The Hellhound (Riders of Tyr #2)

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Chapter 30: True Confessions

Iris

We get back to the clubhouse and I have never been so sad to see the familiar street. For a few moments up that hill, I was the happiest person alive. I was in his arms, his thick lips against me, my head nesting in his palm, his heartbeat close. I never thought that being close to a man could bring such great pleasure in my deprived life. His essence filled me and the whole world stopped as his lips touched mine.

And then it was over. And it was as if the day was over with it. I have never kissed a man before so I don’t know what I did wrong. But Rage hasn’t spoken to me during the ride so it must have been a bad kiss. All these women in the bar, they must know what they are doing. And their bodies are full, voluptuous. Unscarred.

That last thought drives a nail through my heart. He has seen my back, the marked flesh, the oozing wound. He has been changing my bandages every day. No man would ever want to kiss a woman with scars like mine. I am ugly. And he is beautiful. Too beautiful for a girl like me.

Rage drives up to the bar and parks his bike in his usual spot. I don’t wait not even for a moment. I take the helmet off and I climb away from him leaving it on my seat.

“There you are.” Bjorn has come out to welcome me.

“Are you closing up?” I ask urgently.

“Nah. Everyone wants to be ready for the wedding so I am doing some work on Ironhand’s bike.”

“Good.” I walk away and head straight for the Eleanor.

I don’t look back. Seeing Rage avoid my eyes would kill me and I have died enough times in my life. I find solace thinking that at least I have Eleanor waiting for me, not judging, never disappointed. Bjorn is right behind me and I feel his eyes burning the back of my skull.

“You OK, kid?” Bjorn asks.

“Fine. Can’t wait to fix her up.”

“You sure? Did that psycho do anything...?”

“Don’t, Bjorn.” I cut him “Please.”

“Sure thing, kid.” Bjorn leaves me be and goes to his workstation.

I’ve been working for hours, my mind blocking everything out, just cleaning and tightening, adjusting and tuning. How great would it be if my life would be fixed like this car? If I could clean the bad, tune out the pain, adjust my needs to what I can have. I can tell the sun has set and I hear music coming from the bar. Nighttime at the clubhouse, women flowing in. Women with perfect bodies and unmarked skins. Women that know how to kiss and give pleasure to a man.

“Wrap it up, Iris. Got to go back to my woman.”

I swallow bitterly but manage to muster a smile. Where I am supposed to go? Panic surges through me. If I ask Bjorn to take me with him, he will blame Rage and that never ends up well. I can go up my apartment but the thought only makes me shiver. Only thing is certain. I can’t go back to Rage. I could go to one of the bunkers downstairs and spent the night but these rooms give me the creeps. I can stay in some dark corner in the bar for the best part of the night. I will be safe amidst the Riders. And I’ll suck it up and return to my room above the garage tomorrow.

I gather my things and clean my workstation before saying my goodnights to Bjorn and helping him close up shop hoping he won’t sense the turmoil in my heart. When he is off I take one deep breath and I get ready to go in the bar. I know what my deepest fear is. Seeing Rage with another woman, one of those swarming in there to throw themselves at any Rider willing to take them. Not, Rage, not tonight, please, I plead and glance at the bar. And that’s when I see him.

Rage is watching me from across the street, leaning against a wall of the bar, toying with his knife while a cigarette hangs from his lips. A smile blooms on my lips but it withers when I think how he pulled away from me.

I cross the street wiping my hands on a dirty rag, pretending that all my focus is not on him. But it is. Every fiber of my being, every cell in my stupid body reaches out to him, reacts to him simply being near. As I approach, he sheathes the knife in the holster in his cut and rocks on his bare feet. I lower my head and make for the door passing him by, feeling a gash in my soul as I try to go unnoticed by the only man whose attention I crave. But I don’t get a chance.

He grabs me by the arm and spins me to him with one purposeful move. I am so surprised that I land on his bare chest, my palms on his skin. Lord, his skin is so smooth, so hot and his muscles so hard underneath. That man is utter male perfection and it should come with a warning. Not that I would keep away but still...I don’t move a muscle because if I do I don’t know if I can stop myself from doing something stupid. And I have been stupid enough for one day.

“Iris.” he commands but I can’t find it in me to face him.

Without letting me go, he uses his free hand to raise my chin. I still keep my eyes lowered unwilling to meet his blue gaze. His scent, that mixture of smoke and sweat intoxicates me and I pray he won’t let me go cause I might crumble at his feet.

“Look at me, Iris!” he orders “I want to see your eyes. Your fucking perfect eyes.”

That is enough to make me look up, startled like a rabbit caught in lights. His face is serious, dead serious and dark. Yet his look is like a soft sea of blue that cools my soul. What does this man want from me?

“You are angry.” he assesses “I made you angry.”

I shake my head.

“I did.” his fist balls as it is still under my chin.

I see that tortured look I know so well come over him like a wave ready to drown him. I glance down and I notice the freshly cut wounds on his arm. I gasp and frown. He did it again. He hasn’t cut himself since he saved me. Was that kiss so upsetting? Was my touch so insufferable? His arm drops and his head falls back with a low growl. He is spiraling down to his abyss and I can’t bear seeing him engulfed in his torment. No matter what has happened between us, he is still the man that saved me. A man I care for deeply.

“I am sad.” I say and he focuses back to me.

“Sad?”

I nod and he scowls.

“I liked it when you kissed me.” I confess “But you...”

I stop and look down at my dirty hands. For a few seconds we just stand there. He has his hand tight around my arm but he says nothing.

“I liked it, too.” he whispers.

What? I search his eyes and I can’t believe it when I find utter sincerity in them as he looks down to me. My shoulders relax and I take a deep breath, one I had lost ever since he kissed me.

“But I can’t...” he pushes me lightly away “I can’t, Iris. I am bad, bad. I am a psycho. The Hellhound will come. He will ask to take you and I can’t let that happen. If I lose you, I won’t go on.”

His words leave me speechless, my mind unable to process all that he is saying to me. So, he liked the kiss, he wanted it, he wants it still. And he pushed my away to keep me safe.

“Rage.”

“I can’t hurt you, Iris. But death is all I am and death is all you will find with me. Get away from me. Be mad, be angry, be sad. But be safe. Away.”

He turns his back to me and hits his head with his fists. No, no, no. His hand goes for the knife and he drives it over his flesh, marking his body.

“No. Not Iris.” he mumbles and my breath is caught.

My vision blurs as tears well up. All that pain, that suffering. He fears he will hurt me and he’d rather hurt himself. My chest is ready to explode by all the feelings trapped inside.

“Rage, please.” I try but he is too far gone.

“Not Iris. Me. Take me. Not again.”

There is something deeply broken in his soul. A memory that keeps him locked in his eternal Hell, the living nightmare of his existence. I will break him out. I need him. I need him to keep my nightmares away. I need him to feel safe. More than need. I love him. Yes, I do. I love this broken man, the only thing worth fixing. I love Rage. I know it deep in my heart.

“Rage, look at me.” I touch him and he stiffens “Look at me, Rage.”

He slowly turns and I see his eyes teared up. I take one deep breath and grab his face with both my hands.

“You won’t hurt me, Rage. You saved me. You keep me safe. You heal me. You are my angel. My guardian angel.”

“No, no, no. Bad, bad, bad. I am evil, bad blood in me. I will hurt you like he did.”

“Who did, Rage?” I know he has to face his demons.

“The Hellhound. He is in me. He wants blood, all the time, blood. Everything I touch dies. I am death. Go away, Iris. Get the fuck away from me.” he tries to shake me off.

“Listen to me, Rage.” I steel my grip on him “You are not bad. I should know. I have seen bad men. You are not one. And you will not hurt me. Never. I trust you.”

My determination shakes him and he stands absolutely still. I grab the opportunity and I pull closer.

“I need you, Rage.” I beg “I need you so much. Please.”

“I need you, too. My Iris. My beautiful Iris.”

My heart tightens at his words and the soft feeling carried in them. His hand moves and it tangles in my hair. His eyes follow the move as if he doesn’t believe it himself. I close my eyes to relish his touch. Ever since I got a taste, I can’t imagine a life worth living without it. I sense him shift but before I open my eyes, his lips are on mine. He wraps his arm around my waist carefully and pulls me flush against him. Oh, god! I tread his strong chest with shaky fingers. And then I feel his tongue swipe over my upper lip and my brains refuses to form coherent thoughts.

“Rage.” is all I can mumble.

But is all the opening he needs to claim my mouth completely. His thick tongue searches mine the same way our souls search each other urgently. I soften against him and I nervously touch his tongue with mine. A moan escapes me but he is there to catch it. I fist his cut, desperate to hold on to reality as my knees go weak.

“Fuck, Iris. Your lips.” he breaks the kiss but hovers over my mouth.

I smile and climb on my toes to reach him. I won’t stop. I can’t stop. I get lost in his kiss once more and I let it consume me completely.

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