The revenger, p.23
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       The Revenger, p.23

           Debra Anastasia
 
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He slipped his arms around her waist. The hair on the back of his neck stood up. He hadn’t known he had the hole in him until she’d uncovered it.

  She kissed his head again, and he turned his face up to hers, hugging her back.

  “Why are you doing this?” He sounded lost.

  “Because this is the only power I have when it comes to you: treat you like you matter. Is it working?” She tilted her head, and her ponytail spilled over her shoulder.

  He wrapped his hand around it. “More than you know.”

  “Watch my eyes. If they start to mirror, you need to run.”

  “How do I know you’re not keeping me close so we both go up in flames?” He sat up and took a more dominant position, keeping her caged in his arms.

  “You won’t know. But I’ll tell you if I start to feel weird. It’s trust. Without pain. Can you do it?” She still looked at him in that way that she did. “I dare you.”

  He was afraid to touch her, to demand more from her, because he didn’t want her to stop. She took his hand from the couch and squeezed it. Supportive. Kind. What was it like to know this? What did it mean to peek into a life he shouldn’t even know about? He’d looked behind a curtain that was sacred.

  His throat was dry, his heart pounding. It felt like watching a cloud turn into a tornado, like looking at a tree before the lightning hit.

  He pulled her as he stood, lifting her into his arms. “Is this a trick?”

  She was still looking at him that way. Goddamn it all. She said nothing. Instead she framed his face with her hands.

  “You hate me,” he reminded her, trying to make her stop, wanting to see her come to her senses.

  “Not more than I hate me.”

  Empathy. He knew she despised him: her kidnapper, murderer of her family, spoiled asshole. And all at once he halted his efforts to make her see him clearly. She could see him clearly; she just chose not to. And he craved this.

  Taking her up the stairs in his arms was easy. She didn’t fight or kick; instead she gave him a dreamy smile. It was like she was hallucinating, but she kept saying Silas, Silas over and over. So she knew it was him.

  When he laid her on the bed, he thought back to the last time they’d been here. He’d wanted to force her. Had it only been the day before? Really? Was it that easy to earn what he really wanted?

  He must have mumbled that last thought out loud because she answered him.

  “Speaking about who you are isn’t easy. And sex isn’t what you have to earn.”

  He stopped. In that moment, he didn’t want to make her do this with him. Not now. It took superhuman strength to stop, but he held himself rigid over her.

  Again he must have spoken because she was answering him. God, maybe he was the one hallucinating after all. Savannah broke him then, reaching out her comforting hand and taking his from his side.

  “Call me Savvy,” she said. “Tonight, call me Savvy, please.” And she pulled him on top of her. Permission. Request. Invitation.

  He pulled up the hem of her shirt, then hesitated. He fucking hesitated! He looked at her eyes. This woman he’d watched for months, lusted over via satellite cameras. He’d wanted to reign over her, believed the satisfaction he sought would come only from watching her submit to him.

  But now. This. It was more than carnal. The burning in his chest, it was a new life. And then there was the fact that she was deadly. It was almost more than he could take. Were the edges of her pupils turning a bit? Had she just shivered from his touch? Sliding his hand across her stomach and over the lace of her bra, he felt her softness.

  He’d bedded so many women. So many times. How this was different, he wasn’t sure. He released her left breast and thumbed over her nipple, watching her gasp the tiniest bit. And then she smiled.

  To bring her pleasure that wasn’t a punishment? He never knew it could be this way.

  Her own hands explored, pulling his shirt out of his pants—like he’d come home from work, and she was waiting for him. She was good at unbuttoning and quickly exposed his chest. He wanted to be delight for her eyes, so he tensed his muscles. So amateur. God, he was gone in her.

  She placed her hands on his chest and drew him toward her with her legs and arms. When he lay on top of her, she whispered against the skin of his neck. It was his turn to shiver.

  He kissed her ear, her jaw, and her lips. He wanted more of her permission. More of her genuine reaction. “Am I me for you right now?” It was a bizarrely worded question, and one he hated to ask. But it was important to him now.

  “Stop asking questions and start making progress.” She laughed at him. For him.

  Chest to chest, he focused on the feel of being pressed against her. His hesitation must have been apparent, because she held his shoulders.

  “Don’t be scared.” And then she kissed him again.

  He could kiss her until the world ended. She had turned him into a love song and a sappy story. He was scared, and it amazed him because for once in this moment, it wasn’t the other way around.

  He kissed all the skin he could find before working on her jeans, sliding them off. Her panties went with them, and he briefly mourned the loss of the white fabric because he’d been looking forward to teasing her sex through them.

  “You’re amazing,” he breathed. In the flesh, under his fingers, she became an object of worship. This version of her that welcomed him was almost more than he could take. He pulled the right cup of her bra under her breast.

  She arched into his hands instead of shying away. The way she was soft for him, her gaze and gentle smile, would be the closest he ever got to God. He was sure of it.

  She had started on his belt, and he kneeled, knees on either side of her, to unbuckle the rest of the way.

  *~*~*~*

  Kal. She pictured Kal, and it was a delusion. Mostly. It was also confusing and thrilling, and she shivered from the inside, not the outside.

  Really, she should tell him. It was probably time to tell him to run. Instead she kissed him. Her head flickered between two realities as she fought the surge of strangeness within her. She was right here, right now with Sagan, but she was also years before on a random Thursday night with Kal. Why it was that night, she wasn’t sure.

  The TV was on in the background, and Sara was asleep. It was just a regular night. But that’s what she loved most—the time with him that had seemed endless. She was wasteful with it, reading a book instead of staying curled in his arms. She’d thought forever was a given.

  Kal knew her so well, knew her body so well. And instead of boring her, it thrilled her to know the satisfaction she sought could always be found with him.

  Sagan again—kiss him. He’s naked now, looking needy and unsure. Scared maybe. That meant things were going according to plan. He could probably fuck his way to the moon, but to be loved? At that he was a virgin.

  She pulled him on top of her and sighed as the weight of him took her back. Kal…she would kiss his neck because it drove him crazy. He would tell her lovely things in her ear, dirty things too. She spanked him lightly and was delighted to hear his deep laugh. Kal had often held her hands above her head, nipping at her breasts.

  Now Sagan: same maneuver, making it easy on her. The groan of pleasure was the same. He watched her carefully between kisses and grazing teeth. She bit her lip and arched her back. Closed her eyes.

  Now Kal released her hands, fingertips sculpting her shape, lingering on her hips. Sliding down, he would taste her now. He loved it—so he said. She trusted him completely, making it easy to glean pleasure from his fingers and tongue.

  She grabbed Sagan’s hair now, demanding faster, demanding harder, so very close. He looked up from between her legs and watched as she panted.

  “Don’t come. Don’t! Not yet.” He climbed back up her body, hooking one of her knees over his shoulder.

  His voice was ruining her balance; Kal slipped away in her head. Heat radiated from her spine. “Wait. It’s coming back. You shou
ld go.” She was so close to falling over the edge it was almost painful to make Kal stop. Wait—no, Sagan.

  “No. Shh.” He poised above her, ready to press into her.

  Slowly, ever so slowly he began to move. She adjusted her hips to accommodate him.

  “Look at me. Please look at me.”

  And then it was Kal; he always made her look at him. He wanted that connection, watching her fall apart. It was powerful, the lust end of their love together—urgent and sharp and disorienting. It made her forget where she was, who she was, until there was only him.

  She grabbed the bed sheets and fisted them, thrashing under him. Kal always knew to rub her some more, to intensify and give her what she needed. Sagan somehow did the same. Kal’s brown eyes and Sagan’s green ones combined into hazel in her head. And then she tumbled down into the bliss, white behind her eyes, gasping, screaming.

  Kal had always made fun of her afterward, laughing that she was so loud. She would blush and hide her face. But that was how it was with them. No reservations, just trust.

  Sagan followed her soon after, and when they were both spent he collapsed next to her, supporting her head on his arm.

  “Thank you for that. It was something else.” He pushed a piece of her ponytail off her cheek. “I’m surprised it came to this…”

  “No more than me.” Now she wanted to leave. She wanted to get up and run as everything inside her boiled and squirmed. This was all so twisted—Kal and Sagan swapping in her head.

  He chuckled a little. “Got to say, all that screaming made me feel like a damn caveman. I think I could catch dinner with my bare hands right now.”

  His unexpected humor made her laugh, a little too much.

  “He was lucky. Your husband.” He whispered the last part, as if realizing it was way, way out of bounds for him to bring up.

  She sobered. “That’s where you’re wrong. He would have been so much better off without me. Such a good man. I took him, and really I should have let a nicer girl have him.”

  “To hear that laugh? Trust me, he was lucky. Did he make you laugh?” Sagan propped himself up on an elbow, replacing his bicep with a pillow for her head.

  His questions made her want to put her clothes back on, made her sweat. But to bring him close, she would have to let him in. Even now. “You’re nice now?” she teased. “I must have a magic vagina.” She gave him a skeptical glare.

  “No, I just want to know more. I’m a little jealous is all…new feelings all around.” He shrugged.

  She swallowed and opened up. Hating it. “He did. Almost every damn day he made me laugh. And then when we had our baby? To see him as a father? It does something to a woman. When a man protects his baby and is just smitten? It makes you want to fight harder, be better.”

  He nodded like he was hearing her, but whether he really did was impossible to know. She pressed on.

  “Losing them both? That made me realize how little good there was in me.” Her eyes rimmed with tears.

  “It wasn’t your fault.”

  “It was very much my fault. Yours, of course, for the truck being there to begin with, but mine for the loss of them.”

  “You’ve been wanting to die.” He stated the fact like he was her therapist.

  “No. I wanted them back, or I wanted to be where they are.”

  “By dying?”

  “That seemed like the most logical way to get there.” She shifted, uncomfortable talking about her family with their murderer. “But if this stuff inside me can make more good people die, then I don’t think I should go without a fight.”

  Now it seemed to be his turn to be uncomfortable. He sat up and looked away. “Let’s not discuss this now. I just want to be here with you.”

  She wasn’t the only one living in a slightly altered reality. “No, you need to hear me. That’s the whole point. I let you in so you could learn that this matters to me. I don’t want to be a weapon or pave the way for you to create other weapons. I don’t want to be a way to bring death to hundreds. Thousands.” She sat up and crossed her arms.

  “Stop talking about this. Come back to me. Here.” He lay back and opened his arms to her.

  Savvy shook her head and found her crumpled T-shirt in the sheets. She popped it on and fixed her bra. He smacked the mattress.

  “No.” She shook her head, dismissing his tantrum. “You listen to me. I’m not going to make it. You know it, and I know it. This stuff has an expiration date, and it doesn’t seem to be coming out of me.” Hopping out of bed, she put on her panties while watching him fumble with his feelings.

  Finally he put them into words. “I’m fixing that.”

  “No, you’re fixing it so you can have this compound stuff and use it.” She glared at his ring.

  He got out of bed, but didn’t put his clothes on. “I’m fixing it. I’ll get it out of you, sell it to the highest bidder, and be done with it. Then you and I can do that…” He pointed at the bed. “…a whole lot more.”

  She saw tenderness in his face. “You’ve never apologized to anyone, have you? Like, ever?” She stepped up and poked him in the center of his chest.

  “I don’t apologize.” His walls were flying up.

  “You need to. You need to apologize to me. Without that truck…” She sputtered and paused a moment to gather herself. “You took everything that mattered. Everything I cared about. You will never understand how it hurts. It turned me inside out. I can’t even do anything but hurt.” She was crying again, and she hated it as much as she ever had.

  He looked alarmed and went to the closest light switch. “No, no, no,” he said as the room was illuminated. “Not now.”

  She wiped at her eyes angrily, and the moisture on her fingers glistened. It looked like liquid mirror on her hand. The light in the room was suddenly so bright she couldn’t even find Sagan. Everything went white, and Savvy didn’t realize she was falling until she almost hit the floor. His arms came around her, and just before she lost consciousness she heard him:

  “I’m sorry, Savvy. I’m so sorry.”

  *~*~*~*

  That night. That awful night. In an instant she was there again, driving Kal because he’d been drinking. Wait, that sounded more serious than it was. He’d had two glasses of beer with dinner. But it was their rule that Sara never see them sip even one alcoholic beverage and then drive. Impressions. She wanted to make a good impression, so she was driving. It was misty, and the music was low. She’d been thinking about how quickly she could get Sara into bed when they got home. It was getting late.

  When the truck came into her lane, time was reduced to wishes. Her reaction of pulling the car into the opposite lane? How many hours after the accident did she reflect on that choice, that reflex?

  Tobias had told her a million times it wasn’t her fault. It was just a quick, knee-jerk reaction. But he didn’t know what she did: She had tried to protect herself.

  In that second, in that moment when it mattered most, when being selfless would have changed everything that mattered, she’d picked her own sorry ass to save.

  She should have turned the wheel the other way, sent the passenger side away from the truck’s grill. In lighter moments she tried to believe she’d been trying to outmaneuver the truck, get to the wrong side of the road. Surely she’d known that if she turned toward the grill, she was definitely going to crash. But in her mother’s heart, she should have known the outcome of her choice. She truly believed she should have known.

  Sara’s screams. God, her screams.

  And that’s why she wanted to die. A chance to make that choice again. To give her family a chance this time. To swap places. She would give anything to swap places.

  She was crying again now. The kind that never stopped. Gasping, she heard his voice before she was able to put it all into perspective. Then the blur began to clear. He wiped her face with a warm washcloth, over and over.

  Shouting at someone in the house? On the phone maybe. She could only
see endless white when she opened her eyes. The back of the mirrors. It had to be. She blinked over and over to clear her sight, and finally she made him out. Worried. Scared. Bossy.

  “…and you better figure this fucking thing out right fucking now. You know what I’ll do. What the assassin will do!”

  “Stop threatening the man. God, have you never figured out that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar?” She spoke and sobbed at the same time.

  “She’s conscious.” Sagan ended his call and continued to wipe her face.

  She put her hand to her cheek, getting some of the silver on her fingertips. “Is this the compound?”

  “I don’t think so. Supposedly it’s not so easy to get out of you.” He gave her a half-smile as the doorbell sounded. “Can I leave you for a second? That should be Boston.” He gently sat her up.

  She sighed. Boston would for sure see that the bed was a mess, that Sagan wasn’t wearing a shirt, that she was without her pants.

  He was the first one through the door, outpacing Sagan.

  He collapsed on his knees. “You okay?”

  “I’m here.” She shrugged. “Trooper?”

  “He’s safe.” Boston pulled the comforter off the bed and wrapped her in it. “What I’m about to do? Let it happen.”

  “What?”

  In the foyer she could hear Sagan on the phone again.

  Boston lifted her.

  “I think I can walk.” She gave him a hard look.

  “Promise to come with me. And not to kill me.” His gold aura bled through the suppression of Sagan’s ring.

  “You know I can’t go anywhere. Don’t do anything that will jeopardize your brother.”

  He fed her words back to her then. “Just because I love him doesn’t make his life more important than yours.”

  She shook her had, still blurry from wherever the compound had taken her. “And Tobias—”

  “Is dead. I’m so sorry. He’s dead.” Boston looked wild eyed.

  Rage filled her to the brim. All of this was for him. All of this.

  “Since the night we left the compound.”

  The savage had bedded her knowing Tobias was gone. Gone. Gone.

 
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