Blades of Sass(8)

By: Robbie Cox

“Eve, sweetie, you okay?” Alanna placed a hand on Eve’s upper arm, hoping to shake her from the trance, Eve assumed, but it didn’t work. Eve couldn’t move. She could do nothing but stare as Kyle Wagner turned to her, his dark eyes narrow slits as he glared at her, his coal black hair disheveled from the breeze outside. He sneered at her as he started her way, menace in every step he took. Panic seized her, her eyes going wide in fear. No! No, no, no. Whatever she swore never to feel again didn’t matter. The icy grip of fear clawed at her nerves, rooting her in place.

“Eve, what’s wrong?” This time it was Adira who asked, one arm across the table wanting to touch Eve and shake her out of her frozen behavior.

Kyle stepped up to the table, his sneer plastered across his face, as he ignored the others with Eve. He leaned on the table, his hands clasped in front of him, his lips curled up in a snarl. “Hello, Eve. What a pleasant surprise to see you here. Or rather, I bet you’re surprised to see me here. Or ever again, for that matter.”

Eve forced herself to swallow the lump in her throat, her hand gripping the knife hilt tightly. “What are you doing here, Kyle?”

He just smiled bigger. “You mean, how did I find you?” He reached across the table and took her beer, watching her with intense eyes as he tilted it back and drained it of what was left. Then he shrugged as he set the bottle back on the table. “What can I say, your mom has a soft spot for me. When she saw how distraught I was with your little vanishing act, she quickly told me where to find you.” He glanced around Everglades, his sneer a judgment of his distaste. “I have to say, I thought you had better class than this rat hole.” He turned his gaze back to her. “Still, I guess you thought if you found a nice little hole to bury yourself in, I would never find you.” He leered at her, waggling his eyebrows as he leaned closer to her. “But I found you, didn’t I? There is no escape, Eve.”

Lainie reacted then, grabbing Kyle by the arm and forcing him down on the table with a thud that sent the beer bottles toppling over. “What the hell did you say?”

He kept his gaze fixated on Eve, his smile never wavering. “Just an inside joke between Eve and myself. Right, Eve?”

Lainie leaned over, snarling in Kyle’s ear. All Eve could do was watch. “And yet, those exact words were painted on Eve’s cabin earlier. Wouldn’t happen to know anything about that, would you?”

“A cabin? Really?” Kyle chuckled. “You actually live in a cabin out here? Oh how quaint. Then I guess it’s a good thing I arrived to save you, isn’t it?”

“What did you do to my mother?” Eve asked, lifting the knife slightly from its sheath as she started to step around the table. She didn’t get far, however, before she smacked into that man from earlier, who now stood there in front of her, his smile gentle as he slid his hand to her fingers on the knife, lifting her hand as he gently pulled her after him. What the hell is he doing? She needed to find out about her mother. This idiot didn’t know what he was doing.

He ignored the pained expression on her face as he turned to Lainie. “Deputy Everest, right?” Lainie nodded, confusion on her face mixed with the anger she felt over Kyle at the moment. “Pardon me, while I whisk this one out to the dance floor while you tend to…” He glanced at Kyle, his eyes narrowing into angry slits. “…whatever this is.”

Lainie nodded. “Good idea.”

The others just stood watching. Eve didn’t understand how they could just stand there, letting this man take her away from the answers she needed. Yet, a part of her was glad he did. She needed to get away from Kyle, because she almost did something she would have regretted in front of a bar full of witnesses. When she took Kyle Wagner down, there would be no witnesses; she’d make sure of it. And there was no doubt in her mind that she would take him down, like the rabid dog he was.

Turning, she realized she was already on the dance floor without even realizing she had crossed the bar. The tall, dark man in front of her spun her, his hand sliding to her waist as he pressed her against him, lifting her hand in the air as he began to sway. His smile sparkled, matching his eyes, and she could feel the hardness in his jeans press into her as he held her tight against him. “By the way,” he said, “my name’s Arlin Landry.”