Bonus Scene: Clash, a bonus Raptor PoV for Vicious Rebel
Five hundred reviews on Vicious Rebel (and still climbing)! You guys take my breath away. Here is the long-awaited Raptor PoV.
I didn’t say a word when I checked out where they were going to be. The next show was clear across the country. But I could make the drive in a couple of days. I’d get there the same day they did. Gas money and a few hundred dollars socked away for a rainy day. Her birthday was coming up. Well, the birthday she celebrated anyway. And I wanted to see her. I was also being selfish as fuck.
For the first time in a long time, I didn’t care. I just—needed the break. A break from everything. I needed to see her and have a breather. Leaving a note for the guys, I told them I’d be back in a few days. It was better to slip away unseen or someone would take it upon themselves to follow me. Or just climb in the car.
Once on the highway, I exhaled a long breath. The agitation in my blood cooled. The tension in my spine unknotted. Music cranked, the cool wind blowing through the windows, and my foot on the accelerator as I left Braxton Harbor in the rearview mirror. I didn’t run away. Didn’t think I was now. Just—this damn urge to see her. I trusted my instincts. When I ignored my gut, bad shit happened.
With every mile I put on the car, I relaxed more. This was the right call. The guys would be fine for a few days. They could handle it. If they didn’t—well, I’d deal with it when I got back. The drive took took just under two days, a little over thirty-seven hours including a four hour nap I took in the car at a rest stop.
I made it to Orlando in time to see her walking into the hotel. It was pure luck that I guessed the right one. Well, luck and the fact I knew their troupe had used that hotel before. She looked dead on her feet. The bitch walking with her looked like a bitch. I didn’t know who the cunt was—wait—yes I did. The chaperone. Okay, maybe a chaperone should look like someone smashed her face with a brick to create that expression.
Still…not a fan.
I followed them inside, made a show of checking the wall with all its pamphlets of local attractions while they checked in. Ivy looked so damn tired, but then it was still early and they’d been traveling.
“Since the venue is tied up with the riggers,” she said while they waited on the hotel desk clerk to sort out their rooms—multiple. So, Ivy had her own room. How—lonely. Then again, maybe she wanted privacy. Having grown up with the guys all sharing the same room most of the time, I craved personal space but it could also be too damn quiet. “I’ll just do stretches and use the gym here.”
The chaperone nodded. “Do not go down to the gym without me.”
Ivy rolled her eyes.
I bit back a smile. I swore she gave the woman a look that just radiated “bite me.” Kind of bratty, but I appreciated it. Rules were there to chafe, but also to protect. Or so Miss Stephanie often reminded us. The rules were also there to be bent carefully with just the right amount of pressure.
Pre-law had given me a lot of insight on that one.
As soon as they had their rooms and keycards, I made a note of which floor and let them disappear into the elevators before I asked the clerk about whether they had a room available. Unfortunately, my plans had been blown at the last minute and the girl behind the desk blushed when I smiled at her.
I got a room on the same floor with Ivy and the clerk’s phone number. Maybe I’d make this a vacation of my own. She said she’d be off the clock at three. Good to know. She also worked nights sometimes. Even better. The credit card I used wasn’t the best idea, since it was for emergencies only. But I’d make do for now.
Instead of going straight up to a room, I went out to move my car and grab a bag. The hotel nightly fee included parking—thank fuck. Even with Sarah Jane’s discount, it was still pricey. On my way back through the lobby, I winked at her on my way past. Her smile grew and mine might have made an appearance as I stepped into the elevator.
Getting laid hadn’t been the original plan, but what the hell. It was still really early. I was just stepping off the elevator when the battle axe said, “Stay in the room, order room service, and catch up on your assignments from the tutor. You have my number.” Then she was bustling up the hall.
“Whatever,” Ivy called after her and the door slammed. I sidestepped the woman as she got to the elevator. She was on the phone before the doors opened.
Our gazes met briefly as she said, “Yes, three days—it’s about time I had a break from the brat.” Her look practically screamed fuck off as she jabbed the elevator button and the doors closed behind her.
What. A. Bitch.
She was just leaving Ivy here? Alone?
Irritated as fuck, I made my way to my room which was just up the hall from hers. I glanced at her door, probably staring a little too long. We weren’t directly across from each other, more caddy cornered. But when I checked through the viewfinder, I could see her door.
Well, the desire to be here fueling my blood made sense. The cunt and I were going to have words. Closing my eyes, I took a deep breath. Violence needed to serve a purpose. Carelessness was one thing. The woman was a chaperone, not a caretaker. She probably saw nothing wrong with leaving Ivy secured in a hotel room.
She was almost twelve by her standards with Emersyn’s birthday the following week. Even if she didn’t look much older than eight. I was here. Here I would fucking stay, the guard dog at the goddamn door.
Every time the elevator dinged, I got up to check the door. The first was room service. Ivy opened the door, but she didn’t let the delivery person in. Just asked them to leave the tray and she’d get it in a minute like she needed to get dressed. At least the sound carried from the hall easily enough. The minute the elevator dinged that the guy was gone, she pulled the door open and wedged it with her foot.
Dressed in a t-shirt and shorts and apparently having showered since her hair was wet, she looked even younger. She picked up the tray and grinned. Really grinned. The door closed before it occurred to me I should have taken a picture.
Fuck, I was creeping on my own sister. Shaking my head, I returned to the bed and dropped on it. I was a light sleeper. The doors opened and closed in the hall. The sounds of families passing by, running kids, murmuring parents, even the occasional crying baby. All of this registered, but none of it was Ivy or a door close to mine.
The sudden fierce knock on a door had me upright and across the room before I’d even processed I was moving. A young girl stood outside Ivy’s room. What the fuck? The door opened and Ivy stared out, her mouth fell open in shock.
“Lainey!” I hadn’t heard that squeal in years. It catapulted me back as Ivy threw the door open. The girls gripped each other in a tight hug, all but dancing before Ivy dragged “Lainey” into the room. “What are you doing here?”
Whatever the answer was, the door closing cut it off. Fuck me.
Adrenaline flooded my system. After emptying my bladder, I splashed water on my face and brushed my teeth. Every hotel room came with its own coffee maker so I brewed a cup. It tasted like ass, but caffeine was caffeine and I’d had way worse.
I’d barely downed two swallows when the door across the hall opened again. The girls were coming out. Ivy had put her hair up in a ponytail and wore sneakers. She also had a purse strung crosswise across her body. Where the hell were they going?
“I still can’t believe you’re here!” Ivy’s excitement punctured my anger so deftly, I damn near forgot why I’d been annoyed.
“I’m so fucking grounded,” the other girl said with a laugh. “Worth it.”
Then arm and arm they headed for the elevators.
Son of a bitch.
I stuffed my feet into shoes. I was still in jeans and a clean t-shirt. It would have to do. I snagged a baseball cap out of my duffle and shoved it on my head. Wallet in my back pocket, I downed the rest of the scalding coffee in one swallow and headed for the stairs. I made it to the lobby in time to see them spill out of the elevator in a mini-crowd of people. It didn’t take them long to separate over to the concierge desk.
The two girls, both possessing an unnatural poise, kept breaking up into giggles that had me grinning. Tickets to the parks purchased, they followed the concierge’s directions to head out the doors. Why did the guy just sell them tickets? Then again, I hadn’t heard exactly what they said to him.
I crossed to him and handed him the credit card. Fuck the cost. “One ticket to the parks.”
The guy opened his mouth to ask me another question and I just fixed him with a look. This wasn’t a social call. “Of course, one moment.” It took two, agonizingly long minutes. “Here you go, the hotel offers a shuttle to the—”
I didn’t wait for him to finish that part. I’d already caught the bus idea. Relief swarmed me when I got outside and found the girls waiting with a group of others for the bus. It was easy enough to drift into the crowd. I surged on behind them, sunglasses keeping my eyes hidden. They sat together, still giggling and as much as I wanted the seat right behind them, I took a couple more rows back.
At the park entrance, the thronging crowds worried me but they also provided camouflage. I was just another kid on his way to the park. I didn’t have a bag, but I also didn’t set off the metal detectors. I’d left my knife back in the room. And I hadn’t brought a gun. To see Ivy? I didn’t think I’d need one.
For the next few hours, I soaked up both the park and the girls’ reactions to it. There was no artifice. They laughed. They played. They bought each other t-shirts. Ate ice cream. Rode the rides. I did actually manage to land in the same conveyance with them more than once. They never noticed me. They didn’t pay attention to anyone. I even managed to get a picture or two when they found a couple of villains including the wicked looking chick from Alice in Wonderland.
They made no move to leave as the park segued into evening. There was a huge Halloween party and you needed a special ticket. Turned out, I’d gotten one from the dick at the hotel. Go me. They trick or treated around the park, laughing and playing madly. When the parade came through, they were right at the edge of the curb. The darker it got, the closer I drifted.
By the time the fireworks lit up the sky, I’d forgotten about the driving need to be here and just enjoyed their pleasure at it all. Then it was closing time and we were all leaving the parks. The lines to get back on the buses were long. It didn’t look weird at all to be standing with them and about a thousand other people.
I didn’t let anyone jostle them and this time, I parked my ass right behind them on the bus. Maybe I was being selfish, but I’d already figured out this was a birthday present from Lainey to Ivy. I hadn’t realized she had such a good friend. Stupid, right? Of course she had friends. But she’d been constantly traveling the last three going on four years. I wondered if she had anything “normal” in her life.
They planned together in laughing giggles everything they were going to do back at the hotel. More food, then a movie, and a sleepover. No adults. Just them. Perfection.
Good, once they were tucked into their room, maybe I’d give Miss Sarah Jane a call and —
“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.” The snarl in Lainey’s voice snapped me out of my plans and I narrowed my eyes at the two men standing between the girls and the hotel door. They weren’t small, but they were pissed. Ivy was already cutting in front of Lainey like she was going to take them on.
“Ignore him,” Lainey ordered.
“Who is he?” Damn good question, Ivy.
One of the pair glared at Ivy briefly before transferring that look to Lainey. Personally, i was about to pluck his fucking eyes from his head. “Do you have any idea how long it took me to find you?”
“Not long enough,” Lainey told him. “And this is my mother’s lover’s son, or as I like to refer to him the human version of period cramps.”
The guy behind him burst out laughing and Mr. Period Cramps glowered. My lips twitched because that was a damn good nickname. In fact, little Miss Magpie there just started forward like she was going to plow through.
“If you wanted to come see your friend,” Crampy said finally. “You should have just said something.”
“Adam… I don’t have to tell you anything. ….let me be clear, you’re like a cloud. A big, dark, ugly storm cloud and when you go away, it’s a beautiful day. So, buh bye.” Lainey’s voice kept dropping like she was fighting for the poise they’d abandoned all day.
Awareness of the pair kept my muscles coiled. I was gonna draw attention just standing here staring, but I sure as fuck wasn’t leaving them behind. The girls almost reached his laughing friend when Adam whatever the fuck said, “We came all this way and we’re not leaving until your ass is in the car with us and on the way back to school.”
“Sorry, my ass doesn’t detach—unlike your personality. Maybe you should put a bag over it or something.” With that, she stormed past them, Ivy in tow. The pair shadowed them all the way to the elevator and I was right behind them.
“Six in the morning,” he ordered. “Meet us down here and don’t try to sneak off somewhere.”
“Six?” Lainey snorted. “Too bad your brains don’t match your looks. I’ll be down by ten.” She waited until the elevator doors almost closed and for a split second her gaze locked on mine and then she added, “Maybe.”
As one, the pair pivoted to face me.
“What the hell do you think you’re looking at?” the laughing man asked.
“Good question, been trying to figure out why two jackasses are harassing little girls. Only pervs do that.”
“What the fuck did you just say?” Adam the period cramp demanded.
“I said,” I told him as I stepped right up to him. “Only pervs harass little girls.”
“Dude, you’re asking to die,” his friend warned, but I ignored the laughing idiot and kept my gaze on the guy right in front of me. Anger rolled off him like a storm.
“Go send them a cake,” Adam ordered. “Tell them they don’t eat enough. You—outside.”
I chuckled. “Oh, what’s the matter big boy? Did I wound your pride?”
“Fuck off, and do what I said.” Then Adam went back to glaring at me.
It’d been a while, but this was a nice place—with cameras—so I just stepped to the side and motioned for him to take the lead. No way was I giving either of these assholes my back. Adam McDouche tried to shoulder check me and missed. His friend groaned, but he cut away from both of us toward the hotel desk. I followed Adam right out the doors.
He didn’t slow until we were on the far side of the building and half in the shadows. I expected the next move and avoided the hard drive of his right fist. His left came up damn near as fast and I took a glancing blow from that. The dick had moves.
So did I.
A hard uppercut slammed his teeth together and I took the next blow on the shoulder and the kidney shot that followed it but he took an elbow to the face for his trouble. Blood sprayed the pavement and the scent of copper filled the air. More familiar than mother’s milk at this point. His fierce expression showed zero signs of giving up.
Our next clash was just bare boned bashing. Fuck, I took one shot to the eye that was gonna sting like a bitch, but the clap I delivered to his ear sent him staggering. The swift flow of feet was my warning that his buddy had arrived and I barely moved my head in time to avoid the fist he would have caught me with. As it was, it slammed him into his friend.
And I laughed.
They went down like some bad physical comedy.
When they got up. They were pissed.
“Come on pretty boys,” I told them. “Let’s see if you can take me two on one.”
The laughing idiot charged me like a freight train. I took the blows, blocking a couple and then had to fend off Adam as well. It was like fighting the twins, only without the coordination. When I head butted his friend, I saw stars for a split second then Adam caught me in the jaw and I stumbled backwards, falling over a goddamn curb.
I rolled, managed to not hit my head or leave myself to get curb stomped when there was suddenly a little girl between me and them.
“What are you doing?” Lainey shrieked.
I backed off, panting and shot a look around for Ivy. But only Lainey.
“Get your ass back in the hotel,” Adam growled at her, but like me, he kept his distance. Even the idiot had slowed down. We were all bleeding and bruised. I hurt, but they were going to be hurting worse even if I could barely see out of my right eye.
Arms folded, Lainey glared up at him.
“Excuse me?” He growled at her and took a step forward and I went to meet him. At my motion, he froze. For one long second, we just glared at each other. If he took another move in her direction, I’d kill him.
His expression promised much the same.
“You heard me,” Lainey yelled at him. “Have you lost your mind? Fighting out here? Why are you guys beating this guy up? Do you want to get arrested? Cause if you want that, I’ll call the cops. Right. Now.”
The laughing idiot started laughing—again. “Fuck me, Lainey don’t be such a little bitch.”
Adam swung around, only this time, his fist slammed into his friend and knocked the asshole down. He didn’t say a word to him, just looked at me then at Lainey.
“Fine. Get back in the hotel,” he said.
“Not without you two. I apparently can’t trust you and I came down to thank you for Emersyn’s cake. I was going to actually ask if you wanted to join us but you’re not going up there all bloody and gross.”
A half-laugh escaped me.
That snagged me the angry bird’s attention and she glared at me. “I don’t know who you are or where you came from. But now is the time you go—while I have them distracted.” She paused. “Oh my god, what did you do to his pretty face?”
Adam snarled when she would have taken a step toward me, halting her in place. Smart man didn’t touch her though. “Lainey. On the count of three, if you aren’t moving in the direction of that hotel, I’m throwing your ass in our car and going home. One…”
She made a face. “Jerk.” Then shot me an apologetic look. “Sorry, I never get to see my best friend.” Then she turned.
“You really are period cramps,” she snapped.
The asshole looked right at her, pulled out some bills from his wallet and tossed it at me. They fluttered into the wind and scattered around us. “For your trouble,” he said, then looked at Lainey. “Now. Go.”
She went and he grabbed his friend, hauled him to his feet, and said, “Don’t ever let me see you again, Mister.”
I chuckled. “Or what?”
He stared at me.
“And keep your money, dick. I’m not for sale.”
With that, I walked away from them, awareness of them keeping me on alert. I made it back into a side door of the lobby, avoiding the main portion. Last thing I needed was cops coming after me. I made it back to my room pausing only long enough to hear Lainey’s laughter in there along with Ivy’s before I let myself in the room.
Fuck, my bruises had bruises. I stopped dead when I found Sarah Jane lying on my bed.
“Oh my god, are you all right?” She sat up, concern all over her face.
“Getting better,” I told her and threw the security lock on the door.