The revenger, p.1
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       The Revenger, p.1
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           Debra Anastasia
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The Revenger


  Table of Contents

  The Revenger

  Copyright

  Dedication

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Epilogue

  Acknowledgments

  About the Author

  Books By Debra Anastasia

  The Revenger

  Debra Anastasia

  Copyright

  Copyright (c) 2016 Debra Anastasia

  All rights reserved

  Published by Debra Anastasia

  Cover Art Design - Teresa Mummert

  Cover Art Image: Depositphotos

  Editing: Jessica Royer Ocken

  Formatting by CP Smith

  The Revenger is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and

  incidents are all products of the author's twisted imagination and are

  used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locals, or persons,

  living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  Except as permitted under the US Copyright Act of 1976, no part of

  this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any

  form by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without

  the prior written permission of the author.

  Dedication

  For T, D, and J

  It’s always all for you.

  Chapter 1

  Blank Gravestone

  The gravestone felt cold against her back. From where she sat, Savvy could hear the squeals and happy voices in the playground just over the hill. Maybe it was torture to come here. It never brought her peace. It did bring tears. And sitting on top of her husband and daughter felt sacrilegious, but what else could she do? It was the closest thing to hugging them she could find.

  She wanted to believe she could feel them, but she couldn’t. She wanted to see them in her peripheral vision. She never did. Her mind refused to play any hopeful tricks at all.

  There was no way to make the pain go away. She turned her wrist over to look at the scars her failed suicides had left behind. If she almost completely closed her eyes, the harsh lines spelled the word love.

  Fucking ironic.

  Hugging her stomach, she took another traitorous breath. She told her brother she came here to talk to them, and that it made her feel better. Both were lies. She never spoke a word, in her head or from her lips. The heartbreak was white noise, an endless, desperate background.

  A bright red playground ball launched into view from the happier place. It bounced and rolled to a stop close to her feet. In the time before, she would have thrown it back over the fence in the distance to the child who was surely missing it.

  Now she looked at the ball without even really seeing it. Her daughter had loved to play. The word play ripped Savvy’s soul open again.

  “Do you want to play, sweetheart?”

  “Yes, Mommy. Yes!”

  Savvy closed her eyes when she heard a set of little feet coming to retrieve the ball.

  “Lady, are you okay?”

  She didn’t answer. She let the silence create enough unease that the child picked up the ball and trotted away.

  She hated seeing children now. The soft hair, the big eyes—she just couldn’t make her brain do it.

  And her husband was buried here as well. For a moment she remembered how they’d been wrapped in each other’s arms, the way he would rock her daughter to sleep at night.

  Savvy bit her lip. She needed the physical pain to stop her tears. She ran a hand through her blonde hair and tensed her body. Standing quickly, she brushed off her jeans. She looked at the empty stone. It bore no words; it was blank—just like the rest of her life. Today was the anniversary of their death.

  She still couldn’t bring herself to have their names etched in everlasting print. She couldn’t bring herself to clean her daughter’s room. She still slept on one side of the bed, leaving his side free, as if he might crawl under the covers and pull her to him.

  The sun was bright, deceiving. Savvy hadn’t worn a jacket, but the crisp wind certainly demanded one. Her body still sought such comforts, and that pissed her off. She didn’t want to eat, yet she got hungry. She didn’t want her hair bouncy and clean, yet she showered. Habit maybe. Betrayal is what it felt like when she put on a coat. They certainly weren’t warm in the cold ground.

  She began the walk back to her house, one she knew too well now. She’d seen the seasons pass, the green leaves on the oak turning colors and dropping to be a blanket for her feet. Snow had come as a crunchy announcement of the winter. Her daughter had loved snow. It was magic floating from the clouds, a whole world covered with white cotton candy like a cartoon. And now spring had burst on the scene again. This time as a cruel reminder of all she’d lost.

  Savvy opened the door to her house and was greeted by a loud Stanley Cup playoffs game and her brother’s angry shouting. His team was losing. She closed the door with a careful click. She appreciated that he was here adding life into the house, even if nothing could put life back into her eyes.

  “You back, Savs?”

  Tobias. His voice was so familiar, the sound of her childhood. He was Toby to everyone else now, but always Tobias to her.

  “Yeah.” She knew he was just making her talk, and that was fine.

  She stood in the entryway but could tell he’d pulled the recliner into its upright position by the familiar sound it made. Her husband had loved that chair. Late in the evening, she’d used to hear that noise and then reliable footsteps to each door and window would follow. He’d made sure the locks were turned and hit the combination on the keypad to arm the alarm system. Keeping them safe.

  She snorted at the irony. You did your best, babe, she told him silently. I was the one who messed up.

  “Did you go to the uh…” Tobias filled the doorway with his tall frame. He reached up and grabbed the doorjamb, stretching his back.

  She nodded and busied herself with taking off her sneakers.

  “I know today is the anniversary, but do you really think that’s helping? I mean, maybe you should give that therapist a call.” Tobias’s arms were well defined, and his bicep twitched. He was worried; she knew that. She wished she could help him, but she felt like she was inside a thick, glass bubble and the rest of the world was on the outside.

  She put her shoes in the front closet and stood there a second too long. She saw her husband’s work shoes, which he would never put his feet in again. She closed her eyes and pinched her arm, but her tears ignored the pain and fell.

  “Damn it. How can I do this?” Tobias asked. “I can’t watch you just be stagnant. You don’t do anything. You won’t move anything of theirs.” He came behind her and hugged her tightly, too tightly.

  Savvy hated to talk about it, about anything. He deserved a better sister who would at least try.

  “I
t’s been a year,” he continued. “I’ve been living here half a year, and there’s no change for you. How can I help you? Tell me what to do; I’ll do it.” His desperate words moved her hair.

  She spoke before she could stop herself, and she knew there would be emotional hell to pay for uttering anything about them. “Every morning, I get hit by a truck. Every afternoon, my mind gets to take a bath in lava. Every night is so black. I don’t want to be here without them.”

  Savvy reached around her brother’s strong arm and wiped at her cheeks. It was pointless; once she started to cry, she couldn’t stop for hours, sometimes days.

  “Tobias, I’m too weak to die, and I have nothing to live for. If I could just stop breathing, maybe the pain would end. It never stops. My heart’s cracked open, and all the love has spilled out. I can’t fix it. I don’t even want to—”

  Her sobs stopped their conversation.

  He held her strong, saying, “I know. Let it out. I know.”

  No one knows, she thought bitterly. No one knows. They’re gone.

  Tobias did his best, he always did. He was a wonderful brother, but she could tell she was wearing him down. He needed his life back.

  But Savvy was too scared to act normal, to convince him to go, because then the house would be empty—like another grave for her sweet family.

  *~*~*~*

  That night, Savvy had tucked herself under the covers on her side of the bed when she heard the loud squeak of Tobias getting into the guest bed a few doors down the hall.

  She had finally quieted her tears enough for him to leave her, but now they came back. Like a cough, they forced themselves on her. But Savvy could cry silently—a skill she’d never wanted to know she had. Her pillow drowned the sobs. The tears never fixed anything, though—just another bodily function in her day. There was no relief in the salty wetness.

  When finally her eyes had given up all the moisture they had, Savvy sighed. Another long night lay ahead. She got up and paced, just like the night she’d been in labor with her daughter. Then she sat, trying to put a lid on the memory, but it all came back. Her husband, Kal, was rubbing her back and reading from the pregnancy book Savvy had jokingly called the Bible.

  Savvy punched her mattress and shook her head. She wanted to pretend she didn’t know where she had to go now. But she did. She told herself she needed fresh air. She didn’t.

  The front hall’s closet squeaked, and Tobias was sure to hear it, so she slipped a pair of red heels from her closet and put them on her feet instead of her sneakers. She’d have to wear her fancy shoes. She took her keys from the hook by the front door. Pressing the alarm buttons would jolt Tobias awake, so she slid open a non-alarmed window instead.

  Outside, the motion-sensor light blinked happily to its brighter setting, illuminating the driveway and the sensible sedan Tobias had insisted she buy to replace the van that was totaled in the wreck. Once inside the car, she let the shakes take her over. This was a requirement before driving now. Her nervous system staged an involuntary rebellion each time she returned to the driver’s seat.

  Finally, when she could hold still, she put her keys in the ignition and popped the car in gear.

  I’m really doing this.

  She’d been numb for so long that she almost liked the feel of her heart clattering against her ribcage. Savvy took all the correct streets to find her way to the worst part of town.

  I can’t kill me, but I’m sure I can find someone who’ll do the deed.

  For the first time in a year, Savvy smiled.

  Chapter 2

  What Have I Done?

  Savvy hadn’t driven somewhere with a purpose in a long time. Before, there’d been well-baby visits and trips to the store for diapers, then socks, then school dresses. Now Tobias usually drove.

  She was getting the sweats again. This sensation had come and gone periodically since the accident. Sometimes she thought it was growing progressively worse, but it was hard to tell. Either way, Savvy chalked it up to guilt. The accident report in the newspaper the day after her life was over had been simply worded. The dichotomy between the brief write up on the impact of Savvy’s life was staggering.

  Police are looking for more information and witnesses regarding the van vs. truck accident. The incident resulted in the death of a father and daughter. Anyone with information about the substance found at the accident is asked to call the non-emergency number at the Police Station. The corrosive effects will cause a detour until the road can be repaired.

  Tonight, when she stopped at a red light, her eyes seemed to haze over. She glanced in the rearview mirror, and her pupils looked like they were shaking. The lighting was awful. Maybe she was just fine. Maybe just sad. Were tears blurring her vision yet again? Sometimes she didn’t even realize when she was crying now. She wouldn’t be lucky enough to be sick. To be dying.

  Whatever it was, this eye thing was new. She looked at herself in the side mirror as well. Now the shaking was subsiding, the night around her looked sharper, clearer again.

  She would hide this from Tobias, if it even proved to be something more than a physical manifestation of her grief. He would take her right to the doctor, and she would have to take off her clothes. She was perfectly sure the fluorescent lights in the doctor’s office would highlight her moment of selfishness for all to see. The moment that had ended everything and everyone, and had made her world spin out of control.

  The light turned green, and Savvy took off too fast. The car jerked under her hands. It’s probably scared too.

  The bar she’d seen so often in the news as a crime scene was not nearly as spectacular as its infamous reputation. Even in the middle of the night, it was shabby looking. Its blue signs were all missing letters, making the words incoherent. Judging from the assholes in the parking lot, reading was the last thing on their minds anyway.

  She felt revulsion, and, God help her, fear.

  Well, fuck you! I bet your family was scared too. That didn’t stop you, did it? she asked herself silently, angrily.

  The lines on the lot were faded, so Savvy just pulled out of the way and parked her car. She got out before the engine had even settled into full quiet. She left the keys on the seat and didn’t lock the door. It didn’t matter anymore.

  Low whistles and vile comments launched at her as she went for the front door. Music poured from the place with a consistent, beating bass. She felt her resolve fall to her feet. Her hands started to shake again.

  She felt like a coward.

  She was a coward.

  Savvy kept walking anyway. By the time she got to the blacked-out glass door, she remembered she had no wallet. No money. What the hell was she going to do while she waited for someone to kill her? It didn’t matter anymore.

  The music grew ten times louder and waved over her as she opened the door. Her heartbeat immediately assimilated to the rhythm. The bouncer stepped in front of her. He was huge.

  “ID?” His voice was so high and squeaky she almost made eye contact.

  She shook her head, keeping her eyes on the floor. She didn’t have any ID. She was going to fucking fail again.

  “That’s okay. Go ahead. We need more chicks in here.”

  Savvy nodded her thanks and continued inside. When she glanced around the interior, she noted a suspicious lack of movement. The loud music had set up the pretense that there would be dancing. But most chairs had scruffy, scary-looking men in them. The women present were barely dressed and being pawed at half-heartedly. They were old news. Recycled goods.

  But Savvy was new.

  She saw an open stool at the bar and sat. The bartender slapped a drink down in front of her without asking her preference. The glass was dirty.

  Savvy took her finger and followed the circle around the edge. Soon she could smell smoke wafting over her shoulder, and a low, slurring voice wanted her attention. She looked at her reflection in the mirror behind the bar. In the smudged glass she saw that her suitor had a long go
atee and a beat-up leather jacket. His sweaty-man aroma finally made it through the smoke to invade her personal space.

  “Hey, sexy. Can I get a dance outta you?”

  Say yes. This is what you want, remember?

  Savvy turned and looked the dirty man in the eyes. Around his body glowed a faint red aura. Savvy blinked. She could feel her pupils shaking again, like they had in the car, and the room grew foggy and soft-focused. Maybe the red stoplight is still affecting my eyesight?

  No. This color around him, it was something more than a malfunction in her brain. The color around him pulled at the edges of her soul. She had to remind herself how to breathe. It was damn near sexual—not the man, but the sight of this color around him. This had never happened to her before. Maybe she was losing her mind. She glanced around the room, and sure enough, a few of the other guys had flickers of red outlining them. But not everyone. It was confusing, but a part of her understood it that didn’t speak common sense.

  Shaken, she shook her head no and turned back to her drink.

  “Fucking bitch.” He sauntered away.

  She took a sip of the alcohol. Her nose wrinkled in distaste, and the bartender laughed at her reaction from the other end of the bar. She could hear everything so well. The music vibrated in her bones. A drug deal went down in the back corner. She turned to look in time to see the red around the seller turn up its hue. There was almost a faint hum to it. She could hear it.

  What the hell is in this drink?

  Her suitor was now hitting on another girl. She rejected him as well. Savvy could almost hear the girl’s eyes closing and opening, even with her back turned.

  Maybe they slipped me Ecstasy?

  “No, Bill, you hurt too much. I’m saying no.” The girl spoke firmly, not a hint of tease.

  “Bring her another drink, Ryan. I’ll get in somebody’s pants tonight, even if it kills them.”

  Bill’s guffaws actually made Savvy flinch. They felt like gravel being kicked at her back. She looked at him in the mirror again. His aura, still visible, had grown deeper, more red. It was as real as the drink in front of her, as the pain that never stopped coursing through her.

 
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