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Outlaw(8)

By:Amanda Lance



So she was hitting me, and kickin’ at me, and it ain’t half a wonder that she wasn’t getting somewhere with it ’cause she was trying so hard.

“Think you can manage?”

Wallace was real lucky I had my hands full, or else I woulda wiped that grin right off his face. Polo was laughing, of course, which I could’ve also gone without, but it was pretty obvious this chick wasn’t gonna just sit still if I left her alone, neither. If I was honest with myself, too, I much rather woulda had my hands around her than around Wallace’s neck.

The safe house was an old farmhouse that hadn’t been lived in since the ’80s. It was two stories with fiber cement siding that had survived a couple of explosions and more than a few house parties. Most of the windows were long gone, and you could see how all kinds of kids had taken to it with spray paint, but all things considered, it was still in good shape. Hell, I had certainly lived in worse places. The slate roof was half caved in out in the back, the chimney long gone, but with a generator in the basement we could still get heat in the winter when we needed it, so it was as good a spot as any to regroup.

Maybe the sight of the house spooked her ’cause she started screaming again, real loud so that even Yuri started looking around like he was afraid some hiker was gonna appear from the woods or something. I saw him nod towards the house, and I nodded back. I’d put her inside the safe house, and hopefully keep her and the guys outta harm’s way.

“Knock it off, already.”

I tightened up my grip around her legs but got mad at myself that I liked it so much. People like me shouldn’ta been allowed to go near a girl like her, let alone touch her. Yet I moved on, and the guys started unloading some of the pallets that would go with us. I knew I shoulda been helping ’em but I also knew that keeping her outta sight was a priority.

Just when I thought I had everything under control, I glanced over my shoulder and saw Reid pull in. She must have seen it too because this chick decided to start screaming again, and it occurred to me as we got near the house that she probably thought Reid was somebody else, somebody not with us. I smiled to myself and hoisted her up against me. Go figure.

Even though it was morning, it was still almost dark when I opened the back door, and while my eyes adjusted, I felt her flinch in my arms from the loud noise the door made. It was only another reminder of how afraid she must have been.

Well, of course she’s scared, idiot. What do you think you’re on—a date?

If I was, I might have never’ve known it. Growing up, I had never stayed in one place long enough to do much else but flirt with a girl, and other than a couple of one-nighters straight outta prison…well, needless to say, my experience with girls ain’t much to write home about.

But I didn’t wanna hurt her. If nothing else, I knew that much.

I kicked some cobwebs out of the way and glanced around. Though I’ve never been much of a thinker to begin with, I’ll admit it wasn’t easy tryin’ to figure out what to do with her screaming like that. Was it possible to bust a vocal cord? Could you go hoarse even with your mouth taped shut?

“Holy hell, will you stop that!”

Like she hadn’t even heard me, she kept right on screaming, muffled cries through the duct-tape I was now real grateful we had. And since she had made it more than clear she wasn’t gonna stop, I thought it best to tie her up in the kitchen—other than the basement, it was as far away from the road as I could get her.

I toppled her down on the floor next to the radiator, knowin’ full well she coulda gotten loose anywhere else. The second she was down, though, she tried to get back up, and I had to try real hard not to smile at how angry she was. How could somebody be so angry and scared at the same time?

“Take it easy there, Vicious.”

That’s what she was, I decided: vicious. Real vicious, like one of those puffer fish that are real small until you try to hurt ’em, and then they blow up and spike out. Even sharks don’t go near those things ’cause they know how dangerous they are.

I bet a shark in its right mind wouldn’t go near her, either.

Any slower and I wouldn’t have been able to get her arms to the radiator at all. She was giving me a damn hard time, screaming and pulling, squirming, and still trying to hit me with her head. Had she been a guy, she might have even given me a run for my money, but then again, had she been a guy, she probably woulda already been dead.

She kept right on struggling until she saw what I was wearing around my chest. When she did, she got real pale, and her green eyes looked even more green as they went wide. A girl like that probably didn’t even know what kinda guns they were, but she was still terrified of ’em. I hated myself for scaring her like that; I wished right away that I had kept my jacket on—heat or no heat. It was too late now, and she was more afraid of me than ever. Probably more disgusted too, I guessed by the way she stared at my unemployment stamp.

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