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C8 Hunter.

Eliasz couldn't shake the feeling that Diantha seemed unusually cold and distant today. Instinctively, like a small animal sensing danger, he clammed up without thinking.

Raised in the sheltered environment of a greenhouse, Eliasz was unaccustomed to the aura that Diantha projected—an aura that the streetwise thugs recognized all too well. It reminded them of their own boss, perhaps even more potent: composed, menacing, and brimming with a palpable intent to kill.

Such an intimidating presence seemed out of place on a woman who appeared so fragile. Yet, after witnessing Diantha's display of prowess, could anyone truly believe she was just a defenseless woman, incapable of harming a fly?

No, she resembled nothing less than a pure predator at the apex of the food chain, calmly fixating on her prey, ready to strike at the moment her killing instinct was unleashed.

The gang leader, pinned against the car hood by Diantha, winced from the searing pain in his broken hand. The cold steel of the scalpel at his throat offered a stark contrast, sending shivers down his spine. In his agony, he cursed the woman who had paid for this setup and regretted his earlier eagerness at the sight of Diantha's alluring figure, lamenting his failure to see beyond her beauty to the true danger she embodied.

Then he heard the boss's question, crisp and melodious, "Tell me, who sent you here?"

Her voice was undeniably pleasant, but he dared not indulge in any inappropriate thoughts, not even allowing himself to inwardly admire how lovely it sounded.

With his professional code forgotten, he spilled everything to the formidable woman before him, "A woman hired us. She sounded young, her face hidden behind glasses and wrapped up tight. She said you'd be alone here today and wanted us to scare you, to 'teach you a lesson.'"

Diantha's smile was faint, "Oh? And how did this woman find you?"

These thugs were clearly no amateurs; they had a certain level of skill and discipline, likely affiliated with a gang or organization.

The boss hesitated, silent, until Diantha drew a thin line of blood across his face with her scalpel. A gentle tap of the knife's blunt side against his neck followed her warning, "Next time, it'll be here. Don't worry, I won't finish you off in one go. I'll start by peeling back the skin, then severing each blood vessel and meridian, one by one, and then..."

He shuddered, "Yes, it was Boss Sulo who brought her..."

Diantha's pupils narrowed. Sulo, known as the Dark King, was the undisputed leader of A City's underworld, with influence stretching across Lunamis and deep ties to international hidden powers. Renowned for his love of beauty, regardless of gender, and his unwavering loyalty, he was a man of his word, for better or for worse.

Diantha knew him well; in her past life, Sulo had been one of Anthea's admirers, fiercely protective and intolerant of anyone close to her. He had clashed with Cassius and Sabino over Anthea, and it was his disdain for her brother Sabino's relationship with Anthea that led to his tragic downfall.

Yet, she hadn't anticipated that today's ambush was Sulo's doing, nor that the source of her and her brother's nightmares was one and the same.

In her previous life, she had sensed a plot against her but had believed it to be the work of thugs tracking her, waiting for her to be alone. By the time she had traced them, they were dead, their secrets buried with them.

Today, she learned from these thugs that her assailant had known she would be here, alone, abandoned by Eliasz.

Could Eliasz be the one seeking revenge on her for Anthea's sake?

But the thugs had mentioned a young woman, and Eliasz, the youngest of the Sullivan family, lacked the connections to reach Sulo.

So, who could it be?

A young woman who knew her schedule, who knew she would be discharged today, and who could command Sulo's personal involvement.

The answer was almost within reach.

She hadn't expected Sulo to have encountered and fallen for Anthea so early on.

Turning to Eliasz, she inquired, "Sixth Young Master, who suggested you leave me here?"

Eliasz remained silent, his head bowed, lips tightly sealed.

Diantha's frown deepened, her voice rising, "Sixth Young Master Sullivan?"

The men restraining Eliasz nudged him, "Kid, she's talking to you. Answer her!"

Eliasz muttered under his breath, "Are you crazy? Answer her? As if we're in some period drama, hmph."

Reluctantly, he raised his head and met Diantha's gaze, his voice laced with defiance, "I just thought this was a good spot, so I decided to leave you here."

Diantha's smile returned, her eyes a deep, inky black. "Ever consider what might happen to me if I were as defenseless as you imagine?"

Eliasz fell silent, then muttered defiantly, "They said they only meant to intimidate you."

With a scalpel gripped firmly in her hand, Diantha's expression remained unfazed. She coolly swept her gaze over the trio restraining Eliasz and stated, "Then I'll have to ask you three to give Young Master Sullivan here the same treatment you intended for me."

The men exchanged glances but remained motionless.

The darkness in Diantha's eyes intensified as she held the scalpel to the gang leader's throat. She held back, barely resisting the urge to slice open his neck. Terrified, he nearly wet himself and barked, "What are you waiting for? Do as she says!"

After a moment's hesitation, the trio began to tear away at Eliasz's clothing. As he fought back, Eliasz cried out, "Stop! What are you doing?"

This time, despite his futile resistance, he didn't call out to Diantha for help.

When Eliasz was nearly stripped bare, the men, spurred on by his struggle, were about to take things further when Diantha called a halt. She pulled an IV tube from her bag, which she had swiped from the hospital, and methodically tied up the gang leader's limbs, leaving him bound on the car hood. Then, she stepped toward Eliasz.

Eliasz lay face down on the ground, propping himself up with one hand while clutching at his underwear with the other, a picture of utter disarray.

From her elevated stance, Diantha looked down and asked, "Young Master Sullivan, feeling frightened?"

Eliasz, lips white with fear, remained silent.

Diantha cocked her head, "Tell me, what should I do if something worse happened? Blame you for abandoning me? But you, Young Master Sullivan, would claim I angrily left the car on my own accord. That I deserved whatever came my way. With my terrible reputation and lack of eloquence, who wouldn't believe the charming Sixth Young Master Sullivan over me? I might garner some sympathy, but most would say I brought it upon myself. That I foolishly insisted on leaving the car in such a desolate place. And some might even console you, saying whatever befell me was my own doing and had nothing to do with you, Sixth Young Master Sullivan."

With each word, Eliasz's complexion grew paler. Finally, he retorted, "Haven't you said enough, Diantha? Nothing happened, did it? Besides, with your abilities, these thugs are terrified of you. They're no match for you!"

Diantha used her foot to lift Eliasz's chin. "But what if I didn't have such abilities? If I were weaker than you, powerless to resist? And even if, by some miracle, I did possess unexpected skills, what if my assailant wasn't human, but a venomous snake? Besides, one can't fight off many. Did you ever consider what might befall me, left here alone? Or was this your strategy all along? To leave me here, arrange for a gang to degrade me as revenge for your family's Anthea?"

Eliasz jerked his head up. "I did no such thing!"

Libre Baskerville
Gentium Book Basic
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