The revenger, p.13
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       The Revenger, p.13
 

           Debra Anastasia
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  “Okay, blow up the shit, destroy the ring, and pop his head off his neck. My to-do list is getting awesome.” She motioned with her head toward the buggy, ready to do business immediately.

  Boston shook his head. “But here’s the thing. The compound? In the right hands? It could be an answer to a lot of the energy problems we spend a huge chunk of our military’s time trying to solve. It could be one of the best things our generation produces for the ones that come after.”

  “I think the potential for evil outweighs the need for energy.” She turned to face him.

  “You think people are clearly defined by good and bad? Is it that easy for you?” His dark hair ruffled in the ocean breeze, his eyes now hidden by his sunglasses.

  “It can be.”

  “Then what are you?” He lifted his chin in challenge.

  She exhaled in a whistle. It was good point. What the hell was she? Before her recent time with Kal and Sara, she would have said evil as the day is long—for what she could do, for what she wanted to do, for what she had done, especially to her own family. But when she was pounding on someone with a red aura, she felt right, almost good, like she had a higher purpose.

  “I’m ready to get back, that’s what I am.” Savvy ended the conversation by walking back to the buggy. Boston followed after a few seconds and lifted Trooper into her lap.

  As usual, she could feel her power pulse and strengthen as she returned to the house. Boston’s jaw tensed when she glanced at him. It was a tough job, trying to keep her in line. She wondered if he would live through it.

  Chapter 21

  Consistency

  Silas had settled in at his compound in Spain and even given himself a day to relax, though he spent it silently willing Savannah to heal. Now he had things to do besides watch the live feed into her world, but he was having trouble making himself do them. He tapped his fingers on his desk. It looked the same as the desks in Maryland, California, and Ireland, among others. He craved consistency, even if it was manufactured.

  He called the scientist back in the US, knowing full well his timing was shit. The bastard was probably sound asleep.

  He surprised Silas with a crisp answer. “Yes?”

  “I’d like you to report your advances so far. You’ve had the ring nearly forty-eight hours now.”

  The scientist sighed in exasperation. “Well, I’m extracting the Compound E left in the ring and trying to develop it to be more flexible, as you requested—protective to you, but not quite so stifling to the woman. At the same time I have two assistants running algorithms to identify possible locations of more of the compound’s essential ingredient for you. We’ve hit a snag. I’ll work it out, but I’ll need more time. The ring is almost done, though, so at least I can offer you something.”

  “Will it have a larger radius, like I requested?” Silas looked at his bare finger.

  “No, sir. I’m working with the tiniest fraction of the substance we have left—which could be used to further our future development efforts if you’d part with the ring…”

  Silas didn’t respond.

  “The ring will be done in three days’ time. It will be dulled enough that she can test the boundaries on command. And, as I must remind you, without command.”

  “But can she still touch me? Can she physically lay her hands on my body?” The thought of it filled him, sending blood to his groin in a rush.

  “She can, and she will be an average-strength woman when she does so. But again, to remind you, any human can kill any other one—with a gun, with a knife.” The scientist waited.

  “Your warning has been received, but don’t you see? She wants to feel my blood slip through her fingers. She seems addicted to the pain she causes.”

  Silas hung up because he felt like he was exposing his more vulnerable side. However, he knew his obsession with Savannah was probably quite apparent since he’d opted to use the remaining Compound E to get closer to the woman sooner, rather than further his weapons-development plans.

  Setting limits had never been Silas’s strong suit. He kicked his feet up and rested his expensive shoes on his desk, regarding Savannah as she slept in one of his beds thousands of miles away. She looked almost peaceful in sleep, the moonlight highlighting the lovely slopes in her profile. He was dying to trace her jaw with his tongue, to command her to do things and watch the hate in her eyes as she complied. To have someone so strong, so filled with fury submit to him would be the ultimate high.

  Silas had plenty of experience with the feeling. His mother had been forever infatuated with his father. Housekeeping for the great Baron Sagan was a source of pride. The drunken night his father had dragged his willing mother to bed was the high point of her existence. She suffered from an unending draw to the power the man could provide, and Silas became the ultimate chess piece in a game as old as time. He was the heir to the throne. It mattered not to his mother that the throne was built out of human bones and floated on a sea of blood; she wanted her son to have it.

  When Silas was younger, his half siblings from various mothers had never viewed him as remotely equal. His chores included bringing them food and snacks. Two of his older brothers took to throwing pennies at him whenever he entered the room. His father saw him flinch once and rained a beating down on his head, screaming at his mother the whole time. “You claim this boy is mine? See how he flinches? He’s a coward. And not of my blood.”

  His mother had hung her head in shame. And his father had dictated that his brothers always keep their pockets full of change to throw until the boy learned to accept the pain and shock of the hits.

  His mother encouraged him as he hardened, whispering promises to him. “Those children? They are soft, not what Baron needs. You’ll see. They’ll fail, and then he will claim you. And the riches he has will be yours. Your future, your children—they will want for nothing.”

  He still remembered his tearful reply. “But he hates me!”

  His mother had slapped him then. “Never say that about your father. Ultimate respect. Only. Forever. Without him, we would be on the streets.”

  So Silas had completed his chores, accepting the welts that came from the abuse he suffered, and then every chance he got, he made his way out to the very streets his mother feared. There he’d met up with Jack. Jack was rich as shit but acted like a human. He’d smuggled the twelve-year-old Silas a beer to dull the pain of the marks he bore. And like that they were bonded: confidants, troublemakers, and brothers. Silas loved Jack fiercely. Though they experimented with every trouble they could find, they always had each other’s back. They grew into teenagers exceptional at shoplifting and stealing from the rich people in their lives to provide the distractions Silas needed. Jack didn’t need them, but he gamely ventured into the shadows with Silas anyway.

  And as things in Silas’s house went to shit, Jack had listened with wide eyes. Having someone that cared how his damn day went meant more than his mother’s constant angling for power. Jack was the only brother he ever acknowledged. He wasn’t even blood. But it was promise they made to each other so many years ago, to never turn their backs on each other that mattered most.

  Jack had proven himself the day Baron was teaching teenaged Silas a lesson in manhood. When Silas had missed two nights worth of boy bullshit, Jack came looking. When he found Baron holding a gun on Silas, Jack had stood between the old man and his friends and talked Baron out of ending his best friend’s life.

  Silas’s men would never understand why Jack was off limits, why the man lived under a cloak of protection no one had ever witnessed before. Until Savannah. He needed her for different reasons, but the commands came from the same part of his soul.

  Seeing Jack woo her had caused his whole brain to seize up. And then the fools who’d been too drunk to care about his orders? The whole night had been a clusterfuck.

  Jack was fine, fortunately. Silas had spoken to him by phone the day before, and he’d warned him off of Savannah. He’d also report
ed that she was healing well, and so blisteringly fast, which Silas could confirm because of his constant gawking at her.

  As a test case for Compound E in humans, she was fascinating, as well as compelling as a woman and unparalleled as a killer.

  Savannah turned then, as if she could hear his thoughts. She yawned, her gaze found the camera, and she smiled in a way that didn’t make it to her eyes. She dragged her index finger across her throat before pointing at him.

  He groaned with pleasure. She was like him—broken down to nothing. He recognized the walking dead in her.

  *~*~*~*

  Toby stood in the dank, night-filled room of the abandoned house with Teresa a week after their last meeting. The pizza delivery guy had started him on a treasure hunt again. But seeing Teresa at the end of it was worth the trouble—and of course, working to free Savvy.

  “So let me get this straight, this dumbass is hiring some housekeepers, and you’re scheduled to be one?”

  Teresa nodded. “That’s the plan. No weapons. It’s amazing that our connections have opened this up.”

  He looked her up and down before asking, “How much of this has to do with my sister?”

  “Well, I was going in either way. We’ve been watching the Sagan family for almost two decades. This opportunity is something we’ve coveted.” She shifted from one foot to another.

  “You keep saying we but you aren’t close to old enough to have been following anyone for twenty years.” He took a step toward her. She took a step back.

  “We is my employer. They employ the forgotten. Witness protection program? That’s their applicant pool. Reduced sentence for military war crime? They have them by the short hairs. This family has been involved in way more than the usual crime. They’ve always wanted to dabble in world conflicts.”

  “No one pays enough to go into a house like that without a weapon.” He took another step toward her, and she held her ground.

  “Some motivation isn’t monetary. And they’ve trained me well and I owe them.” Her gaze lingered on his lips. “This is personal for me too. Your sister is in a position to help us, maybe. And if I can get to her, I can keep her informed and hopefully alive.”

  “How likely is that? I mean, I don’t know how much time she has left anyway.” Toby gripped his own forearm, feeling the bite of his fingernails.

  “Tell me what you know. Starting tomorrow, if I’m selected and hired, I won’t be able to talk to you.” She waited as he wrestled with his loyalties.

  Eventually, he came to feel like this was his only option. Teresa had a chance to tell Savvy to get the hell out of that house.

  “The doctor Savvy saw after her accident told me the mice they’ve been testing to try to recreate what happened to her got super strong and then attacked the others before dying. I need her to get out of the house so we can get her treatment.” His palms felt moist, but his mind felt less burdened after sharing that information.

  “He has a treatment?” She looked interested.

  “Not yet. I haven’t heard from him. I was waiting until Savvy was here.”

  Her eyes narrowed. “Does he have some? Compound E, that is? The substance?”

  “He might. He was testing the bits left on Savvy’s clothes the night of the accident.”

  “I’ll need his number.” Teresa pulled out her phone.

  “I don’t have it memorized. I’ll get it from my house—but wait, this won’t affect you trying to help Savvy, will it? Shit, I’ll go to that place tonight and get her. I’m sick of waiting.” He punched his hand.

  “You would die before you got to the gate. Why do you think we’ve waited all this time to get on the inside? If we could have busted through the front door, we would have. And we have armored cars. Remember, the minute you’re dead, Savvy has no motivation to stay alive. What’s the doctor’s name?”

  After hesitating, he told her. He knew they would find it in his phone records anyway. He was becoming accustomed to how invasive the agency could be. But Toby trusted her; it felt amazing to have someone on his side—not looking at him like he was crazy. And it didn’t hurt that she was so pretty. He waited as she spoke sharply to the person she called.

  A moment later she looked back at him. “He’s dead. That doctor died in a fire when his lab exploded.”

  Toby felt his eyes widen in surprise. “When?” he managed. “How did…” He trailed off. How easily she’d related the information. He heard it much harder. Savvy’s chances of reversing her poisoning had dwindled to nil.

  Teresa slipped her phone in her pocket and closed the distance between them. “Hey, that doctor would have been great, but we have researchers raring to get a hold of this, ready and able to do a whole lot more for Savvy. Let me get her out alive. Then we can worry about the rest. I’m sorry. Was the doctor a friend of yours?”

  Toby shook his head. “No. My friends have faded away. It’s been all about Savvy since the accident. They didn’t understand how important it was for me to be with her. She’s on the edge, you know?”

  Teresa touched his arm. “I know.”

  “What was it? What put you on this path? You said it was personal.” Toby covered her hand on his forearm with his.

  “Let’s just say being a housekeeper for the Sagans was my family’s business. I know just how they like their sheets folded because I watched my mother do it a million times. And I also watched the beating she took when I messed up one of the rows of sheets in the linen closet. She said it was her. That she’d been careless.” Teresa looked down, and her swallow was audible.

  “Is your mom okay?” Toby took his hand off hers and tilted her chin up so she’d look in his eyes.

  She shook her head. “She died. Internal bleeding. I’ve never been back to that house. Until tomorrow that is. Fifteen years after I followed my mother as she staggered out of it.”

  Toby nodded. This woman had her own demons.

  “I’d like to see a good lady live this time,” she added softly. “I’m getting your sister out.”

  “How about you get two good ladies out of there? You and my sister,” he countered.

  Teresa gave him a sad smile before taking to her tiptoes to give him a gentle kiss. He was shocked to find she was interested.

  “Why’d I have to find a guy like you right now? After all the damn time I’ve had on this planet…”

  Toby pulled her against his chest and kissed her hard.

  Chapter 22

  Do It

  The next afternoon, Savvy pulled on her sneakers, ready to take a walk with Boston and the dog. She felt almost completely better, though she still limped for the cameras as Boston had requested. Doc continued to be amazed by her recovery. It had been only a week since she was gasping on the sand. He’d jotted down tons of notes on his last visit, and Savvy assumed these were then delivered to Sagan.

  The doctor was less thrilled with having to examine Trooper, but did so before leaving. Apparently the dog still had some bruising and a slight rib fracture that might cause him to yelp if pressure was applied, but generally, they were a recovered pair.

  Trooper had already found his leash and now chewed on the metal hook. Boston knocked once and waited for her to admit him into her room. After she did, he laughed at the dog.

  “Did you check around?” She stood and wrestled the leash away from him to clip it on his harness. Boston nodded.

  “No missing signs, and I called the animal shelter. So far no one’s looking for this little guy.” He reached down and gave the dog a pet. He kept his eyes on the animal while he delivered the next news. “He’ll be here tonight.”

  A chill went through Savvy. She’d almost slipped into the rhythm of being held captive with just Boston keeping tabs on her. “Thanks for telling me.” She bit her tongue, knowing the conversation was being broadcast to the man in question. She kept her apprehension inside.

  They were silent until they’d walked a good distance from the house.

  “You
told me in my room for a reason,” she noted. “Why is that?” She unclipped Trooper, who trotted down to the water.

  “I want him to know you know. He likes the element of surprise, and I wanted to take that from him.” Boston began skipping stones.

  Savvy didn’t let her eyes linger over the pile of rocks that covered her wedding band.

  “And yet you didn’t want to hand it to me outright either.” She found a stick and lobbed it to Trooper, who attacked it with gusto. “Go easy, crazy dog!” she called to the dog. “You’re hurt!”

  “As are you.” Boston stepped closer.

  She looked at her feet as he put his lips close to her ear. “Tonight will be tough. If I could, I’d get you out now. He’s pissed. And he’s been denied. I just think you need to know what’s going to go on.”

  She covered her mouth and nodded for him to continue.

  “Instead of the usual party, he’s requested that you and few of his favorites be waiting for him in his bedroom.” Boston paused until she looked at his face. “He does stuff there…he’s equipped to proceed as he chooses. There’s no one to stop him.”

  “Except me.” She picked up the stick Trooper dropped at her feet.

  “You can’t. I just want you to think of your brother. We’ve got to get back, but here’s the MO: He’ll have you dress to match the other girls, meet him at the door, and follow him to his bedroom. There he will bind all of you. Then he gets out his toys and does the same things to each woman, one after another. It’s mind games. If you show any resistance, he’ll show you the assassin near your brother in a live feed. The assassin will have directions to kill your brother if Sagan is hurt. Do you understand? Nod if you get it.”

  She nodded. “You’ll keep Trooper tonight?”

  Boston agreed and stepped in the direction of the house. Savvy looked from the view of Sara’s ocean to the little pile of rocks that represented her love with Kal. Doing this would keep Tobias alive. But then what? Would she ever get out of here? This wasn’t going to work. Fighting Sagan couldn’t be the solution. But what else could she do? Every fiber of her being longed for his death.

 
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