23 In the Light of Day
Brightman held his arm tightly as he stalked down the back hallway to his apartment. It bled less and hurt more; the painkillers that he had taken in Heather’s bathroom served to keep his head clear but that was as far as it went.
The knot of anger radiated and pulsed when he pushed the door to his apartment open, his keys dangling, momentarily ignored, unused, in his hands. Blackness washed through him. To most it would be fear and they would back down the hallway at the thought that someone had entered their home, that they might still be there.
Brightman’s lips pulled back from his teeth. There was no way that it could ever be mistaken from a smile; it was a pure animal response, a warning, a threat, a promise all in one. With his toe, he pushed the door open just a crack. Wanting there to be someone still inside, wanting it so badly that he could taste their blood in his teeth.
He seethed, but underneath it all was a cold rationality that was terrifying. If there was someone still within his apartment, Brightman would kill them; he could see it plain in all its icy clarity in his head. That he had been unsuccessful earlier in the evening didn’t change his belief in his absolute ability to carry through on his thoughts.
Dropping low, he stepped through the door and kicked the door closed at his back, wanting to ensure that anyone inside would be trapped in the apartment with him. There would be no repeat of what had happened at Heather’s. At Amber’s.
It was a disappointment. No one waited for him just inside the arc of the door, waiting to take a swing at him. Without turning, Brightman reached back and locked the door at his back; no one would run out on him if he caught them. No one would interrupt from the outside.
One thought led rationally to the next. Violence unsettled most people and they committed it in a fog of fractured thoughts, quickly pushed back into dark corners once the rage had passed. Brightman lived in that dark corner, he excelled in it. Thrived in it. From his dark place, he knew that there was a limited window of time where he was free to act. His failed attempt to kill Heather had set that in motion.
Heather would contact someone. Maybe not the Sheriff, but someone. That someone would contact the law, and they would be looking for him. But for the moment there was that small window where he was free to act. As Brightman worked out how much time he had, he moved silently through the entranceway.
In his kitchen, drifts of paper had fluttered over the floor and silverware lay scattered across the already filthy counter top. Random destruction added to weeks of neglect, aimless; it was something Brightman understood. A heavy bladed chef’s knife would serve as a suitable weapon until he could reach another and, so armed, he crept out into the hallway once more.
The destruction in the living room was more pervasive; there was also an intent that was lacking in the kitchen. Whoever had broken into his place had been looking for something. Brightman had thrown a bottle through the TV screen so he wasn’t surprised to see that it still sat there, but the stereo was top of the line, and untouched. It should have been gone.
It set his instincts on edge, sharp. Boxes were overturned, spilling contents across the top of the coffee table. Whatever they had been looking for, they hadn’t found it in the living room. Brightman’s mouth went dry and he spun towards the bedroom. Focused, without checking any of the other rooms, he stepped through the doorway, searching out the box where he had kept his trophies.
It wasn’t so much a word as a gasp, a denial, uttered without conscious thought. The blade fell near soundlessly to the floor, forgotten, as Brightman crossed the rat’s nest that made up the floor of his bedroom. The plain cardboard box lay upside down in the middle of the stripped bed. It was empty, but still he turned it over as though it was impossible for him to believe that his things could be gone. Hands shaking, he sat on the edge of the bed with his empty box, his composure momentarily shaken.
When he next looked down, the cardboard was a twisted wreck in his hands. He couldn’t remember having done it; it was rare for him to black out but it had happened in the past. Gone. Nothing else in his apartment appeared to be gone, just the one thing that he had hidden for years, taken out every so often. Just to look. With Amber gone he had gotten careless with the amount of time that he left his trophies out.
‘Falling apart.’ It wasn’t something that he often thought about; whether he had gone too far. It wasn’t something that he wanted to admit to but denial was a luxury that he no longer had. Slowly, he had been falling apart, coming unglued; losing control was another of those things that he wanted to blame Amber for. It was all her fault.
Sitting on the edge of the bed, Brightman thought about the exact contents of the box, assessing their value, not to him but to whoever had broken in. That it was the only thing that appeared to be stolen was a message in itself. Someone wanted him to know. It wasn’t law enforcement or they would have waited for him, and arrested him when he showed up. ‘Unless they wanted to follow you.’ Brightman discounted that almost immediately. Without context, the contents of the box would have no meaning.
It wasn’t the law; it was someone else. ‘The company.’ Instinct was something that Brightman had relied on for many years and he didn’t discount it now. It wasn’t entirely surprising that International Trade had put two and two together and come up with his name.
Teeth ground hard, enough to send a jolt of electric pain through his jaw. Almost out of time. Throwing the crumpled cardboard away in disgust, Brightman spun off the bed, actions purposeful and precise. With a snarl, he first flipped the mattress off the bed; the crunch and smash of the breaking bedside lamp a fitting accompaniment to the blaring of violent imagery in his head.
He was more careful with the box-spring, raising it before he set it back against the sprawled mattress. A 9mm handgun, a box of shells and a military style holster that he could strap to his ankle if he had to. Brightman preferred knives, preferred the intimacy and terror it afforded him, but he didn’t think that he would have the luxury of time.
The weapon went into a bag along with some painkillers from the medical cabinet in the bathroom. A change of clothes and stacks of bills that he had salted throughout his apartment in case he had to leave in a hurry. He didn’t re-lock the door when he left his apartment; he wasn’t coming back.
A trip to the bank to clean out his accounts was a risk he wasn’t willing to take. Nothing could go wrong with the latest theft; he would need every cent of that money if he was to disappear. First into Mexico. There would be no cut for his contacts, not this time.
The small house was little more than a shack. Peeling paint ringed the ground around the house; like a live thing moulting its skin. None of the curtains matched. Two heavily muscled dogs fought in the front yard with flagging interest, pushing each other down and snarling, nothing more than show. They quickly grew bored and lay beside each other in the ugly scrub that made up the yard. None of the neighbors opened their doors or windows to complain about the dogs barking in the middle of the night.
Mike sunk low in the front seat of his car watching through high-powered night vision goggles as another kind of snarling dogfight played out on the broken cement stoop. A petite dark haired woman stabbed her finger at the chest of a heavily built tattooed man easily twice her size. She looked angry. In fact, she looked like she had never been anything but angry for her whole life. It wasn’t a difficult ID to make.
Letty. Which made the guy Vince. Mike didn’t need a picture, didn’t need to ask neighbors or to approach the pair in person. His leg cramped up in the front seat and Mike flexed it until pins and needles jangled up the length of his leg. No one else would have noticed.
Mike reached down to grab the frigid cup of coffee off the floorboards and took a pull. Working on next to no sleep, he should have been exhausted. Instead his nerves blazed in a bright white fire. The first call had been about Brightman, that he was on the run.
It was then that Brian had mentioned Lakeside as a possible target and Mike had hastily scribbled an address on the back of a napkin. When the second call came about the truck and what it would be carrying, Mike had left his shabby hotel room in El Centro and was nearly in Lakeside, the paper napkin all but ignored, stuck in the visor. Mike didn’t need notes, not this time. He rarely did when it mattered; notes were simply a habit.
Out on the front stoop, back and forth the two went, Letty barking, yelling, pushing. Every once in a while, Vince would get a word or two in edgewise but, like the two dogs that fought off and on in the yard, his heart wasn’t in it. It was a show to prove that he still could and all it did was make Mike feel sorry for him. Which was a mistake. Over the span of the two phone calls, Brian had summed up Letty and Vince neatly, warning Mike to keep his distance, that Vince was dangerous. That he had been Toretto’s right hand and enforcer.
From those phone calls, Brian had given a quick run down of what he and Dom had discussed; that Vince was likely in charge of the thefts and would be the likely one in contact with Brightman. In a voice quiet and unsure, Brian had added that he believed that Letty was also a driving force. That Dom hadn’t offered, or even considered, that piece of information was pretty evident to Mike.
Watching the two fight in front of the house, it wasn’t hard to see who was really in charge and it wasn’t Vince. It didn’t change anything from Mike’s end, he was here for Brightman, but he wondered what effect it would have on Brian and Dom.
Mike dropped even lower as another two cars pulled up to the side of the house. Like the two cars already in the driveway, the cars were powerful sounding muscle cars, low slung, black and dangerous looking. Engines left running, they rumbled deeply against the cracked asphalt. None of the neighbours came out to complain about that noise either.
Letty shoved Vince in the chest one last time as she brushed past him on the steps, jabbing him hard with her finger on the way by. Words didn’t come through loud and clear and Mike wouldn’t risk getting any closer to the house but the intent was clear. The words had cut more than being hit and Vince’s face darkened as he followed Letty out into the yard where she leaned into the window of the car closest to her.
Brightman would be coming, but he wasn’t in either of the two cars. Not that Mike had honestly expected to see him simply pull up to the house. Still, Mike adjusted the zoom on the goggles and took a look at the drivers of the two cars. It served no purpose; Mike had nothing to compare them to, but habits died hard for a reason.
After a short while, Letty pulled away from the side of the car, tapping the roof as the drivers pulled out. The cars moved as one, both pulling back onto the road at the same time, one right behind the other, just as they had pulled in. A low roar waxed and waned and then the street was quiet once more.
Arms crossed, Letty stormed back into the crummy little house, the screen door slamming closed behind her. Vince ran a hand through his hair, over his face, then he turned on his heel and followed her into the house.
Mike watched as lights went on and off throughout the house. He watched as the two fought again in their front room; Vince didn’t fare any better there either. Letty stormed off to the left somewhere, where another light flickered on, then off. Vince slept in the front room. Mike doubted that it was his choice although he wouldn’t blame him if it was.
Silence descended on the street and still Mike waited. Brightman wouldn’t show at the house, he would meet them somewhere else, somewhere private. Truth be told, Mike didn’t have anywhere else he needed to be; if he stayed close to Vince, Letty and the cars, eventually they would lead him to Brightman.
With dawn still an hour or so away, Mike crept out of the driver’s side, the interior light shut off hours before. Like a ghost, he slipped across the roadway and crouched behind one of the black cars, careful not to touch it in case it was alarmed. With a delicate touch, he reached under the car and planted a bug before he vanished across the road again.
He watched the house for another half hour before pulling out, looking for somewhere to catch a couple of hours of sleep.
Dom didn’t need to look up at the clock beside the bed to know what time it was. It was six in the morning, or a little after. There had been a time when waking up at eleven, noon, even later, was pretty normal fare. Those days were long gone.
In time, he had come to enjoy being up early in the morning. At first when he had bought the garage out in the desert, he had stayed in the dark of the garage, sometimes begrudgingly walking out to the diner. A hat, or a pair of shades, to block out the sun.
In time he had grown to like the hard cold light of the morning in winter, the warm soft green and gold of the sunrise in the summer. In those first few months he had made sure to sit outside when no one was around. He felt foolish, sitting out on his front steps watching the sunrise, and always rose quickly when Brian pulled in with Mia. After a while, he didn’t care about it anymore; he didn’t give a damn what anyone thought. If he wanted to sit out every morning and watch the sunrise, who was there to tell him he should do any different?
Beside him, Amber stirred; his comforter wadded up in her fist as she curled tighter into a ball, nestled against his chest. He had slept with her, just slept, for a few nights already but this was the first morning that she seemed completely at ease where she was.
Leaning on an elbow, he pressed closer to the warm bare skin of her back, wanting to wake her up, wanting to let her sleep. More than anything he didn’t want her to wake up awkward but morning afters weren’t something he was good at. It wasn’t something that he was accustomed to and even the few mornings that they had shared together, something had always seemed to come up that kept them from just being with each other. A fight, police, Mia yelling.
He should have been used to noise, the old house had been a constant barely contained chaos. Fights, parties, cars coming and going at all hours of the day. And fights. Lots and lots of fights. Slamming doors, swearing and yelling. Parties nearly every night, especially during races. He thought that he would miss it, and found that he didn’t. ‘You’re turning into a grumpy old fart,’ Dom thought, smirking, as he reached out and brushed some of Amber’s messy hair off her forehead.
Dom had started to like the quiet, just as he had started to like the mornings. Amber shifted in her sleep, stirring quietly; she didn’t startle awake this time and didn’t bolt out of the bed. Dropping his palm on the cover beside her chest, he realized that he had held his breath, thinking that she might. No good morning, no stilted conversation; Amber wiggled her fingertips under the flat of his palm and he complied, lifting his hand to cover hers.
When the quiet knock came at the door to his room, he resented it, settling his forehead against Amber’s shoulder, letting out a long sigh. “Fuck.”
“That bad, huh?” Amber muttered sleepily. She had been awake for a little while, eyes closed, being as still as she could, not wanting the moment to end. All night Dom had held her, even when he had tossed in his sleep, he always shifted until some part of him touched her. By morning he had curled around her and she slept on his arm, pressed against his chest. Warm, happy, safe. In all her life she had never felt so safe.
“Dom, you up, man?” Dom groaned and pulled Amber tighter to him as Brian knocked again, quietly.
Making sure that Amber was covered, Dom pulled his face out of Amber’s shoulder and looked over at the door as Brian opened the door a crack and poked his head inside. “I’m up. Go grab me some coffee. Make that two cups.” Dom could almost see Brian wince as he pulled the door closed again. “One with milk.”
He listened as Brian stepped off the wooden stoop outside his door and walked across the driveway. Beside him Amber blushed furiously, her ears hot beneath his fingertips as he leaned down towards her, cupping her face and turning her to look up at him.
“Not exactly the way I wanted this to be.” Dom tousled through the messy curls that trailed down the side of Amber’s neck.
Beneath him she tightened, unsure of the meaning of what he had said. Swallowing, she stilled, her chest tight. The night before it had been easy enough to say that she could deal with the rejection if it came. That was last night and this was now. That Dom hadn’t moved, hadn’t pulled away from her, left her unsure.
Watching the interplay of emotions swirl across her face, Dom sucked in a breath, rethinking what he had just said. He didn’t think that he had said anything wrong, but dipped lower, pressing his lips against Amber’s forehead and settled his weight against her side. “I wanted to spend the morning with you.” It wasn’t an apology, just a clarification.
Humming softly against her skin, Dom felt her relax beneath him, leaving him anything but relaxed. Hard, he pressed against her thigh and kissed down her nose to her lips. Amber lifted her chin, returning the kiss deeply. Hearing Brian set the mugs of coffee on the stoop outside, Dom broke the kiss, pulling back until his nose just touched hers. In the midst of the kiss, Amber had slid her hands across his skin, under the covers. They rested now around his neck, and her unease had become another sort of intensity altogether.
Dom wouldn’t close his eyes but watched her as he spoke. “Really wish I didn’t have to go.” He may as well have been speaking to himself. He didn’t want to go. If he could, Dom would have spent the whole day with her, maybe go out for a drive or something, go somewhere other than the diner to eat. It hadn’t solidified that he wanted to take her out on a date; dating was something he never really had to do either, but once the idea had begun, he wouldn’t leave it alone.
“You’re coming back,” Amber stated simply, the hope lay underneath, something she didn’t want to address.
Looking down at Amber, Dom knew that he could do nothing else, that he wanted to do nothing else, and not just because she was available or any of the reasons that had sufficed in the past. When it had happened, he didn’t know. He hadn’t wanted it, and certainly hadn’t gone looking for it, but he couldn’t imagine being here without her. He looked down at her serious face, cupping it gently in one hand. “I’m coming back,” he answered, knowing that he should have said something else but everything that came to mind sounded canned and insincere. Dom didn’t want to drop a line on her. More than that, he didn’t want her to think that that’s what he was doing, just using a line.
Amber tried to relax as he held her but her nerves jangled everywhere his skin touched hers, the night they had shared whirling through her head. “Then it’s okay then.” It wasn’t flippant, just an attempt at bravery when all she felt was vulnerable.
Dom played with her hair, not ready to move just yet. “When I get back, will you go to dinner with me sometime?” It felt awkward to ask; normally he would just make a meal, maybe have a barbecue. There would be other people around and he could tell himself that it was casual, that it didn’t mean anything.
Puzzled, Amber looked up at him; they had eaten dinner with each other several times since she had moved out to the desert. “Haven’t we…? Oh…you mean go out for dinner…?”
Dom hummed his assent against her skin, raising her chin to kiss him again, an echo of the deep soft kiss from the night before. He really didn’t want to go and sighed as they broke contact. “Damn.” If he stayed beside her much longer, he wouldn’t be able to leave the bed so he pushed up on his elbows and brought Amber up with him, holding her back against his chest.
“That’s exactly what I mean.” Dom lipped the skin of her nape and pulled back willfully, shaking his head.
Playing with a tuft on the comforter, Amber grinned. A date, he wanted to go on a date with her, take her to dinner. “I’d like that. We kind of have to get out of bed first though.” Grinning, she looked over her shoulder at him. Amber still felt like she couldn’t breathe and didn’t know when she would again but when Dom dropped his head and grinned back at her, it made things easier.
Pulling her tight against his chest again, Dom growled against the skin of her neck, inhaling deeply. “Sit outside and have coffee with me before I have to go.” Dom knew that he was putting off leaving and sighed, pushing back and trailing his hand down the bare skin of her back. “There’s a bathroom in the back of the garage, but if you wanted to go next door, that’s cool too.” No one had ever stayed the night, so it wasn’t an offer he had made before; it made him uncomfortable. It was a shitty way to live, he knew. Had known it for a while, but it was bearable when only he had to do it.
“Sure,” Amber agreed, before he could find a reason for her not to, and he reached down to find her clothes, piling them on the bed. Standing and crossing the room in a couple of steps, he held the door to the back hall open for her.
Shyly, Amber stood; she felt awkward as she stood naked in the middle of the room. She didn’t know what to do with her hands; to cover up seemed silly after the night they had shared. Hugging her elbows, she crossed the room and ducked under Dom’s arm, her eyes filled with the image of his standing there waiting for her. The whole night had seemed like some dream and yet here he was, touching her, leading her forward with his hand on her hip.
Down a narrow hallway with a fabric curtain at the end. Partly open, she could see the back bench of the garage. Behind her, Dom was quiet as they stopped in the middle of the corridor. There wasn’t an awful lot of privacy, something Dom seemed to understand instinctively. Mia had mentioned that he had gone to prison and Amber didn’t think that he’d get an awful lot of privacy there.
Turning his back, he reached up to a high shelf, pulling down a couple of towels while she used the toilet on the other side of the small tiled shower stall. Amber felt shy and self conscious but didn’t make a sound, just watched Dom as he moved across to the shower stall and turned the tap on. Cold spray belled out the bottom edge of the shower curtain as Dom stood with a hand in the spray.
“I’ll go first. Think I’ll need a cold shower anyway.” Dom growled quietly, turning to look over her as she stood against the wooden wall on the opposite side of the narrow corridor.
Dom’s lingering look as he pulled the clear curtain closed, what he had said, had Amber raise her hands to her cheeks, feeling them flush with heat. Rubbing her hands down her face, she watched him through the now translucent plastic, a flash of golden skin broken by a sheet of water and then she was looking somewhere else. If she was braver, or another sort of woman, she would join him there but she couldn’t get her legs to move.
‘Oh sweet lord, how are you going to survive all day with that image in your head?’ Not shutting the water off, Dom pulled back the curtain, wiping water out of his eyes, and Amber flushed again, her heart racing. Cold spray had slowly become hot and Amber tore her enemy eyes off his body and looked up into his face. Maybe he had needed a cold shower, or maybe he had stayed under the cold water until it turned hot so that she wouldn’t have to have one.
“The water won’t last.” Dom took up all the space in the corridor again as he stood dripping wet before her, reaching for a towel with one hand and holding the shower curtain aside for her with the other. It was hard not to stare as she peeled off the wall and walked in front of him, close enough to touch. At the last she did just that, her fingertips tracing over the wet plane of his belly. Just a touch, she couldn’t dare any more. “Thanks,” and just as quickly she was beneath the hot spray.
Normally, she would have liked a longer shower, but she made it quick, stepping back out into the corridor; Dom had left one towel on the floor, so her feet wouldn’t get cold on the cement. He had also left the door to his room open for her, an invitation; a towel hung within reach and he had hung her clothes over a hook in the wall opposite.
Wringing her hair out as best she could, she dried off and quickly got dressed, brushing her teeth at the small metal sink before tiptoeing back across his room and feeling ridiculous for doing so. Outside on the wooden stoop, Dom sat with a cup of coffee, leaving enough room for her to sit beside him.
The coffee was cold but she held it between her hands anyway. Dom swallowed most of his in one pull but hadn’t set the mug down nor did he make a move to stand up. She hated cold coffee, always had, but sipped at it anyway. One way or another it was caffeine and she figured that she would need it before the day was done.
Out in the driveway, Brian leaned against the side of his car, a low slung blue number that Amber hadn’t seem him drive before. She thought it was a pretty color but there was no way that she would say that out loud in case it broke some sort of a code. She was pretty sure that it did.
Blushing right to the roots of her hair, Amber stared at a dark spot on the step below her as Mia stepped out of the back door of the diner. An elbow nudged her, not hard, just enough to make her look out from under the fall of her hair. Dom set his cup down on the stoop behind Amber, settling his arm comfortably around her waist, pulling her close to him.
If she could have, Amber would have dissolved and slid through the cracks in the wood of the stair but every time that she managed to suck a breath in, there she still was. Then Dom was leaning close to her, whispering against her ear.
“Stay with Mia, no matter what happens.” Dom caressed her hip as he spoke. Amber mattered, so he wouldn’t leave it to chance. If anything went wrong, he didn’t want her thinking that he had just left.
It sounded so rational, logical, but Amber couldn’t make much sense of it in the jumble that her emotions had made of her mind. Resting a hand on his thigh, she looked up at him, trying to blot out that Mia and Brian, and Probably Jim and Eddie too, were watching. “Just make sure nothing happens. We’ve got a date, remember?” Another show of bravery that her shaky voice couldn’t quite pull off.
Leaning in, Dom kissed her behind the ear, his lips pressed against her skin, inhaling the scent of her wet hair. “I haven’t forgotten. I won’t be long.” He hoped. It was hard to stand and walk across towards Brian, to walk away from her; he wanted to turn back to make sure that Amber was still there.
A shrug was all Brian offered, there wasn’t really anything to apologize for and yet the need to say sorry hung in the air between them. “What car’re you taking?”
Dom pointed back at the garage, at the car he and Jim had been working on, the one he intended to give to Amber. It was still a dull flat black, rough, with marks where dings had been carefully pounded out and holed filled. Compared to Brian’s beauty out in the driveway, it was ugly as sin, but Dom wasn’t really concerned about that so much; under the hood she was sound.
Brian shot Dom a look but didn’t press; the car wasn’t really Dom’s style. Or it hadn’t been. It fit him now, in this place. Dom didn’t notice anyway, his eyes were on Amber the entire way back to the garage, a smoldering look that had Amber flush again before she stood up and awkwardly crossed the driveway towards Mia.
Standing on the bottom stair leading into the diner, Amber wanted to disappear. It wasn’t a position that she had ever been in before. Thoughts of Dom, the smell of him, the feel of him, the way her body still ached from the night before, were right at the fore of her mind. It made it hard to stand in front of his sister. No one other that Heather had mentioned that they had been sleeping together. ‘Fucking, Amber, fucking’. Amber wasn’t stupid, and she didn’t want Mia to look at her like Heather.
Confused, ashamed, anxious. Elated. Amber couldn’t look up and was glad to follow Mia back down the hallway to the kitchen, grabbing an apron on the way.
Toast got burnt, or forgotten, but Mia didn’t say anything. Amber would have preferred to get yelled at but Mia didn’t yell at her. They talked quietly across the kitchen, about toast and eggs, bacon and sausages. Dom was in the room big as life between them and Amber still wanted to vanish if she could.
Soon, the breakfast rush slowed to a trickle, Amber carrying the last of the plates out to serve people that had sat at the long counter where it was easier to serve them without a waitress.
“You’ve said hardly a word all morning, are you okay?” Mia’s hand rested against Amber’s hip, firm and comfortable. It was a lot like Dom’s hand in that way.
“Okay.” It was a croak, accentuated by a flutter of hands as Amber dropped the butter spreader that she had in her hands and raised them to her eyes. If she could blot out the daylight, she could pretend nothing had happened and she wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed.
That she despised Alan, her husband, ex-husband, was a solid fact, but the fact was that Dom was the first man other than her husband that she had touched in over twelve years. ‘Little more than just touched, Amber.’ Dom had made her feel, and that was another thing she hadn’t done in years, and she didn’t know that she could close the door on that so easily if Dom was just playing with her. Just using her.
Mia’s grip tightened as a fat tear hit the cutting board. “What did that fucker do! Did he hurt you?” One arm still around Amber’s waist, Mia yanked the apron off, ready to storm outside and rip a strip off Dom. If he was still there.
“No, no he didn’t hurt me,” Amber choked out, swiping at her sudden squall of uncontrollable tears, feeling even more stupid than she had before. “It’s just,” a hard sigh and all the strength went out of her, elbows hitting the counter. “It’s been a long time, a fucking hell of a long time, since I’ve felt…anything. I don’t…” There were so many things that Amber didn’t; they all got jammed up and she couldn’t settle for just one. Her hands fluttered up again, a semaphore explaining nothing in particular.
Mia pulled her close, one hand on her back and the other stroking over Amber’s hair. What she wanted to do was go outside and punch her brother right in the nose. He would be lucky if she left it at that. Getting angry wouldn’t help, she knew. “Dom won’t hurt you, he’s not like that.”
‘And I’ll fucking kill him if he is’, Mia thought, closing her eyes at the thought. It made her feel guilty; she had seen the way that Dom looked at Amber, and it wasn’t lust that she saw there. Whatever was between Amber and her big brother, it wasn’t just physical. As she held Amber, she hoped that she was right. “I’ve never seen him this way with anyone before.” That was the truth, or close to the truth; Mia had always seen that side of Dom, it was as though he had a small part that he would only let his sister see, no one else. “He’ll be back, Amber.”
“Ugh, I feel so stupid,” Amber got out shakily, wiping her eyes. “I’m really out of my depth here.”
Mia pulled back a little, cupping Amber’s face. It was a gesture so similar to Dom’s that they both smiled. “I don’t think you’re the only one. Don’t you break his heart either.”
Laughing, they hugged again, and Mia looked down the back corridor at the roar of high-powered engines pulling out of the driveway. ‘If you hurt her, Dom, I swear I’m going to kick your ass.’
Copyright © february 2008 xxxevilgrinxxx