Home > Paint It All Red (Mindf*ck #5)(4)

Paint It All Red (Mindf*ck #5)(4)
Author: S.T. Abby

“He just loves me enough to feel betrayed,” I add on a rasp whisper.

Jake goes stiff beside me, and I hand him his phone as I wipe away a stray tear.

“You didn’t give him time, Lana. Maybe now—”

“Now what?” I ask, exasperated. “Don’t you think I’d love to ride off into the sunset with him? I’m not being stubborn, Jake. You’re constantly worried about my hold on reality because of the dark places I have to go to finish all these kills. But you’re the one being irrational right now. Logan found out the truth. He fucked me and left me cuffed to a bed, and when he left…there was nothing but disgust and pain in his eyes.”

I choke back a sob, refusing to fall apart again right now.

Jake’s eyes are full of tears as my lip trembles, but I go on. “He’s so pure. So good. So honest and genuine. So gentle and kind. It’s all those qualities that made me fall in love, because he was everything—everything!—I’d always wanted in someone. And he loved me. Yet, I wanted to taint the very things about him that made me fall in love, just so I could selfishly take him to the dark with me and keep him. It was wrong.”

“It’s not selfish, Lana,” Jake argues gingerly.

“You haven’t found love since Marcus, even though Marcus only ever wanted that for you. His note begged you to move on and find love. His words beseeched me to burn down this fucking town. You haven’t done your part to ensure his last request, because you’ve been too busy helping me with mine. Maybe it’s time to break up this partnership so you can finally have that chance.”

Anger flashes across his eyes, and he pushes to his feet, coming to get right in my face.

“We swore we’d never do this to each other, Lana. Never push the other away no matter how intense the world around us got. You don’t get to fucking send me away because you’re hurting. Got that? You don’t get to use Marcus against me ever again. Understood?”

I swallow the knot in my throat as tear after fucking tear escapes my eyes, and I nod weakly, hating myself for doing that. Jake’s arms go around me, and I immediately wrap my arms around him in return.

We stand there, fixed in an embrace, and for a brief moment, he feels and smells just like Marcus always did. I close my eyes, pretending for a second that my brother is back, holding me to him, regretting the weight he put on my shoulders.

He wanted happiness for Jake. He wanted wrath from me.

He thought Jake too kind for such a task.

He knew the anger would burn harshly in my broken heart.

He knew I was a monster before I did.

My face is pressed against his chest as the illusion of it being Marcus slowly starts to fade. It’s just as comforting knowing it’s Jake. He’s been my brother for ten years.

Turning my head so that my cheek is cushioned by his chest, I stare at the monitor with Logan on the screen. He’s in the town square now, no longer looking like a betrayed man.

He’s talking to his team, but the sound is muted, so I don’t know what he’s saying. It was over an hour ago that he had his meltdown. By now, he could be sending them to find me.

“Sometimes, I wonder what my brother must have thought of me to know I’d be able to do all of this,” I say softly.

Jake’s arms tighten around me. “He thought you were the strongest person he ever knew, and he raved about your fire all the time, Victoria,” he tells me.

I shake my head. “Never call me that again,” I whisper.

He kisses the top of my head, sighing harshly. “We can stop this anytime you want. You’ve more than fulfilled the promise you made.”

My eyes lift to another screen where Sheriff Cannon is holding a private meeting with his deputies. My eyes narrow, because I know they’re plotting.

“No. I can’t. If I don’t finish this today, someone else could face the pain we did. They’ll never stop, and no one else will ever stop them. If I stop now, it was all for nothing. I need there to be a reason why this happened to us, even if that reason is simply because I’m the only one capable of being sick enough to finish this once and for all.”

As I push away from him, Jake grabs my wrist, turning me back to face him. When our eyes collide, I see the steely glint in his gaze.

“You are not sick. Marcus was right—you’re the strongest fucking person I know. You’re not sick, Lana. You’re a fucking dark angel that can set the world free from this sick town.”

I offer him a brittle smile, giving him the illusion that his words have helped me. Doesn’t matter what I am. Doesn’t matter who I am.

All that matters is that I finish my mission.

Avenge my family.

And burn this town to the ground.

I don’t need to feel love in order to be a monster.

I just need to remember.

It’s not hard to do with the sun getting close to setting. The dark sky always calls to the memories if I allow it. For once, I let them in.

“No!” I shout, reaching for my father as Deputy Murdock restrains me, almost ripping my left arm out of socket to jerk me back. “He didn’t do this! He couldn’t!”

“He’s always with us at night!” Marcus shouts, battling his own fight with Deputy Briggs as he wrenches Marcus’s arm behind his back and slams him into the wall.

“It’s okay, kids,” Dad says, tears pouring from his eyes. “Don’t fight them. I’m okay. It’ll all be okay. There’s no way they can convict me of crimes I didn’t commit.”

“Good thing we can convict you of crimes you did commit, you evil son of a bitch,” Sheriff Cannon growls, slamming his fist into my father’s stomach so hard that my father buckles at the waist and collapses to the ground, his hands cuffed behind him.

Marcus and I both scream in vain, begging them to stop the sheriff when he kicks our father in the face while he’s down. Dad flips to his back, blood pooling from his mouth after the strike.

He’s trying to be strong in front of us, but a small sob escapes him when the sheriff kicks him again, this time right in his side.

“Easy, not here,” SSA Johnson says, smirking at us as we continue to try and break free from our holds. “But you should know, there is evidence to your father’s crimes.”

He bends, crouching beside my father.

“You’re never going to see freedom again, and I’ll make sure of that, no matter what I have to do,” Johnson says acidly, a sinister grin on his face.

Murdock slings me back against the wall when I try to break free again, and I cry out when his weight comes down on top of me. “Maybe I should teach him a lesson and let him watch all the sick things he did to our women...” His words trail off as he brushes my hair to the side, and I go rigid against him. “Using his daughter,” he adds, his voice an eerie promise.

“No!” Dad shouts, earning another kick from the sheriff.

“Do that, and I’ll arrest you myself,” Johnson growls. “We’re after Evans. Those are just kids. Now come on. We have our man. We still have a long road ahead of us.”

“Or we could just end it now,” Briggs says, still holding Marcus.

Murdock continues to restrain me, still pressing his disgusting body against mine.

“We do things my way,” Johnson growls. “You’ll have your vengeance. But for now, we do things my way.”

My father is beaten and almost incoherent as they jerk him to his feet. His head hangs as I cry, begging once again for them to listen to the truth. To HEAR me. But no one listens.

No one cares.

Johnson and the sheriff drag my father out the door, and I watch my life get ripped apart.

Murdock pulls me back, creating a small separation between me and the wall, then shoves me hard back into it. I get dizzy and taste blood in my mouth.

“This isn’t over for you two,” he says, a dark gleam in his eyes.

Briggs tosses my brother to the ground, and I rush to his side as he slowly lifts up. Briggs and Murdock laugh on their way out, and I hold Marcus’s hand.

“They can’t convict him. This will all be a nightmare soon,” my brother promises as he sits up, his eyes hard and determined as he looks at me. “I promise, Victoria. We’ll prove him innocent.”

Innocence didn’t matter in the end. Not with the DNA evidence.

“Holy shit,” Jake says, drawing me out of my own head as he sits down in front of the far monitor.

My eyes widen in disbelief as Dev Thomas steps out of a small Honda, standing to his full height as he looks around at the church in front of him. No doubt he heard about Kyle.

“What’s he doing here?” Jake asks.

“Only one way to find out,” I say with a smirk.

I spared him, given what I heard from Lawrence and Tyler, and the fact Dev never really participated in the night’s festivities. But why would he come to town if not to join in on the manhunt?

“You going to him?” he asks as Dev steps inside the church where we have no cameras.

I don’t have to answer that. Murdock will have to wait a few hours to die.

“Be careful. I need to back up the footage to see what Logan has told the others.”

“Just call Hadley,” I say to him instead, looking over my shoulder.

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