same.

Yep.

Got this down.

And I wait.

And wait.

And wait.

Sheesh.

Finally, hear the telltale whoops and blares of sirens, brakes squealing on my driveway. Jeez. I’m glad I didn’t need to be saved. An entry that loud would have gotten me killed immediately, giving the fucknut bleeding all over my floor time to escape.

Jackasses.

I am curious when they burst through the doors, using my peripheral to see them training their guns on the air in front of them. How do they know he’s here?

I proceed with my blank stare act, waiting.

“Holy shit,” someone says, but I remain in shock, staring ahead.

How long do I have to do this?

My eyes are burning from how wide I’m holding them open. “Plemmons is in the living room,” a loud voice booms.

I don’t move my head, but I see him kneel as another man keeps a gun pointed on the Boogeyman.

“Clear.”

“Clear.”

“Clear.”

The voices continue chirping the same word from all around my house. I remain a statue.

“Dead,” the guy kneeling says, then grabs the radio hooked to his shoulder. “Dispatch, Plemmons is dead. The house is clear.”

He clicks the radio, speaking into it again, repeating his words.

“What the hell?” he asks.

Apparently that jammer does more than just disable cell phone signals.

“I don’t know. Mine isn’t working either. Neither is my phone. Don’t disturb the scene. This is a fed case. Clear the house until they get here. They’re already chewing our asses for taking thirty minutes longer than we were supposed to. How was I supposed to know the guy isn’t just overly paranoid? They had us knee deep in an unmarked graveyard, all hands available.”

“Miss?” the guy prompts, coming closer, not responding to the sulking douchebag whilst I pretend to be a sad little girl in shock.

He carefully touches my wrist, and I jerk.

“Shhh,” he soothes, prying the knife from my hand and handing it back to another guy who wraps it and puts it in an evidence bag. “You’re safe, Ms. Myers.”

His voice is so gentle, and I have to keep a straight face to keep from smiling at him in appreciation for his genuine concern.

Something rattles from behind us, a loud thump thump thump, and I turn around without thinking as they draw their weapons, aiming it at the coat closet in the room.

My heart is in my ears as they jerk the doors open, and all the color drains from my face as Hadley struggles on the ground, likely thumping the door with her head.

Her muffled sounds reach my ears as my eyes land on the duct tape on her mouth.

I take it back. I remember now what it’s like to be afraid, because the fear is etching up my spine, rising steadily higher and higher. They’ll load me full of bullets before I can get away. There are at least fifteen cops in my house right now.

I also don’t have to fake being frozen in shock either. Nothing on my body is working, so even if I wanted to run, I couldn’t.

Her eyes fix on mine, but she looks away when they start unbinding her feet and freeing her hands from the cuffs. As soon as her hands are free, she starts peeling the tape off.

And I get stiffer by the second, praying against all odds that she’s been unconscious this entire time. I mean, it’s possible. She hasn’t made a sound until now.

As soon as her mouth is free, she starts rubbing her wrists as they help her to her feet. She wobbles, and one offers her support, clutching her under the arms.

“I’m Agent Hadley Grace,” she tells them firmly when they open their mouths, probably to get her identity.

All mouths close at once, and the guns lower.

“I came to check on Ms. Myers after learning patrol had been pulled away,” she lies, the fib rolling off her tongue effortlessly.

She came to find something on me.

She just did.

Like every stupid fucking idiot in the movies, I showed my hand of cards, let the words roll out of my mouth to a man I knew would never be able to tell a soul. I totally did an evil monologue, for fuck’s sake!

I did it to taunt him.

I did it to strip him of power.

I didn’t know I was being watched.

She gauges me long and hard.

“What happened?” an officer asks.

She directs her attention to him.

“I was upstairs, clearing the house after I realized the door was unlocked. He hit me from behind, and he tied me up so he could wait on Ms. Myers to get home. He wanted me to watch. He wanted me to see what would happen to me when he was done with her.”

Her eyes turn back to mine, and something silently passes from her to me, though I’m not sure what.

“Ms. Myers fought back. She got lucky. Even threw some things at him,” she says, causing that shock inside me to expand. She gestures to the shattered remnants of the lamp and the broken disarray of the small end table that he threw at me. “She caught him off guard enough for him to drop the knife. Somehow she managed to get it before him, and she turned just in time. He ran right into it.”

She continues to study me, as I try to figure out what the actual fuck she’s doing right now. Why is she covering for me? Is it just so she can save the truth for her team instead of giving the arrest to the cops?

“Pure. Dumb. Luck,” she says, practically quoting my words from my earlier taunt.

Unsure of her motives, I remain frozen.

“Definitely lucky,” one guy agrees.

Hadley’s lips twitch as she looks away. “I’ll call my guys.”

My stomach tilts, growing more nauseated by the second. She lifts her phone, then frowns. But then looks at his body. “There’s a remote in his pocket. I…saw it earlier.”

Sicker and sicker.

I hate this game she’s playing right now.

“We can’t touch anything on the scene until the feds get here,” one guy says, and she arches an eyebrow.

“I am a fed.”

“Until your—”

“Where the fuck is everyone? Why isn’t anyone answering their damn phones?” Logan’s voice has me snapping my head to the door.

“Lana!” he shouts, the clear sense of panic in his tone.

“Here!” I call out, my voice cracking sincerely. I’m not sure what Hadley’s about to do, and the tears that are in my eyes are real.

It may be the last time he ever looks at me with anything but horror and disgust if she tells him who I really am.

His wild eyes find me, and his entire body visibly relaxes as he charges across the room, not even noticing the bloody body before he grabs me, crushing me to him.

My eyes dart over to Hadley to see her watching us with an unreadable expression. She looks away, telling the cops something about the attack—another lie.

Logan holds me to him, his entire body rigid as I lean against him, absorbing his feel. He pulls back, his eyes scanning my face as he grimaces, taking in the damage.

There’s nothing physically wrong with me that I didn’t allow. Well, other than the first hit. He got in one lucky shot that I didn’t see coming.

“What the fucking hell?” I hear him say, looking down now as he sees the Boogeyman for the first time.

He draws me back to him, almost as though he’s shielding me from the sight.

“She got lucky,” Hadley says, regaining my attention.

He looks over at her. “What are you doing here?”

“I came by to check on her after I heard they pulled patrols,” she says, lying again.

“I’ll let them brief you on the specifics, but let’s just say I’m going to have a hell of a headache.” She points to her bruised temple. Her eyes flick to mine before returning to his. “She saved our lives tonight.”

With that, she walks out, but I still worry what her angle is.

She wanted dirt, and I gave her far more than she ever expected. Why leave? Why not spill it all?

Logan cups my face, and I wince when he squeezes it too tight, thanks to the bruise that’s causing my face to swell.

“Shit,” he hisses. “Let’s get you out of here.”

Craig walks in, his eyes landing on the dead man in my living room.

“Well, that’s one way to close a case,” he says, his eyes wide in disbelief.

“Let the media know the case is closed,” Logan tells him before scooping me up, cradling me to him as though I’m fragile.

I let him. When he’s around, I don’t feel like I have to be so invincible. When he’s with me, I feel like I can just be cared for without being weak.

Like it’s okay to be vulnerable, because he’d never use it against me.

He carries me through the throngs of cops that are showing up more and more, everyone coming to see the Boogeyman dead with their own eyes.

“Lana!” The familiar voice has me looking over as Duke comes jogging toward us, so much regret coursing through his eyes. “I came as soon as you called,” he says, looking at Logan in shock. “How’d you beat me here?”

“He drove so fast that my asshole is still clenched. I don’t think he tapped the brakes until we got here,” Craig tells him dryly. I didn’t know he followed us.

“Get your guys out of the house. We need to clear the scene,” Logan says.

“What happened?” Duke asks, looking by us. “He really attacked?”

“Yeah. And Lana got lucky,” Hadley says as she walks by us, moving toward Craig, tugging his elbow. “Give me a ride home in case I have a concussion.”

My stomach tenses, and Logan gingerly brushes his lips over my forehead, not asking any questions about how I killed the man in my house. All he cares about is that he’s dead and I’m alive. All the details seem unimportant, as though I’m priority above all else.

He looks down, his eyes tortured with guilt.

“This isn’t your fault,” I say, knowing the bruises on my face are the reason for that look shading his usually bright eyes.

My wounds are nothing more than superficial. I’ve survived much, much worse.

“It’s all my fault. But no one will ever touch you again, Lana.”

His lips find mine, and I kiss him, deciding to deal with Hadley later.

When he breaks the kiss, he looks over at a man and woman as they drive up, not getting out of the SUV.

“Give us a ride to town. I’m getting a room for the night,” he tells them.

“My purse is—”

“I can manage a hotel room,” he interrupts, not bothering to look at me.

My lips try to twist into a smile, but I deny it, knowing a girl who just endured what I did shouldn’t be smiling about him being so alpha right now. I’m supposed to be meek and timid.

“Hop in,” the woman tells him.

“Someone should probably work the scene,” the guy says.

They seem completely unaffected or unnaturally guarded about their curiosity.

“He’s dead. There’s no scene.”

“Dead?” the woman asks in surprise, then narrows her eyes. “I wanted to be the one to take him out.”

“I’m taking a week off,” Logan announces randomly. “This case is closed. Hadley was attacked. Lana was—”

“Hadley?” the man and woman ask in unison.

“He gave her a shiner,” Logan explains. “I didn’t get all the details. But right now, I don’t know if I can handle hearing them. Let Donny deal with it for now. You two can come back after you drop us off.”

He keeps me in his lap as he loads us into the backseat. I don’t resist the seating arrangement, feeling my eyes grow heavy. With all the adrenaline pumping through me, I almost forgot it’s been over twenty-four hours since I slept.

Now I feel beaten and defeated by the clock that displays the hour. It may be closing in on forty-eight hours instead of twenty-four. We spent a while at Logan’s office. It was already closing in on midday then. It’d just gotten dark when I got home.

Now it’s… Fuck, my eyes are so blurry with sleep deprivation that I can’t see the clock. Can’t count the hours.

And I don’t care.

They talk as the dude drives. At some point I hear Logan refer to them as Leonard and Elise.

“Hadley got a hotel room too,” someone says, and that has me jarring back awake. Elise. It was Elise. “She says she’s too exhausted to go home, and too creeped out too.”

“Which one?” Logan asks.

“The new one closest to us,” Elise tells him. “It has a massage place. I’m sure that’s why she chose it.”

“Take us to that one. I’ll check in on her later.”

She still hasn’t said anything. If she was going to spill the pile of beans, she’d have done it by now, right? She’s been in contact with them, apparently.

“That other case was jurisdiction hell,” Leonard states, waking me up again. I didn’t even realize my eyes had closed.

“The cops were all pissing on their territory. Duke said it was his since the murderer was in his jurisdiction. That place said it was theirs since the burial grounds were in their jurisdiction.”

“Yeah, and they called off her patrol because of a pissing contest,” Logan growls. “Tonight could have gone severely different.”

He holds me tighter, but I pretend I’m still asleep.

“It’s a miracle she got that knife away from him. Hadley told me what happened. Sent it all in a long text,” Elise says quietly.

Logan stiffens. “I still don’t think I’m ready to hear it just yet.”

My heartbeat is in my ears.

“She fought, Logan. She fought for her life, and it paid off. She caught him off guard enough that he made a mistake, and he died by his own knife. Ran right into it. I thought that only ever happened in the movies.”

My lips twitch, but I say nothing. Hadley is keeping my secret if she’s spreading the lie to her friends.

But why?


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