Authors: Christine Feehan
Today was the day Savin “Savage” Pajari was going to die. And it was okay. If it hadn’t been for the boy, a part of him would be rejoicing. He was a monster, and monsters weren’t for this world. But there was the boy, and that meant he had to try no matter what. Not give up.
He wasn’t going to make it. He’d been too slow. The truck was too fast. The mother screamed seconds too late to draw his attention. He’d laid his bike down to get to the kid as time tunneled. Slowed down. He scooped the boy up, right out of the middle of the street, and ran like hell.
He sprinted to get the kid out of harm’s way, but he knew his effort was futile. He was just a step too late. All he could do was try to protect the child. He wrapped him up in his arms, tight against his chest, hoping when the truck crushed him, his body would keep the boy alive. He was a big man, heavy on the muscle, so maybe the kid had a chance. He kept running, but it was over, probably for both of them.
As if from a distance, he heard the scream of the brakes
as the driver slammed them on, the skid, the smell of burning rubber and brakes, the desperate cries of those on the sidewalk watching the drama unfold. Then the vehicle was there, much bigger as it bore down on them. He kept running, that next step, heart pounding, because there had never been a time in his life that he could give up—and he had that little boy, who deserved to live. Something hit him hard in the back, coming at him from the side, throwing him forward, giving him that last momentum, the speed he needed. That one extra step.
He found himself rolling on the ground, the kid tucked in to his body to prevent him from hitting the asphalt. The roaring in his ears was loud, but not as loud as the distinct and sickening
he heard. He knew immediately it was the sound of metal hitting a real flesh-and-blood body. He turned his head to see a woman rolling across the road. Other sounds erupted around him: screams, the driver’s door slamming. He swore, forcing his body to move, getting his legs under him, standing, the boy still protected in his arms.
The kid’s mother rushed to Savage, tears streaming down her face, thanking him as she took the child. He thrust her aside and sprinted to the fallen woman. She was small, a broken doll lying on her belly. The denim she wore hadn’t protected her leg. The material was shredded along with her skin. The wounds looked ugly, vicious even, going from the top of her ankle to the top of her thigh. He couldn’t tell if her leg was broken. The rest of her clothes were shredded on that side as well, her narrow rib cage bloody, the side of her breast and her arm.
Savage crouched down beside her. She groaned, letting him know she was conscious at least. She had hair, a lot of it, a rich honey color. He gathered it into one hand and pulled it away from the blood on her arm. “You’re alive, baby, but don’t move until the paramedics get here. Tell me where you’re hurt.”
She made little sounds of distress in the back of her
throat, and then turned her face toward him. Her eyelashes fluttered. They were exceptionally long, and there were diamond-like drops on them. She opened her eyes, and he found himself looking into the bluest eyes he’d ever seen. That got him straight in his scarred, uncooperative cock. She was lying there broken and bruised on his account, and his fuckin’ body suddenly decided to come to life all on its own. He was shocked. More than shocked. He didn’t let it show, but that had never happened that he could remember.
She would have bruises and lacerations on her otherwise flawless skin. Her bone structure was perfect. Savage noted every detail, the way he did everything. Her mouth was . . .
Her mouth. Deliberately, he looked away from her face and once more looked at her body, trying not to notice that her ass, cupped in those tight jeans, was just as perfect as her tits.
“I’m going to run my hands over you, looking for broken bones. I’m not taking advantage.” He knew he looked rough. He
rough. He was wearing his colors, so it wasn’t difficult to tell he was a biker. He was tattooed, and he kept his head shaved. He was intimidating, because he was the kind of man that beat the fuck out of someone if they crossed him. “That all right with you?”
She tried to move her arm and groaned. He put his hand over it to stop her. “Tell me your name.”
Her eyelashes fluttered. A tear rolled down her face, and he had an uncharacteristic urge to lick it off her cheek. He hadn’t done that in a long, long time. Now that she’d woken that beast, it roared hungrily, eyeing her ravenously. He shoved his cravings away.
“Come on, baby, I can hear the sirens. Medics are coming.” When she moved slightly, he saw the bump on her head. It was pretty impressive. “Tell me your name.”
Her tongue touched her lip, drawing his attention to her mouth again. He didn’t want to look there. The moment he did, his fuckin’ cock jerked. There was no precedent for that. None. He was always in control of his body, and here
this woman—who had most likely saved his life—was lying on the ground injured and he was having some kind of a perverted reaction to her.
Her lashes drifted down, and his heart jumped. For a man always in control of his body, he was losing it. “Babe. Tell me your fucking name right now.” He wasn’t going to lose her, so he poured command into his voice.
A few of the bystanders gasped, and one started to protest, but when Savage turned ice-cold eyes on him, the protester thought better of it.
“Seychelle.” She whispered it. “Seychelle Dubois.”
The ambulance arrived, and when the paramedics hurried to them, he gave them a cold stare as he shifted to one side. “Thank fuck. She’s trying to drift away.”
The two men moved their hands over her body, and something twisted in his gut. He stepped back. The deputy sheriff had arrived, and he didn’t want any part of that.
“He saved my boy.” Savage heard the woman distinctly, and he began to make his way through the crowd toward his bike. Shit. It was still on the ground where he’d laid it down to run for the kid. That was what he got for interfering. And now this woman. Seychelle Dubois. What the fuck kind of name was that? He’d killed three people in France. He knew the language, and she pronounced it with a French accent.
He crouched down beside his bike to inspect it for damage, not looking around. He knew the voice. Jackson Deveau. They’d met on several occasions. Technically, they hadn’t exactly exchanged names and pleasantries—Savage left that to others in the club—but they knew each other. A shadow fell across him, and as he rose to pick up the Harley, Jackson helped. Ordinarily, Savage would have decked anyone touching his bike, but the man was helping, and he wore a badge. So maybe not the best idea.
“A few scratches. I got lucky.”
“From the sound of it, very lucky. They’re taking Seychelle Dubois to the hospital in Fort Bragg. Do you know her?”
Savage was tempted to tell him he did, but he had no idea why, so he shook his head and kept going over his bike.
“You saved the kid.”
“Technically, she saved the kid. She shoved me out of the way and took the hit. I don’t know how she angled it, but at least she wasn’t killed.” He glanced across the street to the mother who was rocking the little boy, more to comfort herself than the child. “The kid all right?”
“Yeah. I’ll need your statement.”
Savage leveled his gaze at the man. “Just gave it to you.”
Jackson shook his head. “You’ve destroyed your hard-ass image, Savage. You’ve got all these people looking at you like you’re some kind of hero.”
“Shut the fuck up,” Savage snapped. He swung his leg over his bike and settled on the familiar leather. His Harley felt like part of him. Home. If he had one, it was on this bike. It was a Night Rod Special, all matte black with dull gunmetal-gray trim and blacked-out chrome and his one concession—the image of a dripping gray skull. He loved his bike, and it was a fuckin’ road rocket, sheer speed thanks to Harley-Davidson and a little help from Transporter and Mechanic.
“You headed back to the club?”
“You my mother now?”
Jackson grinned at him, not taking offense. He never did. He wasn’t a man to pull a power play just because he wore a badge, and that told Savage he was someone to contend with. Jackson was confident, which meant he didn’t need an ego for a reason.
“Don’t forget to wear your helmet,” Jackson said.
Savage flipped him off as he fitted the ridiculous half dome to his head and then waited for the deputy to step back. He got the hell out of there, thankful his bike had minimum damage, all cosmetic, and that the kid lived through the entire thing. With the wind in his face, he let the sea air unravel
the knots in his gut he always got when he was around too many people. Usually, he could dismiss everything when he rode and just feel complete freedom when he was on his motorcycle, riding along the coastal highway.
Yeah, he was going to the clubhouse. He told himself that a million times as he neared the turnoff to Caspar, but he didn’t make the turn. Swearing, he continued to ride the highway, cursing himself for being all kinds of a fool. He knew better. He didn’t give a shit about a woman. He didn’t need or want one. He knew what he was and what he would do to one—what he needed from a woman. He got those things from women he paid or the patch chasers who would do anything at all for a chance at a man in a club. When he was particularly bad, he went to the underground clubs for satisfaction. No woman would want him or ever stay with him. She sure as hell would never love him.
He swore as he turned off the highway onto the road leading to the farm. Six families owned the farm jointly, and each had their own five acres. The rest of the acreage was dedicated to the very thriving farm. The ornate gates were open, and he drove through, knowing better—telling himself to turn around and mind his own fucking business.
He knew the way to the president of Torpedo Ink’s home. They all did. Half the time the entire club ate there. He rode in slowly and parked his bike in the designated area. He was thankful there were no other bikes present to indicate anyone from his club was there. He didn’t need any witnesses when he made a fool of himself.
The front door burst open, and Emily and Zoe waved enthusiastically from the doorway. The two girls had been adopted by Blythe and Czar along with their sister, Darby; a boy, Kenny; and the newest boy, Jimmy. The new kid was only six and still scared, but Savage was certain Emily and Zoe would help him adjust. They were sweet kids.
“Uncle Savage.” Emily jumped up and down. Zoe just smiled.
Savage picked up Emily and hugged Zoe. “Hey, you two, is your mom home?”
“In here,” Blythe called from the great room. “Having a cup of tea. Your favorite.” There was laughter in her voice. She knew he despised the stuff.
He put Emily down and watched as the two girls skipped off, and then he shut the door and stood there awkwardly, leaning against it. He wasn’t a talker. He left conversations to others. He was the man who took out their enemies, and he lived mostly in the shadows. Blythe was . . . sacred. To him. To all of them. The last thing he wanted to do was upset her in any way.
“Is everything okay, Savage?”
It wasn’t curiosity. That was the thing about Blythe. She really was compassionate. She cared about each of them as individuals. Czar had brought the club members to her when he’d returned to his wife. Seventeen members, all trained assassins, and every one of them royally fucked up. She didn’t flinch. She took them on right along with her husband.
He hesitated. If he told her, she’d share what he said with Czar. They were like that. What one knew, the other did. “Need to give this to you, but . . .”
“I’ll tell Czar it’s confidential.”
That was Blythe. Quick to understand. She was difficult not to love. He glanced toward the stairway and then the kitchen, not wanting the kids to overhear.
Blythe read his concern easily. “They’re in the den watching television. They only have an hour, so they’ll hang there. The girls heard the bike and thought it was Czar coming home.”
He decided to quit stalling. If he was going to do something stupid, he might as well just fucking do it. “There was a thing. Happened in Fort Bragg. Little boy ran into the street. Truck coming fast. I laid the bike down, scooped the kid up and ran for it. Knew I wasn’t going to make it.” He talked fast, clipped. Abrupt. Feeling like an idiot.
Blythe put down her teacup, genuine concern on her face. “Oh, Savage.”
“This chick hit me from behind, shoved me and the kid to safety but took the hit for us. At first I thought she got away with maybe a broken leg, maybe just hurt, you know, but then she turned her head and she had this bump the size of an ostrich egg. Definite concussion, but I don’t know how bad. Asked her name, she told me, but kept drifting off.”
“You’re certain you weren’t hurt?”
He shook his head. “Kid’s fine too.”
“I’m so sorry this woman was injured, but grateful to her at the same time.”
Savage shrugged, doing his best to look as if it didn’t matter one way or the other. “You still friends with that nurse? You talked about her a lot. She’s head of the emergency room or something like that. She’s a big deal.”