Who knew that when I avoided Rage’s house, that one day, I would be going there as... What the fuck will Rage be to me if I make Tamie my wife? Who cares? He may hate me but he is my brother and nothing changes that. And Tamie is for me, nothing will change that either.
“Sundays Rage and Iris eat out if the weather is nice,” Tamie says from the back of my bike.
A family Sunday lunch! Great! I am going to the den of a certified psycho killer with his woman, the object to his obsession, to announce that I am claiming his sister-in –law. On the other hand, it is a nice day. A nice day to probably die.
We pull up in the driveway and I get nervous. It’s not that Rage might kill me. He won’t unless Iris gives the order. It’s that frail girl I am afraid of. If she doesn’t approve, Tamie might change her mind. And where would that leave me?
We get off the bike and Tamie nests her hand in mine. I look down at our twined hands and I look at her. I can’t lose her. I thought it hurt when Iris turned me down. It was just a glimpse of what losing Tamie will do to me.
She leads me to the back of the house. Their house is the smallest compared to the others on Rider Lane but I get it. Rage is an animal and vast, open spaces makes him paranoid. Besides, those two just need each other and nothing more.
We turn into the cute garden and we see them. They are not sitting at the table that has the remnants of lunch. Instead, they are both on a bench under the thick shadow of a tree. Iris has her back turned to Rage and he... Well, the Hellhound is braiding her long, black hair!
Iris has a faint smile of happiness on her lips and Rage seems so focused on the task at hand. He runs his fingers through her hair slowly again and again and licks his lips each time he does. The moment seems so intimate though it’s not sexual that both me and Tamie pause, uncertain whether we should interrupt.
It’s then that Iris notices us and her eyes brighten up. Her eyes drift to our twined fingers and she looks back at me. Rage must have sensed us too and I feel the brother’s scorching look on me.
“Tamie!” Iris gets up and comes to us.
“Sorry I didn’t call,” Tamie apologizes but makes no attempt to let go of my hand.
“Yeah,” Iris looks at me before turning to her sister. “Magda called me.”
Silence. Deep, awkward silence and the Hellhound coiling in the back.
“Iris,” I cough.
“Wood,” Iris focus on me and that is Rage’s cue to come to his Valkyrie’s side.
I glance up to him and I see that he is this close to snapping my neck. First of all, I interrupted him and Iris and now I addressed his wife. But of the millions fights I have given this is the one fight, the one battle that matters.
“I am claiming Tamie as my Valkyrie,” I simply say and Tamie drifts closer.
Once more, silence. Iris looks deep into my eyes but then focuses on her sister. That is all that matters to her. I look down to Tamie too. It’s her fight as well.
“Tamie?” Iris asks.
“It’s true,” my woman smiles.
“You sure you want this? You just got out and you may...” Iris hesitates, “be forced into hasty decisions.”
I grind my teeth. Iris is accusing me of taking advantage of Tamie’s state openly. And when she looks at me I read more in her eyes. She knew I was going to claim her back then. She is thinking the same thing all others do. I am substituting Iris with Tamie.
But how could I? They may look alike on the surface but they are too different, too special in their way. I have said it before, Tamie is my vast open, night sky, the million stars I loved watching as a child, the one thing that I enjoyed out on the cold desert after a day of kill or be killed and following orders I did not understand. That peace and quiet I felt those night looking at the stars, that’s what Tamie is to me. The one thing that is missing in my life.
“I just know, Iris. Didn’t you know when you met Rage? Weren’t you in the same position as me? But you knew,” Tamie says.
Iris frees me from her look and looks behind her to Rage that is hovering over her, ready to execute her every wish. Their eyes meet and they melt in pure love.
“I did,” Iris smiles to her man. “I knew from the moment I saw him.”
“I did, too,” Tamie says passionately and I swallow hard. “From the moment I saw him.”
A knot ties in my intestines and goes up my throat, threatening to reduce me in a crying baby in seconds. I so fucking love that woman.
“Really?” I pull her to my side. “I distinctively remember you hitting me in the balls.”
Tamie blushes and smiles up to me.
“Well, you had just broken a door and came in with a big gun.”
“That will be quite a story to tell our kids,” I lean to her.
Tamie slightly pushes up against me and gets on her toes. A cough interrupts the little moment and we both turn at Iris. Her eyes shift from one to other and she is weighing things. She finally raises her eyebrow.
“Tamie will continue her studies,” Iris negotiates and I smile.
“Tamie can do whatever the fuck she likes to do,” I shrug.
I mean it. Anything that makes Tamie happy, I will give. I can fucking do this. I have to try. I have to try and live and this woman gives me the will to do that. I was dead before I saw her face on that wall, a corpse before she slid in that SUV with me. With her around, I have never felt fuller.
Iris gives me a warning look. She is almost half my size and her menacing look would almost seem comical but when Rage wraps his arms around her waist it’s not funny anymore. Ava, Lysa and Magda are dangerous and Ironhand is too protective of Chiara but none is as lethal as this girl. One word and the Hellhound would rip my head from my shoulders. I nod to tell her I got the message.
“Now,” Iris says lightly, “did you have lunch? There is some left. Or we can have some dessert.”
“Dessert is fine,” Tamie answers and I shake my head at my sweet tooth kitten.
Iris and Tamie smile at each other and they go back into the house to get the dessert. I can’t keep my eyes off Tamie and when she looks at me over her shoulder I smile like an imbecile.
“Do I have to say it, brother?” Rage growls beside me.
I swallow hard upon hearing the open threat in his voice. No, he doesn’t have to say it. If I hurt either Iris or Tamie I am as good as dead and it won’t matter if I am wearing the cut anymore.
I turn to face him and the braiding husband is gone. What is there is the Hellhound lurking to break the surface and my spine in half.
“I know, brother. But I won’t hurt Tamie. I will die first.”
“Trust me, you will,” Rage lowers his head but still looks at me like a starving wolf. “You and I know what she’s been through. What they both have been through.”
“Cheesecake!” Iris comes out with Tamie right behind her. “Baby?” Iris senses the Mexican standoff going on in her garden.
Rage holds my gaze a while longer. He is seriously thinking of killing me right now just to be sure but he glances down at my patch and grinds his teeth.
“It’s good, baby girl,” he turns to Iris and takes her in his arms.
He almost let the Hellhound out so he needs her. I watch as Tamie looks at them with a soft smile on her lips and a longing that breaks me. I can give her that and more. I can make her as happy and she means as much to me.
I go to her and caress her cheek with my thumb. Her eyes focus on mine and though we don’t speak, we do. I am making her promises I never made to a woman before. It’s enough to make her smile go wide. I take her chin and I lean to leave a light kiss on her lips.
“Are we doing dessert or are you OK with each other?” I hear Iris chuckle.
Tamie smiles against my lips and I let her go but not before I leave a peck on her cheek.
“You should be the one talking,” Tamie throws at her sister. “Your man is all for PDA. All the time.”
Both sisters look at Rage that glances at both of them.
“What?” He shrugs.
I look at Rage and he doesn’t seem to see what the problem is. He is like that. Whatever he feels, he does. And he generally can’t keep his hands off Iris. Maybe I should follow the man’s lead.