by H.D. Carlton
Book 1 in the Cat and Mouse Duet
I can manipulate the emotions of anyone who lets me.
I will make you hurt, make you cry, make you laugh and sigh.
But my words don't affect him. Especially not when I plead for him to leave.
He's always there, watching and waiting.
And I can never look away.
Not when I want him to come closer.
I didn't mean to fall in love.
But now that I have, I can't stay away.
I'm mesmerized by her smile, by her eyes, and the way she moves.
The way she undresses...
I'll keep watching and waiting. Until I can make her mine.
And once she is, I'll never let her go.
Not even when she begs me to.
I'm just going to write what is at the beginning of the book.
None of these conspiracies derive from antisemitism or Q Anon, but from my own demented imagination, common conspiracies in the media, and a'many occult horror movies my dad used to watch growing up.
The book ends on a cliffhanger. The contents are very dark with triggering situations, such as non/dub con between the main characters, graphic violence*, human trafficking (not by MC's), stalking, child trafficking (not by MC's), child sacrifice (not by MC's), mentions of child death, and explicit sexual situations.
There are also particular kinks such as gun play, somnophilia, bondage, and degradation.
This book was previously taken down due to the warning, but you can also find them in reviews, on my website, or feel free to message me (H.D Carlton) directly.
Your mental health matters.
*To extend on the graphic violence, it involves torture and murder.
Quite the trigger warning, eh?
Let me tell you, when I got to the child trafficking and sacrifice, I was SUPER close to stopping right there.
I only kept going for one reason.
My best friend.
My best friend who rarely reads dark romance, asking me to read it because she liked it.
I know her.
She wouldn't read a book with trigger warnings like child trafficking and sacrifice if the main characters were involved in those things.
So I read it.
I mean, I was going to read it one day, but she wouldn't stop asking, and I'm a sucker,
Despite the triggers, despite how wrong and messed up the relationship is in this book - I liked it.
Really liked it.
Before I continue, please, PLEASE know, that I would NEVER condone this type of relationship, or what happens between these two characters. If any of this shit happened in real life, I would be calling the police SO FAST. But fiction is fiction, so in this case ... it was hot?
H.D Carlton is good at what she does. She can write extremely dark, disturbing stories, with highly questionable romances and sexual situations that make you wonder what is wrong with you for liking it.
She isn't perfect. There are definitely some words she uses that really bugged me, or outright confused me because it didn't make sense.
Like the word orb.
In reference to eyes.
The words orb and eyes should only be put together when talking about owls, or lemurs.
She also at one point says the edges of his eyes "round with delight".
Oh, let's not forget the moan "bouncing in his mouth".
That was fun.
Oh, and his "yin-yang" eyes. That is used ... a lot.
The word creamy was used a lot too, and just ... ew.
And referencing the burning tip of his cigarette as a cherry. I know that that is an actual term, but the amount of times its used really bugged me.
There is also things that just don't make sense. There are a few villains in this book, but one of them is Mark.
Mark is 85 years old.
Mark abuses his wife. Rapes women and minors. Does all kinds of things that one would expect a certain level of strength.
How is an 85 year old man able to do half the things he does?
Now, I know people in their eighties that are active, and able to get around easily ... but they have their limitations. It just didn't make sense that he was able to do everything he did as easily as she makes it sound.
Aside from those things ... it was a really interesting read. It was definitely unique. It literally had me on a rollercoaster of emotions - from unease, to disgust (to the point of cringing) to how hot it was.
H.D. Carlton did a good job with her characters.
I liked them both. Neither are perfect. Understatement of the century. Both are a little unhinged in their own ways.
I loved that Adeline was a sex positive, successful on her own terms woman, who lives life the way she wants to. I loved that she knows she shouldn't be attracted to Zade and the danger he exudes, but also knows herself, and knows she loves danger and being scared. It is literally her kink. She might be ashamed of it, but she owns it.
As for Zade, I loved his whole persona of 'Z', and what he does to try to take down traffickers. I appreciated that H.D. Carlton didn't give him a tragic backstory. He just does what he does because he wants to save as many as he can. It's refreshing to not give a character a reason to why they do something. I even loved his instant obsession with Adeline. I could sugarcoat it and say its because their souls spoke to one another in that moment, but I'm not a romantic person (which I realize is ironic, considering what I do here). He is just crazy. Like calls to like?
I liked it.
I didn't think I would.
Especially after those trigger warnings. Yikes.
It was also not what I expected.
Considering the amount of tiktoks and instagram posts about this duology, I did a good job avoiding any spoilers.
I was sure this was a supernatural book.
I was sure Zade was a demon.
The setting of Adeline's haunted house gave it a creepy, gothic, supernatural feel, but Zade being human threw me for a loop.
Because what? lol.
He is nuts!
Anyways, Haunting Adeline was a trip. I won't pretend I wasn't hooked on this duology (I actually ended up finishing before my friend who insisted I read it with her). It's not what I was expecting, it was insanely intense, and it made me question what was wrong with me ... but all in all, I liked it.
I hope the mysterious person is still out there. Let the asshole get murdered wearing a single sock. All I want to do is break her. Shatter her into pieces. And then arrange those pieces to fit against my own. I don’t care if they don’t fit—I’ll fucking make them. I would die on the spot if I was searching around with a single beam of light and found someone lurking in my house that way. One second no one is there, and the next second hello, there’s my murderer. No fucking thank you. My hunt isn’t over yet. I have to play with my little mouse now. Daya: "We're going to make you look hot and find you a delicious man to take home tonight. And if the stalker comes around, he can kill him, too."
I roll my eyes.
Adeline: "Daya, it's hard to find a man these days that can even fuck right. You think I'm going to find a man that will kill in my honor, too? That's cute."
Daya: "You never know, baby girl. Crazier things have happened." UNKNOWN: Sneaking off with random men, little mouse? If I catch his hands anywhere near you, they’ll end up in your mailbox by morning. What he doesn’t know is that the minute I properly introduce myself to Adeline Reilly, she won’t be able to think of anyone else. I will devour her from the inside out, until every intake of breath will only stoke the inferno I've created inside her. Like oxygen feeding a fire, I will consume every inch of her sweet little body until she will think of nothing else but how to get me deeper inside of her. She’ll fear me at first, but that fear will only ignite her. And I will be all too fucking happy to deliver the pain when she gets too close to the flame. I have to remind myself she doesn’t know me yet. She doesn’t understand what true need is. Not yet, but she will. Because she’s going to hate the way she needs me. She’s going to fight it, rebel against the craving and attempt to search for something else that makes her feel even a fraction of what I will. She’ll never find it. And I won’t let her try. Daya: “What do you call yourself?”
Daya asks, quirking a brow at me. I sigh.
Adeline: “A master manipulator.”
I roll my eyes.
Adeline: “Because I manipulate people’s emotions with my words when they read my books,” Getting the chance to meet up with other author friends and attempting to run away with all their signed books while laughing maniacally is what truly brings me peace in life. The note ends there, not even finishing the last word. My mouth drops open in shock as I stare down at it in utter disbelief.
Adeline: “Are you fucking kidding me, Gigi! You leave it off there? That’s what you wanted to show me? A note where you’re about to say who it is BUT DON’T?”
I finish my rant on a loud shout, stomping my foot and flaring my arms wide. Of course, she doesn’t answer me. Growling dramatically, I stomp my way into the bedroom and slam the door shut. I’m mad at her now. She better not come in here, or I’m kicking her right back out. UNKNOWN: Am I supposed to believe that you’re on the phone with the police? I think my little mouse is a liar.
Oh, no, he didn’t. I angrily type back my message.
ME: Want to find out?
UNKNOWN: Yeah, I do, actually. I’d love to punish you later for it, too.
My thumbs freeze over the letters. The last punishment was gruesome and sickening.
ME: What, you gonna send me toes next?
UNKNOWN: Depends, are you still pretending to fuck other guys? Or would you rather yell at the ghosts in your house again?
My head snaps up and I stare into the depths of his hood. His phone is perched in his hand, waiting for my response. The lighting from his phone is set to low, the dim glow casting enough light to show me his wickedly sharp jawline and a portion of his smirking lips. I lift my hand and flip him the bird. Fuck you, asshole.
In response, his thumb starts moving, his smile growing wider.
UNKNOWN: I plan to. Daya: “I’m going to find this little dick prick,”
Daya declares angrily, practically slamming the keys through her laptop as she types god knows what. I just finished telling her the details of last night. I take a sip of my drink. It’s not enough, so I take another. And then end up chugging the whole thing. We’re both doing our respective work, but she didn’t want to leave me alone in the house now that my shadow is starting to interact more.
Adeline: “Dick and prick are the same thing,”
She looks up, her face reflecting my exact thoughts since last night. What is wrong with you? I shrug a shoulder.
Adeline: “I’m just saying. You just called him a little dick dick.” Daya: “Who did you even send your nudes to?”
she asks, snatching the bottle of vodka from my hand after I take a hefty swig.
Adeline: “I haven’t sent a nude since I was twenty. I take nudes because I like my body and want to stare at it all day.”
Daya: “I fucking love you.” It seems every day, my appreciation for Daya grows. She gave me a sense of safety I didn’t realize I was missing. I’m going to have to propose to her soon or something. Daya: “Halloween is coming up. We’re going to haunted houses this year, right?”
She’s standing at my front door, about to head home for the night. I give her a droll look.
Adeline: “Halloween is my entire life, Daya. Of course, we’re going to fucking haunted houses.” Adeline: “Are you here to kill me?”
I ask slowly, trying my best to mask the tremors wracking through my body. I’m failing. Slowly, he shakes his head.
Zade: “Why would I do that?”
I’m not sure how to answer that. He continues,
Zade: “I wouldn’t kill you, little mouse. I want to keep you.”
Adeline: “What if I don’t want you to?”
Zade: “You will.” Zade: “You think you’re only going to beg because you’re fighting for your life, but that’s where you’re wrong. The only way I’ll be sending you to heaven is with my cock.”
He grunts out a deep laugh.
Zade: “And definitely my tongue and fingers, too.” Before I can react, he’s lifting me up and tossing me over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes.
I snap, banging my fists against his back. I am not a potato. What I wanted to tell him is how fucking disgusting it is that he smokes. But the heat between my thighs likes the way he looks. I think my asshole of a vagina might’ve even been jealous of the cigarette. I’m going to make her fall in love with every single fucked up part of me. I want this girl to see me at my most depraved. I want her to experience the true darkness residing in my soul. When you make someone fall in love with the darkest parts of you, there’s nothing you can do that will scare them away. They will be yours forever because they already love all the fucked up bits and pieces of you. UNKNOWN: Oh, little mouse.
UNKNOWN: I can’t wait to eat you. There will be nothing left of you once I’m done. Zade: “You’ve been a very bad girl, little mouse,”
he drawls, his deep tenor vibrating through his throat.
Zade: “And I do enjoy showing you what happens to bad girls.” Zade: “Adeline Reilly and Daya Pierson. Those names ring any bells in those empty heads of yours?”
Max's eyes round at the edges slightly, enough to reveal recognition.
Max: “Never hear—”
Zade: “Here’s the thing about liars. I really don’t fucking like them. They kinda make me twitchy actually. Do you want me getting twitchy when my finger is on a trigger?”
Max’s lips tighten into a hard line.
Max: “Your girl was involved in my best frie—”
Zade: “And here’s the thing about assumptions,”
I cut in again, grinning when Max snarls with irritation.
Zade: “They’re baseless, and most of the time, you’re really fucking wrong. Addie doesn’t have anything to do with Archie's death. But I do.” His blue eyes narrow into slits, glaring at me heatedly. It’s the equivalent to throwing a bunny at me, but whatever makes the asshole feel like Elmer Fudd. Adeline: “That man ate the soul out of my body, and I don’t think I’ve gotten it back yet.” Adeline: “I don’t even know your name.”
Zade: “You never asked,”
Adeline: “I’m asking now, kitty cat.”
Finally, I get my foot through the hole and slide my leg out. I straighten and look at my freed leg in victory. One down. One to go.
Adeline: “You know,”
I say again, before he can even open his mouth.
Adeline: “I do quite like calling you kitty cat.”
Zade: “But it wouldn’t sound so good when you’re screaming it,” Zade: “Zade,”
he whispers against my lips.
Zade: “That’s the only name that will ever leave your lips from now on, especially when you’re making that little pussy feel good. And when I’m making that pussy feel good, then you can call me God.” Zade: “You want to know the best part? I was going to tuck you into bed and leave you alone tonight. But you seem to forget that just because I am wholly yours, little mouse, I am not a nice man.” Zade: “If you’re expecting me to say that we’re going to break up, you’re more delusional than you believe me to be. There will never be an end to me and you. But I can assure you Max is not going to be a problem any longer. He and I had a nice little talk, and he's promised to be a good boy.”
Her eyes round.
Adeline: “Did you threaten him?”
Zade: “Well, what else would I do, baby? Ask him nicely and say pretty please?” Adeline: “Actually, I hope you go to prison and are sentenced to death.”
She turns with a snarl, but she doesn’t make it a step before my hand snaps out, capturing her arm and whipping her back around, directly into my chest. Addie inhales sharply, her eyes dilating as I seize the back of her neck with one hand and grab her delectable ass with the other, lifting her up against my body.
Zade: "Will you be my last meal, baby?”
Her mouth parts and her breathing hitches. Those light brown eyes are wide and swollen with emotion. Shock. Awe. Desire. I lean in close, my mouth hovering a mere inch from hers.
Zade: “You taste like heaven. I could feast on that sweet little pussy for hours and still die a starving man. It’ll be the closest I will ever get to God before they inject me with that needle, don’t you agree?” Daya: "If he is who I think he is… he’s doing some good in the world. And he’s clearly obsessed with you in a very unhealthy manner, but from the sounds of it, he’s not the typical stalker where he’s out to murder you. I think he just really, really wants to be with you and is handling it in a very creepy fucking manner.” I have the most insane urge to turn around, walk back in that house, bend over the couch and let him fuck the rest of whatever sanity I have left out of me. Zade: “I’ve never stalked anyone before you. Not outside of my job, at least. Definitely not for romantic purposes.”
I give him a face, my expression full of incredulity.
Adeline: “Is that supposed to make me feel special?”
A slow, wicked smirk glides across his face, unbothered by my increasingly burning stare.
Zade: “I wouldn’t mind if it did.” Zade: “Before you judge, I have not and will not ever indulge in what they offer there, and eventually, I’ll get all those girls out. But they don’t know that. Don’t be jealous, little mouse. No one will ever be capable of getting my cock hard except you.”
The heroism wars with his imprudent assumption. Part of me wants to melt, while the other stiffens into granite at being accused of such a thing. I roll my eyes.
Adeline: “I’m not jealous. And it sounds like you just have erectile dysfunction to me.” Zade: “So, not only do you only fear me in the daylight, but you only love me when I’m making you come.”
That gets her attention. She whips around, fire in her eyes as she spits,
Adeline: “I don’t love you.”
I counter, topping it off with a grin. Her eyes narrow into thin slits. His intention is dangerous, but not directed towards my life. But rather my vagina. Traitorous, useless thing, you are. Zade: “Just don’t forget to scream my name when you’re holding that showerhead to your pussy. You can come knowing that I’ll be shouting yours, too.” Zade: “We're not taking it past this, Addie,”
he declares with finality.
I breathe, and the logical part of me rallies against the stupid question. I should be relieved.
Zade: “Because the first time I fuck you, I want you to have all of me. Not just bits and pieces.” Daya: “Speaking of stalkers… are you not going to tell your mom about Zade?”
I shoot her a look.
Adeline: “That’s like asking if I’m going to tell her about how one time, I let a guy fingerbang me in the middle of a concert.” Zade: “Run,”
he growls. My lungs constrict at the guttural command.
Zade: “If I catch you, I fuck you.” Zade: “So, you’re going to be my bad girl tonight? Lie to my face and act like your pussy isn’t aching to be filled up with my cock.” Zade: “What you’re seeing now is what I see every day. No matter how far I run, how hard I try to escape you—you’re everywhere I go. You’re everything I see. Loving you is like being trapped in a house of mirrors, little mouse. And I’ve never felt so at home while being so lost inside you.” The danger in his face scares me, and my juices dampen my thighs in response.
Zade: “Do you think you’re a reincarnation of Gigi, Addie? And that I’m a reincarnation of Ronaldo? We'll never really know, will we? It’s highly unlikely but not impossible. But I can’t say I don’t like the idea of it.”
A little snarl takes over her face.
Adeline: “You just like the idea of stalking me for several lifetimes.”
This time I do smile, and the dilation of her eyes has my cock growing stiff. Fuck, stop it. It hurts. But when her tongue darts out, wetting her lips, I no longer give a fuck about the pain. My hand snaps out, grabbing the back of her head and bringing her in close. She gasps, her pink lips parting, and in this moment, all I want to do is slip my cock past them and watch them wrap around me. I’d walk on glass if it meant getting to fuck Addie’s mouth again. She struggles, but I hold her steady, her hands planted on the railing to support her weight. Her purple robe is draped open, but not enough to expose the bite marks I left last night on her tits.
Zade: “You’re right. I do love the sound of watching you for lifetimes.”
I drop my voice low, as deep as I want to shove my cock inside her.
Zade: “I also love the possibility that I have fallen in love with you in each life. Fucked that sweet pussy of yours and made you fall in love with me as much as I am with you. What did I tell you, little mouse? That you couldn’t escape me. If it’s real, then I’ve chased you across time and space, and you’ve never been able to get away.” Adeline: “Why did you choose to put your life in danger and hunt down these people and kill them? What made you decide to do this?”
Her tone isn’t laced with judgment, but the need to understand. But I’m not sure my answer will offer her the understanding she's asking for.
Zade: “Because I want to, baby.”
Her brows jump in surprise, not expecting my answer.
Zade: “You’re expecting me to give you a legitimate reason for why I took this path in life. Maybe I had a sister or mother who was kidnapped and sold. Maybe I was myself. But none of those things are the case. When I learned about human trafficking and the depths of its depravity, I was sickened. And I have the skill to do something about it, so I am. I’m saving innocent people because I want to. And I’m torturing and murdering the bad because I want to.”
Her eyes widen in surprise when I prowl towards her. She doesn’t back away from me, but I see the tension roll into her shoulders like thunderclouds swollen with rain. I grab the back of her neck and pull her into me. She stumbles, steadying herself with her hands on my chest. Her breathing has escalated, the short little breaths escaping through her puffy, bruised lips. I lean in close, making sure her eyes are locked onto mine as I say,
Zade: “And the reason I stalk you, little mouse, is because I want to. Everything I do in life is my choice. I choose my morals. I choose the ones that are worth saving and the ones that are worth killing. And I choose you. " Zade: “My mother. Her favorite flowers were roses. She always had them all over the house with the thorns clipped so I wouldn’t hurt myself. One year, I told her that I would be sad when she died because all the roses would die with her. So, she gave me a plastic rose and said that as long as I have that rose, she would never be truly gone.”
Zade: “I guess I wanted to see roses all over your house, too. Maybe because you feel like home.” Adeline: "The world needs more people like you, Zade.”
I murmur, giving in and placing a soft kiss on the corner of her lips.
Zade: “But all I need is you.” Zade: “Have you been gossiping about me, little mouse? Did you tell her how big my cock is?”
Addie’s eyes pop comically. Her hand curls and swings it right into my chest. It feels like she just threw a slice of bread at me.
Adeline: “Asshole! No!” She sighs, and a sardonic smile flashes on her face.
Daya: “He stalks people for a living, so I suppose it’s no surprise that tendency has bled into his love life.”
I make a face, showing her how unimpressed I am with him not keeping his work habits where they belong. She chews her lip and shrugs, appearing a tad uncomfortable. Her best friend has a serial killer for a… I don’t know what he is. Boyfriend? Lover? Gross, no. God can smite me before I refer to a man as my lover. Whatever he is, he's crazy. Adeline: “Have you found any more information on Ronaldo?”
Daya: “Yes. He died in 1947 of a cardiogenic shock.”
My brows plunge.
Adeline: “A heart attack?”
Daya: “A broken heart. He died of broken heart syndrome.” Daya: “You’re a masochist. You’re gonna get possessed if you go up there.”
Adeline: “I think it would’ve done so by now if it really wanted to. There could be more up there.”
Daya: “I’m going to die today,”
Adeline: “You won’t die, just maybe a little possession,”
I chirp as I round the island and make way towards the staircase.
Daya: “Yeah, and guess who I’m terrorizing first?” Adeline: “Why are you in my bed staring at me like a creep?”
she asks, her voice groggy with sleep. I chuckle.
Zade: “I thought it’d been established that I’m a creep already?”
Adeline: “It has, and yet you still keep doing it.” Zade: "My body is just a vessel that my soul inhabits, attached to a shell that it'll one day leave. And when that day comes, I won’t care to let that shell go. I carry my body around because I have to, not because it's a choice. But when I possess something meaningful, I’m choosing to hold on to it. Carrying something meaningful in my skin is effortless but holding onto something that I could lose—that takes devotion." Zade: “Let me know which stars you prefer. The ones above you, or the ones I make you see.”