Divide & conquer, p.24
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       Divide & Conquer, p.24

         Part #4 of Cut & Run series by Abigail Roux
Page 24


  The song began to wind down, threatening to end the moment. Zanes hand tightened on Tys shoulder without conscious thought, and he finally turned his face carefully, skimming their lips together. Ty returned the kiss just as tentatively. They slowed to a stop as the song ended, and Ty kissed him again as they stood in the middle of the living room. The next song started up, similar in tempo, still soulful and brooding like the first. Ty didnt move with the music, though, choosing to hold Zane to him and kiss him instead, and Zane had no desire whatsoever to move from that spot. This was something new and fragile, something more intense and yet more comfortable.

  Maybe Ty had chosen this because he knew how much Zane loved to dance and hed been searching for anything he could think of to divert his cranky partner. Maybe he had wanted to do this as badly as Zane. Whichever it was, Zane didnt care. He gave in to the desire hed quashed earlier and slowly tried to wind himself tighter around Ty.

  Ty let him do as he pleased, indulging in the kiss even as he started their dance again, and Zane felt better than he had since before the accident. The tender kisses kindled a cozy golden glow inside him. With his lips on Tys, his eyes closed and Tys arms around him, the world didnt feel dark and foreboding.

  They continued like that, swaying languidly to the music, and when their lips finally parted, Zane heard himself whisper, “I love you. ”

  Ty snorted softly, as if the words amused him. He didnt stop the swaying motion of their dance. “Youre being seduced,” he said in a warm voice. He murmured his words against the corner of Zanes lips.

  Zane sighed shakily, a tremor of shock echoing through him. He hadnt realized what hed said before Tys reply, and his pulse kicked up as it crashed in. Now he didnt know what to say at all, and he felt flushed all over, still shocked by what had slipped out. He wasnt sure if he was relieved or disappointed that Ty had brushed it off—all he could feel was the swelling ache in his chest. “Seduced?” he managed to get out.

  Ty hummed and smiled against his cheek. “I was good at this sort of thing once. ” The awareness rippling through him made Zane huff out a quiet laugh as he tried to get ahold of himself and let the panic fade. “Youre still good at this sort of thing. You could tell me to do anything right now, and Id try. ”

  Ty slowed their motions to a stop. He grazed his lips over Zanes, still holding him as if they were dancing. His words were whispered when they parted. “Then I want you to close your eyes and dance with me. Tonight, forget that you cant see. ”

  Zane obeyed, and his eyelids fluttered down as he focused on feeling Ty, absorbing the power and magnetism of his presence, so strong that a warm buzz rippled through Zane, urging him to release his surprise and worry, to simply be with Ty.

  Ty readjusted his hold, pulling him closer and starting into the slow sway again. He began to hum along with the song, and soon he was singing quietly near Zanes ear. Zane had never heard him sing. He truly did have an incredible speaking voice, deep and soulful with that hint of a growl. His singing voice was no less impressive. It washed through Zane, their bodies melding with the dance, and Zane was hopelessly, helplessly lost in him.

  Chapter Ten

  G RAHAMS parents had been in France for the last two months and would be there for another week, so Pierces crew had been using his house as a home base. Graham sat at the kitchen table, one leg bouncing furiously underneath it as he tapped at the laptop in front of him, paging through news articles. Their press coverage increased every day, feeding Pierces confidence. As if his ego needed any more stroking. Pierce had been on his high horse for days now, ordering them around. Ross seemed happy enough to keep on with Pierces schemes, but ever since finding out about Mr. Garrett, the great master plan had lost its shine for Graham. He was pretty sure Hannah felt the same way. Every time he saw her, she looked more and more like a scared rabbit.

  “So, Ross,” Pierce said from his seat at the head of the table, chest puffed up with self-assumed authority, “youre going to get those keys so we can get into the gym to plant the bomb. Im picking up the last of the supplies tomorrow, and then I can start building it. This bomb will be the best yet. ”

  “Sure thing, Pierce,” Ross agreed, tapping out his orders on the iPad in front of him.

  “What gym?” Hannah asked.

  “We cant get into a cop gym. Theyre, like, guarded or in the bottom of the station, arent they?” “We got into their baseball diamond, didnt we? Anyway, were not going after a cop gym. Were planting it at the Y on Druid Hill,” Pierce said.

  “The Y?” Hannahs voice edged up. “I thought we were only blowing up places with cops. That we werent going to go after regular people. The mall was bad enough. ”

  “The mall was our best hit yet! And it was because there were civilians there. And the press. The pigs are more likely to fuck things up if theyre showing off for the fucking media,” Pierce snapped. “Besides, the web site says the gym is closed for renovation. No one will get hurt that doesnt deserve it. ”

  Hannah looked down, frowning faintly as she poked at one of the bank bags in front of her. “They raised over a million dollars to build that new gym,” Pierce said, sounding far too pleased with himself. Graham didnt know why. The Y was a charity, wasnt it? It wasnt like blowing up some milliondollar store. Didn’t the other bombs do enough damage?

  “Why do we need a better bomb?” Graham couldnt help but ask. “The others didnt do enough damage?”

  “No, they didnt,” Pierce said flatly.

  “A bomb is a bomb, isnt it?” Hannah asked tentatively. “Its just supposed to keep them away from the banks. ”

  Pierce smacked his hand on the tabletop, and Hannah cringed. “It needs to be a better bomb because I said so. ” Grahams stomach began to roil. He hoped that Mr. Garrett had found that note by now. It was okay, robbing banks. It was kind of cool, kind of badass, and fuck the banks anyway. Its not like they ever did anything good for anyone. He had heard his dad grumbling about all the money theyd lost when… well, Graham didnt really understand that part, and half of it had to do with politics anyway and who cared about that, but it had been fun, going after something everyone seemed to think was so big and powerful. Plus, if they got enough money Graham could quit his crappy restaurant job his father had made him get to teach him “fiscal responsibility. ”

  But Pierce was getting scary. It wasnt about the money to him anymore, and Graham didnt know when—or if—hed stop. Theyd been lucky more people hadnt been hurt at the mall.

  “Pierce, were really hurting people—”

  “Just the fucking cops!” Pierce yelled.

  “So which one are we hitting next?” Ross asked, looking so eager that the acid started inching up through Grahams gullet. “„We arent,” Pierce said with a smug smile. “Hannah is. ” Hannah went totally white. “What? Me?”

  “Its about time you did something besides making phone calls,” Pierce ordered. “Time to earn your part of the take. Youre going to rob the bank this time. ”

  “B-b-but I dont know how!” Hannah wailed, wringing her hands. “Suck it up, Hannah,” Pierce said harshly. “You want your money so you can get away from Stepmommy Dearest, youll do what I tell you. You hear me?”

  “Yes,” Hannah mewled, slumping in on herself.

  “So what are we doing while Hannahs hitting the bank?” Ross asked. “Grahams going to have the car nearby to get Hannah when she comes out. You and I are going to take care of those two piece of shit pigs who called us out on TV,” Pierce said with such relish that Graham had to swallow hard on his gorge.

  “Do you know who they are yet?”

  “The loudmouths name is Grady. I cant find his address, but Im going to follow him home from the FBI one day. ”

  “Why didnt you just take care of him when you had him in the car that time?” Ross asked. Pierces face reddened. Hed talked a lot of talk, but Graham had seen the size of the FBI agent. He knew exactly w
hy Pierce hadnt “taken care” of him. Agent Grady would tear Pierces arms off like a pit bull playing with a kitten.

  “I want to make him suffer first!” Pierce shouted.

  Ross raised his hands in a placating gesture, and suddenly Pierce was fine again. “So Graham, you have to find a getaway car. ”

  “We can use that kickass truck,” Ross suggested.

  “That Fed wont be needing it,” Pierce said smugly, pulling out a ring of keys and twirling it on his finger.

  “Im not driving a truck you stole from a Fed!” Graham said, feeling his stomach flip unpleasantly. “Then you better come up with something of your own,” Pierce snapped. “You dont like the truck, then Ill drive it. Ive already replaced the plate. ”

  Graham slumped down into his chair under the sense of impending doom that hung in the air. Pierce stood up and leaned over, planting his hands on top of the mess of schematics and maps. “We keep going. No ones getting hurt who doesnt deserve it. ” He reached out to the middle of the kitchen table and plucked up the pink ceramic piggy bank hed set there the day he first laid out his plans. “Were gonna split this city wide open,” he said, smirking before deliberately dropping the pig to the table and watching it crack right through the middle.

  “T Y, YOUneed a break,” Zane said as he walked slowly into the living room. He was almost certain Ty was in the kitchen on the other side of the bar. Hed heard glass bottles clanking in the refrigerator.

  It wasnt even the weekend yet, and Zane knew the babysitter role had to be chafing. While Ty had been good as gold in the two days since moving Zane to his row house, it couldnt last much longer. Zane didnt want it to last; it was starting to freak him out. He almost wanted to pick a fight just to hear Ty rant so it would vault him back out of The Twilight Zone.

  “What?” Ty asked in a muffled voice, as if he was kneeling below the level of the kitchen counter. Zane frowned as he reached out in front of him, certain the bar should be there. “I said you need a break. What are you doing? You sound like youre in a hole. ”

  He felt more than heard Ty stand quickly, right in front of him. “Nothing. ” Zane tipped his head to the side, trying to remember what Ty kept in the cabinets under the bar. He didnt believe Ty for an instant, but since he couldnt hear anything ticking, he let it go. “Nothing,” he stated. “Yeah, thats the problem. You need a break,” he stated for the third time.

  “I wasnt doing anything,” Ty insisted in his most innocent voice. It turned more suspicious as he kept talking. “A break from what?” Now Zane was sure he didnt want to know what Ty had been doing. “A break from your babysitting duties. ”

  “Oh,” Ty said with a huff. “Why do you say that? I havent set fire to anything lately. ” Normally, Zane would just give Ty a look, deeming the justspoken words bullshit. But since he couldnt see Ty to focus on him, that wasnt going to work. “But you have the matches in hand,” Zane said knowingly.

  Ty cleared his throat. “What would you suggest, then, since you cant be left to your own incompetent devices?” “I think I can manage for a while,” Zane said seriously. “Go out. Do something. Youve been fluttering like your mom. Not that I dont enjoy it, but I can hear you twitching. ”

  “Fluttering like my mom?” Ty repeated with special emphasis on the words that insulted him, meaning all of them. Zane heard him throw something that flopped like heavy paper onto the counter. “You are an ungrateful jackass,” Ty said slowly.

  “Ty, I dont think I could be more grateful. I just dont want you to resent helping me. ” “You told me I flutter like my mom!”

  “To me, thats a hell of a compliment. It means you care enough to stick around and take care of me even when its driving you crazy,” Zane tried to explain. This wasnt how hed expected Ty to react. Hed figured Ty would have been off like a shot. Not in a bad way, just in a golden-retriever-shut-up-in-the-house-way-too-fucking-long way.

  Ty snorted like a bull, and even though Zane couldnt see him, he instinctively knew Tys head was down. “Well, what about you?” Ty countered, his voice obstinate. “You feeling the need to climb out the window too?”

  “Absolutely. But the overwhelming fear of free fall is a definite deterrent,” Zane replied, setting both hands on the bar as he shifted his weight. “So Im sticking with iTunes on the couch for now. You can download a new book for me. Thatll keep me amused for hours. ”

  Ty hummed unhappily. “I dont like the idea of leaving you alone. And not just because you could catch a toe on the carpet and go plummeting down the steps. ”

  “You dont have carpet on the steps. ”

  “Not the point. ”

  “We have to try it sometime,” Zane said quietly. “As much as the idea appeals, you cant be within shouting distance forever. ” “You getting tired of me?” Ty posed in the same tone. “No. ” Zane also had a more florid answer, but he didnt think making Ty guffaw would really help this discussion. Hed be a happy man if he had Ty within arms reach at all times.

  “Okay. So. A couple days apart so we dont kill each other, is that what were talking about?” Ty asked as he started moving around behind the counter.

  Zane hadnt really been thinking in terms of days. Hed simply been hoping to get Ty out of the house for a couple of hours. He really had no idea how hed cope by himself for days, but to keep Ty from fraying around the edges, hed get through it. “Sure,” he tried to answer confidently.

  “Im not comfortable with you being alone, Zane,” Ty told him with the sort of blunt honesty for which most people disliked him. “So give me an alternative, or killing each other is what weve got. ”
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