The revenger, p.21
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       The Revenger, p.21
 

           Debra Anastasia
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  There was only her. He could close his eyes and picture her smiling at the damn dog, her look of caution as she watched the unfamiliar goings-on of his criminal life. But mostly—okay entirely—his concentration lingered on the sight of her face when she let him feel loved, and that feeling, the rollercoaster drop while his heart glowed. He tapped his fingers on the tray that had been set up with his meal.

  The stewardess on his private plane had looked offended when he waved her away after she tried nibbling his ear. Actually, was it offended or scared? Probably scared. The truth of the matter was, once a person failed to fulfill Silas’s needs, she was in danger. And she knew this.

  Except Savannah. The half-suicidal woman had him by the balls. She’d convinced him not to take what he wanted from her, chastised him out of his own bed. His desire for her was insane. It motivated him to get the house, the Cassos, and Jack in order and then get back to her.

  His landing and trip in the car to the compound were uneventful, but took too damn long. When he arrived, his men were armed to the teeth. His call for a show of force had been heeded.

  Bugs met him at the door, as did everyone else—like they always did, but now it seemed stupid. He waved them away, and Bugs followed him into his office.

  “I assume we’re good here?” Silas pointed at the walls.

  “We are. I’m positive.” Bugs waited for his boss to sit before he did.

  “Did anything come of the device you found?” Silas tented his fingers and leaned in.

  Bugs scratched behind his ear as he spoke. “Yes and no, sir. I was able to track it, but by the time I got there, the place that had been intercepting the signal was abandoned. I did find out that whoever it was has a considerable budget, far beyond the Cassos’ spending limits. Someone with crazy money has a hard-on for you right now—like, a anti-government, bomb-this-house-with-long-range-missiles kind of amazing.”

  Silas sat back and clenched his jaw. So possibly a government sized group was onto the Compound E? They had to be researching volcanic fields now. Thankfully he hadn’t named the one he was focused on at the moment during that bugged conversation. But if this mysterious entity was truly powerful, they would cross-check his property locations with the elements found around them. He needed to kill two birds with one stone.

  “I want you to start leaking that we have a stockpile of Compound E here, as well as in Italy and at the California house. Also mention that there’s great dissention in our camp. Got it?”

  “Sure, but why?” Bugs stood.

  “If it’s the government will be less likely to blow us to hell if they think they might nuke an entire state off the map.” He waved the man away.

  “Good plan. On it.”

  After the door closed, Silas picked up the phone and asked to be connected to the Cassos’ representative. After a ten-minute wait he had the old bastard himself on the line. Now he had to pretend to be scared. “Gregorio, thank you for coming to the phone. You have words for me, so I hear?”

  Silas was then treated to a half-Italian, half-English diatribe about how close he was to being the actual Devil and how he wasn’t half the man his father had been. Gregorio even touched on his mother’s promiscuousness.

  After the man had oozed all his viciousness, Silas cleared his throat. “Do you want to be on the buyer list or not?”

  The conversation then turned to business, as it should have from the start. Silas explained that very few could be trusted with the weapon he had, but the Cassos were welcome to buy enough to keep their territory for a few thousand generations. They just needed to understand that Sagan had most of it, and he could and would retaliate.

  He’d thought of having the assassin take out Gregorio’s old-ass wife as retribution, but it was just easier this way. The old man thinking he was getting in bed with the Sagans got him back to Savannah sooner.

  With the deal concluded, and an explanation that delivery would take some time, he hung up, stood, and buttoned his suit jacket. He took a car to Jack’s, even though it was just a few houses down.

  His old friend answered the door and let him in, saying nothing until they both had their favorite poison from when they were teens in their hands. They toasted and sipped, coughing on the homemade moonshine.

  “You find this in old Beady’s coffin?” He smiled at Jack.

  “Almost. I keep this crazy old bat on retainer so I have some in case you drop by. Like now.” He nodded.

  Silas scratched his cheek, hearing his scruff bristle. “I need her back.”

  “Which her?” The door to friendliness closed as the usual guarded look took its place on Jack’s face. “You seem to have a harem going, tough guy.”

  “You know which one: the bad-ass maid.” He set down his glass.

  “She doesn’t want to go with you.” Jack shrugged and took another sip of the horrible drink.

  “That’s not her decision. I’m not playing at this.” Silas felt his anger brewing. He needed the maid on the plane. Boston could interrogate her and find out where she was from and who she worked for. He was better at that than anyone.

  Jack smiled. “No one asked you to play, Silas. She stays as long as she needs to.” He nodded to Silas’s left.

  Silas turned to find that in regular clothes, the maid was hotter and younger than he remembered. She came into the room, bare feet barely making noise, and curled up on Jack’s fluffy white couch.

  “Did she even tell you her name?” Silas did his best to loom over her, crossing his arms.

  Jack slid between them and sat next to the maid, slinging his arm over her shoulder, still smiling. “She doesn’t have to. I require nothing of her. Actually, I made her bed this morning. How’d I do, doll?”

  The maid didn’t look over at Jack charming her; she just held Silas’s gaze. “You did fine, buddy. We have to work on your hospital corners, but you’ll do.”

  “Come with me.” Silas pointed to a spot close to his shoes.

  She stood quickly and came to right where he’d suggested, but despite her timid demeanor, he found a knife blade pressed to his throat in a very practiced way. He just smiled. Because as much as he would never kill Jack, he knew Jack would never allow anyone else to…

  “Hold up, princess. You and I have a deal, but that does not include putting a knife to his jugular.”

  The woman’s eyes hardened, and the knife started to penetrate his skin.

  Jack drew his handgun and set it to the maid’s temple. “Step away, baby.”

  The maid took a step back, like a lion away from its favorite meal. She was definitely trained. Deadly. Reminded him of Savannah.

  Jack put his gun in his waistband.

  Silas kept his eyes on the maid but addressed Jack. “You have to be armed when I’m around now?”

  “It was for her, not you.” Silas met Jack’s gaze. Brotherhood. It was still there. It made things so much more complicated. For a hot minute he wanted to take Jack with him instead of the maid, just to have someone he could trust. It was a fleeting thought, though, because working for him would change things for Jack. Change who he was.

  As if he was reading Silas’s mind, Jack offered, “There’s an out. Know that I have it ready. Let me take you away from all this and make an honest woman outta you.”

  Silas nodded, ignoring the joke. “Too far gone now.”

  “Never say never.”

  The silence lingered while he considered what Jack had said. The other two maids wandered in, one limping. They saw him, gasped, and crossed themselves before running from the room.

  Silas purposely turned his body away from Jack and looked hard at the deadly maid. “You tell whoever you’re working for that I have the Compound E weaponized, and I’ll use it if I have even a hint that they’re making a move.” He stepped past her and picked up his glass. It took everything in him to drain it to the last disgusting drop, coughing when he finally finished.

  Jack lifted a brow and polished off his glass as well,
emitting a matching cough. They locked eyes, and Silas nodded. Jack nodded back sadly, as if he knew Silas might never be back but respected their bond either way. “’Til next time then.”

  “Next time.”

  Silas closed the door behind him and sighed. He hoped his bluff would buy him time, buy Bugs time to identify who was onto him. But first he had to get back to Savannah.

  *~*~*~*

  Teresa set down the blade, unclenched her fists, and shook them out. She flopped down on Jack’s couch. She’d been so very close to killing Sagan. She should have killed Sagan. It was a desperate failure.

  Jack seemed to understand. “Sorry I couldn’t let you. I have hope for his redemption. Do you have anyone you’re devoted to like that?”

  She stalked to the windows, taking in the spectacular view but not seeing it. “Yeah. Savvy’s one of them.”

  “You knew her before she came here?” Jack stepped up next to her.

  In any other line of work, having a man who’d held a gun to her head not minutes before chatting her up would have been weird. But she knew the danger had passed.

  “No. I knew her brother. He was worried about her. And I was worried about him.” She put her hands in her pockets.

  “I saw that he died.” Jack turned to look at her, to gauge her reaction or comfort her, she didn’t know.

  “He was pretty tortured about not being able to save her. He thought she was dead. He didn’t know I was trying to get her free.” Teresa knew her poker face was pretty good. For all he did know, Jack didn’t seem to realize the suicide was staged, and the work of her boss. It also seemed clear Sagan didn’t know and was running scared, delivering news he’d made up on the spot.

  The doorbell rang. She watched as a puzzled look came over Jack’s face. She followed him to the door and saw Mike there with a pizza.

  Jack looked confused right up until he was hit in the arm with a dart. Teresa caught him and eased his body to the ground. Understanding reached his eyes just before the fuzziness.

  Mike motioned for her to come with him, but she shook her head. “He’s the key. We need him.”

  She almost felt bad about helping Mike take Jack out to the car, but after seeing the bromance between him and Sagan, she knew he was far too valuable to leave behind.

  Teresa went upstairs and, speaking Spanish, told the other housekeepers to go home. They clearly hadn’t realized she spoke Spanish until she fluidly told them never to speak of their time in the house and to change their names. Eyes wide, it took them only moments to vanish.

  The trip to the safe house was quiet, with Mike taking some crazy, convoluted path to ensure they weren’t followed. She sat near Jack and monitored his vitals until they pulled into the driveway. Then she helped Mike put him on the couch, all the while looking for Toby. When she finally found him, he looked exhausted, but his arms were strong as he pulled her into a hug.

  “I’m so sorry I couldn’t get her out. I’m so sorry.” She held his face in her hands.

  He shook his head, but it was clear he’d hoped Savvy would be in the car. Teresa hoped taking Jack didn’t create more danger for Savvy.

  “No, you got you here. One out of two is great. She’s alive though?” His warm eyes searched her face for answers.

  “Last time I saw, she was alive and being protected. It’s okay to keep hoping.” Teresa kissed him and took comfort in his strength.

  “I’ve been living on hope for a while now. I think it’ll last a little longer.” He gave her a sad smile.

  “I won’t stop helping.” Teresa disentangled herself from Toby as more men came into the room. She knew her actions would be judged. Fortunately, they all believed keeping Toby close was part of her job. But they didn’t know she would walk away from everything they’d worked for all these years in order to keep him safe.

  Chapter 31

  Silver

  Savvy woke up disoriented late the next morning at Sagan’s laughably “rustic” house. Trooper greeted her with excited hand licks. In a few seconds she knew what had woken her: someone was cooking bacon.

  Boston. That was right; Boston was here. And Sagan wasn’t. She took the blanket she’d been wrapped in on the couch and used it like a robe. In the kitchen, Boston had her plate dished up, and he set a glass of orange juice next to it when he saw her.

  She shared a slice of bacon with Trooper, and she and Boston ate in silence. She didn’t realize how hungry she’d been until she looked up at Boston’s smirk. He moved his plate away protectively. Savvy rolled her eyes and smiled.

  Then in an instant, his face went white, and he dropped his fork. She looked over her shoulder and saw nothing, then checked the dog, who looked at her and started growling.

  Heat traveled up her spine, and she braced herself against the table. Something was happening. Something was happening inside her.

  Boston crawled over the table and held her face. “Savvy, you in there? Savvy?”

  It was as if her eyes had changed purpose; the colors and shapes in front of her faded out, and instead she only saw rage. His red-gold aura became unbearable. Like a fever, like a supernatural force, she felt the will to destroy surge through her. It now controlled her, instead of the other way around.

  Trooper’s growling and barking cut through her angry haze.

  “Get away,” she managed, but it didn’t sound like her voice. It was raspy, demented.

  Boston let her go and backed away, calling the dog. But Trooper wouldn’t give up. He continued growling like something was attacking Savvy. And inside her, it was.

  Her clenched hands went through the wooden table like butter. The cracking of the planks startled her. They popped like gunshots. She concentrated on the fact that she was the danger in the room. She focused on her hot spine and thought about cooling it. It took every bit of her energy to douse the fire that had begun inside.

  Finally, finally she could see shapes again. Trooper noticed first and broke away from Boston, army crawling to her. She slipped to the floor, looking at the legs of the chairs and table, splinters everywhere. She stroked Trooper’s head.

  Boston spoke from a distance. “You okay?”

  “Yeah, I’ve got it. Sorry. I didn’t know that was coming.”

  Soon he helped her off the ground and looked at her hands, but there were no injuries. Then he looked in her eyes and his own widened again.

  “You sure you’re cool?” He looked extremely suspicious.

  “Yeah. Why?”

  Boston led her to the mirror over the living room mantel. He held her shoulders and faced her toward her reflection. Something was wrong, but it took her a second to find it. She stepped closer and touched the glass, then her own face. Her pupils had changed from black into two tiny, round mirrors.

  “Is this possible?” She blinked over and over, and while she watched, they faded back to normal. She looked at Boston in the mirror. “What the hell was that?”

  He shook his head. “Your whole eye was like that, and your skin was, like, glowing.”

  She nodded. “It’s poison—the compound inside me. Makes sense. It’s altered everything about my body. Now it’s doing something else.” She walked to the couch she’d slept on and sat down. Trooper nudged his head under her hand.

  Boston was terrified; she could tell by looking at his face. His hands shook.

  “Let me guess? If I die, so does your brother?” she asked. “No matter the reason?”

  “No, ma’am. I’m employed by Mr. Sagan, and my brother is safe.”

  But as he spoke the words, he nodded. She had guessed correctly.

  “I’ve got to burn the energy. Am I allowed to take a walk?”

  “Just around the house here. Let me get my piece, and I’ll come with you.”

  She leashed Trooper and walked out to the front lawn. Boston met her, scanning the surrounding area.

  “What just happened to me?” she asked once he’d given her the nod.

  “I don’t know. I c
an get the chemist over here. Actually, I’m betting Sagan will walk in the door with him. He’ll have overheard the whole thing. It probably sounded scarier than it actually was, and that’s saying something.”

  She touched his arm. “That strength? It took control. I couldn’t see. It was really hard to make a choice. Everything in me wanted to destroy. The only thing that kept you alive was the gold in your aura mixed with Trooper’s, I think.”

  He clenched his jaw. “Damn it. Fucking damn it to fucking hell.”

  “Go. Go get your brother. I’ll hold off Sagan. Get off the grid before this takes over me again. I’ll bet they can’t stop it…Jesus.” She touched his shoulder.

  Boston pulled her behind a large evergreen, out of view of the house. His gold glowed bright, surrounding them, making the red seem far away. “No. Never. Damn it, Savvy. I want you both. I want to save you both.”

  She didn’t pull away when Boston kissed her. He needed saving too.

  *~*~*~*

  After completing his trip in reverse, Silas rolled into the driveway at his rustic, off-the-grid house where he’d left Savannah. He wanted to run inside, but instead he did his best to saunter. He’d been getting updates, and he knew his chemist was in trying to get blood samples from her. She’d collapsed, and something strange had happened with her eyes.

  He used his key to gain access and found Savannah pressed against the kitchen counter with Boston between her and the scientist. The dog barked at him as he entered. But when she snapped her fingers, and the dog trotted back to her.

  He waited for an explanation.

  None came, just silence. The chemist looked extremely stressed.

  “Boston?”

  He sighed. “Well, he said he was here to collect blood. You told me that’s what he was supposed to do.”

  “And I did that.” The chemist seemed agitated.

 
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