Blades of Sass(7)

By: Robbie Cox

“I know the code of Bull Creek,” Lainie said. “No one asks nosy questions about why someone else is here. It’s a safe place for those who are escaping something they would rather not discuss.” She shrugged. “Hell, I’m here to get away from my parents and their idea of a perfect mate for me. Still, it seems whatever you’re hiding from has found you. I think it’s time you fill us in, so we can help protect you.”

Eve pressed her lips into a thin line as she shook her head. “I don’t need help.”

“Really?” Alanna said, her tone shocked. “We all saw your house, Eve. What would have happened if you were there when whoever did it decided to come calling? I know you love playing with that knife you wear, but even you said you weren’t ready for a moving target. We’re your friends. More than that, though, we’re also shifters and a witch. We can do more than fight like girls, if you know what I mean. We can kick ass like women.”

“I can make you some wards for your cabin, like I put around the area for Bane’s coyotes,” Adira said. “Of course, they would be more effective if I knew what they were warding against.”

Eve stared at a drop of condensation on her bottle as it trailed a path down the dark brown glass and onto her knuckle. She knew these ladies were her friends, but she never wanted anyone to know how weak she once was. She hated thinking of herself as a victim, but that was what she allowed herself to be back then. She swore then that she would never be that helpless again. Never. Not today. Not ever.

The music shifted from Willie Nelson to Tim McGraw as Eve blew out a frustrated breath. She glanced up as couples hit the dance floor, two-stepping to the beat. Why couldn’t she be normal like everyone else? She stared at the front door, wanting desperately to run and avoid the questioning looks from her friends. Then she saw him again, that stranger who suddenly appeared at her cabin earlier, accusing her of not paying attention to her surroundings. She growled as she watched him head to the bar after giving her a cursory glance. A giggle to her left made her turn a questioning gaze to Alanna. “And what’s so funny?”

“You.” Then she pointed at the newcomer with her chin. “Him. That poor man had no idea what hit him today. You were frustrated and angry, scared if you were smart, and you took it all out on him.” She shrugged. “It was fun to watch, I admit. Almost as much fun as it was watching Adira dig into Dimitri a couple of weeks ago, clueless to the fact that Dimitri had scented her as his mate.”

Eve tightened her grip on her bottle. “Well, that was them. This is me, and I don’t need someone I don’t even know passing judgment on how I do things.”

“Oh, trust me, I’m sure he gets it,” Adira said with a chuckle.

Lainie took a swig of her beer, setting the bottle back on the table and running her tongue over her lips when she finished. “It doesn’t matter, though. I don’t think he’s going anywhere anytime soon. I’m not sure he could now if he wanted.”

Eve cocked her head at the deputy, a nagging suspicion of what the others were trying to insinuate making the hair on the back of her neck stand up. “And just why couldn’t he leave? No one invited him here. I sure as hell don’t need him sticking his nose into my business.”

Alanna giggled. “I think it’s already stuck and you’re stuck with him.”

Eve was about to make a smartass comment about shifters and their noses when she spotted another person entering the bar, only this one did more than just aggravate her; he scared the hell out of her, a feeling she swore she would never experience again. She couldn’t help it. It was the first time she had seen him since she snuck out one night months ago while he went out for a drink. Her heart pounded in her ears, her breath caught in her throat, and all she could do was stare. When she saw the damage to her cabin, the note in red paint across her wall, she prayed he had not found her, that it was merely a threat by teenagers with wild imaginations. Yet, his appearance at Everglades told her that the warning was very much real. Her escape was only in her mind.

Eve swallowed the lump in her throat that threatened to choke her.