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

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

They drove slowly for several minutes and Donovan cursed.

“Hell, how far is this kid walking to work anyway?”

Rusty looked as unhappy as Donovan was.

“I don’t know, but it’s been what, a mile so far?”

“Almost two,” Donovan said grimly.

“He’s turning onto that gravel road ahead,” Rusty said, leaning forward in the seat. “I hope he hasn’t made us and is throwing us off.”

“We’ll drive by like we’re going ahead and then circle back,” Donovan said.

He accelerated and drove past the road the kid had turned onto. He glanced over to see the kid walking along the side, his back to the highway. Donovan went up a ways and then did a U-turn and drove back to the road.

“Damn it!” Rusty said when they took the turn. “I don’t see him now!”

Donovan accelerated down the road, dust kicking up behind them.

“Look! There he is!” Rusty said, pointing to the right.

Donovan continued past the run-down trailer and made another turn around to circle back. When they pulled into the driveway—if you could call the rut in the yard an actual driveway—Rusty tensed, her expression sorrowful as she took in the trailer the kid lived in.

He reached over to squeeze her hand.

“This was me when I was his age,” Rusty whispered. “God, it makes me sick to think of him living here with two sisters. It’s barely big enough for one person, let alone three.”

Donovan grimaced and nodded his agreement.

The yard was overgrown and badly in need of mowing. But that was the least of the issues. There was a blue tarp over one half of the roof of the trailer. There were missing shingles in other places. The skirting was missing. One window was busted out and there was a missing step leading up to the door.

It didn’t even look livable. The thing should have already been condemned.

He cut the engine and then looked over at Rusty.

“Remember what I said. You stay behind me until I’m certain this is safe. I’ll knock and see what happens. When and only when I tell you it’s okay, you can tell your story of shorting him money. I want to get inside so I can assess the situation myself.”

Rusty nodded. “Let’s go before they get spooked with us just parked out here like this. They’re probably scared to death, with the way the kid was acting.”

Donovan opened his door and got out. He wasn’t carrying a gun, which was unusual for him. But he hadn’t counted on needing one today. Now he wished he’d kept one in his truck at all times.

He motioned for Rusty to get behind him as they carefully mounted the rickety steps.

There was no screen door and when he knocked, the door shook as if just that little force could knock it over. Hell, it would be child’s play to break into this place.

He waited several long seconds before finally the door cracked the barest inch and he found himself staring into the most startling golden-colored eyes.

“Can I help you?” the woman asked.

He was momentarily speechless. Rusty had mentioned sisters. But this was an adult woman. Not that old. Early twenties was his guess.

But what gutted him was that reflected in those beautiful eyes washed with glints of amber and gold was stark fear.


“MY name is Donovan Kelly, ma’am,” Donovan hurried to say, wanting to alleviate the terror in her eyes. Her fear had put knots in his stomach and it was all he could do not to charge in, take control and demand to know what the hell was scaring the holy crap out of her.

He restrained himself—barely. But his radar was beeping like an incessant alarm.

Was she in an abusive relationship? But no, Rusty had said the kid said he only lived with his sisters. Was this woman abusing the kid? His stomach knotted all over again. No, that couldn’t be the case. The fear in her eyes wasn’t of discovery—of her abuse of others. There was something far darker than that, something his eye was trained to catch from the many years he’d saved just such women from horrific situations.

“What do you want?” she asked in a voice too soft to be called blunt. Her words wavered, like she was barely hanging on to the urge to turn and flee. Her hand gripped the dilapidated door frame until the tips of her fingers and her knuckles were stretched thin and bloodless.

He swallowed because what the hell was he supposed to say to that? That he wanted to know what the f**k had scared her? What she was hiding from? That he only wanted to help?

Rusty saved him from his grappling decision by pushing forward, inserting herself in front of Donovan—exactly what he’d told her not to do.

“We’re really sorry to barge in on you,” Rusty said, keeping her voice soft and unthreatening. “But I shorted Travis when I paid him for today’s work. I felt horrible when I realized it. He’s a hard worker and he’s been such a blessing to have in the store. I brought the money so he’d have it.”

There was a hint of relief that briefly shadowed the young woman’s eyes before apprehension crept back in. Almost as if she had reminded herself not to take anything at face value. Those lessons were ones learned the hard way, and Donovan was convinced this was indeed a woman who’d learned hard and fast that the world was not a good place.

And then Travis appeared at the door, all but shoving the woman behind him as he faced Rusty and Donovan. He sent Donovan a wary look but quickly shifted his focus to Rusty, as if he wanted to hurry and get the entire thing over with so he and his sister could retreat behind closed doors.

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