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Haunting Adeline: Chapter 42

The Manipulator


re you surprised?’ I ask through the phone, twirling the red rose between my fingers. I woke up to Zade gone, and a rose in his place.

My mother sighs. ‘No, I’m not. It explains a lot about your Nana and her strange attachment to the house.’

I’m curled up on the couch watching the news channel, a sense of pride filling my veins as the words Breaking News and Seventy-Five-Year-Old Cold Case Solved.

Daya and I reported our findings to the police early this morning. They spent hours and hours going over our evidence. Still, after verifying the serial number and DNA test results were authentic, they declared Frank Williams the man that murdered Genevieve Parsons in cold blood. His motive—unrequited love.

They confiscated the diaries for now, but I made them pinky swear they would give it back. The police officer looked at me like I was unhinged when I physically made him pinky swear. But it made me feel better about parting with the diaries, even if it is temporary.

The news reporter on the screen speaks of the victim’s great-granddaughter stumbling across hidden diaries in the wall and how it led to the discovery of her murder and who did it. I glance over at the window, an array of flashing lights blaring through the glass.

The news reporters are standing outside my house. They wanted to get Parsons Manor in the background. What would a creepy story be without an old Victorian house looming behind a pretty blonde woman with red lipstick on her teeth?

‘She must’ve felt so much guilt all her life,’ I say quietly, the spike of sadness lingering since the realization that Nana helped cover up the murder.

Surprisingly, Mom doesn’t have a snarky reply. ‘I imagine so, Adeline. That’s a heavy weight to carry, especially because she was only sixteen years old when it happened. She was probably very traumatized.’

I frown harder. ‘It amazes me that she was always so happy.’

‘Sometimes the happiest people are the saddest,’ she says, reciting a common quote.

‘Then what are the miserable people in the world?’


‘Sounds miserable.’

She huffs out a dry laugh. ‘I have a showing soon. I have to go. I’ll see you in a couple of weeks for Thanksgiving.’

“Hey, Mom? I have one last question,” I rush out, the words bursting out of me. Something has been bothering me about this case, and the pressing need to ask is unbearable.

She sighs but stays on the line, silently urging me on.

“Did you happen to send me a black envelope full of pictures and a note?”

She’s silent, and my heart thumps in my chest. “Mom?” I prompt.

She clears her throat. “I guess your Nana and I are more alike than you thought.”

My eyes widen as realization dawns, hitting me directly in the chest. She did send me the envelope. Which means she knew all along about Gigi’s murder and Nana’s role in it.


“You kept her secret,” I whisper.

“I have to go now, Addie. I have a house showing in five minutes.”

“Okay,” I murmur, but the line has already gone dead.

There’s no way of knowing when exactly Mom found out about Nana covering up the murder—I doubt she’ll ever tell me—but I imagine it was sometime before I was born, considering I have no memories of those two ever getting along.

Mom’s bitterness and dislike for Nana suddenly make more sense.

Nana covered up her mother’s murder, and in return, her daughter covered up her involvement.

My brain gets clogged with all that information, and the utter shock that my mother also played a hand in covering up Gigi’s murder. It’s too much.

I turn and stare out at the window as my thoughts turn to Zade. Really, they never left. He’s been sitting in the back of my brain all day, weighing down on my shoulders.

Is he safe? Alive?

When did I start worrying about his safety?

I need my head checked. But I will never make the initiative to do so. In a roundabout way, I’m starting to accept my new reality.

I’m falling in love with my stalker. The shadow that haunts me in the night. The man that hunts me down and completely wrecks my entire world.

And not only do I have to come to terms with that, but the fact that my life will now be consumed with worry. He’s dangerous, but the situations he puts himself in are just as terrifying. One day, he could go out and never come back home.

How do I deal with that?

Standing, I make my way into the kitchen to make myself a mixed drink. I flip on the light but pause immediately.

Resting on the counter is a red rose, with the thorns clipped. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why tears spring to my eyes. Maybe because now that I care about the stupid asshole, I don’t know if this is the last time I’ll get a rose or not.

Sniffing, I walk over to the rose and pick it up, twirling the stem in my fingers.

‘Goddammit, Zade,’ I mutter aloud. ‘I’ll never forgive you if you die.’

A loud buzzing from my phone wakes me out of a dead sleep. Drool leaks down my cheek, and I absently swipe at it with one hand while I grab my phone with the other.

The bright light draws out an immediate headache as I squint at the screen. It’s only eleven o’clock at night. I couldn’t have been asleep for more than an hour.

My phone buzzes again, alerting me to a text message. Opening the app, I see that Daya has texted me several times.

DAYA: Are you awake?

DAYA: I’m really upset right now and could use a friend.

DAYA: Will you come over?

DAYA: I’d really appreciate it.

I frown, both confused and worried. We haven’t spoken since we parted ways earlier, after the police collected all of our evidence. She had to go to her niece’s birthday party, and I haven’t spoken with her since.

Tapping the Call button, I bring the phone to my ear and sit up. The phone just rings before the automated message comes up.

My heart starts to pound as I swing my legs over the bed and pad over to my dresser, rummaging through the drawers until I find sweatpants and a hoodie.

I call Daya’s phone two more times, and by the time the automated message kicks on, I’m panicking.

Swiping my keys from by the front door, I rush out of the house and into my car. It’s sprinkling outside, the rain pattering lightly against the windows as I race down my long driveway and towards Daya’s house.

During the drive, I call her phone several more times. But she never answers.

When I’m a few miles away, I notice headlights behind me closing in. Glancing in my rearview mirror, I step on the gas further, a sinking feeling in my chest.

Something about this isn’t right.

Daya would never text me to come over and then ignore me.

And the car behind me is becoming dangerously close, nearly disappearing behind the back of my car.

“What the…”

I’m violently jerked forward, my head nearly smacking off the steering wheel. A startled scream slips free as my car starts to spin.

I regain control of the car, stepping on the gas harder and attempting to gain some space between us. I scramble for my phone but realize it’s on the floor of the passenger seat.

It must’ve flown from my hand when the van crashed into me.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

Who the fuck is after me? It could be Max, finally getting his revenge for a murder I had nothing to do with. Or it could be the men Mark sicced on me. Finally coming to collect me.

The rev of their engine is my only warning. This time, I’m prepared for the hit, despite the force of it still taking my breath away.

Before I can wrangle control over the vehicle, they’re crashing into me again. My car whips side-to-side as I fight for control. My chest pumps with adrenaline and panic, and dread has started to form in the pit of my stomach. I have a sinking feeling that I’m not going to be able to get out of this.

My gas pedal can’t go down any further, and the higher the speed, the more I lose control.

It takes one more hit before I go careening off the side of the road and into a ditch. My world spins as the bumper of my car hits the ditch at an angle before my car upends, flipping over on itself twice before landing harshly on the roof.

The impact is deafening as the windows explode. Glass shards blast against me from all directions, slicing my skin to shreds.

When everything settles, I realize I’m still screaming.

I suck in a sharp breath, the sound nearly animalistic as panic takes over. I’m upside down, still strapped into my seat. The seatbelt is digging painfully into my chest, constricting my already tight lungs further.

“You hit her too hard,” a voice calls from somewhere outside my car. “Shit, check to make sure she’s not dying, you fucking idiot.”

Just as the voice filters through, so does the pain.

I squeeze my eyes shut, my body pulsating with sharp agony. I moan as the feeling worsens until I can’t think past my broken body.

A head appears in my window. I meet the gaze of a man with darker skin and bottomless black eyes.

“She’s alive,” he announces, a relieved smile curling one side of his lips.

“Get her out,” an answering voice demands sharply.

“What do you want from me?” I groan, swatting weakly at his hands that are messing with the buckle on my seatbelt. He doesn’t answer, so I keep asking.

“Shut the fuck up before I knock you out!” he bellows. The click of the seatbelt is my only warning before my body drops down headfirst. I scream, pain lancing down my neck and shoulders.

The man grabs my arm and works my body out of the driver’s side window, dragging my body across glass and sharp metal.

“Stop it,” I moan, sobbing as he finally gets me out. “Why are you doing this?”

Panting, the man leans over me and looks me over.

“Once you’re healed up, you’re going to be worth a pretty penny,” he says, a crooked grin on his face.

“Just get her in the van, Rio. Max’s already going to be pissed we fucked up his van, so quit fucking around. The police will be here soon.”

Another flash of a grin, “Time to go to sleep, princess.”

And then darkness.



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