The revenger, p.25
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       The Revenger, p.25

           Debra Anastasia
 
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  He shook his head. Suddenly he felt as if he were watching this scene unfold from somewhere else.

  “Tell me you know different,” she said softly. “Tell me you have answers that will beat this time bomb I’ve become.”

  Silas sorted through all of his complicated emotions. Resignation was the last he came to before he replied. “Not yet.”

  “I know you love Jack, and he’s not safe. I’m the only thing that can fix this situation. I know that for sure.”

  Silas pulled her into a hug.

  “I’m a grenade with the pin pulled. Please tell me this brief time we’ve connected mattered to you. It’s all I have left now.”

  Though he would never admit it to her, Silas knew if there were a way to save her, it would have been presented to him—even just in theory—by now. It wasn’t going to happen. And he had to save Jack. Evidently she was going to get to try being a hero for her dead/not dead brother. As Savannah had just explained, she was clearly the weapon for the task.

  But despite this clarity, he now felt as powerless as the people who worked for him must have felt every day. Karma. He wrapped his arms around her, kissing the top of her head. “I just got you. Don’t leave.”

  She looked up at him, and her eyes took on a silver shine. “Make it count. It matters more than you know.”

  “Fine. I have the chopper ready to take us to the jet. But Boston stays. I don’t trust him. And I’m not giving up on finding an answer for you.”

  “Fine,” she responded. “But he has to at least get out of this area with the dog.”

  Silas nodded and called Boston back in. As he put his jacket on, he tossed Boston his car keys. “Drive. You think you can do that without betraying me?”

  They climbed into the SUV: Savvy in the passenger seat with Trooper and Silas and the chemist, who they’d wrenched away from scraping Savannah’s tears off the bedroom carpet, in the back.

  Savannah flipped down the passenger side visor and used the mirror there to look at Silas. “By the way, you thought my brother was dead and didn’t tell me?”

  He met her gaze. “I was investigating it. Obviously I was right to keep that from you. Why upset you when it wasn’t necessary?”

  “To protect yourself.”

  “And you.” He lifted his chin.

  She slapped the visor up, ending the conversation.

  Boston drove them past police cars aiding in the evacuation. “I think you should take the dog,” he told Savvy.

  “No, he stays with you.” She scratched Trooper’s ears.

  “He’s miserable with me, whines at the door. And you’re not planning on coming back, are you? I don’t want to deal with a heartbroken dog. Who knows what my lifestyle will be like after that asshole is done with me.” He gestured to Silas with his thumb.

  “I can hear you,” Silas noted.

  Savvy and Boston ignored him.

  “Hopefully we’ll all get out alive.” She looked out the window.

  The chemist was pounding away on his laptop, which he’d balanced on top of a huge duffle bag.

  “You better find a way,” Silas hissed at him.

  She finally did turn in her seat, heat in her angry gaze. “Quit threatening people. Jesus! I am so goddamn sick of seeing people live in fear around you. I can’t even…”

  The chemist spoke up. “Please, Savannah, keep calm—your eyes. You have to keep your internal chemistry nice and even, that includes your emotions.”

  “I’ll stop. I’ll stop.” She nodded at his words and stroked the dog again.

  Boston looked tense. Silas also now realized that Boston looked in love. The desperate devotion on his face matched Silas’s feelings precisely, no matter how much he tried to lock them away. How had he never figured that out before? He’d just been assuming Boston would fear him more than he felt anything else in his life.

  The helicopter was waiting, and the tense group exited the SUV all at once, leaving the doors open and the vehicle running.

  After they’d boarded the chopper, Silas announced his newest plan: “Boston stays with us. We have no time now. The chemist needs his lab.”

  They’d barely settled into their seats on the helicopter before it swooped low again to drop them off on the tarmac next to Silas’s private plane, but looking at the evacuation mayhem around them, he knew it was the only way they’d ever have made it.. As they boarded the plane, Silas willed their combined concern for Savannah to keep everyone on their best behavior. It was an odd feeling, not being totally in control.

  On the plane, she chose the seat next to Boston and kept the dog in her lap. Silas watched as she and Boston exchanged loaded looks. Finally, she put the dog on her chair and stood, coming to sit next to him.

  “This is what’s going to happen,” she said calmly, her breathing measured. “And I’ll need your help. Okay?”

  Silas nodded. He wanted the look again. He wanted to be dick deep in her while she screamed his name.

  “If I’m around long enough for your chemist to figure out a way to save me, great. I’ll submit to that. But in the meantime, I want to tell this agency we’ll swap my brother, Boston’s brother, and Jack for me.”

  He frowned and shook his head. “No. No. It’s just not possible. They’ll take you and extract the compound even if it kills you. Jack can take care of himself. Your brothers are fine while I still have you.”

  “And if I die? Then where will they be? You know what I can do when the ring isn’t around. I can get free. Give me to them, and I’ll get back to you after the others are safe. Okay? If I have any time left, it’s yours.” She sighed.

  “Are you okay?” He ignored her plan and shrugged off his jacket as she shivered again. She allowed him to wrap it around her.

  “It’s all borrowed time now,” she said. “Maybe it always has been. I feel clear, though.” She tapped her boots together. “Now it’s time for me to do what I was meant to do. Why I’m still here.” She touched his wrist. “You have to let me. I learned to exist with this crazy force inside my head, not act on every impulse. Maybe you’ll learn from me and seek the things I miss so much. That’s what life is about.” She stood as the seatbelt sign came on.

  “You sound like you’re giving me your swan song.” He felt dread settle in his chest.

  She shrugged and went back to her seat.

  Chapter 35

  Twenty Minutes

  Teresa listened hard—to the words being said and the body language around her. Jack would be out of his paralysis in about 20 minutes. He’d told her a ton, but it hadn’t been remotely the story she’d expected. Even under duress, he’d spun her tales of his childhood with a young Sagan. And it really seemed that was about all he knew. Sagan had kept him shielded from the inner workings of his organization. The two were still protecting each other to this day. Teresa sighed and set her instrument of interrogation aside as her phone rang. She answered even though the screen said blocked.

  “Hi, this is Savvy Raine. I’m calling to speak to my brother, Tobias. Who is this?”

  “Hello, Savvy,” Teresa said, keeping her voice even. “Last time I saw you, I was wearing a maid’s uniform and you were lifting off in a helicopter next to Sagan. I’m so glad to know you’re alive.”

  She motioned to the men in the room and pointed to the phone. Four different people pounced on computers at once, trying to triangulate where the number was coming from.

  “You work for them? That’s a bit of a shock,” Savvy said. “I want to talk to my brother.”

  “Just a minute.” Teresa went downstairs to where Toby and Match were playing cards. She handed the phone to him with a simple, “It’s her.”

  Toby took the phone. “Savvy? You’re okay?”

  Teresa didn’t hear the other end of the conversation, but the sheer emotion in Toby’s grateful sob put sympathy tears in her own eyes. Match looked at his feet.

  “I never stopped looking. I knew you’d make it. I’m pissed, but damn it
.” Toby gave the sigh of a man with the world lifted off his shoulders. “I feel better. Okay, sure. Okay. I love you, Savvy.” Toby wiped his eyes and handed the phone to Match.

  Toby walked over to Teresa, smiling as she’d never seen him before. “She said she’s doing a deal, and that it’ll all be okay.”

  Teresa wasn’t sure what the hell the deal was, but she put on her best encouraging smile, worried already about how exactly it would play out. When Match handed the phone back to her, it was Silas Sagan on the line.

  “Put Jack on.”

  “No, sir. Not even a little bit. I can tell you he’s fine, and that will have to be good enough.”

  Sagan sighed dramatically. “Here’s the deal. You people are going to bring Toby, Match, and Jack to the riverbank by the graveyard in twenty minutes. We will swap Savannah for them. We will not hand you Savannah until those three men are safely in our car.”

  “We can do that. No worries. Twenty minutes.” She disconnected the call and ran upstairs. They had so much to do in twenty minutes. Finding a double of Jack would be the hardest part.

  *~*~*~*

  Savvy looked out at the ocean through the French doors back at the Maryland house and listened as the men hashed out plans for the swap around her. They’d gotten bogged down discussing how many different ways things could go wrong. She finally added her two cents:

  “Sagan can’t come. He can’t be around me with his ring off right now. I’m too volatile. And I need to be able to work if I have to—obviously. That’s the whole point of this.”

  Boston nodded silently before the male conversation continued. Sagan insisted on staying close, but he promised to remove the ring and/or himself from the area when it became essential. Savvy shook her head, frustrated at his inability to see that it was essential now.

  They chose a meeting point where they’d be able to see immediately if the agency sent more than the one requested car. The chopper was already settled behind the water tower, ready to lift the hostages away. Savvy had a feeling Boston and Sagan wanted her in the chopper too, when it lifted off. Forget the deal, despite Boston’s promise to make sure the swap was clean.

  But that was not her intention. She could feel the Compound E boiling in her blood now. When she closed her eyes, she caught flashes of Kal and Sara. Amazing, beautiful, clear flashes. Her heart pounded with the thought of it, of them.

  Soon enough Boston and Sagan came to their conclusions, and they were back in the car, headed toward the meeting point. Boston explained four different plays she could use to make a getaway from the agency that hoped to take her.

  She pretended to hear them and fed them back to him. But all that mattered to her now was that her brother would be safe. Boston and Trooper would be able to have a life.

  Sagan had begun to freak out, finally seeming to realize he was powerless in this situation. He kept looking at her eyes, probably scanning for silver. He couldn’t stop tapping his foot.

  She smiled at him. “Do stuff different, okay? Do you hear me?”

  He nodded once and looked terrified. Perhaps he had real feelings for her after all. She hoped he did, that his hard, mean heart had been breached. She knew of nothing more powerful than the love she had for her family, and she’d shared that with him. After giving him all she had, showing him an alternative to brute force and relentless power, she hoped he would live like a man with a conscience.

  The other car arrived soon after they’d parked in the field designated for the meet. Savvy saw Teresa open the door and hold it for Toby, a man she assumed to be Match, and a very shaggy Jack.

  Savvy opened her door as well, and Boston held the dog tight.

  She met her brother halfway between the vehicles and hugged him hard. When she pushed him on in the direction of the car, he stubbornly waited for Teresa.

  “You have to go get in. Real quick,” Savvy urged.

  Teresa nodded. “It will all be fine, Toby. I’ll see you again soon. I love you.”

  “But I wasn’t a hostage.” Toby turned to his sister. “I’ve been helping them.”

  Savvy opened her mouth to try to explain, but no words came. There wasn’t time for this. They needed to go.

  Sagan got out of the car and squinted in Jack’s direction. Savvy followed his eyes. Jack was off—something was off. He was staggering, crazy, and headed right for her, rather than toward the car.

  Savvy motioned for Sagan to take off the ring.

  He gave a quick shake of his head.

  She mouthed Please and touched her heart.

  He slowly removed the ring and put it in his pocket with reverence.

  She prepared herself for the screams as they hit her in the heart and knees at the same time.

  She swayed, and Toby caught her. “What’s wrong?”

  She shouted to Sagan and pointed, even as she stepped back. “Get out of here! Take them and go!” She wanted to kill him so badly her hands were shaking, her rage confusing even to her. Savvy locked eyes with Teresa. “Get safe.” She pushed Toby in the direction of the helicopter. The blades started up as the chemist ran from the car to climb inside.

  Before Savvy could do anything else, Jack scooped her up and tossed her over his shoulder. She ripped the glasses from his face and saw that his eyes were all wrong and his long wig askew. This wasn’t Jack at all but a bit of agency insurance. “I’m coming with you!” she yelled, but he wouldn’t put her down. “Where’s the real Jack? You didn’t keep your word!”

  Thankfully the others seemed to have realized Jack wasn’t here as well. She looked back to see Teresa and Boston shoving Toby and Match into the chopper with Sagan. She silently hoped Sagan was right and Jack, wherever he was, really could take care of himself.

  In the next beat she was in the back of an agency car, going backward at what felt like a million miles an hour. But she could have gotten out. She could have overwhelmed them. Savvy had a feeling she might be at her strongest yet—the burst of energy before the black hole.

  She waved away the man sitting next to her, trying to take her blood while they bounced along at top speed.

  The driver whipped the car around, and Boston narrowly missed hitting them.

  He was following. He hadn’t gotten into the helicopter. He was a complication. She wanted him far from her.

  “What’s wrong with her eyes?” said a voice inside the car.

  She sought her reflection in the rearview mirror. Her eyes were mirrors, and her blood felt like it was made of silver. Her vision grew hazy and metallic. She closed her eyes. She knew it all now: bits of the universe combined with the conversation and technology surrounding her. The high-speed chase would lead back to the headquarters of the agency, which was located underneath a box warehouse. She could sense Boston and the beautiful energy of Trooper, who was with him in the car.

  She was close now—close to what had caused the universe to begin and tasting the ending on her tongue. She could see Kal’s face as he held sweet Sara close, the sun threading in their hair. She could almost hear Sara’s voice and felt longing deep in her uterus, where she’d carried her baby. Her baby.

  In the garage now, the technology became a barrage. She could sense Sagan, and Teresa and her brother cuddled in the chopper. They’d found love, something good for him. Savvy smiled for a moment, but it faded as she sensed Boston nearby, still fighting for her, looking for a way to save her.

  He didn’t understand that this was the perfect place for her to be. She allowed her captors to place her on a gurney, because she knew their intention to wheel her to the center of their facility. The heart. The best place.

  She realized then that Trooper was in the building, intent on finding her with a loyalty that would not fade. She let her soul call to his. Trooper would only find peace in her arms, and selfishly, she didn’t want to go alone.

  But Boston, he was still outside; the tricky dog had faked him out. And this crazy building was insulated against anything, ready for nuclear war. S
he tapped into the electronics now—so easy, the metallic deposits in her body lined up like circuitry to do her bidding. She pictured her intention and made it so. Gates slid into place. Secure. No one getting in or out. Trooper raced down a hallway, alongside a supply van, tongue lolling.

  She was so very far beyond what they were doing to her now, as if she watched from above. Futile. Everything was to be made clean, and soon.

  Someone announced that her body temperature was almost 500 degrees, her vitals off the charts. “That’s just not possible,” a voice yelled. “Not possible!”

  And yet it was. Somehow her supercharged body held together as she waited for one last thing before exacting the revenge she’d been created for. He was moving fast, puzzling the workers who didn’t expect to see such a thing—the workers in the agency who all had crisp, perfectly red auras. This agency was covered in blood because it wasn’t even from the government, it was a shell, a sham operation for creating and collecting the worst kind of evil money.

  This was it. The final piece in the puzzle explaining why Savvy had been here all these months alone, in pain, in darkness. And this was how she would leave: the ultimate retribution. Not just getting even—there was no even after her family had been destroyed—but ridding the world of bad and protecting the good. The last bit of Compound E would be used to set things right, ending a beginning that had held the potential for unlimited suffering.

  He was almost here. She sat up to meet him, arms extended. Sara would get her dog, after all this time. Savvy had to believe. She needed to know there was meaning in this.

  He hit the room running, and Savvy caught Trooper when he leaped. She felt his sweet fur and excited licks and finally knew calm, assurance.

  The people around her saw the end and began to scramble for cover far too late.

  Savvy kissed Trooper’s head. She could let go now. The hard hold she’d had on the remaining shreds of herself was over. And with her release, there was only white. Only peace.

  Chapter 36

  Different

 
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