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Chapter 5 : Madelyn

Chapter 5 : Madelyn
Friday, July 16th, 2021

Bzzt Bzzzt! Bzzt Bzzzt!

The vibration from my phone wakes me from the closest thing I’ve had to sleep in days.

Rolling over, I crack my tired eyes open and glance at the alarm clock on my bedside table.

11:02 am

Thank god. I probably would’ve slept even longer if it weren’t for the buzzing phone beside me.

Wait, my phone?

Shooting up out of bed, last night’s events hit me like a train. The scream, the gun, the blood. The police telling me there was no evidence, despite what I saw. The piercing black eyes that held me captive in their gaze and the large hand that kept me pinned by the throat. My phone that very much dropped from his pocket.

A flashback of memories swarms me, but if this were all true, then how was my phone ringing beside my head?

Looking at the screen, I see that the caller ID was unknown. Shit. It’s probably Officer Jones wanting to update me on just how crazy I am.

Swinging my legs over the comfort of the mattress, I grab my phone, and swipe right to answer the call.

“Hello?”

“Hi, is this Madelyn Adams?” A male voice asks.

“Speaking.”

“My name is Carter Wells. My fiancee saw your business card when she was in town yesterday and we’re in desperate need of a last minute wedding photographer. We were hoping that you could maybe be of help.”

I guess it’s not the police then. Rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I find myself actually really excited that I might finally have a new project.

“Yes, of course. If you don’t mind me asking, how late exactly is last minute?”

“The wedding is this Sunday. I know it’s really short notice, but our original one’s mother was in an accident and had to fly to Ontario for her surgery.”

“Oh no, I’m so sorry to hear that.” I condole. My mind then drifts to the fact that the wedding is only two days from now. I consider if it’s even possible for me to accept this project. I really need the money, but I’m worried that I won’t be able to deliver the results they’re looking for, with such little time to plan.

“Thank you. It was so sudden, it took us all by surprise. But now of course we don’t have a photographer, which led us to you.”

“I’m really glad you chose to reach out to me, but Sunday is really soon. Typically, clients call me months before the wedding and while I am more than happy to try to make something work, I can’t promise the process will be as smooth as it would with weeks of planning.”

“That’s totally understandable, but we aren’t expecting much from you. We just want to be able to capture this important day in as many ways as we can.”

I get it, and I really want to help make that possible for them. I tell Carter just that.

“Really? Thank you so much. Everyone else we’ve contacted has turned us away.”

“It’s my pleasure. However, since we’re in such a time crunch, I think that the best place to start would be to set up a meeting for today with you and your fiancee if possible. We’ll discuss things like contact information, destinations, what you’re looking for, and a family formal list. We should be able to cover everything of high importance within a few hours and then I’ll take care of the rest. Does that sound alright with you?”

“That’s more than perfect. Does the Starbucks on 6th ave work for you at 1:00?”

“For sure, that sounds great.”

“Amazing. We’ll see you there, and once again, thank you.”

“You’re welcome. I’ll see you soon.”

“Bye.”

Pressing end call, my screen opens to the wallpaper of Noah and I, reminding me of my vow from last night. I need to cut him from my life completely, the first step being the photos.

Despite how hard I try to keep it in, a single tear spills and drips onto my phone.

Wiping it away with my thumb, I open my settings app and replace the wallpaper with an image of my dad and I. It’s old, but it’s also the only picture I have of the two of us together.

Another tear falls, but this time it’s not out of sadness. I think it’s just from exhaustion, and partially from the fact that I’m kind of proud of myself for being on my own. It’s really scary, but I think that I’ve only just realized that there is a major difference between being alone and being lonely.

I have a lot in my life to be proud of and I know that I’ll be okay. At this point, I just want the cops to call me, so I can get that over with too.

Last night, I thought there was still the possibility that the scene had just been cleaned up, but with my phone in hand, I know there’s no chance of it being real. I went outside with my phone, and I did not return to the hotel with it. But then again, here it is.

I know I shouldn’t, but I can’t help but feel a little crazy at this entire situation. Last night was likely just a side effect of sleep deprivation, but despite this, I can’t shake how real everything seemed.

I felt things last night that I didn’t even know I could feel. I can’t describe it, but the second those three sets of eyes met mine, my heart raced out of more than just fear.

They may not be real, but at the same time, I know that last night will be a part of me forever. That’s why the distraction of this project is good for me. I can’t think of this anymore. Maybe the stress of the wedding shoot will be strong enough to overpower the stress of my everyday life.

Lifting myself out of bed, I decide that I have a good feeling about today. For the first time in days I get up, get dressed, and actually do things for my hygiene apart from brushing my teeth. After a nice long shower, I blow dry my hair, allowing it to fall into long, wavy strands that end where my elbows begin.

It may still be obvious that I’m tired, but at least I’m a little more put together.

Walking out of the bathroom, I only just realize that my room has been cleaned. I failed to notice it this morning, but my take out containers have been disposed of and my clothes are now neatly placed in my bag.

I wonder when housecleaning did that? Either way, I’m not complaining. It’s one less thing for me to worry about.

With a white towel wrapped tightly around my chest, I grab and place my duffel bag on the bed. I instantly start to go through my clothes, trying to find something suitable to wear considering the warm weather outside. Settling on a red floral summer dress, I unwrap the towel from my body and get dressed.

The soft, flowy material falls nicely around my legs, ending at just above my knees. I loved this dress and the best part was that I wouldn’t overheat in it.

Just as I was about to go do my makeup, my phone rang again for the second time today. I had a feeling I knew who it was too.

“Hello.”

“Madelyn?” Officer Jones’ voice asks over the phone sounding slightly surprised.

“That’s me.” I say.

There’s a short pause before she continues.

“It’s Officer Jones. I’m calling to update you on last nights events.”

“Alright.”

“You might want to sit down for this if you’re able to.”

“I’m okay, but thank you. I’m pretty sure I know what you’re going to say anyways.”

“Well, as you know, a forensic team was sent out this morning and conducted a series of tests on the crime scene. I’m sorry, but they weren’t able to find any evidence confirming your story apart from a few partial prints.”

Despite her confirming what I feared, I surprisingly didn’t find myself sad. Just tired.

Letting out a sigh, I respond, “That’s okay. Like I said, I’m not too surprised by this.”

“If you don’t mind me asking, is there a specific reason that you aren’t? You seemed very convinced last night of what happened.”

“I was, but when I woke up this morning, my phone was right beside me.”

“It was?” She asked and seemed shocked by this.

Um, how else did she think she was talking to me right now?

“Yes, but like you said, it was just a hallucination. It makes sense that it would be with me if it never actually fell from that man’s pocket, right?”

Right? I don’t get why she’s so confused.

“Yes, of course. That makes sense.”

_______

We spoke for the next half hour or so, just about what the forensic investigators did and how there were no reactions observed during any of their testings.

Luminol was one of the things they tried. The solution reacts with trace amounts of blood to produce light, even after it’s been cleaned up. But as she said, no reactions were observed and like I remembered, there was blood everywhere. Even if it were covered up, it still would have been detected.

She then proceeded to advise me to talk to my doctor about my lack of sleep recently and that if it really was a hallucination, to not be alarmed. That’s going to have to wait until after this wedding though.

Speaking of which, I had to leave soon. After hanging up with Officer Jones, I applied some mascara and a little bit of eyeliner to give my eyes a pop.

I still have about an hour before my meeting, but I figure that I should head to the Horizon before I go. I already know that Jolene is going to kill me for going radio silent for the last three days, so I may as well get that over with.

With some light makeup done, and my hair somewhat styled, I grab my purse and keys from the table.

Then, I slip on a white pair of heeled sandals with intricate straps that wrap around my ankles.

Moving down to buckle the last strap on the shoes, I have to steady myself as I stand back up. I’m really dizzy, and I have to think for a moment when the last time I ate something was.

Probably yesterday morning when I woke up. I’ll just have to grab something at Jolene’s.

Once the dizziness passes, I find myself out the door and in my car in no time. The receptionist from last night wasn’t at the front when I came down, but just being back in the lobby felt surreal.

Pulling out of the parking lot and onto one of the main roads, I feel like I can breathe again. With the sound of the radio playing, and the breeze rolling in from the window, I can’t bring myself to care about how truly fucked up everything is right now.

Instead, I sing along to the music and allow myself to let go for a while.

This freeing moment is short lived however. If only the drive to the cafe were longer, because before I know it, I’m parked on the street and mentally preparing myself for the inevitable lecture I’m about to get from Jolene.

Taking one final deep breath, I grab the door handle attached to my only place of comfort and move inside.

“Oh my god. Madelyn?” I hear Jolene’s voice call. She was currently sitting down at one of the dine in tables.

I could faintly see that she was with someone, but I was more focused on trying to contain the tears that started to form in my eyes.

“I’m so sorry Jolene. I’m really really sorry.”

Jolene has practically become a second mother to me. My birth one was always too busy drinking to notice my existence anyways, so Jolene is more so the mother I never had. Either way, I just needed to talk to her.

“My dear girl, where have you been? Are you okay?” She asks, rising from her seat and taking me into her embrace.

“I’m so sorry. I should have called, but—”

“Don’t you apologize. I know what happened, and it’s not your fault for needing some time.”

“Wait, what?”

“Noah came in here about two days ago looking for you. He said you guys had a big fight and that he wanted to fix things with you. He said he forgave you for what you did and—”

“What I did?” I squeaked. “Jolene, he’s been cheating on me and I caught him when I came home on Monday.”

...

“Jolene?”

Pulling away from me, she looked me straight in the eyes.

“He cheated on you?”

“Yes.”

She pauses for what feels like forever before she replies, “Okay.”

Okay? What’s going on? I figured she’d be raging at Noah for what he did and at me for not calling. This silence however was almost worse. It was unnerving.

“Hey Pablo!” Jolene shouts at the man currently working behind the counter. “I’m going to need to extend my break for another hour. Is that okay?”

“No, you don’t have to—”

“No problem. I have nowhere to be.” Pablo cuts in.

Jolene thanks him before looking back at me. “Come here, I have someone I’d like you to meet.” She pulls me away from where I was standing and towards the table she was just previously sitting at.

Looking at who she was referring to, I can’t control the way my stomach instantly flutters at the sight before me.

A man who looks to be only a few years older than me was sitting down, leaning his large back against the booth. To say he was attractive would be an understatement.

Loose blonde waves rest in a perfect mess atop his head, so light it nearly looks white. Every angle of his face is sharp and defined, adding beautifully to his golden, unblemished skin.

“Madelyn, this is Caleb Harris, a friend of the family. Caleb, this is Madelyn Adams.”

Rising from his seat, I suddenly feel extremely small from the way he towers over me. He had to look down slightly just so he could meet my eyes. Oh, but when he did, my heart sped up instantly. Swirls of grey and blue looked down at me, causing a shiver to trail down my spine.

“Hello, it’s nice to meet you.” He greets, offering his hand for me to shake.

Reaching out my own, I connect my hand to his much larger one. “It’s nice to meet you too.” I respond, trying my absolute best to contain the sparks that are currently shooting through my entire body.

I wonder if he feels them too?

Probably not.

“Well Caleb, Madelyn here is going through a fresh break up, so we’re going to have a little chat about it. I’m going to go grab some food, but you’re more than welcome to stay. Lord knows you’ve been through a whole lot of them yourself.” Jolene comments, purposely dragging out the word ‘whole’.

“Are you insinuating something?” Caleb asks with humor in his voice and an amused smile on his face.

“Yes actually. That was my nice way of calling you a manwhore.”

Oh god.

“Ouch. Tell me what you really think about me.” He says, still smiling.

“Truth hurts, doesn’t it?”

“Wow...” Caleb laughs. “You know what? I am going to stay. Plus, it would be a shame to leave when there’s someone as beautiful as this one here to keep me company.” He nods towards me, causing my heart to skip a beat and my eyes to widen slightly.

Holy shit. Was this man just flirting with me?

No matter how hard I tried to fight it, a small blush made its way onto my cheeks. When I glanced back at him, he just gave me a wink, causing me to look away again.

Jeez Madelyn, calm down. It was just a compliment.

Wait, should I have said thank you? Oh god, it’s probably too late now, but it was rude of me not to. Why am I even panicking, it’s not like I’m going to see him after today anyways. He’s probably not even paying attention to me.

“Madelyn?” His naturally sensual voice snaps me out of my internal thoughts. I really hate how much I like the way my name rolls off of his tongue.

“Yes?” I say, forcing myself to look at him and the relaxed smirk that has formed on his face.

“Did you want to come sit down?”

I was so lost in my own thoughts that I hadn’t even realized that Jolene had gone behind the counter to grab some snacks and that Caleb was now sitting down again.

“Sure, sorry. I was a little out of it there for a second.”

“Yeah, I could tell. Thinking about anything interesting?” He grins, but the glint of amusement in his eyes gives away the fact that he already knows where my mind went to... him.

“Just things.” I dodge, being too embarrassed to admit what we both already know the answer to.

Pulling out a chair across from him, I take a seat, tucking the material of my dress under myself.

His ice cold eyes follow my every movement, making me feel a little nervous. I don’t know what to say, so I just look down and twiddle my thumbs together. When I look back up for a split second, I find that he’s still looking at me.

“What?” I ask.

“What?” He copies, raising his perfectly shaped eyebrows at me.

“Why are you looking at me?”

“I like to look at nice things. Is that not allowed?”


- End of Chapter 5 -

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