The revenger, p.19
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       The Revenger, p.19
 

           Debra Anastasia
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  He was going to spend a lot of time alone with Savannah.

  *~*~*~*

  Toby was in different clothes, in a different safe house, in a different town. He watched a reporter detail his death on the TV news. They’d used his profile from his Instagram account and now segued into one of his impassioned, impromptu speeches outside the police station. He’d been willing to do anything to get Savvy back, and now—as he dealt with the ringing in his ears—he could cop to that declaration.

  But as far as he could tell, it was for nothing. The news again showed the footage of his non-helmeted trip off the low bridge on the way into town. Edgewood had leaked it to them after Mike altered the time stamps. It had all been carefully orchestrated. The shaky camerawork obscured the fake CPR, and the passing motorist was Edgewood.

  When the ambulance and police had arrived, they’d conducted only a quick investigation of the body before they began to pore over the accident scene, leaving a shallow-breathing Toby to his handlers. The ambulance crew zipped him into a body bag and removed him from the scene.

  It was done. Edgewood was now seated on the couch across from him, reading a book, apparently more than confident that the images on the screen would match what he needed them to be.

  “When will we know more?” Toby asked.

  It had been hours. The transfer of his “body” to the morgue and his eventual release took a long damn time.

  Edgewood took out his phone and scrolled through texts. “Teresa’s out. She has two women with her. We have no identification on who those women are.”

  “So it could be Savvy? Why can’t I call her? Why isn’t she calling me?” Toby stood and put his hands in the pockets of someone else’s jeans. So bizarre.

  “I told you before, Teresa’s out but still undercover. She’s three houses down, and that’s all we have. This is the most important time not to make a mistake. We have some crucial information. It’s like making sure your fly is zipped after getting all dressed up. Details.” He put his phone away and flipped his book back open.

  Hours. If Savvy was going to blow people to hell now that he was supposedly gone, they would know it by now, wouldn’t they? She had to be one of the two women with Teresa.

  Waiting was going to kill him.

  Chapter 29

  Safeguards

  The area outside the car window was populated, but foreign and gorgeous, vaguely tropical. Savvy was pretty sure the locals spoke Spanish, but sadly she did not. Dora the Explorer only gets you so far. Sagan had described the house where they’d be staying as rustic. Savvy shook her head as they exited the SUV. The sprawling lawn was easily over two acres. He informed her that Boston and Trooper would be at an apartment building a few miles away.

  Ultimately, she let it happen. Had to. Didn’t want to. But, she might do her best work alone with him.

  The driver helped them with their bags, and Savvy got a look at the “rustic” house. While Sagan had words with him, she stepped into the foyer. The vaulted ceilings were amazing. She found a sitting room to her left and an office to her right, and the staircase was grand as she slipped around it to see the sleek kitchen. Windows were everywhere, though the night obscured their view. They’d traveled all afternoon.

  Savvy opened the fridge: stocked. Prepared food with instructions carefully written and attached to each of the dishes.

  Rustic.

  She rolled her eyes as she closed the fridge.

  Sagan slipped into the kitchen quietly, but she felt the ring and turned around to face him.

  He looked a bit lost. He cleared his throat.

  “Where is this place?” she asked.

  He shrugged. “If you’re hungry, there’s food. At least there should be.”

  “You’re not going to answer me?” She crossed her arms under her breasts and gave him a hard look. “What are we afraid of, Sagan? The Cassos? Is that why you were killing maids?”

  He loosened his tie and undid his top button. Not answering. He walked toward the fridge, and she stepped in front of him, waiting for the eye contact he was forced to make.

  His jaw clenched as she looked him up and down like he might just make a good meal. Or a punching bag.

  “All the safeguards are still in place.” He sighed, responding to her unspoken threat.

  She shrugged this time.

  The tension was tight as he sidestepped her to open the fridge. He pulled out the top casserole and read the instructions. She leaned against the counter and watched him figure out the oven.

  He slid the food in and continued to undress, freeing the buttons on his shirt. “We’ve got, like, forty minutes before that’s ready.”

  “How long are we staying here?”

  His gaze darkened. “As long as it takes.”

  “Eventually you will have to tell me what we’re running from.” Savvy pushed away from the counter, and he grabbed her arm as she tried to pass him. The ring touched her skin, and she hissed. She closed her eyes so she wouldn’t look at him with the hate that flowed through her.

  He whispered, just a bit louder than a breath, “Savannah.”

  Turning her head away from him, she waited.

  “That night. On my balcony. That night…” He trailed off.

  She swallowed her smile. Biting her lip, she let the silence torture him. The cat had taken the baited mouse.

  “Look at me like you did that night.” He squeezed her bicep harder.

  Finally she turned around to face him. His green eyes were almost wild, and she recognized it in him: the primal, basic need for love. She’d seen that same look in the mirror before she’d sliced open her wrists the first time. And the second.

  “You can’t command that of someone. It has to just happen.” She looked at his hand, his knuckles white. “Earn it.”

  He let go and held up both his hands.

  She scooted by him and headed for the staircase. He was right behind her; she could feel his gaze on the back of her neck.

  “Let’s look around,” he suggested.

  “You’ve never been here? Do you own this place?” She glanced over her shoulder.

  “I do now. The bedrooms are upstairs.” He pointed at the ceiling.

  She was very aware that her ass was his view as she ascended the stairs. After looking at the gigantic house, which had two master bedrooms and four guest rooms, she gave him grief. “Seriously? This is rustic? How spoiled are you? I could fit two of my houses in here.”

  His dress shirt was open, revealing a sleeveless undershirt and a thin gold chain with a cross. He put his fingers in his hair, messing it up, and a lock fell on his forehead. “Compared to the beach house…I just wanted you to understand that we would be here on our own.”

  “Boston could fit with Trooper in one of these rooms easy. The one down at the end of the hall has a bathroom in it and—”

  “No.” Anger showed in his face now. He seemed to take a calming breath, exhaling. “He’s nearby. The dog is nearby. That’s more than was supposed to happen. More than should have happened. Here in this place, it’s us. You and me.”

  He turned and headed back down the stairs, grabbing their bags in the foyer. She followed him and picked up the bags he couldn’t carry.

  “Which room do you want?” she asked.

  “We take the same room. Choose which one appeals to you.” He looked pointedly up the stairs and lifted his eyebrows.

  “Oh, hell no.” She shook her head, some of her hair catching on her moist lips.

  “I have to keep you next to me. That’s non-negotiable.” He seemed like he regretted his brisk tone and shrugged.

  Savvy stomped up the stairs and tossed the bags down in the blue master bedroom. One giant, king-sized bed dominated the space.

  He put his bags down less forcefully. “I’m going to grab a shower.”

  “Do I have to stand in there and wash your hair for you? How close do I have to be, Sagan? Arm’s reach?” She sat on the bed.

 
“Just stay in the house. The windows have been treated so no one can see you from the outside.” He shed his shirt as he walked over to a keypad on the wall. He punched in numbers and was rewarded with a female voice assuring him that the house was alarmed. “And this is a motion sensor, so you have to stay upstairs for now.”

  He rifled through a suitcase and produced a stack of clothes; she could see jeans in the pile he toted into the large bathroom.

  She heard the shower come on and walked over to the bags, unloading the ones she knew were hers into the dresser in the large closet. Savvy missed Trooper. And the comfort of having Boston close, knowing at least someone cared a little what Sagan had planned for her.

  She shook her head at the sexy lingerie in his open suitcase. As if her disapproval brought him forth, the man spoke from behind her. “Maybe that’s what I like to sleep in.”

  The unexpected humor made her smile just a touch. His hair was wet and flopping all over the place, unlike his usual neat style. It made him look younger. Jeans, a white T-shirt, and bare feet made him look less like the horror he actually was.

  The timer downstairs beeped. “Dinner is served,” he announced. “Let me reset the alarm for our movement.”

  She waited until he gave her a nod before descending the stairs. Together they set the table, discovering where the plates and utensils were in the cabinets. The chicken pot pie was delicious, with a tropical flair. But they ate in silence. Captee and Captor save for the updates from his phone that he finally, after his last bite, addressed.

  He read his messages with a perfect poker face, but the mild echo of his screaming aura rippled through her head. She wondered if she would get better at hearing it despite the ring while his would be the only one she’d encounter. He looked from his phone to her face.

  “Did you want to shower?” he asked.

  “That’s a sleazy question.” She stood and took her plate to the sink, pointedly ignoring him.

  “I mean, do whatever you’d like.” He held his hands up in surrender before gathering his plate and cup as well. “Drink?” He walked to the fridge and pulled out a beer.

  “Sure.” She normally hated it, but its taste was always on Kal’s lips on a Friday night, and she was desperate for a hint of him.

  Sagan used an opener from a drawer and handed her the bottle. She took a long swallow as he opened his own and did the same. They’d each finished about half their bottle when she spoke again.

  “What do you expect from me?”

  He rubbed the slight scruff on his jaw before looking at her with the desperate, magnetic need she was used to from him. He finished his bottle, slamming it on the hard stone. She jumped a bit despite herself.

  He crossed to her and put his hands on either side of her hips, caging her against the counter. He looked from her mouth to her eyes over and over, like he was daring himself to act.

  She raised her chin in defiance, and lifted one eyebrow in question.

  He leaned forward and spoke, almost against her lips, his hot breath becoming her next one. “To submit. I’m going to force you, hear you scream, break you.”

  He was so close it was overwhelming. Before her own strength had erupted and changed her life, his would’ve terrified her. Instead, she let her eyes widen at the thought of how loudly his aura would scream if he did as he’d just promised. She grabbed him harshly. One hand gripped the front of his T-shirt, the other the back of his neck, digging her fingernails in.

  His sharp inhale could only be interpreted as lust. She bit his bottom lip, so close to hers, and let him see the crazy in her eyes. She dragged her hands into claws, leaving thick red tracks to highlight their path to his face. She held him, releasing his lip to feed him her own deluded fantasy in response. “Do it. I beg you. Jesus. Take off that fucking ring and try me. I crave your violence. I need it. I will consume it.”

  In this moment they were limited only by themselves. Not another soul was around.

  She held her breath while he panted his harshly.

  *~*~*~*

  Silas was hard and scared. Damned if that’d ever happened to him before. Her nails dug into his face, her gaze penetrating. She was such a hellion, a risk untested. Why had he had her for so long and waited?

  He felt his eyes go out of focus as he grabbed her in response, pulling her against him.

  “Take the ring off. Take. It. Off.”

  She seemed more excited by the thought of his impending death at her hand than any woman had ever been about anything in his arms. She was almost vibrating with the need of it. She slipped her hands around his throat and began to squeeze, closing her eyes as the anticipation smoothed her features. The tilt of a smile appeared on the edge of her lips.

  Silas grabbed her hips and lifted her roughly, swinging her so she lay flat on the counter before she could do more than sigh with the loss of her grip on his neck.

  Instead of trembling, like she should have, her whole demeanor sagged in defeat.

  “Look at me again. Like the balcony,” he demanded. She looked awkward on the counter, like it was an exam table or a buffet spread. But it didn’t even matter. This beautiful woman wanted far more sinful things than she should—hands full of blood instead of passion.

  She kept her eyes shut and shook her head. “No. Can’t. Not now. I can’t do it from where you just took me.”

  She did finally open her eyes.

  “Tell me why not. It should be simple.” God, he wanted it. He wanted to feel that drop in his stomach again, the burning on the edges of his chest. He’d taken a lot of drugs, drunk a lot of alcohol in his day, but nothing had matched the high he’d gleaned from her. When she said he knew jack shit about love, she knew what she was talking about.

  He moved her hair away from her neck. She pulled her feet closer, bending her knees. The hem of her skirt brushed the counter.

  She crossed her hands over her heart, like it hurt from the inside. “When I do that? When I did that? I have to remember who I was before I lost them. It’s like talking to the dead. Her? The mother, the wife? She’s been gone for so long now.”

  Her lashes seemed longer when she finally looked at him, her loss and anguish almost changing the color of her eyes. No tears. She was beyond that.

  “I’ve never wanted something so much it changed how I looked at the fucking world,” he confessed. He ran a hand from her knee to her ribs.

  Then she laughed, and the sound was hollow, the very soundtrack of disbelief. “Want and love are different.” She turned her head toward his stomach, as if it didn’t matter that he was too close for her eyes to focus. “When you love what you want? You’ll do anything.”

  She moved quickly, swirling on the counter, skirt riding high on her thighs as she sat up. “I’m going to get that shower. It’s not an invitation, Sagan.”

  She pushed herself off the counter and walked past him, walked away from him. He slapped the counter with both hands, biting his tongue to keep from yelling at her.

  The sounds of the hot water coming on reverberated through the quiet house. Silas found where the liquor was stored and pounded three drinks. When he’d decided to be a pussy, he couldn’t quite say. There hadn’t been a woman who could say no to him, would say no to him in…ever. He’d brought Savannah here to make her do the things he’d been dreaming about. Oh yes, that’s why you brought her… His own thoughts taunted him now. His control was an illusion.

  He wanted her wide-eyed on her knees. He wanted her hair fisted in his hand as he slammed into her from behind, tears in her eyes because she was coming and hated doing it for him.

  He took a half-full glass of rum with him upstairs. Now was the moment. The ring was secure, his balls were blue, and he was pissed.

  Savvy leaned against the doorframe of the bathroom in a T-shirt and soft pair of leggings. She seemed to be expecting him and gave him a small headshake of disapproval. Her wet hair was pulled to the side, and she did not seem scared.

  That was about t
o change.

  *~*~*~*

  Sagan’s heavy footfalls had preceded him, and when he’d entered the bedroom, he looked even more disheveled than before. He took a long look at her and then a long swallow from his drink. He set the glass down on the nearest table.

  “Get on the bed.” He pointed and pulled off his shirt.

  “Suck my dick,” rolled off her tongue to accompany her middle finger immediately.

  He laughed, but it was an angry sound. “I’ve had enough of your shit. It ends now. You can’t fucking stop me, and we are here for this very reason.”

  “Really? You brought me here in a giant, flustered rush to screw me? Like there weren’t beds at the compound?”

  She tossed her hair behind her. It was time to battle again. She was ready. Forget her higher purpose. Fighting with him gave her something other than numb, other than pain. The quiet of this house would kill her. She needed Trooper and Boston like medication. Something to focus on instead of Sagan.

  “No. That’s bullshit,” she told him. “You’re too calculating for that. Something happened, and you’re running scared. What happened?”

  A feeling began to emerge as she stared at him, a thought. The scariest fucking thing this man had ever seen was her. And the only thing keeping her from going batshit on him—ring or no ring—was her brother.

  “I want to see Toby,” she announced. “Show me.” Savvy went to the nearest end table and grabbed the remote, throwing it at Sagan’s head. He caught it. “Show me the surveillance. I want to see him.”

  “Or what? What will you do?” He tossed the remote aside and drew near until he was in her space, looming over her.

  “Everything,” she answered. She swung, connecting her right hook with his jaw.

  “Fuck!”

  He grabbed her arms, both intent on beating the shit out of the other. She went all out; despite the ring, she had muscle memory from her other fights. If he had her arms, she went at him with her knees, kicking her feet.

  He was able to tip her off balance, knocking her on the bed. She flipped and started to crawl, kicking backward. He spanked her ass hard before grabbing her ankles and dragging her flat. His weight pinned her down, face to the mattress. He cursed as he recaptured her arms, sitting on her ass.

 
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