“Do you just not like that leg or something?”
Alexis whirled. The pivot put weight on her damaged leg but she was oblivious to the sharp pang of protest. A faint buzz seemed to ripple beneath her skin. Standing across from her, against the trunk of a tree and beneath a blanket of foliage, was the stranger. The Renegade, her mind hissed.
Shadows accentuated the line of his scar, casting his eyes in darkness, and as he pushed away to move toward her, she thought of Luca. Had his attack come like this? Had he been blind sided by a smile and friendly words?
Something inside her snapped.
“Now that’s a greeting~”
He didn’t get to finish his sentence. She closed the distance between them in one sharp burst of speed. Swinging her bag around off her shoulders, she flung it at him. The force of it made his hands come up reflexively to catch it before it could hit his face. Her punch landed squarely in his gut. She followed it up with a hard jab into his ribs.
Scar face staggered back, gasping for breath. He dropped her pack.
“Woah,” he rasped, one hand going to his chest, the other lifting like a stop sign. “Can’t we talk about this?”
“You could say your last words?” she offered coldly.
Pressing the advantage, Alexis stepped in, reaching for the hand he thought would keep her at bay. Between one blink and the next it was gone. Her heart skipped a beat. The hand she’d been reaching for closed around her wrist. Sparks shot down her arm.
Then she was airborne.
All she saw was a flash of leaves, the weak sunlight filtering through, before she hit the ground with a jarring thud. Her lungs forgot how to inhale. Her body twisted in the dirt as she felt his grip change on her wrist, going for a lock. No way, she thought angrily, wrenching at the limb to tear it from his grasp. Somehow, she got a breath in.
That anger acted like fuel, stoking her fire as she kicked out with both feet, sweeping his legs out from under him. He hit the dirt beside her and she rolled to straddle him. The contact sent a fresh rush of energy through her, until her skin seemed to vibrate with the effort of keeping it in. She’d thought she was breathless hitting the ground, but this took it to a whole new level.
Scar face seemed to have the same problem. He stared up at her, those green eyes wide, his lips parted in a slight ‘o’. There was a heartbeat of time where neither of them moved. There was only the pulse of energy, the shallow inhale for air. Then Alexis grit her teeth. Pushing through the sensation, she drew her fist back. Before he could block her knuckles met his nose, his head snapping into the ground with a dull thud.
Point, Alexis thought grimly. Until he opened his eyes.
His hips bucked beneath her. The force lifted her off the ground, her advantage lost as he sent them both rolling sideways. She struggled, her nails like claws, her fury trying to find purchase in the grass and dirt as they grappled. Every move she made he countered. Every twist or lock he evaded. He was liquid muscle barely contained, and the longer they wrestled, the more her righteous anger faded.
Fear took its place as she realised she was going to lose. Seconds later, it happened. He ended up above her, his legs either side of her body. One arm was pinned beneath his knee. She swung at him with her left only for him to capture it with his right. His left hand shot out, gripping her throat. Her whole body went still, even as her skin tingled everywhere he touched her. Despite his grip she could still breath. She waited for his fingers to tighten as she glared, not about to give him the satisfaction of begging.
“Let’s try this again,” he said heavily, panting as he scowled. “I don’t really want to send you to hospital, but I will if you hit me again.” He bit out every word, his teeth all but clicking as he glared down at her in return. “Think you can keep your hands to yourself long enough for me to get a word in?”
As he talked, her glare faded into confusion. Alexis wriggled slightly in his grip, but he didn’t loosen, didn’t even flinch. And his fingers didn’t close around her throat.
“What do you want from me?”
“I already told you,” he rolled his eyes and shifted. “To talk.”