Chapter no 10 – Evie

Assistant to the Villain

Evie was bleeding.

She could feel the warm liquid dripping down her scalp as she slowly blinked her eyes open. She couldn’t see much. Her vision was clouded by black fabric and a muscled chest. The smell of smoke flooded her senses, but also something else. Something warm and comforting.

Her head was being cradled, and when her vision finally cleared, black eyes were peering into hers. But she was too disoriented to read the emotion behind them.

“Sage?” Her name was spoken in the smooth accent of The Villain’s voice, raising the hairs on her arms.

“Hello, sir,” she murmured weakly, trying to make sense of her rapidly moving thoughts.

The pinch in his brow smoothed, and he exhaled a ragged breath. One of the hands cradling her head came up to her cheek, and he cursed when he saw the blood. “Where else are you hurt?” he asked, his voice brusque, furious even.

She tried to assess where exactly the painful points were coming from, but if she were being honest, she didn’t feel much but contentment when he was holding her like this. He must have taken her silence as a sign of her distress, though, because he moved them both to a sitting position.

He tore a bit of his cloak, bringing it to her head to stanch the bleeding, and looked back up toward the destroyed end of the walkway. The small tower adjacent was crumbled into nothing.

“Please speak. It’s unsettling when you’re quiet.” His voice was steady, but something in him seemed shaken.

“I’m glad I didn’t explode.”

The look in his eyes warmed, and his lips pulled high, the elusive dimple making an appearance. “The feeling is mutual.”

She groaned, remembered she’d almost gotten him killed when he dove for her.

“Why didn’t you run?” There was nothing accusing in his voice, just curiosity.

She looked to her ankle. Her body seemed to remember it should be in a great deal of pain, and she gasped as the throbbing set in.

The Villain leaned back, placing her hand where his was to hold the piece of cloth to her head wound. He gently lifted her foot. “May I?”

Evie felt a little breathless but nodded.

He lifted her yellow skirt, dirtied from the smoke, until it was sitting just above her ankle. Carefully taking her worn heeled boot in his hand, he slowly pulled it off. Evie let out a hiss of pain, and he froze.

“I’m sorry.” He grimaced, pulling the shoe all the way off along with her wool sock to reveal the angry, harsh swelling that lay beneath. His warm, calloused hands gripped her calf above her injury, and Evie worried if he let go, she’d float away.

“Can you move it?” This was a different man speaking to her, or rather the same man, just without his usual layer of pretense pushed forward like his life depended on it.

He was real right now, and that safe barrier of his otherworldly splendor fell away, leaving Evie embarrassingly breathless.

He was staring at her, waiting for her response, as she attempted to move her foot quickly before he saw too much behind her eyes. “I can, but it’s painful.”

“Good, it’s not broken.” It must have been Evie’s imagination, the way his hands seemed to linger on the lines of her ankle. But they weren’t. The poor man was trying to check her for injuries, and Evie couldn’t stop the shivers that his touch sent through her.

After handing her the discarded shoe, he gripped Evie’s hand in his. Slowly, he brought her to her feet, and she favored her uninjured foot. She made the mistake of shifting her weight to the injured one out of habit and gasped, falling forward into his chest. Gripping his shoulders in both hands.

“Sorry,” she squeaked.

He cleared his throat once, twice—oh dear—three times before putting a steady hand to one side of her hip. “That’s…all right.”

Looking at the destruction around them, Evie shuddered in horror.

The smoke and dust had cleared, giving them a perfect view of the ruined tower. The top was simply gone, large pieces surrounding them while others certainly had fallen all the way down into the courtyard. Beyond the tower,

a large portion of the west side of the manor’s wall was completely collapsed. From this distance, Evie could see the remains of what looked like a study or perhaps a small library.

Not the books. Anything but the books.

The end of the parapet was gone. They were both about two steps from falling right over the edge. Debris covered the ends of her hair and probably the top of it, too, and when she looked over at her boss, his hair appeared nearly white from the ash.

Hot tears burned behind her eyes, and Evie felt the horror of the last few moments seep in through every pore. “Oh no, the manor.”

She hated crying, especially in front of other people. Especially in front of her boss.

But it was too late; tears were already running hot down her face. “I can’t believe this happened. Why would anyone— I wish it wouldn’t— I can’t believe— I’m so sorry.” Evie’s hands were still on his shoulders, so he must have felt them shaking, but she couldn’t bring herself to look at him.

The blast had been contained. The ruins surrounding them were disheartening, but the manor still stood. It could’ve been so much worse. But still, part of it was gone, and it was his home, and she had been so afraid.

A sob ripped through her, and she braced a hand against her stomach to try and push it back in, but that seemed to do the opposite. Another one poured out of her. The Villain placed his hands on her shoulders, pushing her back enough to examine her face. Evie didn’t have it in her to fight him. “Are you…crying?” He was horrified, it was so plain in his voice, and

she wanted so badly to shrink away from him, but of course her injured ankle kept her locked in place.

“No. I have a condition where my tear ducts produce an excess of warm, salty water when I’m tired or in distress.”

But the comment went unnoticed as he calmly reached in his pocket for a handkerchief. To Evie’s surprise, it wasn’t black like the rest of his attire but instead a vibrant light blue. “Here.” Placing it lightly in her hand, he waved an arm at the remains of the tower. “Nothing in there was worth anything, not as— It wasn’t important.”

There was something he wasn’t saying; that was clear. But Evie was too relieved that he’d chosen to ignore her outburst of emotion to question him

further on it. She sniffled, smiling slightly at him through her tears, and she thought, just for a moment, she caught a look of ruin in his eyes.

Whatever was in that tower must have meant a great deal.

Clearing his throat again, he bent an arm under Evie’s legs and the other behind her back. “Hold on,” was her only warning before she was lifted into the air against his chest.

“Whoa!” she gasped, gripping her arms around his neck. Which, of course, was thick and corded with muscle, and because her face was only inches away, she could see his pulse beating steadily there.

Shaking her head, she clasped her hands behind his neck, trying to take this situation as casually as she could. “No wonder you have such a superiority complex. I would, too, if I could see the world from this vantage point!”

Rolling his dark eyes, he began to walk them back toward the open doors. A crowd of onlookers had formed, and Evie saw The Villain’s eyes sharpen before several gasps were heard and they scattered back inside.

“I’m hardly taller than the average man,” he said flatly.

“I feel like I’m being carried by a tree.” A considerably warm tree whose arms touching her legs and back made her brain turn to mush.

He adjusted her higher. So much so that her lips accidentally brushed his shoulder, and the shock of it must have repulsed him, because he stumbled so hard, he nearly dropped her.

“Sorry,” she mumbled, face burning.

“Stop apologizing,” he gritted out. It was clear he was angry; the situation must be intolerable for him. “You say that too often. It’s irritating.”

They’d nearly reached the doors, but the comment made Evie do a double take. His expression remained grim, his eyes determinedly forward.

“I can’t help it. Apologizing for things comes too naturally to me.”

This seemed to make him angrier. “No more of that when it’s unnecessary or I’ll dock your pay.”

Evie sputtered as he walked through the doors, sighing at the open area of the office she truly hadn’t thought she’d see again.

Keeping her high in his arms, The Villain allowed his voice to bellow out over the space, tinged with authority. “It would seem that someone misplaced an explosive in my office.” A chill set over the room as he continued. “It is a good thing Ms. Sage found the device before it could cause any permanent damage.”

She might have imagined his grip tightening around her legs.

“If anyone knows anything about this, please come find me. Otherwise… I’ll come find you.”

There was an unmistakable threat in his words. One that sent the employees scattering to their desks as he carried her past them toward Tatianna’s quarters.

The bustling of papers being thrown about echoed behind them as he carried her away. She leaned into him once more, trying to enjoy these last few moments in his arms. “Someone tried to kill you.”

His mouth flattened into a thin line. “Yes.”

“You seem to be very calm about that,” she said incredulously. “Don’t let appearances deceive you, Sage.”

“So you are angry?”

He stopped just before Tatianna’s doors, looking down at her, his face so close, Evie had to force herself not to look away. His eyes flashed once more to the cut on her head that was still bleeding but slower than before.

“My anger knows no limits,” he admitted. “But I am also…not surprised.”

Her brows shot high. “You knew this was going to happen?”

Sighing, he pushed the doors to the healer’s quarters open. Tatianna wasn’t in the room, so he walked over, gently placing Evie on the examination table, putting her once again at eye level with his chest.

“No, but there was a reason I was sent away, dealing with another compromised safe house, the same day that someone placed an explosive in my office. Whoever did this didn’t want me here when it went off.” He rubbed a frustrated hand over his face. “They wanted to strike where it would wound.”

“By blowing up your desk knickknacks?”

He huffed out half a laugh, the dimple reappearing in his left cheek, and shook his head. “Among other things.”

Evie wanted to know more, but before she could ask another question, Tatianna blew through the doors, her soft pink robes swirling about her ankles. “I leave for five seconds to help stitch a wound for Blade and one of the interns tells me that you ran with a bomb?”

Tatianna brushed past the boss as if he weren’t there, pushing Evie’s hair away from her face before pulling her in for a hug. “You brave little fool.”

“The interns are very melodramatic,” Evie said, her voice slightly muffled against Tatianna’s shoulder.

“Her ankle is sprained, Tatianna.” The Villain’s voice was farther away. Evie turned to see his back heading for the door. “See it healed as soon as possible, and then I will be escorting Ms. Sage home.”

At that, both women whipped their heads up to look at him with their mouths hanging open. “You mean to where I live?” Evie asked.

“That is generally what people consider a home, is it not, Sage?” He didn’t give her time to respond before spinning on his heel and walking out, calling behind him, “I’ll be waiting right out here.”

You'll Also Like