The revenger, p.2
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       The Revenger, p.2

           Debra Anastasia
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  Hatred filled each of her pores. I have to hurt him. I have to.

  Savvy didn’t have a chance to reflect on her normally passive nature. The red glow around his body called to her, demanded her. She walked straight up to him like she hadn’t rebuffed him minutes before. He gave her an angry onceover.

  She smiled and grabbed a handful of his facial hair. “I changed my mind, asshole. Come with me out back, and I’ll suck you off so hard your balls will cry.”

  She felt his beard move as he gave her a delighted smile, and her chest started to tingle. Something—she was feeling something. She had something to do, a job, a purpose, though she still wasn’t entirely sure what it was. Moving on him made her feel alive.

  “Okay, frosty bitch. You like it rough? I can make it real rough.” He put his large hand around her arm.

  Instead of fear, she felt joy, like a fisherman with a tug on his line after hours of waiting. As Bill’s red aura touched her arm, she felt her blood boil. Her skin was so incredibly sensitive. He pulled her through the crowd and out an exit door, snarling victorious insults at his buddies in the club.

  The metal door sealed the music away from them when it closed. The night had a beautiful full moon, like an angel holding a flashlight above their heads. She could see everything as if it were day.

  She turned and put her back to him, and they were very alone. Their romantic interlude would be held for a rapt audience of trashcans and broken wood pallets. His red aura was everywhere, almost eclipsing her, coloring the night. I want to feel him scream. I want to make everything inside him hurt. She turned to face him, smiling.

  “Well, I’ll tell you what, I was going to tap Kaite again, but her baggy snatch feels like I’m fucking thin air,” Bill announced to Savvy’s breasts. “But you’ll do. I bet when I slap you the red mark will stay a while. You’re all pale and shit.” He rubbed himself with one hand and wiped his mouth with the other.

  She couldn’t pull her attention from the red atmosphere that enveloped him, lighting him from all around. It throbbed for her, tempted her, seemed to offer her power. Something’s wrong with me. I need to be scared. I should be afraid.

  Savvy soon realized the asshole liked pain; it was his foreplay. He backhanded her viciously. Her hair whirled around her as she absorbed the blow. He continued rubbing himself, harder now.

  Something in Savvy’s mind snapped. She went primal, feral. All she could see was red, and her body was in motion. Every time she landed a crushing blow, the red around him got smaller, and she felt fantastic. The more he screamed, the more satisfied she became. She stepped on his femur and grabbed his ankle.

  Effortlessly, she bent his leg until it gave a satisfying snap. She knew her strength wasn’t reasonable. And how did she know right where to step, how to plant her feet to throw punches? Bill had seemed more surprised than she was, which was saying a lot.

  She laughed out loud with the euphoria as she proceeded to break each of his limbs. He screamed like an animal getting hit by a car, and she felt energy flow through her.

  She finally stumbled back and closed her eyes. She stretched her arms and took a deep breath. The man couldn’t even cry, and his red aura was gone; it wasn’t glowing through her closed lids anymore.

  In the next moment she heard a few things all at once, though her crazy enhanced senses seemed to be returning to normal. The club’s exit door swung open, and heavy, male footfalls came from around the corner. Her victim’s labored breaths came with a crackling sound of fluid accompanying them.

  She opened her eyes, and in front of her was the second-most horrifying sight she had ever asked her eyes to behold. She had damn near torn the man apart.

  He was still alive, but she bet he wished he wasn’t.

  I did this. Oh my God. What did I do?

  Savvy’s stomach turned, and she leaned over and emptied its contents. Her hands shook and, dear God, she was covered in his blood.

  When she stood, the large bouncer pushed past the gawkers and put a hand on her shoulder. His voice was so high it should’ve been comical, but it wasn’t tonight.

  “Where did they go?” he demanded. “Which way did they go?”

  He wanted answers he wasn’t going to get, because Savvy wasn’t able to talk.

  “There had to be, like, five guys who did this to him. Which way did they go?” He shook Savvy’s shoulders.

  He doesn’t think I did this? Of course he doesn’t. Oh. My. God.

  Savvy pointed into the distance, and the man sprinted in the direction she’d indicated.

  A few more men shouted after the bouncer. “Hold up. We’re coming!”

  The sirens in the distance sobered her. She could point in a vague direction for these evil men, but the cops would have questions. She ran past the rest of the crowd and jumped in her car. The fact that the car was still there, keys thrown on the front seat, was a miracle. Nor did she miss the irony that she was still alive and driving it.

  Savvy drove as fast as she dared away from the violence she had just unleashed.

  Chapter 3

  Bleach and Flames

  Savvy panted as her hands smeared blood all over her steering wheel. Then she nearly swerved off the road staring at her forearms. The wicked scars left there by her suicide attempts were gone. They’d simply melted away. When? Savvy wondered, And more than that, how? Why?

  She arrived in front of her house without remembering the trip. Maybe I shouldn’t be here? The cops might find me. I don’t want to bring Tobias into this.

  The sun would come up in a few hours. She had to suck it up and fix this: either turn herself in or clean up. After a deep breath, she knew. Something in her felt peace. God, it had been so long since she felt peace.

  Beating the ever-living piss out of and possibly killing a man shouldn’t have made her feel better or closer to anyone, but it did. She could visualize her daughter; she could feel her husband’s breath on her neck, the sensation so real she turned to face him, hopeful before the disappointment filled her.

  More. I need more.

  She got out of her car and crawled back into the house through the window. After showering and putting on her cleaning sweats, Savvy grabbed a bucket and the bleach from the laundry room. While she filled the bucket with water, she tried to rationalize. Nothing about this made sense. She had to have been drugged, or affected somehow.

  She searched her mind for clues about what had happened, what had come over her in the alley, but she couldn’t even recall exactly what she had done. She just saw red—everything a glowing red she had craved.

  The water began flowing over the top of the bucket. Savvy could feel her daughter’s soft hands touching her cheeks. My baby. Oh God, I need more.

  She turned off the faucet and carefully retraced her steps, spot-cleaning any drops of blood she’d left on the rug on the way in. It was easier to climb out the window in just bare feet this time. She toted the bucket to her car, which looked much worse than the trail into the house. The upholstery was ruined. She sloshed the bleach mixture all over the driver’s seat until she was sure the blood was gone.

  As she raised her head to look at the sunrise, she caught the silhouette of a police car at the end of the street against the orange-tinted sky. She dropped low inside her car. Listening to the cruiser’s rubber tires crackle on the asphalt, she crouched on the floorboards. Her heart pounded, but she still couldn’t find her guilt.

  The car passed, and Savvy had just sat up when the front door was yanked open.

  “Savvy!” Tobias wasn’t keeping his voice down in respect of the early hour. “Savvy, goddamn it!”

  She heard the worry in his voice and stepped out of the car. “Look, I’m right here.”

  He sighed with relief the moment before he was overcome with anger. “You know, when you’re not where you’re supposed to be I assume you’ve tried again.”

  Savvy hung her head at the mention of her suicide attempts. He’d done nothing to deserve th
is crappy of a sister. And he was right. Last night she’d gone looking for someone to kill her. Hurt her. Punish her.

  She watched as he looked at the bucket in her hands and gave her a distinct glare that said What the hell without words.

  “I was washing my car.” She spilled the remaining murky water out onto the grass.

  “You’re washing your car with bleach? On the inside?” Tobias stepped toward her.

  He must be cold.

  Her brother was lean but muscular. The neighborhood girls would peek around bushes to get glimpses of his hard chest anytime he mowed the yard without his shirt. This morning they were most likely asleep and missing the show he put on in his flannel pajama bottoms.

  “Let’s get inside.” Savvy brought the bucket and the bleach past her brother and into the house.

  He followed her into the laundry room. “I’ll take an explanation any minute now.”

  She turned but couldn’t get past him; he stood firmly in the doorway.

  “I went out last night. I hit a deer. My window was open.” She was a horrible liar.

  Her brother crossed his arms. “Really? I find that hard to believe since you don’t drive anywhere if you can help it.”

  Savvy started pinching him, and he backed up. He hated to be pinched.

  That’s it. I’ve cleaned up everything. But when she looked at her feet, she remembered the clothes she’d worn last night. She couldn’t just leave them stuffed in the hamper. She marched past Tobias and gathered them into an incriminating bundle. He followed her through the house despite her shooing hand motions.

  “Where are you going?”

  In the kitchen, Savvy grabbed the lighter stick she’d used back when she needed birthday candles to shine for her precious little girl and swallowed the pain. Is there nothing that doesn’t hurt?

  Last night. Last night didn’t hurt.

  She opened the back door with Tobias still following. He clearly wanted better answers, more answers. Savvy walked out to the burn barrel, and the memory pounced on her: The smell of burning leaves wafting in the windows, and her daughter asleep, safe in her bed. It was late, too late for yard work, but Kal worked so hard during the day. She had walked into the freshly raked yard barefoot, the soft grass tickling her toes. He’d sat facing the barrel, which had a ridiculously high flame as it burned the yard debris.

  “I’ll have you know the ash from your insane fire is going to get all over my stuff,” she’d told him.

  He’d looked over his shoulder at her, smiled as he took a swig of his beer. “Your stuff? This is our stuff, baby. If I want to light it on fire, I’m gonna do it.”

  He’d reached his hand out for hers. She loved how big and warm he was, and she’d wrapped her fingers around his palm. He pulled until she fell off balance into his chair, settling on his lap.

  “Well, far be it from me to damp down your cheerleader, pep-rally tendencies.” Savvy had wrinkled her nose as she insulted him.

  He’d tickled her until she started slapping him. Finally, when her giggling had tapered off, he’d let his face get serious. “In all my days, I have never seen a sight as beautiful as you laughing. God, I love you so much.”

  “You always have the best lines.” Savvy had been teasing, but she loved his words, his easy soul.

  “Whatever it takes to get you to kiss me.” His teeth had been so white when he smiled at her.

  She’d leaned up and kissed him, tasting the beer on his lips.

  Instead of kissing anyone, now she tossed her clothes in the barrel and tried to get them to take the flame. They wouldn’t. Tobias disappeared from her side. When he returned, he took the lighter from her hand and poured gasoline over her bloody garments. He pushed her back, farther away, and lit the bonfire.

  In the early, fresh-smelling morning, the flames seemed intrusive. But they matched the early sky perfectly.

  “Look at me. Look at me.” Tobias ducked his head to see her face.

  She reluctantly gave him her attention.

  “I don’t care what happened last night. I just want you safe. All this blood? Are you okay?”

  Savvy nodded. Unleashing on a man with some sort of superhuman power has made me a little better. She couldn’t tell him.

  “I’m not even going to ask why we’re burning clothes and bleaching cars like fucking serial killers; I just need you to be okay.” He paused for a moment. “You never talk about them. You never talk about the accident. You spend your days in a graveyard. What am I supposed to do here? Tell me and I’ll do it.” Tobias looked so intent on fixing her.

  “I can’t talk about…them.” She shrugged. Savvy didn’t want to spend the day silently crying again.

  “Well, what about me?”

  The fire raged up higher behind him. Savvy pulled his arm so he would be farther from the flames.

  He didn’t acknowledge her efforts. “I miss them. I miss Sara,” he said.

  At the sound of her daughter’s name, Savvy grabbed her middle. The pain sliced through her, through everything.

  “I’m sorry. I don’t want to hurt you, but seeing you like this? It’s killing me. You need help. Let me get you help.” Tobias tried to hold her hand.

  Savvy turned and walked toward the house, ignoring her brother’s offer, his willingness to be there for her. She spent the day in her room, blocking out his stomping around.

  Night came, like it insisted on doing, and the darkness ignited her pain, her loneliness again. She wanted to think, to analyze what had happened to her. But she needed another hit. Though she couldn’t remember much, she knew without a doubt that brutalizing the man had given her peace, given her sweet reminders of her family.

  Savvy found another pair of heels in the back of her closet. She changed into jeans and a shirt, and slipping on the shoes gave her permission again. She began to feel powerful from her feet up. She climbed out through the same window she’d bleached clean earlier in the day.

  Savvy started her car and drove into the distance, not sure what she was going to find.

  Chapter 4

  And Soon

  Toby felt relatively certain Savvy hadn’t seen him watching from the window, and once she pulled away, he was out the door and on his motorcycle before he could lose sight of her car.

  She’s lost her mind. Again.

  Watching his sister crumple in the aftermath of the accident had been horrifying. Savvy used to be known for her quick retorts, easy smiles, and happy attitude. Now she was a ghost of a shadow. And Toby had started to get frustrated. He missed his brother-in-law and, God, he missed his niece so fucking much, but Savvy needed some growth, some change. Evidently she’d grown frustrated too.

  The first time he’d found her in the bathtub with a kitchen knife, he thought his heart would actually jump ship. Hours later, their good-for-nothing father had dropped by the hospital. Bruce had looked his son up and down before delivering his own diagnosis. “If you want to die, you don’t flop around in a bathtub. She’s not serious.” At that point Toby had asked his father to leave.

  Over the next six months, Savvy had tried twice more to kill herself. Finally, Toby sat her down.

  “Savvy, you’re still Kal’s wife and Sara’s mom. You can’t keep hurting the person they loved so very much.” He had squeezed her hand too hard as he spoke. He knew that.

  “I want to feel them again,” she’d finally said. “I can’t feel them anymore.” Her voice was so quiet, Toby had to lean closer to hear her.

  “Savvy, I can’t live life worried about you. Thinking of you killing yourself hurts me. You don’t love me enough? I’m your brother. Listen, let me move in, I’ll keep you company. The quiet has to be hard.” He’d tilted her chin until she saw him, saw his pain.

  “I’m sorry,” she’d said. “I’ll be stronger. I won’t do it again.” Tears fell from her eyes. And she’d agreed to let him move in.

  After that, Toby had to take her at her word, though it was tremendously difficult not
to call her constantly from work. But as months went by her cuts healed into scars. His sister had never broken a promise to him in her life—whether it was to not eat her favorite candy out of his Easter basket or the vow she’d once made to come to every one of his football games.

  Savvy continued her vigils at the cemetery, but Toby had decided to take that as a positive.

  Now he watched as she used her car’s blinker and turned not toward the cemetery, but down the street that would take her to the worst part of town. Toby cut his headlight and followed her a little closer. His sister slowed down each time as she passed pedestrians.

  What the Hell? Everyone knows not to stop in this part of town.

  Finally, she seemed to have spotted what she wanted and pulled over to the curb. Three huge men approached her car with smiles as she got out on the driver’s side.

  Is she buying drugs? Toby cut his engine and parked his bike. He left his helmet on in his rush to get to his sister’s side.

  One of the men spoke up as they drew near. “Here, kitty. Look at that, boys. We got curbside service.”

  Another began clapping and taunting her. “You lost, baby? ’Cause I know just what you’re looking for now.”

  Savvy spread her arms and laughed.

  Toby stopped. His sister sounded nothing like herself. Her voice was deep and hungry as she waved the men over.

  “Come and get it, assholes.”

  Toby sprinted as the first man reached Savvy. He grabbed a stray pole from a collapsed metal fence and wielded it like a baseball bat in hopes of defending his sister. We’re going to die.

  Savvy knocked the first guy flat with a three-punch combination as Toby arrived at her side. The second man came at her, and Savvy dropped low, swinging her leg to take out his knees. Toby heard a sickening, splashing crack as the man fell, screaming.

  Toby clocked the third guy across the face with his pipe, and Savvy turned and saw him for the first time. It was obviously her, but it wasn’t. She looked furious, and more alive than he’d seen her since the accident. Her eyes jumped wildly, and she snarled as she took the pipe away from him.

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