Home > Damaged 2 (Damaged #2)(3)

Damaged 2 (Damaged #2)(3)
Author: H.M. Ward

Millie saves me. She bounces up behind me with a bag of Doritos in one hand and a giant can of tea in the other. "Stop picking up hot guys at the gas station. I already told you that they don't like riding in the trunk." She glances up at Dean and holds his gaze as she says to me, "The shovel will smack him in the head every time you hit a bump."

I nod like she makes sense. Millie takes my arm and continues to talk, but that look in Dean's eye freaks me out. I'm barely breathing while we wait in line to pay for the goodies in Millie's hands. She leans in close to me and laughs, like I said something funny. She's nervous. Her voice is too strained. It's like she figured out what happened without me saying a word. "That's him, isn't it? The guy from last night? Your ex?" I nod and smile at her. At least I try to smile. My face feels like I'm wearing a week-old mask that's turned to plastic. Millie laughs again and leans into me. "Let's pay for this and get the hell out of here."

The line moves slowly because no one is ever in a hurry. It drives me nuts. People materialized after we walked in and beat us to the counter. Millie continues to chatter as I glance around, looking for Sam. There's no sign of him. I glance around out of the corners of my eyes, looking for Dean. I feel his eyes on the back of my neck, but I can't see him—not without turning around. I don't want to do that.

It's finally our turn. Millie puts her things on the counter, and Mustache Dude rings us up. Millie pays, and we head out to the car. I glance over my shoulder and see Dean watching me as we walk out the door. He's got his hands in his pockets and is standing outside the store in a shadow. He waves at me.

"See you soon, Sid! I can't wait!" Dean calls out as I get into the car.

Millie finally acts like something is wrong. "Start the car. Let's get out of here. He's watching you."

I shove my keys in the ignition and twist. The car doesn't even try to start. My jaw is locked. Millie seems to realize it at the same time as I do. "He did something to the car."

I try to crank it again, but there's no power. My throat is too tight, and there are still goose bumps on my skin even though it's hotter than hell outside today. I feel safer inside the car. I don't want to get out, but I need to look under the hood. It feels like I'm in a trance. The world isn't spinning anymore. Time stops. I don't want to feel like this, and the only way to make it stop is to get away from Dean.

I kick open the door and get out. Millie does the same. I yank open the hood and look at my battery. One of the cables came loose. The cord is detached and lying there on top of the plastic battery case. I feel his breath on my neck at the same time as his voice. "Car problems, Sid?"

"Leave me alone," I growl at Dean before turning on my heel. I walk to the trunk and grab the tools I need to reconnect the cable. Who does stuff like this?

Dean's grinning ear to ear. "I can fix it for you and buy you pretty gals lunch, if you like."

"No. Go away." I plan on ignoring him, but Dean won't leave me alone. He keeps brushing into me, touching me like it's an accident. He follows me back to the hood and shoves in between me and Millie.

"We're fine," Millie tells him. "You should be on your way."

"Aw, how sweet. Your little friend thinks she can protect you. What happened to the teacher?"

"Fuck off, Dean." I'm mad now. I hate him. I hate everything about him, everything he's done to me. My life would have been so different if Dean never came along. I'd run him over with the car if it would reset everything, but it won't.

Dean feigns offense. "Who taught you to talk like that? Such a dirty mouth on such a pretty girl. Just the way I like it." He grins at me. Millie makes an annoyed sound. Dean ignores her. While I'm under the hood, Dean slips his hand over my back. His fingers tease at the edge of my shirt and brush against my skin. The touch makes me jump.

I don't think anymore, I just act. I swing my fist at his face and scream, "Leave me alone!"

Dean is smiling, acting like this is a game, until I land a punch on his cheek. Anger flashes in his eyes. He backhands me. The wrench goes flying out of my other hand. Millie screams, and I can hear the old clerk yelling, but there are no words.

Dean grabs my wrist and starts pulling me across the parking lot. "Walk or I'll make you wish you had."

I try to peel his fingers off, but I can't. I drop to the ground with the intention of making him drag me. My jeans save my skin from being torn up by the rocks and scattered debris. No one helps me, well, no one but Millie. She does something. Dean yells, and then he drops me. My wrist is burning where he was holding me, and my hand has cracked open.

I jump to my feet and look up in time to see him grab something from Millie and smash it on the ground. Millie tries to take it back, but he shoves her so hard that she falls. Millie is screaming. The old man is yelling. And Dean is standing in front of me looking really pissed off. "Get in the f**king truck. Now."

Someone yells that they called the cops. It's the woman with the bread. She's been inching closer and closer, but she's too old and small to do anything. "You better get out of here, kid."

Dean spits at her. The woman steps back. Dean hisses, "Go inside and let us finish this alone. This is a family matter." He sounds totally reasonable, but his actions don't match his words. The woman doesn't move.

My body is so tense that it feels like the muscles are going to snap. This is a new level of crazy, even for Dean.

"Sidney, I swear to God that I'll make you regret this. Your mother asked us to get you and you act like a goddamn bitch—" He reaches for me when a voice booms behind us.

"Get off of her." Every head turns. I half expect to see a police officer, but it's not. They aren't here yet. It's Peter, and he looks insanely pissed off. Millie's eyes widen, and her head twitches back and forth between Peter and Dean. Part of me is relieved that Peter showed up, but the other half doesn't know how to accept his help. Lucky for me that I don't have to decide.

Dean thinks that Peter is the timid professor from the other night. He doesn't realize the man standing in front of him is a Ferro. If Dean knew, he'd run the other way. The Ferros are fierce, and Peter has been in more fights than his other brothers combined. There's no way to be that rich and not attract media attention when you punch your way from Manhattan to Fire Island. Peter's reckless behavior left behind a trail of people who would love to see the Ferros fall.

Dean steps in front of me. It's a possessive move. "Better go home and get your crush in check, Professor, or—"

Peter doesn't stop. He walks across the dusty parking lot, straight up to Dean, pulls his arm back, and swings. It's not a sucker shot, but Dean doesn't expect it. His neck twists to the side on impact. Peter doesn't stop. He's not the same man he was last night. Something changed. Just as he takes another swing, Dean moves. The lunatic runs straight at Peter, and Dean rams his shoulder into Peter's stomach. There's an oof sound, and the two keep at it. Peter twists around quickly and manages to grab Dean by the throat. He pulls Dean close, so Peter's lips are nearly touching Dean's ear. Peter's eyes lock with mine as he says words that I can't hear. Dean's eyes narrow into slits as Peter chokes him, whispering threats—probably the same threats that made my brother turn pale.

The hot wind whips my hair away from my face. I brush it back, watching the two of them. I can't believe what I'm seeing. Peter's muscles are corded tight. His shirt is stuck to his body as beads of sweat roll down his temples. The look Peter gives me says so much, but this version of him scares me. Last night Peter didn't fight back. I want to know why. I thought that he wasn't a fighter, but not now. Peter Ferro can protect himself and anyone he cares about. Our gazes are locked. Only a second passes, but it feels like a lifetime.

That's when I hear the gun cock. I turn to look in the direction of the sound. The old guy with the crazy mustache is standing with a shotgun in his hands. He lifts it so that Dean and Peter are in his sights. The old guy spits on the ground, then wheezes, "Take this foolishness somewhere else. Now."

Peter looks pissed, but he releases Dean. The two of them step apart, but when their gazes meet it looks like they want to kill each other.

Dean backs away with his hands in the air. "I don't need this shit." He walks across the parking lot and slips into the truck. The engine starts, and he pulls away. I watch him leave, wondering where my brother was during all of this.

Peter and Millie are flanking me. They glance at each other before the old man drops his gun to his side and walks toward us. "Don't bring trouble around here again. You're not welcome. Get going."

Millie's mouth is hanging open. "We didn't—"

Peter shakes his head at her, trying to get her to shut up. He's polite to the guy with the gun. "I apologize." Then Peter glances at Millie and says, "Stop at the next rest area. I'll follow you."

I don't argue. I just grab Millie's arm and push her into the car. The old guy is watching me like the entire incident was my fault. Guilt climbs up my throat, because deep down it feels like he's right.


Millie stares at me with her jaw hanging open so wide that I can see her tonsils. "Did you see that? Did you see Dr. Peter Granz—a friggin' English teacher—kick ass back there?" Millie tucks a curl behind her ear. She glances back at the black car following us and waves at Peter. He doesn't wave back. There's a scowl on his handsome face. "I heard he got his butt kicked last night. Did he? I mean, what the hell was that? He came in all vigilante style. I thought he was going to snap Dean in half."

"Peter didn't fight back last night. He's not—" I make an aggravated sound in the back of my throat. The rest area sign says it's a few miles away. I don't want to stop. I don't want to talk to Peter.

"He's not what? 'Cause, holy shit, that was so awesome I can't stop fanning myself. A guy rescued you!" She darts upright in her seat and corrects herself. "No, wait! He saved you twice. Sidney—"

"Millie, Peter isn't what he seems—"

She glances back. Appreciation is strewn across her face, like I landed the man that makes all other men look like monkeys. "I know…"

"You don't know! He's not. Damn it, Millie, pay attention." Millie turns around and looks at me, I mean really gives me a once-over. I'm so upset that I could rip the steering wheel off in my hands. "Peter is Peter Ferro. Do you know what that means?"

Her eyes slowly grow as big as dinner plates. She turns her head and looks back at the man following us. "Holy shit."

"You see it?" It's obvious once you know to look—the dark Ferro hair, the strong jaw, the stunning blue eyes, and that temper. All of the Ferro men have it, and the daytime talk shows love to point it out.

Millie nods. "He looks like the pictures I've seen. Everyone's seen him. Pete Ferro is hot. Why is he pretending to be a teacher?"

"I don't know what he's doing. Listen, no matter what he says at this rest stop, do not leave me alone with him. Do you understand? Nod and say yes."

She nods and gives me a crooked smile. "Fine, but—"

"No buts. Say yes. I don't care what he says or what he wants me to do. If Peter tries to get me alone with him, say no. Don't leave." Desperation floods my mind. Peter had offered to come with me. He wanted me to call the cops. He wanted to make sure I was safe, and this is how he finds me, in a parking lot in the middle of nowhere with Dean dragging me across the asphalt.

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