XIV: I Know Your Sin

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DIANA

St. Francis Veterans Center
Whitetail Mountains
Present Day

A whistling came from behind her.

When she came to, Diana noticed she hadn't been thrown into some prison cell like many times before. No, this time she was seated in a wooden dining chair in the newly refurnished dining room, a project she and Jacob finished before they got word Faith had been kidnapped. Everything was still intact here, from the long oak dining table to its matching chairs, dressed in red and off-white skirts and a blood-red tablecloth to match. There was a crystal chandelier above the table, mirrors and portraits on the walls, with a curio of figures and china along the wall as well as a wet bar and other furnishings here that made it feel more like a home than an old Veteran's center, or a base.

Jacob often gave her guff for having so many material things. He was a simple man, he'd always say... but he let her handle some of the interior décor to liven up the otherwise dreary homestead.

The whistling continued; the tune was so familiar, as it was one she knew as a hymn from the church that graced the radio waves in many of their follower's cars.

"Keep your rifle by your side..." Pratt sang. After a beat he just cracked up; he spit somewhere to the side, landing on the nice wood floor finish beneath him. "Always thought that song was stupid as hell, but it always got stuck in my head with its catchy ass tune. Still. I think it's fitting... seeing as you brought this beauty down to me. You know, I'd been wanting to get my hands on this for some time. Thanks for that, darlin."

Diana tensed.

"Jacob never let anyone touch his weapons, but you know that, right? You know he'd beat the shit out of his men for even laying a finger on any part of it—his rifle, his treasure, his prize. Same would go for his girl, but," Pratt clucked his tongue, "in the shape your old man's in, I don't think he'd mind if I have my way with it, hm?"

With a low growl in her chest, Diana grasped onto the arms of the wooden chair. She was surprised she hadn't been bound, the freedom of movement almost foreign to her as she squeezed her aching fingers together around the wood. The burns of the ropes used before left a nasty rash around her wrists but she didn't care. Just more scarring to add to the rest of the ones on her body. Pressing down on the rests, she used them to prop herself up to stand—but the click of the dreaded weapon locking into place made her stop. Her eyes focused on the fearsome barrel of Jacob's bright-red .50 caliber rifle, and slowly trailed up at the man behind the scope. Staci Pratt's thin lips curled up in an amused smirk.

"Nuh-uh-uh," He taunted in a sing-song voice, "I'd have a seat on that pretty little ass of yours if you even dream of seeing Jacob again."

Her face twitched. For a split-second she thought she'd launch herself across the length of the table to choke him, but the immediate threat of a bullet of that size, at this distance, made her consider differently. A round like that would leave nothing but a mist of red and pieces of her spattered against the walls and furniture, and at Pratt's level of sanity she didn't want to test the limits. She felt her bones pop and crack as she eased back down onto the chair, leaving her hands at her sides in case Pratt wanted to fire at her anyway, with any weapon he had within reach.

His pistol. The .22 sitting on the dining table. A throwing knife, even.

Sadly, she'd been disarmed, but that was a given. At least they left her jewelry on, her wedding band and necklace, and from what she could tell no item of clothing, save the weapon holsters and sheath for her blade were missing, placed on the table beside Jacob's rifle.

"Atta girl. I sure do love that you listen." Pratt grinned, pulling a pair of glasses and a bottle of bourbon from the wet bar.

Diana didn't speak, even if the tape had been torn from her face after she arrived. It confused her, made her wonder what Pratt's agenda was now that he had her—and he'd chosen not to restrain her. She watched the dark liquid pour from the bottle, a little bit in one tumbler and he matched the amount in the other glass. Her eyes followed him as he slowly paced toward her. Pratt set the glass down on the table and slid it closer, holding his up to clink it with hers.

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