Captured - Cara Wylde



“Donald! Finally! I thought you were never going to get here! What took you so long?”

My uncle extended his arms, a wide smile on his sharp, weathered face. My father laughed and went to hug his brother. “Sorry about that, Harry. Traffic’s been a beast.”

“They’re here now, Harrison,” my aunt fussed. “Stop being a bad host.”

She shuffled toward me and my mother, and kissed our cheeks. The scent of her expensive Italian perfume clashed heavily with the sight of the wild mountains that surrounded us from almost every direction. Standing in front of our summer home in a black cocktail dress, she looked as out of place as I felt.

“Welcome, Georgia, Isabel,” she said. “Oh, Isabel, look at you. You’ve grown so much since I’ve seen you last. Why, at this rate, by the time we meet again, you’ll have started a family of your own.”

I forced a smile, although I didn’t appreciate the dig at my romantic life. I didn’t appreciate any of them, period, and I hated the fact that my parents had dragged me on this horrible trip. But my university classes had just ended, and my father had refused to let me stay home, despite my trying to convince him otherwise for one whole month.

“You’re going and that’s final, Isabel,” he had said. “And you’ll be pleasant. Don’t forget, we still pay your tuition.”

I hated them so much, but I consoled myself with the fact that I’d graduate soon. Hopefully, once that happened, I’d be able to get a job. Hell, I’d even take flipping burgers over this clusterfuck.

But for now, I had to grit my teeth and bear it. “Hi, Aunt Melinda. You look well. Did Rich and Emmett come too?”

I had no desire to talk to my awful cousins, but they had their uses. If I brought them up, chances were that their mother would get distracted and stop talking about me.

It worked – and it didn’t. My uncle answered in her stead. “Oh, yes. They’re inside, getting ready.”

The expression on his face made my stomach turn, and I knew what he was talking about. My father guessed too because he laughed. “Gotta love the enthusiasm of the young.”

I didn’t say anything. I didn’t think I could have spoken to save my life. I just allowed my mother and my aunt to guide me into the house, feeling exhausted.

They’d already started gossiping about the latest scandals that had shaken our immediate circle of friends, but I paid them no heed. I wondered how long I’d have to endure this before I could make my escape for the night and lock myself in my room.

Outside, I could hear the sound of male laughter. “Which ones are we taking today, Dad?”

“Well, you know what I always say. You can’t go wrong with a Remington.”

“I’m personally fonder of my old Ruger 77. But you boys can try out the other rifles. Take your pick until you find the gun that best works for you.”

“You think we’ll see any bears?”

“Haven’t heard of any sightings lately, but I could be wrong. Anyway, I had other plans for today. Some pretty nasty wolves nearby. I reckon it’s time to get rid of the infestation.”

I wanted to cover my ears so that I wouldn’t have to listen to them, but I knew better than to think it would work. This disgusting thing always happened whenever they came here, and it followed me no matter where I went.

This house was a summer residence our family shared, built by my father and my uncle when they’d been younger, before I’d even been born. Massive and luxurious, it was situated in the Appalachian Mountains, next to a beautiful lake. The locals called it Black Diamond Lake, because of the stone formations that occasionally popped out from the water. On moonlit nights, the stones seemed to glow, giving the lake an almost mystical feel.

When I’d been a child, before I’d understood how things really worked around here, I’d liked to go swimming in the beautiful, peaceful waters. I’d felt as if I was a princess, with magic dancing at my fingertips.

But I wasn’t a child anymore, and I now realized there was no magic here. This house was actually hiding something deep and foul. While on paper, it was supposed to be a holiday home for us to relax, in practice, it was more like headquarters, allowing the male members of my family to indulge in their hunting habit.

A lot of the land here belonged to