The revenger, p.22
The Revenger, p.22Debra Anastasia
“And then he tried to inject her with something, and that hadn’t been part of the plan communicated to me. I didn’t want to let anything happen that wasn’t preapproved by you.”
Boston spoke to him but looked menacingly at the chemist.
“What are you trying to do?” Silas asked. What Boston didn’t know was that the scientist would cut off his own head before hurting Savannah because of the damage that would rain down on his loved ones.
“I wanted to inject a tiny bit of this fluid I’ve been working on and immediately withdraw it. It wouldn’t actually be in her system.”
“Boston, take her upstairs with the dog. He and I need to speak in private.”
“By all means, speak in private about my body. Go for it.” Savannah shook her head and breezed by him. He could smell her conditioner, and he watched her go.
The fire in her eyes, the anger in her sashay…he bit his lip.
Boston trotted upstairs after her, and Silas called, “Make sure she can’t hear.”
After a moment the TV upstairs came on, loudly.
He gestured to the table. “Update.”
The chemist folded his hands. “I have a new theory that Compound E is drawn to more of itself, like it has its own gravitational pull. I think it’s like mercury. I concentrated a sample of her blood cells, which have bonded with the compound in her body, and I thought if I injected it for just a moment it might act like a sponge, drawing more of the compound-bonded cells to itself. Then when I withdraw it, I would have just a hint more Compound E. I still don’t have a means of extracting it all while leaving her intact, but eventually, in a perfect world, I might eventually be able to develop something. And in the meantime, this would give me a slightly larger sample to work with for your weapons project.”
Silas nodded again, his mind racing.
“I have her concentrated blood in here.” The chemist held up a cooler. “But as you saw, I was not able to inject her with it.”
“When did you come up with this theory? Why not just tell me what you wanted to do?”
“It was something I thought of on the way here.” The chemist put his shaking hands flat on the table and began tapping his foot. “I didn’t know when you’d return. Time is of the essence. You know that. I know that. You want more Compound E. I’m getting closer to being able to provide that for you.”
Silas looked down at his hands. “Her survival has become somewhat…important to me.”
The chemist’s eyes widened. “Sir, I just don’t think…” He trailed off.
“Speak.” Instead of a command it was more of a whisper.
“Her episode, for lack of a better term, has given me renewed cause for concern. Bugs did some digging into her treatment a year or so ago following the accident, and it seems a researcher attempted to recreate her condition in the lab. Mice exposed to Compound E followed a path similar to that of the human subject in question so far—enhanced senses and strength, but increasing volatility.”
The chemist pulled out an iPad and tapped on the screen a few times. Silas found himself unable to breathe, let alone speak.
“This is enough to raise concern for your safety and the safety of others around her, but you should also know…” He paused for a moment, seeming to look for an exit. “The mice all died, and rather violently. The compound’s energy, combined with its effects as it settled into their organs and cells, eventually became too much for them to withstand.” The chemist stood. “For everyone’s safety, as well as if you want to have any of the compound left to work with, she needs to be deactivated, or at the very least confined to a lab, and soon.”
Silas clenched his jaw. Savannah was becoming some sort of bomb? His stomach dropped, and he found his voice. “Fix it. Fix her! You are unparalleled in your field. That makes you a god. Fix her!”
“Sir, I don’t think you get it. The compound is part of her now—bound to her cells, settled and hardening in her organs. Extracting it from her without destroying her tissue just isn’t in any of the paradigms I’ve been able to work out. And I’ve tried. This new idea, which I didn’t even get to attempt, was really just a long shot. I’m not a murderer.” The chemist paled.
“Ahh, but I am,” Silas countered. “So you best learn how to do what I’m asking. Soon.” He pointed the man toward the door. “I built you a perfectly serviceable lab here. I suggest you go use it. And no, you may not take Savannah with you.”
Boston held her with one arm and pulled the earbuds out of their ears.
He’d set up a small wire in the kitchen, and they’d listened to the whole conversation standing near the bedroom door.
In three quick motions he disappeared the whole setup and moved to sit in the plush chair. She wiped her eyes and sat on the bed. While they listened to Sagan’s footsteps ascend the staircase, they looked at each other. He saw resignation in her expression, and determination too, hidden just underneath.
When he’d kissed her outside, she’d not pulled away. But she hardly reciprocated. Boston had touched her shoulders when he broke the kiss, searching her eyes.
“In another life, you are a choice I would make,” she’d told him, gently touching his cheeks. “And it would be a good choice. But where I’m going? I don’t need to hurt you too.”
He’d wanted to ask what the hell she meant, but instead the crackle of the tires on the driveway had separated them, followed by the arrival of the chemist.
And now, as he looked at her, Sagan appeared in the doorway and ordered him and Trooper out of the house.
He couldn’t give her hug and tell her it would be okay. She’d just found out she was likely a time bomb, and she just had to take it.
He had to yank on Trooper’s collar to get him to leave.
Savvy’s brother was dead, and he knew now that he had to tell her. Her body was poisoned, and she had to bear that alone. He had to stop picking his brother’s safety over the things this woman deserved.
Savvy waited until Boston and Trooper were gone before looking Sagan full in the face.
“You okay?” he asked.
The irony got to her. He didn’t know she’d just learned her fate. Death would come, she knew it now. She swallowed the bubble of fear that filled her. After all this time desperate to take her last breath, she now had confirmation, but she also had a mission. Her brother’s safety depended on her keeping this unstable body working, and a lot of other people’s lives might depend on her accomplishing even more than that.
“What is that chemist trying to do? If you remove the compound from my system, can my brother go free?” She put her hands on her hips to keep from wringing them.
He looked her up and down. “That’s not our deal.”
It was hard to hear his words over the faint screaming of his aura, present now despite the ring. But she also just wished he was saying something different. “We don’t have a deal. We have blackmail that you’re in charge of.”
He was wearing a suit again. He looked like the cold, professionally evil Sagan she was used to hating. And yet. And yet she knew the only way out of the whole fucking thing for so many people was to make him give a damn.
“Come downstairs,” he said after a moment. “We both need a glass in our hand for this conversation.” He walked past her.
She followed him to the kitchen and stood near him as he made their drinks. They took sips instead of exchanging toasts.
“Did you fix whatever you left to take care of?” She missed her dog. She thought about Boston’s gentle kiss.
“For now.” He took another swallow. “It never really stops anyway. When you’re on top, people are always trying to knock you off balance. Makes me wonder why I fought so hard to be here.”
“You’re reaching for the wrong things.” It was obvious to her, and she stated it plainly.
“And what are the right things?” He set his glass down and lif
“There’s what you want, and what you need.” She didn’t want to play his game. This game. It was looking more and more like she just didn’t have the time. Savvy thought back over what might have triggered the episode earlier, but she couldn’t pinpoint anything unusual—unusual for her, anyway. Maybe the chemical in her blood just had its own agenda. Really, it had from the beginning. Her eyes were her gauge, so it seemed—windows to the soul and all that. And her soul was crumbling without the hits from her people on the other side. She had to stay the course. Her window to make any kind of impact on Sagan was running short.
He tilted his head. “Right this second what I want and what I need are exactly the same.” He exhaled so long it almost became a whistle. “I’m here to earn it. Like you said.”
“Let’s begin then. Sit. Bring your drink. Tell me why you’re such an asshole.” She motioned to the kitchen table.
He looked scared, as if she actually had a gun to his head. Maybe she was the gun to his head. Maybe she should be grateful she’d lasted this long. Her heart beat a little faster with the uncertainty of it all. Could she get through to Sagan? Would she see her brother again? Would she end up with Kal and Sara? And now there were Boston and Trooper to consider, as they too held a claim on the tiny pink part of her dead heart.
“I’m an asshole because I get what I want.” He began posturing immediately.
“Why is Jack safe from you?” She set her glass down and skimmed her hand over the side, wondering if he’d dare be honest, as Jack had been.
“Oh, straight for it, huh? I bet you like orgasaming without foreplay too.” The sneer was in place.
“Deflection. Answer the question. You want to earn? This is how.” She lifted her glass to her lips.
“I thought I told you to dress for dinner.” He shifted in his seat, sliding his suit jacket off.
“Distraction. Answer the question.” She took her sip. Jeans and T-shirt, her hair in a high ponytail, was as much effort as she was willing to put in. Anyway, this was Kal’s favorite version of her.
“No one wears a pair of jeans like you, baby.” She remembered his hands sliding across her back pockets. He’d grabbed her ponytail and turned her head for a kiss. His lips were home.
She tapped her fingers on the table.
“Jack is a friend.” Sagan unbuttoned his top button and slid his tie’s knot loose.
“What’s a friend to you? ’Cause it seemed he liked baiting you at the homecoming party you threw for yourself.” Savvy kept her gaze steady on his. Was he checking for mirrors in her pupils?
“He’s someone who knows who I was before I became what I am.” He dropped his gaze to his lap.
“That’s the Silas I want to know. Him.” She finished her drink and set the glass down. With the same motion she got up and crossed the space to him. She turned his face to hers.
“I can’t be him anymore.” He looked at her chest.
“You can.” She put one hand on his shoulder, the other on his heart.
“Can you be who you were before all of this?” His eyes flashed.
His words took her back to the night it all changed. How hard it had been to find the will to live. But she had fought. And her pain was real. He was a spoiled narcissist.
“I can get in touch with the ghost of her when I have to. Like now. Now me wants to kill you. Now me hates the suppression that ring brings. Now me wants to silence the screaming I hear when you’re around.” Savvy shook her head. The visions of his death briefly turned her on. “But this conversation? You’re talking to the ghost of me. I would’ve cared what made you so jaded, so violent. I would’ve wondered what could save you, or if evil was all you could be.” She shrugged, keeping her hands on him despite the violence that hummed in her fingertips.
“She sounds like a nice lady.” He lifted his eyebrows.
Savvy resisted the urge to roll her eyes and instead accepted his compliment. “She was. Sometimes. And sometimes she made selfish choices.”
“Don’t change the subject. Tell me what Jack’s friend was afraid of. Is it easier like that? Talk about him like he’s someone else.”
Sagan looked at her silently for a moment before he spoke again. “He wasn’t afraid. It was desire to fight for what he wanted, and he could only keep what he hung on to.”
He had taken her bait. Now she listened, letting him spread out in the attention she provided.
“You see, my mother wanted to be a house girl. My father’s house was set up like mine: women always available to service him, service the men in his employ. Mother was a maid. In her head, my father was the ultimate. She wanted him to swoop in and take her from the work, drape her in diamonds, like an evil Cinderella. I was a means to an end. My father was so loving, he had a DNA test done to confirm I was his. And when they told him we were related, he was disgusted.” Sagan shook his head and looked away.
“Anyway, Jack’s family lived in the house he has now. And when we first hung out? He didn’t even know where I lived. He was my friend before I knew I was my father’s kid and after. Nothing ever changed for him. And he knew what my father was. I told him everything. And he stayed true. We were going to go into business. Back in the day we surfed, skateboarded. Our plan was to open a shop on the sand, the two of us.”
Savvy crossed her arms in front of her chest. She felt a little shaky, but she didn’t want to stop his flow. Was it another episode coming on? She nodded that she was following along.
“All my father’s children turned on him—or he on them—except me. In the end there was only me. I watched how he ran his business. Memorized it. And I’ve close to doubled the profits. And Mom? She died before she could do anything other than mourn his loss. She had no confidence that I could do what I’ve done.”
“So the only witness you have is Jack.” She tried warming her arms by rubbing her hands on them.
“You could put it that way.” He closed down, crossing his arms as well.
“I mean to say he knows what you’ve worked for.” She pulled out the chair next to him and sat down. Heat and chills went up her spine.
“You okay?” His eyebrows pulled together.
She ignored his question. “So you’ve fought for this, and now it’s yours. Is it everything you wanted?”
“Yes. It is. Being powerful is everything I wanted.” He turned in his chair, hitting her leg with his own.
The touch was amplified. Her nerves had been electrified by whatever was happening inside her.
“Then why are you sitting so close to me?” She leaned in, feeling her eyes cloud over.
He matched her, his lips close to hers.
“When you know how deadly I am?” Savvy closed the gap and kissed him.
When Savannah kissed him, Silas pulled her flush to him, easily moving her to straddle his lap. Her skin under her T-shirt was so silky. She was strong and hard but soft in all the right places. He looked in her eyes, needing to feel his chest burn the way only she could make it. Instead he saw himself. Damn it.
Her lips went slack, and her arms fell to her sides.
“No. No. You need to snap out of it, Savannah. Fight for it. Fight!”
As if she’d been pulled from drowning, she gasped as her eyes regained their color. And instead of reeling from where she’d been, wherever the mirrors took her, she went back to him—hands in his hair, breasts pushed against his chest, kissing his face.
“Wait.” He pulled her away. “What was that?”
She shivered before shaking her head. “I think I’m dying a little bit. Which means you’re far from safe.”
“I didn’t pick my lifestyle because I liked safe.”
“You didn’t pick it because you wanted to either—I mean, just my take from what you told me.” She pushed off of his lap, and he let her go.
“Wait. Don’t try to put me in the role of a good guy in your
“No. Never. You’re horrible. But you were trying to get respect from the people in your life, and save for one friend, you had to use fear to obtain a version of it.” She crossed to the couch she’d slept on and wrapped herself in the blanket there. She was so cold. “Your mom worshiped your dad for all the wrong reasons. She taught you to want to be him. So you did that. Now you’re here with me, waiting for me to make you feel something you can’t even recognize.”
He stuck his hands in his pockets. She was good at this. Whatever it was—playing with his mind and his dick in equal measure. “This is a game for you? I’m rewarded when you get closer to whatever makes me tick?”
She tucked her legs under her. “No. I’ll be completely honest: I want to save my brother. I want to save Boston’s brother. I love that damn dog. The only way to get to you is to let you see what I was, and to force you to see who you are. I want you to change. You’re the key to this. You’re the one who can use Compound E or whatever else you come up with for good or evil long after I’m gone. I want you to be that surf shop guy again. Reset. Do over. Money and power has brought you here. To me. To what only I can do for you.” To prove her point, she closed her eyes and then looked back at him the way he was desperate for.
“Come here to me.” She patted the couch next to her.
There was no ploy. She wasn’t writhing in lust for him. She wasn’t licking her lips. Savannah just opened her arms, her blanket like a cape.
He sat next to her. She wrapped him in her arms and pulled his head gently to her shoulder. And then she hugged him. She cuddled him close, running her hand through his hair.
It wasn’t sexual, though the blood rushing between his legs said different.
“Just be here, Silas. That’s it.” He listened to her inhale and exhale. It was like being dipped in forgiveness and caring. It became everything. He could hear her heartbeat.
She patted his back and placed a kiss on the top of his head. “It’s going to be okay,” she murmured.
The Revenger by Debra Anastasia / Romance & Love / History & Fiction have rating 3.6 out of 5 / Based on25 votes