Rogue Page 107

I hadn’t killed Miguel. And I certainly hadn’t known he and Luiz were brothers. But something told me Luiz was much less interested in facts than he was in revenge.

I hauled my rump onto the mat, and more clicking sounds came from the stairs. Reloading after one shot? I didn’t know much about guns, but in the movies the bad guys always got five or six shots before their guns clicked empty. So what kind of pistol was Luiz packing?

The next sound—something sliding into position with a decisive clack—came from farther down the steps. I glanced up. He was aiming at me over the iron-pipe stair rail.

I rolled forward, toward the stairs. The gun popped. The next shot went over my back. On my ass again, I spun to look, expecting a huge hole in the exercise mat. There was no hole. There was only a small dart.

A tiny hypodermic needle with a feather where the plunger should be.

A tranquilizer gun. That’s what happened to Ryan. Luiz hadn’t been able to get to my brother through the bars, so he’d shot him with a dart.

Luiz wasn’t trying to kil me, at least not yet. He was trying to take me.

To reclaim me in the name of his twisted project and avenge his brother’s death on me every day for the rest of my life, however long that might be.

A shoe shuffled on the steps. I whirled around and looked up. Luiz towered over me, rushing to reload. He kicked, aiming for my head. I lunged to the right and his foot sailed past me. I grabbed his boot in midair. Grunting, I twisted his foot to the left. Hard.

Luiz spun in midfall. His hands flew into the air, reaching for something to grab on to. The tranquilizer gun clattered to the floor.

Bolstered by his loss of the gun, I jerked back on his foot. Luiz fell onto one knee on the step. Only his hands on the concrete saved him from a broken nose.

“Bitch!” he muttered, tugging on his captured leg. I held on tight, pulling in return. He kicked, trying to dislodge my grip. I tucked his calf beneath my right armpit and wrapped both hands around his leather-clad ankle. One bare foot braced against the wal beneath the stairs, I shoved myself backward, dragging him with me. Luiz’s knee slid off the step, banging into the wal . From the stomach up, he now lay facedown on the stair riser, growling viciously.

I braced my feet on the ground and pulled again. Luiz turned onto his side and grabbed the rail with one hand. His foot rotated in my grasp. I leaned forward, trying to pull him off the steps.

His boot came off in my hand. I fell on my ass on the mat. Again.

As I scooted backward, my hand brushed something hard, and I glanced down to see the embedded dart.

Luiz dropped onto the floor in front of me. I threw the boot at his head. He batted it away one-handed. I crawled across the mat, headed toward the bathroom. Luiz lunged for his gun at the foot of the stairs.

I scrambled to my feet, glancing around for something to use as a weapon. There was nothing but the folding metal chair and Marc’s cassette tapes.

Luiz turned on me, pistol in hand. He dug a third dart from his pocket and bit off the cap.

I backed up, my hand skimming the stack of cassettes to rest on the back of the metal chair.

Luiz popped the gun apart and shoved the dart into place. Sweat dripped from my forehead into my eyes. He snapped the pistol back together and spit the dart cap out. I grabbed the folded chair and swung it up. He pulled the trigger.

The dart clanged into the metal bottom of the seat and fell to the concrete at my feet. If I’d been wearing shoes, I’d have stomped it to pieces. Instead, I stepped over it onto the mat.

Luiz tried to shove another dart into the disassembled gun. It wouldn’t fit. He’d forgotten to uncap it, and I wasn’t about to point out his mistake. I lunged forward, brandishing the folded chair. Luiz backed up until he hit the side of the staircase. I swung the chair. He ducked. The gun hit the floor an instant before his fist hit my stomach.

I sucked in a painful breath and swung the chair at Luiz again. The plastic-capped foot slammed into his head. He landed draped over me like a blanket, his weight pinning me to the mat. His fingers wrapped around my throat. I clutched at his thumb to keep his fist from closing.

The basement door opened and my mother appeared on the top step.

“Faythe? What’s going on down there?”

Luiz let go of my neck and leaned to the left for the dart stil stuck in the mat. I rolled out from under him, in the other direction. “Mom! Get help!

Now!”

“Wha—”

“Go!” I leapt to my feet as Luiz’s arm arced toward me. Something sharp grazed my bare calf. I jumped backward.

Several drops of my blood dripped onto the mat. Luiz vaulted to his feet. I backpedaled, glancing at the stairs as I went. My mother was gone, but she’d left the door open. I could have kissed her, thankful for the light.

“Your mãe?” Luiz breathed hard as we faced off.

I nodded, wiping sweat from my forehead with the back of my arm.

He licked his lips, circling to my right. “No babies, but much fun.”

“You touch my mother and you’ll never touch anything ever again!” I dodged his lunge, and my hip hit the corner of the card table. My hand fell on a cassette tape in a plastic case. I threw it at him as hard as I could. It hit his nose and, to my surprise, left a tiny cut and a single drop of blood.

Luiz stomped toward me and crushed the tape beneath his boot. I grabbed another. Aerosmith. Nope, can’t throw classic Aerosmith. I snatched a copy of the Thompson Twins’ greatest hits and chucked it at him. One corner of the case hit his forehead. He blinked, and another drop of blood appeared above his left eyebrow.

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