Spider Game

By: Christine Feehan

Trap realized she’d already marked him as her next victim if he fell for the bait. “Who are they?” Wyatt knew everyone in the area. He’d grown up there, hunted and fished and basically lived off the land during his childhood. He knew these men and he knew their reputations.

“She’s causin’ quite a stir. Funny that when she leaves no one remembers what she looks like, only that she’s been here,” Wyatt observed.

“Who are they?” Trap repeated, a slight edge to his voice.

Wyatt sighed. “The taller of the two is named Pascal Comeaux. That family has a feud goin’ with mine datin’ back to high school. The Comeaux brothers – and there are five of them. Were five of them,” he corrected. He lowered his voice. “Their brother Vicq was involved in a sex trade ring. The Comeaux brothers like to beat the hell out of women. Vicq went far beyond that. He’s dead now. Pascal has a bad reputation. He’s married, and his wife is never without bruises all over her. His kids too.”

“He’s married?” Trap echoed.

“That doesn’ slow him down. He’s after every woman he sees. Visits Chantelle’s place regularly and beats up every woman he pays to sleep with. He’s bad news. The Comeaux boys avoid us because we’re the only ones that can take ’em in a fight. You notice no one else messes with them. He’s got money though. The entire family has money, and that’s more than most in the swamp, so they always have women lookin’ at them like they might be able to change them.”

“So the other one on the other side of her?”

“Is his brother Blaise. Not married. Mean as a snake. She knows how to pick them.”

Cayenne’s soft laughter drifted through the noise of the bar. Trap reached inside his jacket for his notebook. He’d already begun the equations he needed to keep him working and from killing someone. The next couple of hours were going to be even longer, and he needed something – anything – to occupy his mind and get him through until closing time. He took out a pen and wrote on the notepaper. P = #AR. HYP

Wyatt shook his head and slid out of his chair so he could keep his muscles loose. There was going to be one hell of a fight before the night was through if he wasn’t mistaken. He moved around the table to stand to one side of Trap and study the formula he was scribbling in the pages of the small notebook he’d pulled out of his pocket.

He frowned. “P is for peanuts and AR HYP is what?”

Trap didn’t look up. “Arachis hypogaea, you cretin. You went to the same university I did. That’s the biological/Linnaean classification for peanut, and you should know that.”

“I don’ store useless information in my head, Trap. It’s filled with other much more interestin’ things. Who cares what the biological/Linnaean classification is. Call it a fuckin’ peanut.”

“When doing something such as calculating the amount of peanut husks on the floor in this idiotic place you call a bar, you need to be precise. I’m estimating the square footage to be five hundred feet minus the dais the piano sits on and behind the bar.” Trap pushed a napkin toward Wyatt. “You can do your own calculations.”

“Not happenin,’ brother. I’m about to get into a major fight with the Comeaux brothers, and my head can’ be clouded by numbers. I don’ think knowin’ how many peanut shells are on the floor is goin’ to help me when they pull knives out.”

Trap didn’t look up from the paper, pencil still moving across the surface. “I don’t fight for fun, Wyatt. These boys pull a knife and they’re going down.”

He scribbled out more on a precise line.

Wyatt was always astonished that Trap could use such a mild, obviously half-listening voice, and yet sound menacing. Not sound. Feel. Trap always felt dangerous. Scary. Now Wyatt knew why. A boy couldn’t go through the things Trap had without shutting his emotions down in order to survive. He didn’t let people in. In fact, Trap pushed others away from him using his abrupt, rude antisocial behavior. Everyone had put it down to his tremendous IQ, believing it was difficult for him to relate to others.

Wyatt had never understood how Trap could be a solid member of their team, treating the other men with obvious affection. He was still a little apart, but he joked and he had their backs always. He cared about them, and it showed. If he could do that, put aside his rudeness for them, he could do it with everyone. He chose to push people away.

Trap gave extravagant gifts to the women he slept with, but he always made it clear he wasn’t in the market for a relationship. None of them believed him and they always tried to go back for more, but he never gave any of them false hope. Wyatt realized it was Trap’s way of protecting them. He didn’t want his uncles to ever think he was falling in love or cared about any of the women he took to his bed.

Wyatt reached for a handful of peanuts, noticing that Trap had cracked several open and thrown the husks to the floor without eating the peanuts. “What’s all this?” he asked as he broke one open.

“I had to figure out the percentage of people eating peanuts,” Trap said absently, scribbling more equations, but pausing long enough to point out to Wyatt the letter E that apparently represented the percent of people eating peanuts. Beside the letter E he had written two standard deviations runs from 65.0% to 83.6% with a mean of 74.3%.