Chapter 12 Continued
“C’mere, you bitch,” North breathed in her face. She turned her head away to escape his look and his foul breath. “You’re coming with me.”
Stavo surged to his feet, his heart in his throat. Luus snatched her hand free and spit in his eye.
“No, I’m not,” she said. “Why don’t…” North’s fist flashed out, connected to the point of her chin and dropped her to the floor, unmoving. Then silence. No one said a word or came forward. Stavo roared a challenge like a wild animal. He charged North, caught him square in the gut, driving him back and making him fight for air. Stavo knelt by his sister and saw that she breathed, her chin already discoloring from the blow. He stood to face the villain, his eyes locked on North’s. He stood there, adamant and unyielding. To this foul creature he would not give way.
“Go someplace else,” Stavo said, his voice low, dangerous. “There must be somewhere that wants you, though I can’t think where.” North laughed in Stavo’s face. From his boot he pulled a ten inch hunting knife, its edge sharp, its surface glinting in the lights.
“I hear that hell wants me,” North said with a leer, “I’ll send you on ahead so you can tell them I’m coming.”
No one moved. North took a step forward. His knife flashed out and Stavo felt a sharp sting on his cheek. He winced when he touched the spot and his fingers came away bloody. He stared at them, like he’d never seen blood before. He could feel it now, running down to his chin and dropping slowly to the floor.
“This is no sport,” North mumbled. Then louder, “Let’s finish this.” He charged Stavo, his knife held low in an underhand grip. He raised it as he moved, putting his momentum behind his blow. Stavo looked up, finally aware again. He managed to turn away, barely, tangling North’s feet. They went down together, North’s weight bearing Stavo to the floor. Fresh blood soaked Stavo’s shirt, but if he’d been stabbed, he couldn’t feel where. With years of hard labor, his arms pushed North off him and he rolled the man onto his back. His attacker lay dead on the floor, his own knife protruding from his chest. Stavo couldn’t really say how it happened or what he should do now.
Suddenly the tavern came to life. Stavo’s neighbors came forward, helping him to his feet, marveling at his near escape. He pushed them from him with a snarl.
“I cannot believe what I saw here tonight. We were helpless and not one of you came forward. None of you are my friends anymore. He lifted Luus into his arms, shouldered his way through the press of bodies and out of the Winking Barman and into the night.