Home > After the Storm (KGI #8)(13)

After the Storm (KGI #8)(13)
Author: Maya Banks

They’d had little to look forward to in the last few months. At times it seemed they’d been running for years. That this was their life, had always been their life. It was hard for Eve to remember what normal was. When she didn’t have the weight of the world on her shoulders and taste fear with every breath.

“I’m sleepy, Evie,” Cammie mumbled, stifling a yawn with a still-messy hand from the burger she’d devoured.

Travis smiled. “Come on. I’ll carry you to bed and tuck you in. That sound good to you?”

In response, Cammie disentangled herself from Eve’s grasp and reached up both arms for Travis to pick her up. He swung her easily into his arms and carried her to the only bedroom, one Cammie and Eve shared, with Travis sleeping on the couch.

When they left the living room, Eve buried her face in her hands, briefly giving in to the crushing despair that hovered over her like the blackest thundercloud.

Oh God, what were they going to do? They couldn’t run forever. They couldn’t escape the past. And not knowing when or how long was eating a hole in her stomach. She had to stay healthy for Cammie and Travis. They depended on her. She was the sole constant in their lives that had been turned completely upside down.

Betrayal.

Bitterness assailed her. Hatred. She would have never thought herself capable of such intense hatred. But it was there. Alive and insidious. She’d never even contemplated crime. But she knew she could absolutely kill Walt without remorse. She’d happily spend the rest of her life in jail if it meant that Cammie and Travis would be safe and have a life.

But for now they needed her. She couldn’t leave them. Whatever she had to do to ensure their well-being, she would do. Even if it meant spending the rest of her life running and forever looking over her shoulder.

CHAPTER 6

DONOVAN drove Rusty back to the hardware store so she could pick up her Jeep. As she got out, he called out to her.

“You heading to Mom’s?”

Rusty rolled her eyes. “Of course. Sundays are family dinner days at Mama Kelly’s house, but she made this one sound important. I mean more important than usual. She made it very clear that everyone was to be present, no excuses allowed.”

Donovan chuckled. “Yeah, no doubt she has something up her sleeve. As to what, who knows. I’ll follow you over and we’ll arrive together. I’m sure everyone else will already be there.”

“I’m going to tell them,” Rusty said softly. “I never intended to keep this from them. I hope you know that.”

“I know, honey. And don’t worry. I’ve got your back on this one.”

Warmth flashed in her eyes and her smile widened, making her pretty features even more gorgeous. She really had turned into a very beautiful young lady. Donovan was proud of her, and he lamented the fact that neither he nor his brothers told her that often enough. Mom and Dad, however, made their pride known on a regular basis.

“I’m proud of you, Rusty. I know I don’t tell you as often as I should. But you have a good head on your shoulders. Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise. And more than that, you have a good heart. You’re going to be irresistible to the male population, which sucks because it means me and my brothers will have to kick a lot of asses.”

Rusty laughed, but her joy was broadcast all over her face.

“It will suck for me a lot more than it will for you! One badass brother is enough. But six badass brothers breathing down some poor guy’s neck? It’ll be a miracle if I ever get one to stick around and suffer the scrutiny.”

Donovan chuckled. “As if that’s going to stop you. I hear about your boyfriends.”

She raised her eyebrows in mock horror. “What boyfriends?”

Donovan snorted. “You know damn well Mom regales us all with stories about your dates. Hell, I’m just surprised she hasn’t asked us to do background checks on the guys you date at college.”

Rusty rolled her eyes. “Oh God, don’t plant that suggestion in her head. She’d totally do it!”

“It’s not a bad idea. It pays to be careful, Rusty. You’re several hours away from your family. A young girl at a big university can’t be too careful, you know.”

Rusty leaned in, her hand on the door. “I am careful, Van. I’ve been around y’all enough to know what kind of ass**les inhabit the earth. I know y’all try to be careful not to talk too much about your missions, but I’ve gleaned enough to know what’s out there. I’m careful and you’ve all taught me how to take care of myself. Nathan and Joe took it upon themselves to give me self-defense lessons. Garrett even got involved and wouldn’t let up until I could throw him. I hurt for a week!”

“Glad to know my brothers do have a little sense in their hard noggins,” he said with a grin. “Now let’s get on out of here before we incur the wrath of Mama Kelly. You know how unforgiving she can be when it comes to missing her family meals.”

Rusty checked her watch and then squeaked. “Oh my God, we are so late!”

With that she gave a wave and slammed the door, then dashed to her Jeep and got in. Donovan grinned and pulled away, Rusty close on his bumper.

Yeah, family dinners were the best. But tardiness wasn’t acceptable in Marlene Kelly’s world. She wanted all her chicks present and accounted for, and, well, her chicks toed the line with her.

As Donovan drove toward his parents’ house, his humor dimmed as he went back over Eve and her siblings and the squalor they were living in. His hands tightened on the steering wheel as he contemplated what the hell he could do about it. He needed more information. He even wondered if those were their real names, and if they were, they weren’t doing a very good job of covering their tracks. And that worried him. Because if they were running—and it was obvious that was what they were doing—then at some point, whatever they were running from would catch up.

   
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