Deadly Sins Ch. 05: LustbyLoveBird1929©
Hi ya'll. Sorry for the long time between updates but life has just been getting in the way. I've worked on this piece night after night for weeks, many times falling asleep with my laptop in my lap.
Anyways, here it is. And it's a long one. And, as Thane will tell you, there are lots of problems to be solved.
Thanks for reading!
She was being followed. Big surprise there.
Keeping a close eye on the rearview, Rayn switched from the left lane of the east bound road she traveled on to the right. And, as she expected, a car traveling in the same lane, two vehicles behind, switched lanes right along with her. It was the third time the driver had copied her actions with such unerring, unmistakable synchronization.
Although she couldn't pinpoint the exact moment she'd first become aware of the other vehicle, now that she was conscious of it, a distinct mixture of nervous excitement flowed through Rayn. Despite the fact the vehicle wasn't the massive gas guzzling contraption produced so proudly by Lincoln, but rather a sleek sedan with luxurious, exorbitant ,street hugging curves, she knew who was in that car. And the thought titillated her.
Cool it. You're not supposed to be thrilled he's found you, you're supposed to be freaking out, alarmed. Stranger danger, kidnapper wary and all of that.
But somehow the thought of Thane tracking her down didn't cause alarm. The thought made Rayn's heart pump erratically, her core temperature rise and her-
Alarmed! Right, alarmed. While trying futilely to force her mind to generate an appropriate dose of the feeling, Rayn found herself wondering exactly how Thane had located her.
After escaping Kensington Estates, and guessing he would take issue with her sabotaging of his master plan, whatever that may be, instead of turning in the direction which would take her back to the freeway, Rayn had turned opposite. The theory had been to throw him off kilter by not acting in a manner easy to predict.
And with today's superior technology, she had assumed she would still be able to find her way home easily enough; that's what her navigation system was for. It would link up with a satellite floating way up yonder and recalculate the golden route to lead her there.
At least, that's the way it was supposed to work. In a perfect world.
But her current world, the one which had just been thoroughly upended by Thane, was far from perfect. Exciting? Definitely. Scary? Most certainly. But perfect? Nope. As currently demonstrated by her navigation system with each additional mile she added to her journey. The device insisted she turn around and head the other way if she harbored one small hope of ever reaching Columbus.
Rayn switched back to her original lane. As did her tail.
Oh, yeah, everything was going exactly as planned. Never better. Thane hot on her ass, she thoroughly lost. Not that there weren't plenty of oh-so-helpful traffic signs posted every five to six miles. The problem was the signs proclaimed she was x amount of miles from Bumfuck One also known as Cow Pasture, Bumfuck Two better known as Maize Plot and Bumfuck Three... Middle of No-Freaking-Where. Just a sampling of the million such cities in her great home state, none of which she'd ever heard. None of which she'd ever visited. None of which she even had the slightest inkling where it was on a map.
To have a fundamental idea of where she was would be seriously handy. That is, to have a fundamental idea-Rayn studied the passing scenery wryly-outside of knowing she was driving on a roadway built right smack dab center of a cornfield.
In retrospect, her lack of knowledge was probably her own fault. She was pretty sure, at one time or another, Columbus Public School systems had tried to hammer something into her noggin about Ohio. State Flower. State Bird. State motto. But whatever they'd taught she'd retained about as efficiently as a sponge with water.
Immediately soaked it up...only to have it just as quickly wrung out.
If she managed to get out of this situation unscathed she so was heading to Columbus State Community College to sign up for each and every course they offered on the Buckeye state. Immediately.
The driver directly behind her decided at that very moment his life would be better served in the slow lane. Where he promptly goaded his little red sports car into doing the exact opposite of what the lane was designated for so he could cut in front of her. Which left, Rayn glanced again in her rearview for confirmation, just the one vehicle between her and her pursuer. Her heart fluttered with excitement.
Alarmed...alarmed...ala-oh, forget it. That blood pulsing organ was not big on cooperation at the moment.
What she should do is pull over and allow herself to be recaptured. Any man who wanted something so fiercely to exert the time and effort similar to that of Thane probably deserved to get everything he was after.
But did she deserve to be caught? What harm would come to her from being detained by him?
The answer, Meredith, is A. Hurt feelings, a demolished ego and a healthy serving of self-esteem issues. Final answer.
Katya was a walking, talking, unbearable representation of everything Rayn was not. An ethereal beauty of the kind medieval minstrels eternalized in centuries past with well-chosen words of praise set to melodious tunes of romance. The type of beauty sought after for thousands of years by sculptors and painters alike hoping to find their muse so they could make a name for themselves in their respective crafts.
Most famous thing any of Rayn's ancestors had been sought after for was to pick cotton, suckle babes and to serve beautiful, spoiled mistresses...like Katya. Who had sexy, handsome husbands...like Thane.
And, like her predecessors and their masters, the only reason Thane wanted her was because she was a curiosity. Something different he'd never before experienced. Once he was done satiating his thirst of the unknown, Rayn had no doubt she would be discarded quicker than his used condom. Then he would return to Katya who would sneer at her disparagingly while welcoming him back with open, forgiving arms.
So, no, stopping was not a good idea.
She would keep going. And succeed in getting away...if she wanted to remain sane. The feelings Thane aroused, the desires, were troubling to say the least. She'd never laid aside her self-respect or pride for anyone ever before, but for Thane, just to experience one night with the man, Rayn was almost willing to cast aside all reservations.
But she wouldn't, couldn't. One night staring into his handsome passion filled face was not worth the remainder of her lifetime she'd spend staring at her self-loathing reflection in the mirror...was it?
Absolutely not, she decided with a resolution she knew she didn't stand behind one hundred percent. More like seventy-five. Minus seventy.
And it was as a result of this wishy-washiness she had to shake him off her trail. Then, and only then, could she be assured her wayward wantonness would never be allowed the chance to get the best of her. Because otherwise...
Gradually, Rayn became aware of the change in scenery. Gone were the stalks of corn, replaced now with walls of rocks. Formulating a plan, she eased down on the brakes, slowing until she coasted ten below the posted speed limit. Then fifteen. And finally twenty.
Her actions completely flustered the woman in the battered pick-up following her. The lady swerved to the lane to the right, following in the tracks of the earlier impatient driver.
And the suspect car behind sped up.
Exactly as Rayn hoped it would.
The timing was impeccable. She was right upon an emergency vehicle access point which bridged the steep, rocky depression separating the road she was on from the road with cars traveling in the reverse direction. Slamming on the brakes, Rayn abruptly jerked her car into a sharp left turn in order to cross the narrow pathway. Her quick action didn't leave the advancing sedan much room to maneuver.
And Rayn almost lost complete control when it clipped her rear end.
Heart thudding painfully in response to the threat of imminent injury, she struggled frantically to correct the Lexus from a fishtail. She jerked the wheel to the right, but the move didn't correct the problem. Conversely, it resulted in an over-correction and a wild fishtail to the left.
Exerting an extraordinary amount of self-control, Rayn turned the steering wheel slightly to the left. And inhaled a lungful of calming air once she found herself traveling in a straight line towards the safety of the other roadway. And not in either of the deep rocky ditches surrounding the emergency pathway.
Her pursuer hadn't been able to make the turn and still traveled east.
Her pursuer who was not Thane. As the car stalled in the berm, right under a street light, Rayn gained a quick peek at the occupant, an older man possessed of a full head of coppery bright hair. And she might've been tempted to convince herself the man hadn't been following her, to blame her overactive imagination for making her think he had been, to allow herself to believe he was only stopping so he could come check to make sure she was okay...if his face wasn't glued to the window.
It was almost comical really, his eyes narrowed in anger, lips pressed tightly together like an unsuspecting innocent getting their very first serving of Lisa Lampanelli, raw and uncut. But this was not a comedy routine. Not in the least.
Who the hell was this guy? And why the hell had he been following her? And why the hell was he upset when he was the one who'd just smashed the rear end of her car?
If she truly wanted answers to those three questions, and many more, he would be on her ass again in about the next fifteen seconds. Or, she could put the time to better use.
The tires of his car spat gravel and debris in an angry spray which pelted passing cars as he hit the accelerator and lurched backwards. Oh, yeah, definitely putting that time to better use.
Decision made, Rayn floored it. She narrowly missed sideswiping a giant rickety van as she joined the west bound travelers. Horns blared, and she steadily accelerated in response, deftly navigating her way through the traffic. Her erratic driving called forth in the other drivers the basic defensive knowledge all new drivers were encouraged to use their very first day in driver's ed. The others slowed to let her pass, some even pausing...and creating a jam. That would hopefully ensnare her pursuer.
Rayn kept it moving, periodically checking for signs of the dark sedan. She didn't allow herself to stop until she was at a location she recognized as being a few scant minutes from Kensington Estates.
Easing onto a gravelly shoulder, she contemplated whether she risked going any further. On the one hand, she felt like if she crossed in front of those iron gates, even from the opposite divide of the roadway, Thane would sense her. And come roaring after her. And then she really would find herself fleeing from his diligent pursuit. And Rayn didn't fool herself into thinking for one second he would be as easy to evade as the driver of the sedan had been.
Could she honestly say she would even put an equal amount of effort into evading him? Probably not.
But, on the other hand, according to the traffic sign directly in front of her, she was only fifteen miles from the freeway she needed to get on to start her highway hopping journey to reach the heart of downtown Columbus. And her navigation system sounded regular chirps of agreement.
Not willing to take the risk of idling any further while she thought through her options, Rayn began to ease forward. She didn't dare stay put for too long. Because she had a strong feeling the red haired man was going to show up very soon with those answers she still didn't want. Answers which would probably lead to Thane.
But before pulling back into the flow of traffic, she noticed her bright halogens were highlighting a mostly obscured turn off from the roadway, well hidden by the thick trunks of surrounding trees. After scanning her rearview, and still seeing no signs of the other car in the thick traffic, Rayn made an impetuous decision. Sending up a quick prayer she wouldn't soon regret her choice, she turned onto the path, planning to drive only far enough along its length to be unseen by passerbys traveling on the main road. The hideaway would grant her the precious time she needed to stop and rationally think through her next steps. But after driving for a few moments the path ended, opening into a good sized clearing. Which was deserted.
Turning off her headlights, Rayn drove to the far end, popped her trunk and jumped out of the vehicle to retrieve her purse. Once back inside the safe confines of her car, doors locked and her mind made up, she dug through the tote for her cell phone.
She was going to call the police. It was the reasonable next step any sound person would take after going through an ordeal such as hers. Report her abduction, and the subsequent game of automotive cat and mouse, and wait for the police to arrive to take her statement.
But that didn't allay the unease the thought brought to her. She felt like she was committing a...a betrayal. Of a man she didn't know. Who was, that's right, the one responsible for her abduction.
And was also still in possession of a very seriously injured woman who needed immediate medical attention. Palming her cell, Rayn suppressed her misguided sense of loyalty.
Briefly scanning the missed calls log which presented itself as soon as she unlocked her phone's keypad, of which the vast majority she was unsurprised to see were from Nicki, and another five or so from Alexis, Rayn dialed the three digits which would connect her to the local authorities, then pressed talk. And waited.
And waited. And waited. And waited.
For nothing to happen.
Eventually she did receive an error message she was out of her carrier's range. And apparently out of every other carrier's range as well since she wasn't given the option to place a roaming call.
Rayn rolled down her window, stretching her arm out and holding the phone towards the bright moon in hopes of improving reception. But, still, there was no change in her phone's signal strength. There were no bars. Zip. Zero. Zilch.
She shook her head in disgust. Freaking Metro PCS. Great plan. Unlimited talk. Unlimited text. Unlimited web. Easy on the pockets.
Ideal phone for the budget conscious consumer...as long as said consumer didn't need to make an emergency phone call while trapped in the Middle of No-Freaking-Where evading an unbalanced nutcase.
So thoroughly engrossed, Rayn didn't see or hear the large figure inching up the length of her car.
Rage barely contained, Thane coolly took in the audience he'd been unwillingly subjected to. Hundreds, thousands, of important matters which required his immediate attention permeated his head in a large, writhing, intertwined mass. Pack matters. Unraveling the past of a new, interesting pack member. Locating an associate of hers. This issue. That issue.
The entertainment of anybody, however, pack elders especially, didn't figure anywhere on his list of things to do.
Not when his brothers hadn't successfully located his mate.
No, he corrected harshly, not my mate. They hadn't successfully located Rayn. The sin. The unwitting menace.
"Wulff, are you listening? Have you even heard one word I've said?" Alaric, self-appointed head of the elders, questioned crossly. He glared at Thane from his comfortably seated position on the couch.
"One word, Alaric?" Thane asked. He stood in the center of the room, hands clasped tightly behind his back, fingers biting painfully into the skin of his wrist. Turning his full attention to the male, he acknowledged to himself he only half cared letting go of his physical hold would result in trouble for the elder who had managed to excel time and again at one thing: being a constant pain in his ass. "After that impassioned oration you graciously treated us all to and all that concerns you is making sure I've heard one word? Just one?"
The man huffed, irritated. He uncrossed his right leg from overtop of the left, readjusted his hefty weight, then the left went over the right. "This is a very serious matter I bring to your attention. One that needs to be neutralized immediately."
And one Thane was already very much fucking aware of.
Funny then, he found himself more inclined to dispose of the elder rather than the problem. But not because of any past transgressions the elder had committed (and there were plenty to choose from). And not because Alaric was currently on a headlong, reckless course with pissing Thane the fuck off.
Thane wanted to off the fat bastard based solely upon the grating, whiny quality of his voice. Each time the man's mouth opened, he rubbed every nerve in Thane's body raw like the verbal form of a Brillo Pad.
Standing next to a far wall, Cael glanced over, gauging Thane's reaction. Then immediately focused his attention on the elder, drawling, "Alaric-"
"Hold up, Cael, sounds like our respected elder here has a most pressing concern. And I'm sure he would like to have it addressed without further delay." Thane's eyes bored into the elder's. "Alaric, you can rest assured I've heard every word you've said."
"Then what think you of the situation?"
Walking to his desk, Thane picked up a half empty bottle of Grey Goose which occupied one of its four corners. It had been left there for him earlier by one of his brothers after Cullen had returned to the mansion sans Rayn. The male had scoured the immediate area surrounding Kensington Estates before traveling halfway to Columbus. He'd spent the better part of two hours searching before admitting a defeat which rang bitterly throughout Thane.
And on returning he'd related some pretty interesting theories he'd had time to think on while searching. Theories which had nothing to do with Rayn on face value...except for the timing of the woman showing up at Rayn's house. Way too much of a coincidence. After visiting the unconscious woman himself, and acknowledging there was a disturbingly familiar undercurrent to the otherwise innocent aura surrounding her, Thane had declared the injured woman the newest member of the Kensington pack.
Pouring two inches of the liquor into a glass, Thane passed it to Cael. Then poured an equal amount for himself, not bothering to offer any to anyone else. Pissed host was the flavor of the moment and the sooner the elders figured that out, the quicker this meeting would end. And that would be in the best interest of all involved.
More to the point, it could potentially be a lifesaving move for Alaric.
Cael tossed his shot back, consuming the clear liquid in one go. Thane downed his right after. The fiery path it burned down his throat was a poor imitation of the fiery worry twisting deep in his gut. "I think I'm already aware of it."
"And I think you're full of it." Alaric's words were filled with scorn. "This situation is a new occurrence and the elders have only just learned of it these past ten minutes, thus the reason I called this emergency meeting." Caught up in the moment, excitement clear, he sat straighter. "And you standing there trying to deceive us into thinking you had previous knowledge just reiterates my belief you are not fit to sit as Alpha of this pack."
And there you had it. Alaric's disdain put into words.
An audible gasp from the other elders rebounded off the walls before an absolute, tense silence took its place. Every person present knew of Alaric's disdain, it evidenced itself in his dogged determination to butt heads with the Alpha at every pass. But respect in the form of survival instinct had always precluded the male from an actual vocal voicing of his displeasure.