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My arms trembled and my pulse raged, color gone from my face. A man had been inside my home—doing what? Waiting? Searching? A thief? A robber? My intuition said his presence here had a far more malignant purpose than stealing petty cash. My thoughts winged every which way and ultimately came to a single conclusion: the cult. The cult we hunted. They knew I was alive.

I clutched the door's frame for support and my nails dug into the wood.

Darius returned several minutes later, marching into view again with empty hands and a prominent scowl. He crossed the porch and shoved me from the doorway as he slammed the door shut behind himself.

"It was the cult," I breathed as I clasped his arm. The leather of his jacket's sleeve was hot to the touch. "It had to have been the cult. Oh God, Darius—they know I'm alive. They're going to tell Balth—! Envy!"

"You don't know it was them," he said. He smacked the light switch and the floor lamp flickered on, revealing an untidy living room. The man hadn't trashed the place, but he had gone through my things, had pawed through my possessions searching for something. "Even if it was, they wouldn't go to him."

"What—what are you talking about?! Of course they will!" My grip tightened and I shook the creature's arm. Darius' red stare landed on my own. He couldn't be this obtuse. If the cult knew one of their sacrifices was alive, why wouldn't they report my existence to Balthier? It wasn't logical. "He's going to know I'm alive and he's going to kill me—!"

Darius pulled his arm out of my reach, sneering. "Idiot. If that man was from your cult, they would not tell Envy. Doing so would be akin to telling the Sin he has been working for free, taking their orders and their directions and tolerating their high-handed existence for nothing." He pushed the couch into its typical position and straightened the blanket folded over its back. "Yes, he would come after you—after me—but he would destroy the cult first. If it's their desire to suffer a messy, agonizing end just to spite you, then we can begin to worry."

His answer was feasible, though my anxiety couldn't be completely swayed. Perhaps it wouldn't be rational for the cultists to tell Balthier I continued to breathe—but, I could hardly expect a group of serial killing madmen to be rational. "So what then? If they know who I am and where I live, should we—move?" I didn't want to move. This was my home, as little as I appreciated it. The madness of the otherworld was supposed to dissolve inside these walls; this was my haven, my place of recuperation, a sanctuary to regroup shattered thoughts and wounded hearts. The cult had desecrated that illusion of sanctity, had driven home the fact that I wasn't safe from them. I wasn't safe anywhere.

"No. The situation presents an interesting opportunity. Let's hope your cult does try to find you here again. It will save me the footwork." Darius laughed mirthlessly.

"But what if you're not here?" I demanded as I stepped closer to the Sin, annoyed by his sardonic amusement. Tara's cat kept himself at my feet, hampering my movements. "What if you're not here, Darius? What if they send two men? Three? With guns? What in the Hell am I supposed to do then?!"

"Your lack of faith in my capability is astounding."

"Well, that one just ran out the goddamn door!" I threw an arm toward said door as my voice edged into hysterics. "If that man had been armed, I would've been dead before I knew what had happened—before you knew what had happened, because you were too busy messing around with that harpy of a woman!" I smacked his chest and my hand met unyielding muscle and bone. His collar was ripped, and there was blood drying on his jacket and shirt. "Oh, yes! Yes, let's have them come here! Let's have them come here so I can be killed by your utter incompetency—!"

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