Cole had been waiting in the hall when the door opened. He turned, prepared to ask her what had happened, but the person staring back at him wasn’t Ava. What stood in front of him was anything but human. Maybe it had been once, but not anymore.

“Ah, just the one I was looking for,” Ian said, his voice dripping with disdain. He narrows his eyes. “I think we need to have a discussion.”

Cole, noticing his eyes, backed away. “I’m not going anywhere with you. What were you doing in there with Ava?”

“Ava?” Ian said, feigning stupidity. “Oh, right, little nosy girl.” He smirked and leaned close. “I killed her,” he whispered. “I ripped her spine from her body and sucked the marrow from her bones.”

Cole paled and he felt bile rise in his throat. “Liar,” he hissed. “Where is she?”

Ian chuckled and put his hands on the boy’s chest. He concentrated, and when Cole let out a horrible scream, his lips twisted into an ugly smile. Cole’s body dropped onto the floor in a lifeless heap.

“She’s not dead,” he murmured, looking down. He slashed his nails across the left side of Cole’s face, close to his eye, watching blood erupt from the wound and run down his cheek. “But she will be, if you don’t back off.”

Gasping and whimpering, Cole lifted his hand to his face. “Bastard,” he said weakly. “What did I ever do to you?”

Ian crouched down, grabbed his brown hair, and slammed his head into the wall. More blood. More heinous joy.

“She’s mine and anyone who protects her will pay the price. Alex was an accident, but I was lucky enough that the car hit him, wasn’t I? The woman is another story entirely. She is trying to keep Ava here under false pretenses and I cannot have that.”

Cole coughed, his palm sprayed with blood. “Tessa’s not doing that. She’s trying to help Ava, can’t you see?”

“No.” His eyes were hard. “She is trying to avenge her daughter’s death by replacing her.”

“You can’t replace the dead,” Cole said, his grey eyes wide and fearful.

“Nor can you replace the living,” Ian said coldly. He stood and started to walk away, but turned his head. “When someone finds you, let them know they’ll have an hour to save poor Dr. Hadley. Thank you, Mr. Ramsey, you’ve been most kind.”

The End

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