The revenger, p.9
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       The Revenger, p.9
 

           Debra Anastasia
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  Savannah was not among them.

  Silas looked at his new best friend, the plain gold ring on his hand. It was the only reason he was able to come here at all. He’d explained Savannah’s background to the chemist who’d created Compound E for him, and the man had also managed to engineer and fabricate this little wonder. If all went as intended, being in the presence of the ring combined with the DNA found on his skin would keep Savannah’s Compound E-induced powers completely muted. Amazing what the proper motivation could do.

  Of course the scientist had wanted to run a trial on the ring before possibly putting Silas in harm’s way, but he’d refused. Time was of the essence, though Silas couldn’t blame him. The chemist had a wife and two sunny-faced children he wanted to protect. Nevertheless, Silas had demanded and received the ring the minute it was cast.

  He surveyed his home and tried to not appear jittery. He needed to remain under control at all times. Weakness was an opening, his father had always told him. Silas took a drink from the tray one of his girls held and swallowed a bracing sip.

  He said nothing as he passed them all and walked into his office. He locked the door behind him and went to the window. He ran the phone conversation he’d had with the chemist through his head once again.

  “Mr. Sagan, I can’t promise that the substance in the ring will render the girl powerless. When you combine it with your DNA, it should work but with your life I want to be 100% sure. I’m pleading with you, let me replicate her substance absorption and work with a volunteer. It’s my job to make sure you’re safe at all times. If something that came out of my lab were to hurt you, I—”

  Silas had interrupted. “If something hurts me, and you caused it in any way? You know what happens. So I suggest you get it right the first time.”

  “Of course, sir.” The chemist’s voice had held a tinge of frustration.

  “You’re the best at what you do; that’s why you work for me. How long would it take to do it your way?” Silas had been staring at Savannah’s form on a monitor as she threw yet another of his flower arrangements off of her balcony.

  “Six months at the very soonest. It appears to take some time for the substance to begin having an effect in the human body, and we also need to find another source. As you know, it was a miracle we obtained the first batch.” The chemist’s voice quivered. “As far as we know, her body is now the only place Compound E exists. And the samples of her blood we’ve taken—well, it appears to have bonded with her cells, infused into her organs. There’s no clear way to extract it, particularly without destroying her in the process. But let me follow some leads—”

  “That’s not going to work for me.” Silas had cut him off coolly. “You’ll have an acceptable wearable defense that works specifically for me against her in three days. Have it delivered to my private jet; it will be leaving the hangar at two thirty pm on Friday.” He’d paused the screen as Savannah’s angry eyes met the surveillance camera. She was exquisite. “Do you understand?” he’d asked the man to conclude their call. “I don’t have to repeat the consequences if I’m disappointed, do I?”

  “No, sir. I understand. Three days.” The chemist had sighed, which had pissed Silas off. So before he hung up, he’d plunged a verbal nail into the man’s heart: “I’ll start with your youngest.”

  Silas took a deep breath and looked around his office. His tactics were borderline torture, he knew, but he always got what he wanted. He could get his dick sucked in any city in the world. People would demean themselves at the snap of his finger. He admired the ring on his hand again.

  Power was a surge he loved, but—and he would never tell a living soul this—his power hadn’t given him a rush in a while. He had become more vicious, demanding things that were unattainable, and yet people found ways to make his wishes a reality. Impossible things. Horrible things. If he could dream it up, others would do it. Until there was her. This housewife had cracked his foundation. It was serendipitous, the accident that had made her the dangerous creature she was now.

  That’s where the chemist came in. After some blisteringly thorough research from Bugs, Silas had been made aware of the potential in a new source of energy. The chemist who’d harnessed the main ingredient and developed the substance had hoped to create a way to power third-world countries. His Compound E had the potential to offer almost boundless power to a whole town via just one bucketful of self-renewing fuel. Clean water, light—the options for improving the lives of millions of people were truly mind-boggling.

  But of course, where there is light, others can always find dark. Silas had slowly smiled as he’d listened to Bugs wax poetic about weapons that could use Compound E as ammunition instead of fuel. Silas had inherited many things from his father: money, houses, cars… But most of all, he’d inherited Baron Sagan’s enemies. Having a weapon superior to all others would give him a substantial advantage, as well as a new opportunity to dominate.

  Eventually he might even be able to sell weapons to the world’s militaries, he reminded himself. He tried to feel the rush again as he contemplated being more powerful than entire governments, being able to decide would win a war, but the satisfaction wouldn’t come.

  Nevertheless, after Bugs, Boston, and a few thugs had visited the chemist’s home, the scared scientist had agreed to deliver all the viable Compound E he had to Silas’s brand-spanking-new weapons factory.

  There were things Silas would have done differently now—like split the shipment into two or more trucks—but it was too late, and the one, extremely valuable truck had been in a deadly crash en route with its precious cargo.

  The accident had infuriated him. If the truck driver hadn’t perished in the blast, Silas would have had him killed for his incompetence. The woman in the other car wasn’t supposed to be alive, but Silas hadn’t felt any emotion either way when he’d heard that brave bystanders had rescued her. The truckload of volunteer firefighters coming back from a wedding had not even hesitated to risk their lives. They’d pulled her from the flaming wreck seconds before the truck exploded. Her child and husband had perished at the scene.

  Again, no emotions had stirred within him. No compassion, no understanding. Yet more than a year later, when his team had finally connected the dots between the woman in the accident and the vigilante beating the living shit out of some of society’s worst, Silas had gotten so hard he could’ve cut glass with his dick. The primal look he’d seen in the woman’s eyes on the surveillance video from the beatings was so familiar. He’d seen that same look in the mirror on many occasions.

  The crash had cost him time and ridiculous amounts of money, but it was merely a setback. And perhaps not even that. The chemist had promised he was always looking for more of the elusive ingredient Compound E required. And thanks to Savannah and her presence as his prisoner, he now knew the fantastic effect of the substance on a human being. Once they’d replenished the supply, he could have his whole staff pumped up with this unimaginable power, and their weapons fueled by Compound E as well.

  He reminded himself again that his need for Savannah went beyond his need for Savannah. Extracting the substance from her body might be his best means of making more.

  But that would come later. Savannah was here. Tonight she would be his, the ring that combined with his DNA ensured it. That gorgeous, now-superhuman woman would pant for him, bend over for him, come for him.

  Even if she hated him.

  Especially if she hated him.

  Chapter 16

  Kiss Me, Savannah

  Savvy was already an hour and a half late for the party. She remained in her room, panicked, trying to determine what had caused her strength and extrasensory perceptions to dissipate. Only after many of the assholes on staff had come knocking, demanding her presence downstairs, had she finally relented.

  Apparently, Sagan liked to be the last to arrive at the party like some sort of diva, and now he was already among the guests, doing whatever he did. Savvy had taken to chu
gging champagne to calm her nerves. She had no idea why she was powerless. As bizarre as her aura-pounding obsession had been, it had never felt forced or unnatural. But now, she felt as if something decidedly unnatural was clinging to the air, effectively cutting her off at the knees. She felt…vulnerable. Boston had tried to offer a few explanations, like maybe the strength had just worn off. But Savvy knew different. It was like being blindfolded, although at least she could still see. Some kind of outside force pressed against her.

  “Savvy, we’ve got to get down there. If he comes up here, it’s gonna be bad. It’s already horrible because we’re late, and you aren’t wearing your costume. Please.” Boston looked frantic.

  She appreciated that he hadn’t just carried her down and placed her where he wanted her. She nodded and gave him a ridiculous attempt at a smile, but as she stood in the hallway, staring down the large flight of stairs that would take her to him, her eyes filled up.

  Tallow, on the way up from the party, breathed a sigh of relief when he saw her ready to descend the stairs. “Thank God. Being late can get people killed.”

  He turned tail, and Savvy bet he was running to tell Sagan she was on her way. It was just Boston and Savvy on the top step as she linked her arm in his offered elbow.

  “Don’t cry. Don’t give him that.” Boston spoke barely above a whisper, but she knew what he was risking to give her that bit of advice.

  She nodded and squeezed his arm. She didn’t even have to try not to hurt him; her grip was nothing spectacular.

  If I have to hear Sara screaming, and I’m not strong, I’ll be useless all over again.

  She focused on her champagne buzz and began stepping down the stairs with Boston. Her silver heels clicked loudly on the fancy marble, and she slipped a bit on the highly polished surface. Boston steadied her.

  “Thanks.” She looked at him to show him her appreciation, and to show him her tears were gone.

  He looked like he wanted to carry her out of here and run into the night.

  As they descended, the music swirled and pounded, meant to excite. It matched her speeding heartbeat. The place was packed, and Savvy had no way of knowing whether any of them were worthy of her wrath. Now no one’s face was cast in red. Their auras had vanished, at least to her eyes.

  When she got to the last step, she let go of Boston. She didn’t need Sagan to note that they were almost friends. She had a feeling kindness here was treated like a plague.

  Like a wave, quiet washed through the crowd and silenced the voices. Everyone must have known Sagan was waiting for her. The music still played, but the party atmosphere diminished. The crowd parted so he could see her. She waited for the pain, the screaming.

  She felt like her brain was being strangled, but she heard nothing. Yet her whole existence centered itself in the far left corner of the huge room.

  She looked down the length of the wall lined with French doors, flung open to reveal the ocean and the coming night. And there he was. He started at her toes, his gaze raking her skin. Instead of an army of spiders, his eyes on her felt almost like a caress; the air around her seemed disturbed. Her hips, her stomach, her breasts—on her neck, he lingered.

  She could almost feel him stroke her face, though he sat across the room. She was so tempted to look at him. To see him. Yet she didn’t move. The sun lay on the horizon, lazy as it threw off its oranges and pinks. Boston had said she was supposed to go over to him. She was to walk over and kiss his cheek, then sit on the ottoman where he had propped his feet.

  Instead she stubbornly watched the sunset. As the stillness grew awkward, the DJ slipped on a new song, signaling the crowd to dance. Savvy remained motionless, and she could almost feel Sagan putting his hand in her hair. She snagged another glass of champagne from a tray and walked straight through the dancers to an open door.

  When she stepped out onto the porch, the partygoers out there enjoying the view hastily went back inside. She tipped her head back and drank until her glass was empty. She tossed it from the porch into the dune below and leaned against the railing, her back to the party.

  She didn’t turn as she heard the French doors closing, one after another like falling dominoes, creating a lonely spot for just her. She knew he was coming to her; his footfalls were the only noise besides the waves.

  As she watched the sun sink into the water—as if it, too, was afraid of this man— she felt him standing behind her. She closed her eyes and felt his breath on her hair. A dozen violent ways to kill him flashed through her mind. He put his hands on either side of her, trapping her against the porch railing.

  “Hello, Savannah. I feel like it’s been at least four lifetimes since I saw you last.” He spoke the words just behind her ear.

  She gasped, despite her prayer to stay calm.

  “You’re not wearing what I told you to.” His lips moved closer to her neck, tickling the soft skin.

  He touched the diamond necklace around her wrist with one finger. “This is supposed to mark you as mine. How disobedient you are...”

  He sounded amused, his voice deep and hypnotizing. She could imagine him calmly ordering evil, setting in motion the events that killed her family.

  She pulled her wrist away, carefully avoiding his fingertips, and unfastened the clasp. She held the necklace aloft like she might a poisonous snake. In the dusk, the jewelry seemed to hold some of the sunset’s splendor—a wearable force of nature. She released it, and it hit the sand far below, making a soft sound.

  He clicked his tongue and blew his frustration in a pattern on her exposed shoulders. “Do you know how much that was worth?”

  Her brain crawled, scrambled to get out of her head like a wild animal in a cage. He was the source of the mask on her power. He was the black hole absorbing all the light she could see.

  And yet his nearness made her clench and squirm. Her body wanted him inside her. Somehow her desire to kill him had twisted into pure desire. The realization opened her eyes, and her hate boiled over. She spun in his arms. I will not want him. He’s a monster; I’ll kill him.

  If he was potent behind her, facing him was the next level of anguish. She couldn’t make sense of the feelings in her body—what was manufactured, what was real. The party behind him played out from behind the segmented glass of the French doors. The revelers were a shadowbox, just decoration for this pulsating exchange.

  His green eyes seemed to drink in the sight of her face. They sparkled and radiated victory. He bit his lip.

  When she found her voice, she settled all her hate for him there. Whatever these other emotions, she had felt that the longest. “I could care less how much it was worth. It sure as hell meant nothing to me.”

  He watched her lips while she spoke.

  “Savannah, can you feel this? The pull? I feel like the world turns from right here. It revolves around us; we’re the center. Kiss me.” He leaned down as if saying it would make it so.

  She licked her lips and almost gave in to him, despite everything, when the gold ring on his hand brushed against her arm. She felt a sudden stab of her pent-up power. He has it in his fucking ring! She turned her head, and his lips met the top of her hair. She grabbed his hand, though it hurt to do so, and tried to pull his ring off.

  He quickly thwarted her efforts and grabbed her wrists. He pinned them behind her back and watched her struggle. He barked a low laugh as he pulled her harder against him. “If you had kissed me right now? When I asked? You might have bored me. God bless you, Savannah. You’re like none of the others. Do you want my ring? I’ll bet you do.”

  He transferred her two wrists into one of his long-fingered hands. He used his free hand to trace her face. When he got close to her mouth, she snapped at him, trying to bite.

  He laughed again. “Yes. Yes! Fight me. Christ, I will have you tonight. Fight me the whole damn time.”

  Savvy turned her head and held back her tears. Fucker. She attempted to kick him in the nuts, but he easily blocked her and steppe
d between her legs. The railing bit into her arms and back as he leaned against her to keep her still. Her dress made a distressed ripping noise as the slit elongated to reveal more of her thigh. She briefly wondered where Boston was, but then remembered he protected her every day so Sagan could do this very thing to her.

  “Kiss me, Savannah. Give me a little tongue.” Sagan leaned down again, which was stupid. Didn’t he know she would just bite him? She turned her head again and was surprised to see people walking up the stairs from the beach.

  “Sagan! Has it gotten so bad that you have to force them nowadays?” The voice was playful and deadly.

  Sagan cleared his throat and backed away. He slung his arm around her shoulders like they were on a date. She ducked out from under his grasp and stepped behind him.

  “Hey, pretty4, you all right? Saggie hasn’t hurt you, has he? I can always give him a good spanking for you.” The man stepped into the pool of light that lay on the deck like a blanket.

  “Jack, this is Savannah. She’s my newest girl. She won’t be needing you to defend her.” Silas nodded in her direction.

  Jack, the defender of pinned girls, looked past Silas to smile into her eyes. She wished she could see his aura. If Jack was coming here without a gun pointed to his head, he was likely a bad guy. But he held out a hand to Savvy.

  While everyone else had dressed like this party was a fancy wedding, Jack wore a white T-shirt and low slung, well-distressed jeans. Leather cuffs and layers of stones on leather strings around his neck completed the look, and his forearm had a few tattoos.

  He tipped his hat. “You don’t mind if I take your new girl out on the dance floor for a spin, do you?” Jack didn’t give Sagan the chance to answer. “Great! Thought so. Savannah, would you care for a dance?”

  Savvy nodded and accepted the hand Jack offered. At least he wasn’t wearing a ring like Sagan’s. When Savvy looked over her shoulder, she cringed as Sagan punched the porch railing hard enough to make a cracking sound. Jack held her hand tightly and pulled her to the center of the dance floor.

 
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