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Chapter 9 : Madelyn

Chapter 9 : Madelyn
Sunday, July 18th, 2021

“Run.” A chilling voice says in my ear.

I hear the command, but my body does not obey.

My feet remain planted to the concrete steps and my heart continues to bang rapidly against my chest.

How can this be possible?

My brain struggles to comprehend the fact that I was indeed right about what I saw. The alarmed expressions worn on Caleb and Alec’s faces confirm my fearful thoughts.

They are murders. All three, including the one standing so close behind me that I can feel his body each time his chest rises and falls.

How did the cops not realize this?

The luminol test came back as negative, meaning there were no traces of blood on the areas that were tested.

Is it possible they were somehow in on this too?

I mean I’ve seen police officers get paid off on TV, but it’s so much different experiencing it personally.

“Are you deaf? I told you to run.” Xavier growled into my ear, taking a step back from my body.

His voice was calm, but it only made this whole interaction that much more unnerving.

It was as if he were encouraging me to escape just so he could have the inevitable chase of it.

While his action shocked me, I have to admit I was thankful for it. I could finally breathe again without his presence stealing the air from my lungs.

But still, I don’t do as he asks.

That’s probably exactly what they want, for me to run to a place where no one is around. Then they can kill me with no witnesses.

Not if I can help it.

Gathering all of the courage I have inside of me, I turn around to see a perfectly composed Xavier staring down at me.

His gaze is cold, and his eyes are just as dark as they were when I recently saw him in the building— when he had the blood of his victim splattered across his face.

I expected him to be angry or even worrisome at my realization, but instead, he too just stands there.

It makes me feel uneasy, because it’s not what I had expected from him.

His left eyebrow raises slightly at my defiance, but no one moves.

He clearly doesn’t like to talk much, but that doesn’t stop him from trying to intimidate me by his presence alone.

It’s working, but I know he can’t kill me as long as there are people around. If he tried to move me himself, it would cause a scene and that’s not something he will risk.

At least that’s what I’m counting on.

For now, I just need to find a way to buy myself some time, so I can think up an escape plan.

Indicating I had made my mind up, I stay where I am, forcing myself to not break eye contact with him.

“Oh what, now you don’t want to run?” Xavier questions, seeming to be more amused at my unwillingness to leave than annoyed. “Alec told me you were quite good at it.”

As much as I hate myself for it, my eyes shift away at his statement.

Even though I’ve now figured out the truth, his words really caused the reality of this situation to sink in.

They spoke about me.

They killed a man, tried to knock me out, and then sometime afterwards discussed the way I had to fight for my life that night.

This was all too surreal for me, and I just had to pray that somehow I would make it out of today alive.

Not being able to respond to his comment, I instead take a step backwards, moving down to the bottom stair.

My choice seems to surprise him, but I couldn’t care less. I just need to get as far away from them as I can, even if it means I have to stay at the venue for now.

Trying to contain my overwhelming fear, I clutch the base of my camera and walk away, purposefully moving towards a large group of people.

They can’t hurt me if there are others around.

It’s a shitty plan, but while temporary, it’s better than leaving now and accepting my death.

To my both my luck and disappointment, the majority of people were gathered in the same place. Lucky because it left me covered, disappointed because I couldn’t leave without those three noticing my exit.

The girl may be a threat as well, who knows?

Glancing at the table where Alec and Caleb stood, I see that Xavier was now there too. In between two of them, stood the brunette whose eyes still haven’t left me.

Why is she with them? How is she not scared?

While she was facing me, her lips were moving, indicating that she was talking to at least one of the three next to her.

Caleb’s eyes were searching the crowd and when he found me looking at him, he took a step in my direction. Xavier, however, just as quickly shot his hand out to stop him from moving any farther.

This earned him a confused look, but Xavier kept his watch on me.

Like a predator stalking its prey.

The thought sent a chill down my spine and through my body.

Locking eyes, a menacing smile formed on his face as if this were just some sick game to him.

This felt like a game of chess, but now, it’s my move they’re awaiting.

I don’t know what made me think to do this, but I lift my camera and snap a picture of the four of them, just to show I wasn’t going to let them push me around.

While I know I’m failing, I don’t want to give them the satisfaction of seeing me scared, especially Xavier. He seems like the biggest asshole of them all.

My action left them all surprised, their attention now completely on me.

This shock however was quickly replaced with amusement and a brief conversation between them all.

I knew it was about me by the way their gazes remained fixed here.

No matter how hard I try to appear composed, a million thoughts are swarming in my mind right now. They’ve almost become uncontrollable.

Is the girl friends with them?

How did they clean up the scene so quickly?

And then, yet another realization passes through me. My phone.

If all of this was real, then how the fuck did my phone turn up in my room?

The thought of one of them coming in while I was sleeping caused an unsettling chill to pass through my entire body.

My next question was if Jolene knew what happened. I really hope not, because I don’t think my heart could take that possibility.

Fuck what am I doing? I can’t do this.

I start to get that familiar burning feeling in my chest and I know if I don’t calm myself down now, I’ll end up throwing myself into a panic attack in front of all of these people. In front of them.

Turning away, I take a moment to close my eyes and give my best attempt at blocking them out.

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. I inhale through my nose.

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven. I exhale through my mouth.

I’m okay, I’ll get through this.

My heart rate begins to steady slightly, but it doesn’t fully remove my current fear.

What’s even worse about this whole thing is that I kind of liked Caleb. He was comforting in a sense, which was crazy considering he’s a murderer, but still, I liked him.

But because of this, it also means he knew who I was when he saw me in Jolene’s cafe.

He introduced me to Xavier and Alec, even though they already knew who I was.

If he were as close of a family friend as Jolene made him out to be, I can’t help but wonder if she knew. After all, they were talking before I showed up, and when I mentioned that Noah was the most normal part about my week, she didn’t comment on it.

I really just need to call her.

I know it’s unprofessional, but there’s a high chance I won’t make it out of here alive anyways, so who cares.

Pulling out my phone, I call her personal cell and her cheery voice answers on the second ring.

“Hey, how—”

“Did you know?” I cut her off, just needing to know the truth.

“Did I know what, sweetie? Are you okay, you sound a little stressed?”

“Did you know about the hotel? About Caleb and what he did.”

The line goes silent and I fear that her lack of response answers my question.

“Jolene please tell me you didn’t know.”

“I don’t, but I can guess based on your tone that it wasn’t something good.” Her voice breaks slightly before continuing. “Are you hurt?”

“No, but I caught him and—” I start, but my phone is abruptly snatched from my hand and hung up.

“Hey!” I begin, but my words get caught in my throat when I see the beautiful brunette standing behind me.

“Don’t be scared, I’m not here to hurt you.” She promises, but I don’t respond. “Do you think we could talk somewhere in private? I’m Hailey by the way.”

There’s no chance I’m leaving to somewhere secluded until I know what’s going on.

I need answers, and as of right now, this girl is the one I’m most trusting of.

“We have to stay here if you want to talk. I’m working.” I tell her, and to my surprise, she doesn’t protest.

“Deal.” She grins as if she’s just happy that I didn’t tell her to leave.

“It’s Madelyn, right?”

“Mhm.”

“I told them they’re not allowed to hurt you, so if you’re worried about that, don’t be.” She assures, but it doesn’t calm me in the least.

Looking back at the table from earlier, I see that they’ve left and new people are now occupying it. I don’t see them anywhere else either when I do a quick scan.

I should be trying to leave now while they’re gone, but my guess is that’s why Hailey’s here; it’s to keep an eye on me.

“I’m really not trying to be rude, but what the fuck is going on?” I ask somewhat quietly so those around us can’t hear.

I just need some sort of explanation, I don’t care who it comes from.

My phone vibrates in Hailey’s hand and the screen lights up showing that Jolene’s trying to call me back.

Hailey just tucks the phone in her jean jacket pocket and looks at me.

“I know a lot must be going through your head right now, but just try and keep an open mind at what I have to say, okay?”

I give her a quick look to indicate that I’m listening.

“I know you might not understand this, but Caleb, Alec, and Xavier are really good guys.” She sighs before continuing. “That night, a man from my work wouldn’t leave me alone, and then proceeded to follow me back to that hotel. I only noticed this when I got out of the car. I tried to run to the entrance, but he cut in front of me saying he just wanted to talk and that I was really pretty.”

I moved around and continued to work, but the majority of my attention was on Hailey and what she had to say.

“Since he was blocking my path, I bolted to my nearest escape, soon finding myself at the back of the building. There, I was able to dig up my phone to call for help during the few seconds I was alone. Alec, Xavier and Caleb were already on their way to the hotel to hang out with me, so when I called Alec’s phone, they were already close by.”

I guess it made sense, but that still doesn’t explain the hundreds of other questions flooding my head right now. Despite them, I don’t interrupt. I genuinely wanted to hear her side of things.

“I don’t know how you ended up back there, but I do know that if it weren’t for the three of them, I would have been raped that night. It may make me a bad person, but I don’t feel any remorse for the man they killed.”

While I don’t admit this out loud, the truth is that I felt the exact same way that night. I could have called for help, but I didn’t.

I continue walking and shooting at the same time, but Hailey puts her hand on my arm to grab my attention.

Turning to her, it’s not hard to see the genuine look in her eyes. She isn’t lying.

“You never should have been involved in that night, but Alec, Xavier, and Caleb, they were never going to hurt you. Even now, they won’t, but they’re going to need to talk to you.”

She seems to be done speaking now, while I try my best to process all of this information for myself. I believed what she had to say, but that still doesn’t explain a lot of things.

“So they just carry guns and ski masks around all of the time then?” Is the first thing I think to ask. “And how do I have my phone? And how did the police just let it go?”

I flood her with multiple questions, but in return, Hailey just gives me a sad smile.

“There’s a lot about them that even I don’t understand, but I do know that everything they do is for the most part, from a place of good. As for your questions, I think you need to ask them that yourself.”

“I’m not talking to them. I just need to go home... or I guess the hotel.”

After a pause, Hailey responds with, “Okay,” Even though I don’t think she believes that can happen. I don’t believe it either. “Can I ask you a question?”

“Sure.”

“Why were you back there when it was the middle of the night?”

I let out a heavy breath before answering, “Honestly, that’s something I’ve been asking myself as well. I could have just called the police, but at the time I figured it would have taken them too long to get there. I needed some air and when I heard your scream, I was on my way to help you. But others seemed to have beaten me to it anyway.” I mumble out the last part.

Hailey then surprises me with her response, “Thank you.”

I can hear the emotion in her tone, so either she’s extremely good at acting, or she’s being true to her word.

I’d like to think it’s the latter.

I don’t understand why I like her as much as I do, but I do.

I just give her a small smile. I may be in shit now because of that night, but I would never forgive myself if I had walked away and something bad had happened.

“Are you still staying at the hotel then?” I ask.

“No, my last night was yesterday. My house was being renovated, but it’s finished now.”

I just hum to indicate I heard her. There’s still the issue of my living arrangements too. The money from this project will help, but I can’t keep spending all of it on a hotel room. I’ll need to find an apartment and soon.

“What about you?” Hailey asks. “You still there?”

“For now, yeah. I’m just trying to figure some things out right now.”

It’s kind of weird that our conversation is coming so easily, but she seems like a really nice person. Under other circumstances, I would maybe even consider getting her number.

“Well I’m looking for a roommate if you’re interested? I like you.”

She can’t be serious? As nice as the offer is, there’s no way I’m living with someone whose friends want me dead. Not a chance.

“Thank you, but I’m okay. I’ll figure something out.”

She just gives me a look that I can’t read.

“Listen, I’m going to give you my contacts and if you change your mind, feel free to call me.”

“It’s honestly fine.” I try, but she’s already typing her information into my phone. Stupid thing didn’t power off after she hung up on Jolene.

Once she’s done, she hesitantly hands it back to me. “Don’t do anything stupid. Just because those guys aren’t going to kill you, doesn’t mean they’ll put up with just anything, okay?”

“Okay.” I say. I’m not going to call her, but the thought was nice I guess.

Everyone was now gathered around the outdoor concrete pad where the first dances were about to begin. There was a massive wooden pergola standing over top with string lights glowing from each section.

“And now ladies and gentlemen we would like to bring out our newlyweds, Mr. and Mrs. Wells to have their first dance as husband and wife. Let’s give them a hand.” The DJ announces.

Everyone claps and cheers as Carter and Jules make their way to the floor.

They are both grinning from ear to ear as the song “Feels Like Home” by Chantal Kreviazuk begins to play.

Hailey backs off, knowing that I need to work, while I move in and begin shooting.

First dances have always been my favourite part of wedding shoots and today is no different.

The pair seem so happy together, and I already know that these pictures will turn out great.

“If you knew how I wanted someone to come along;

And change my life the way you’ve done.”

I continued to move around, capturing the best shots that I could. I know this wedding was extremely last minute, but I think apart from the whole murderer situation, things are going well.

Hopefully, I can live long enough to edit and distribute these pictures.

Soon the song comes to an end, before the dances with the parents happen, gradually moving into all of the wedding guests being able to join.

Everyone is either laughing, smiling, dancing, or a combination of the three, and for a moment I don’t feel myself worrying about everything that might go bad.

For now, I’m just trying to enjoy my work and focus on that.

I was hired to shoot the entire event, and while uncommon, I was also asked to stay all the way until 10:00 pm for the firework display.

It’s going to be a long night.

Everyone’s been dancing for about an hour, including Caleb and Alec. I still haven’t seen Xavier since earlier at the tables and I wonder if he maybe left?

I can’t imagine someone like him being much of a dancer anyways.

Now that all of the important shots were done and I’ve gotten a handful of the other guests dancing, I was able to relax a little bit.

I wasn’t done with my work, but I didn’t have to stress about capturing every single moment as of right now.

I spot two little ones dancing together on the floor, bringing a relaxed smile to my face. They seem so happy and carefree, as if there wasn’t a worry in the world.

Just as I go to lift my camera, my arm is grabbed and I’m spun around to meet a large body.

The realization of who it is causes my smile to drop, just as quickly replacing it with fear.

Facing Alec, my camera hangs loosely in between our bodies, the sling of it luckily wrapped around my neck.

With my hands now free, Alec wraps one of his arms around my back, while his other grabs and directs mine to the side.

My lower back feels on fire by his touch, and we’re so close that if it weren’t for my lens, we would be fully pressed up against each other.

“What the hell are you doing?” I growl, squirming away from his hold.

Somehow, Alec manages to keep me there without causing a scene until eventually I just give in.

“Easy there, princess. I’m not going to hurt you.”

“Don’t call me princess.” I snapped, but this only brought a smile to his face.

“I like how feisty you are.” Alec says, tilting my head up to look at him with one of his fingers.

I try to turn my head away, but he just grasps my chin in his hand.

“There’s really no need to be like that, you know? I just want to talk.”

“Let me go. I have a job to do.” I demand, but he doesn’t mind what I have to say.

“Yeah, that’s been dealt with. I told Carter you were really dizzy and needed to sit down for a moment. Don’t worry, he’s completely understanding of it and hopes you feel better.”

No, no, no. This is so not good.

“I’m not going anywhere with you.” I say, but we both knew that wasn’t true.

Still smiling, Alec moved my chin slightly to the side so he could lean into my ear. “Well unfortunately for you, princess, you don’t have a choice. Now are you going to walk with me or do I need to carry you out of here over my shoulder.”

Think Madelyn, think.

“You’re not serious.” I try calling out his bluff, but he just stares at me. His one raised eyebrow is almost daring me to find out.

When I don’t move, his grip shifts as he goes to reach out for the backs of my legs.

“Jesus, fine.” I say, bending and shoving his hands away.

My action caused an amused chuckle to fall from his lips.

I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I know that I need to figure something out and fast.

With Alec’s hand still placed on my lower back, he guides me elsewhere in a direction where no people are around.

The entire time, a prideful grin is plastered on his face.

Fucking prick.

They may say they aren’t going to kill me, but I do know what they’re capable of. I’d be foolish to trust them and walk into this blindly.

There was no mistaking the darkness in Xavier’s eyes and while I had initially compared them to gods, I know now that I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Now, there was no mistaking the glint of the devil in their eyes. I know that if I’m not careful, I may just fall victim to their next crime.


- End of Chapter 9 -

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