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Authors: Christine Feehan

Annihilation Road (11 page)

BOOK: Annihilation Road
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Doris giggled again, drawing Savage’s attention. “Miss Doris,” he said, “Czar and Blythe’s girls have jars and collect money when any member of Torpedo Ink swears. They have enough to go to college, I think, and then some. It’s a good idea that you get yourself a jar about now.”

Savage turned his complete focus back on Seychelle. “My motorcycle is
unrelenting
black? You’re attacking my bike? My ride happens to be a 2015 Night Rod Special, not all black—it has gunmetal-gray trim, not to mention the gray skull.”

There was a dark promise of retaliation in his voice. On his face. In his eyes. She liked sparring with him, but he could be intense. His Harley was his baby.

“You’re attacking my toolbox.”

“Babe. Really?”

“And you’ve never once suggested I get a jar for your foul mouth.”

“You don’t get a jar because you cause the swearing. Miss Doris makes cookies and she can use the money for bingo. Hand me one, babe, the chocolate chip. They smell great.” He held out his hand.

Seychelle gave an exaggerated sigh, snagged the smallest chocolate chip cookie on the plate and gave it to him.

“Who’s to say I don’t love my toolbox just as much as you love your Harley?”

Instantly, Savage’s expression softened. “Did someone special give you the tools, baby?”

She was teasing him. She didn’t want him to feel bad.
Immediately, she shook her head. “No, I purposely bought pink so I could easily identify my tools when I took them to other people’s homes. I didn’t want to mix them up.” In other words, she’d had tools taken multiple times and she didn’t want to keep having to buy more, but she wasn’t saying that in front of Doris. It would be repeated to every single one of the men and women who played bingo on Thursday nights. Doris would take it upon herself to reprimand anyone who came near Seychelle’s tools.

“I bought the tools myself and I taught myself to use them. I’m fixing Doris’s stairs before she falls through,” she informed him, lifting her chin at him.

Savage took his time eating the cookie, all the while focusing on her face. “I think we’ll continue this conversation at home, along with the one about letting me know where you are so I don’t worry so much.”

She narrowed her eyes at him suspiciously. “That reminds me. How did you find me? I didn’t tell you I was with Doris.”

“I’ve got eyes everywhere. You should know that.”

Which didn’t tell her anything. She glanced down at her phone. Was there some kind of tracking program on it? How had he really found her?

He finished the cookie, clearly enjoying every bite, ignoring her suspicious glare. “Excellent, Miss Doris. I’ll have to tell Alena about your cookies. She loves different recipes for chocolate chip, and these are right up there with hers.”

“Everyone talks about Alena’s baking,” Doris said. “Inez Nelson over at the grocery store said no one is better, and she would know. And it’s just Doris, none of this Miss.” She let out a little gasp. “I know who you are now. Inez told me all about you. You helped Donny Ruttermyer out when he got into trouble. That was so sweet of you.”

“Savage is always sweet,” Seychelle said, just to annoy him, her gaze glued to his face. She saw the flicker of heat in his eyes and knew it embarrassed him to be caught doing something nice. He turned those laser-cutting eyes on her,
daring her to keep teasing him. Naturally, she couldn’t stop herself. “Who is Donny Ruttermyer, Doris?” She asked the question deliberately, because it was the last thing he wanted her to do. She sent him a little taunting grin.

Savage let his burning gaze drift over her face and down her body in a slow, heated perusal that nearly made her catch fire. She felt as if he’d purposely ignited a wildfire deep inside of her.

“Goin’ to get yourself in more trouble than you’re already in, woman.”

“Donny has Down syndrome and lives in the little apartment across the street from the grocery store, right above Donna’s Gift Shop,” Doris explained. “He’s a good boy and usually is pretty good at taking care of himself. Inez and Donna Baker look after him. Jackson Deveau, the deputy sheriff, helps him most of the time, but Donny got into some trouble with his checkbook and Jackson wasn’t around. Donny got very upset and no one could calm him down, so Inez sent for Savage. He took care of it right away.”

“Why would Inez send for Savage?” Seychelle asked, all teasing gone. That didn’t make any sense at all, and she really wanted to know.

Savage leaned back, gripping her bare ankle beneath her jeans with one hand while he snagged two more cookies off the plate with the other. His palm began to slide up and down over her calf and the scars there. He seemed to do that a lot, and she realized for the first time that not only did it soothe him, but he actually fed her energy that others drained from her. He didn’t just take from her. He gave to her. He’d done it when they were alone together in the bedroom. She sat up straight, going very still as realization hit. That was part of the reason she found his company so exhilarating. He wasn’t just taking.

“A couple of years ago, Czar and the others came to town and there were horrid men from another club in Inez’s store destroying the place. They smashed things and were
pushing Donny around. They weren’t going to pay for anything either,” Doris said.

“We can change the subject anytime, Doris,” Savage said.

Seychelle had missed him so much. Missed the way he made her laugh. Missed the way he made her feel so alive. The energy he provided. And she hadn’t even realized until this very moment, sitting on the porch with Doris, that Savage gave her back what those in need took from her. As revelations went, it was a pretty big one. Huge. She had always been the caregiver. The nurturer.

The idea that Savage didn’t just take made her feel strange. Self-conscious. As if she was taking from him something she shouldn’t be. Did he know? Was that why he was always rubbing her leg? The scars that connected them? She thought of her scars that way. His hand, under her jeans, continued to slide up and down her leg slowly, the pads of his fingers tracing the ridges and whorls of the raised scars. She thought he’d done that for himself, and she’d loved it. Now she didn’t know what to think. She nearly pulled away from him, but was afraid if she did, he’d be hurt. She wasn’t positive how she knew that, but she did, just as she knew the more time she spent with him, the more danger of getting her heart shredded.

“No, no, Savage. People need to know that you boys were good to Inez and Donny. Czar, Savage and the others took those bad ones out of the store and into the street, Seychelle. Taught them a lesson too, right before the cops showed up. Donny hero-worships those boys, and Savage in particular.”

Savage let out a little groan. “Seriously, Doris? Half of Torpedo Ink was there, not just me. I beat the shit out of someone and you think that’s a good thing?”

“Yes, I do,” Doris said staunchly. “Sometimes there’s nothing else to be done. Those men would have hurt Inez and Donny.”

Savage heaved a sigh and shook his head. “Inez talks too much.”

“I think Doris is right,” Seychelle declared, meaning it. “You do good things. You might look different, but you do very good things. He saved a little boy’s life a few weeks ago. That’s how we met. Dropped his bike in the road, scooped up the kid out from a truck coming straight at them and ran. Everyone else was just frozen and screaming.”

“Oh my,” Doris said. “Does Inez know about this?” She sounded breathless. “She always knows everything first, but she never said a word.” There was no doubt Doris planned to tell every single one of her friends at bingo or cards.

“If she doesn’t, don’t tell her that bullshit story,” Savage snapped. “It isn’t true.”

Savage’s fingers never stopped moving on Seychelle’s leg. The feel of his skin against hers was mesmerizing. Every stroke felt like a caress. Her nerve endings were raw, and his touch sent little sparks of electricity up and down her leg. She wasn’t certain if it felt good or if it hurt, but it made her feel very connected to him, and she didn’t want him to stop.

“It’s true. You did lay down your bike and you did scoop that boy up and run to get him out of the path of the truck,” Seychelle pointed out. She didn’t want him to ever forget that he had saved that child. He would have given his life for that boy.

“And you shoved us both out of the way and took the hit,” Savage said, his fingers suddenly gripping her calf like a vise.

He tilted his head back to look up at her, his glacier-blue eyes meeting hers, focusing completely on her in that way he had. He made her feel that he saw only her—that only she mattered to him. Her stomach did a slow somersault. Seychelle knew she was extremely susceptible to him, the need for him so deep, so physical, she knew she would have to guard her heart carefully if she was around him for even the briefest of times.

The moment she was near him, the craving for him seemed to grow. Now, knowing that he did for her what no one else in the world had ever done, what maybe no one else ever could do, added an extra layer of need to her addiction to him. He gave back to her. He nurtured her. And he had that draw of darkness in him that her body responded to. That was doubly dangerous to her.

At once, Doris’s entire demeanor changed. She looked much older, the lines in her face deepening. “Seychelle.” Doris breathed her name. “You were hit by a truck? Were you hurt? You never said a word to any of us.” She put down the teacup, because her hands shook so badly she’d spilled some of the contents. “I couldn’t bear to lose you, honey. You should have told me. This is terrible.”

Savage began his slow massage again, up and down Seychelle’s leg, from ankle to knee, his palm sliding over the raised scars. “Didn’t mean to upset you, Doris. She’s just fine. That’s how we met and how she became my fiancée. Right then.”

Seychelle could have kissed him. He knew exactly what to say to distract Doris.


Fake
fiancée, Doris,” she reminded.

“Why fake, Seychelle?” Doris asked. “He seems like quite a catch, and you’re not getting any younger. You run off anyone in the least interested in you.”

“He’s bossy. Really, really bossy,” Seychelle pointed out. “You have no idea how bossy he can be.”

Savage turned his head alertly toward Doris. “She have quite a few men interested?”

Doris nodded vigorously. “There’s not a lot of women that look like Seychelle in town. She’s a real looker and so sweet too. She walks down the street, and the next thing you know, they’re coming out of the woodwork.”

“Seriously? Just stop, Doris, we were talking about Savage, not me,” Seychelle said, but she couldn’t help laughing. How did he do that? One minute all the teasing was about
him and the next the spotlight was on her. “In case you hadn’t noticed, he’s eating all your cookies and I can guarantee he won’t gain an ounce of weight. Not one single ounce. I had two cookies and I’m going to have to jog for miles to keep from gaining ten pounds.”

“I like that you’re not a stick, woman.” Savage sounded exasperated. “And I don’t think you ate while you were away. You lost at least three pounds.”

She had, but he couldn’t know that. She made a face at him, and he grinned at her and then toed the toolbox.

“What’s in that thing?”

“Tools, and don’t make fun of my toolbox.”

He leaned toward it, his hand slipping off her leg, leaving her feeling deprived. It was strange how much she found she had missed him. Not just verbally sparring with him, but his touch. She narrowed her eyes at him as he gingerly opened the toolbox as if it might bite him.

“Babe.” One word. He looked up at her. “Really? What the fuck is this supposed to be?” He pulled out one of her favorite tools.

The handle was pink. She really liked it, not only because it fit nicely in her hand but because of the way the rubber felt. “It’s a hammer, you moron. A perfectly good hammer. Since clearly you aren’t in the least familiar with tools, I can go over them for you, name them and their uses if you’d like.”

“Doris, you may need to put your hands over your ears and eyes for a minute so you can’t testify in court.”

“Oh dear, are you going to threaten her?”

“I do want to strangle her occasionally,” Savage admitted, “but right now, I thought pulling her across my knees and paddling her sweet little ass would give me more satisfaction. Unfortunately, the snoop across the street is staring at us with a pair of binoculars, and she’d definitely call the cops on me.”

Doris gasped and glared up at the curtains that were
peeled back from the upstairs window facing her house from the one across the street. “Sahara Higgens is a terrible person. She’s always so jealous when Seychelle comes to visit me, and she spies on us.”

Seychelle followed her gaze up to the second-story window. “Does she live alone?”

“Yes, she does. Her boyfriend left her a couple of months ago for someone much younger, and who could blame him? He’s so sweet and tried so hard, but she was always doing everything she could to mess his life up. Now she’s a bitter, nasty woman. She won’t come to bingo or join our sewing circle or even come out of her house. Well, it’s really
his
house. He lets her live there, even though it’s causing friction in his new relationship, and she’s so ungrateful. He should just evict her. Inez has to have Donny deliver her groceries.”

Seychelle bit at her lower lip. That didn’t sound good to her. Something about the way Doris’s voice sounded when she was telling her about her neighbor bothered Seychelle—sent up a big red flag. “Does she have children, Doris?”

“No, he said she was too vain and didn’t want to mess up her figure.”

Seychelle shook her head several times, rejecting the idea of what Doris was saying. Her mind just couldn’t accept that verdict. Doris sounded like a parrot, as if what she was telling them had been told to her over and over until it was forced into her brain, almost like hypnotism. “How old is she?”

“Maybe thirty.”


Thirty?
I thought you were going to say your age,” Seychelle said. “Her boyfriend left her for someone much younger? How old is he?”

BOOK: Annihilation Road
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