Devil's Playground, p.11Gena D. Lutz
She was an exquisite sight, with blazing red hair, left loose to fall freely to her waist, putting most mortal women to shame. Her pale flesh was flawless, as beautiful as it had been the first time I’d seen it, the night she stole it from her human servant. Her former body had also been beautiful and pale, with red hair. Those features were obviously what she preferred to cloak her phantom form in.
Camille’s green eyes stared straight ahead, and she walked forward. As she neared, I resumed my game of possum.
“I wonder,” Camille said and then paused. “Have you met my dark beauties yet?”
Sonny’s grip fumbled, but I remained still.
His voice cracked, as he answered, “I have.”
Her voice floated around me. She was circling us like a shark.
“Oh, that’s wonderful; I won’t have to bring them out for a proper introduction. I mean, unless you decided to defy my wishes. Then, I’ll have no other choice but to let my pets off their leashes. The outcome is entirely up to you. What will it be?”
I felt something warm and wet spread out over my side. Then the smell of urine hit my nostrils like a brick.
Christ all mighty, the son of a bitch pissed himself and got it all over me!
The vile liquid dripped from my hip. The fact that a vampire’s plumbing could even work was news to me.
Laughter rang out, and chiding remarks about diapers soon followed. Sonny, being the big badass vampire he was, didn’t take the teasing very well and did the unthinkable. The asshole bent over and laid my body on the cold wet ground. He then walked away without a word.
The laughter increased, but that time, I had a feeling that it was aimed more at me than Sonny. I was the one lying buck-ass naked in a pool of someone else’s piss. My skin crawled against the rapidly cooling moisture on my body. I made a decision then—no matter what happened, I’d rather be thrown to the queen’s monsters, or locked up in the hoosegow, than remain stewing in the vile excrements of a damn vampire.
I stood up and smiled coldly. Maybe it was because I was dripping in piss. Maybe it was because I was naked. But everyone looked at me like they’d just seen something horrific. There was a flutter of pain across my arm, but I ignored it.
My arm lifted, and I pointed at Frisco.
“Put him down, now.”
Frisco’s mouth dropped open, and his eyes slashed to Camille. She smiled and shrugged, like it didn’t matter either way.
Frisco bent over and tossed Rush to the ground roughly. He then walked over to Camille’s side. My eyes stayed on Rush for a few heartbeats. He didn’t make a sound, but he was still breathing. Thank God.
The flutter of pain I’d felt on my arm began to throb. A fine mist of dizziness settled over my eyes, and when I went to move my leg, I barely had the strength to do it.
“What you’re experiencing, child, is the venom from one of my hounds, spreading through your body,” she said. “I must say, you have surprised me. Not even your grandmother could combat its effects. You’re a complete mystery.”
I was a lot more than that. And as soon as I got my legs to work, I aimed to show her majesty just what I was capable of. My knee slammed hard against rock. Fuck that! I wasn’t going down that easy. My legs wobbled underneath me, but I pushed myself back up. And then I welcomed a more familiar feeling, one that began to creep and build under my skin. It must have been my pain and anguish over the danger Rush and I were in that awakened my magic. The energy reached and filled me. I could feel the white heat of my life-giving power, spreading like molten gold through my veins.
The queen frowned, as she realized what was happening.
“Grab her!” she yelled.
I flashed a wicked grin at the vampires running toward me, as I said, “Yes, please come and lay your hands upon me. I dare you!”
A dark loom spread across Camille’s eyes.
“Stop!” Her voice shot through the night like a bullet.
But the warning had come too late for two of her vampire lackeys. When the pair grabbed my arms in a punishing grip, a white light flared out from within me. The others backpedaled, tripping over each other to get away from me, while at the same time, they watched, as their buddies lit up and sparked like a Roman candle. Their screams of pain were deafening. And then all sound stopped, as their remains toppled to the ground, nothing more than bones and hollowed-out clothing.
My arms fell to my side, exhaustion making it impossible for me to hold them up. My eyes landed and then lingered on the queen. She wasn’t smiling anymore, but neither did she appear defeated. She gave me a seething look.
“You won’t get out of here alive.”
Headlights from a car washed over the faces of everyone there. The blinding glare forced my eyes shut for only a moment, but that was long enough for the queen to make her next move. When my vision cleared, she was kneeling next to Rush, the wind dragging wispy strands of red hair over his body. I ground my teeth and narrowed my eyes. I couldn’t stand to watch any part of her touch any part of him.
My heart dropped, as I realized the tables had once again been turned. I may have had the power to annihilate each and every one of those creatures if I’d gotten close enough to them, but it was useless to me at that point. I was definitely not faster than a speeding bullet.
And to think, all that time, I’d been worried about being treated like a grown-ass woman, wanting to be left to handle things on my own, turning proffered help away left and right. What a damn fool I was. My vanity had landed Rush and me there; that was a fact. So it was my job to fix what my stubbornness had broken.
I plucked at the supernatural string that bonded me to Rafe. By my outside appearance, no one had a clue what I was doing. I played the part of the anguished woman to a tee, which wasn’t hard to do, because I was terrified for Rush. I twisted my hands and worried my lower lip between my teeth, while at the same time, I plotted the demise of the arrogant bitch that dared hold a gun to my beloved.
I could feel it the moment Rafe and I connected, and soon after, I was able to use his eyes as my own. It was hard to concentrate on two different realities—Rafe’s, where he was in Devil’s office, shuffling through papers, and then my own, with vampires surrounding me, and Camille holding a gun to Rush’s head—but I somehow managed. The trick was to keep the bad girl talking.
I said, “You make me sick.”
It was a random but true statement, which successfully got the phantom bitch’s mouth flapping. All the while, I kept my outraged expression intact and focused on my connection to Rafe. I watched, as his fingers clenched around the papers in his hand.
“Kris, is that you?”
I could hear him just fine, but he wasn’t able to hear me. I could, however, propel my feelings toward him and sometimes even images from my mind. I sent him all my panic, outrage, and fear for Rush in one quick blast.
As my emotions bombarded him, Rafe flew out of his chair and began to pace the room. I could feel his alarm and had to breathe my way through his increased heart rate. Being connected to my vampire so completely was a confusing ride, as well as being a hard path of emotions to navigate, but I was determined.
“Where are you?” he asked.”
I didn’t know where I was, only that I was in the middle of nowhere, trapped within a vampire commune. I sent Rafe limited images of what I’d seen of the place so far. When he saw Rush passed out cold with a gun to his head, I thought he would burst out of his skin.
“I know that area,” he said, flinging open the window in Devil’s second-floor office. He then reached up with both hands and ripped the shirt from off his body. The outline of his wings shimmered and then materialized in the flesh on his back. “I can fly, until I find you.”
I heard the deep cadence of Devil’s voice fill the room.
“Raphael, what are you doing, brother?”
Rafe was just about to
“I have to go. Kris is in danger.”
Devil was wearing a dark conservative shirt and jeans. It was nothing like what he would usually wear to his club at night. His hair was pulled back from his face in a ponytail that swung like a pendulum from the back of his neck. His brows were pinched with concern, as he strode over to the window.
“Where is she? I want to help.”
Rafe took a long step up onto the windowsill, his large body filling the frame completely.
“I don’t know exactly. But the landscape she showed me matches the acreage that surrounds that vampire bar, Razorbacks.”
With that, Rafe jumped out of the window and into the dark night sky.
I came back to myself with a snap, just in time to hear Camille say, “Come with us without a fight, and I’ll let your lover live.”
I raised eyebrows at that.
“Would we be any better off if I came quietly?”
The corners of her red lips pushed up. Without taking her eyes from me, she moved the muzzle of the gun two inches away from Rush’s head and pulled the trigger. The sounds of the discharged bullet ricocheted off the ground and rang out through the night. I flinched and glanced down at Rush’s face. He didn’t move.
“I’ll shoot him in the face next time,” Camille warned.
I thought about her threat for a second. Rush was injured, bitten by a Hellhound. The effects of the bite had already worn off for me, but for some reason, he was still heavily under the venom’s influence. Add that to a possible gunshot wound to the head. Did I even have a choice? Absolutely no, I did not.
My eyes narrowed, and I pushed my hands up in the air and held.
“I’ll come peacefully. But if you so much as look at Rush wrong, all bets are off.”
She stood from her crouch, the gun swinging at her side.
“He’s in no danger from me, as long as you keep your end of the bargain.”
“I’ll need you to put these on,” she said, pointing to Frisco.
He walked slowly toward me, with a look of utter fear. In his hands, he held a set of metal handcuffs.
“Whatever,” I said, dropping my arms and then holding my wrists out in front of me. “Just get Rush somewhere safe, and you’ll have no problems from me.”
While the cuffs snapped shut around my wrists, I watched Solo exit from the car, whose headlights had blinded me. His eyes were full of rage, as he slashed Camille a seething glare. I had no clue why he would be so pissed off at her, his partner. She had been the one to capture Rush and me, successfully eliminating one hell of a pesky problem.
“I didn’t want her harmed,” he hissed.
I wondered why he cared either way.
Camille smirked and said, “Calm down, vampire. Other than a little piss and dirt, your precious necromancer is fine.”
Solo took several steps forward.
Camille threw her hand out and pointed at him, saying, “Stop, before you do something I promise you’ll regret.”
Maybe it was because of self-preservation, or maybe because Camille looked like she was about to shout, “Off with his head!” but Solo did as she said. I would have laughed at the scene, but jovial wasn’t the mood I was in. I glared at them. I didn’t know what evil was playing out between the two, but as long as Rush wasn’t being harmed, I’d keep my mouth shut.
Solo bared his fangs and said, “I will talk to her alone, before you’ve had your turn with her.”
A muscle jerked in Camille’s delicate jaw.
“If you retract those fangs of yours, then maybe something can be arranged.”
His jaw tightened, but he did what she instructed. His lips fell over his fangs, covering them. And then he nodded.
I was led down a narrow dirt road, arms bound in front, past broken-down wooden houses on both sides of me. I could see curious eyes, peeking out from between tattered curtains. Strings of profanities blared from the sidelines, as the vampires who resided in the backwater community celebrated my capture. My heart quickened, as a random vampire walked past me with Rush out cold, his body limp like a bag of potatoes, tossed over his shoulder. The fact that he hadn’t recovered at all from the Hellhound’s bite had me extremely concerned.
I turned and looked at Sonny. He had changed his pants and was walking behind Solo, with his head hung low. I had a moment of sympathy for him, but then the fact that Sonny was an asshole and a rapist shook that feeling right away. Long tense seconds passed by, as we walked down the path. The caterwauling continued, until I was led into a cabin at the very end of the lane.
Solo barked out an order to the vampire carrying Rush, “Blue, take him out back.”
I turned on him like a whip, saying, “Rush stays where I can see him.”
“That isn’t possible, Kristina. If you want your boyfriend to live, you’ll need to let my man take him to where the antidote is.”
I knew deep in my gut something was terribly wrong with Rush, but that didn’t mean I trusted Solo.
“Bullshit. I healed just fine without an antidote.”
He stared at me like I was an ameba under the scrutiny of a microscope, and his eyes sparked with curiosity.
“That’s the thing. You should have needed the injection. The fact you didn’t has me completely intrigued.”
“I’m just me. Nothing special, other than I heal incredibly fast.” I looked over at Rush and sighed. “Go ahead and do what you have to, but I swear by the power that flows in my body that I will turn you to ash if he’s hurt in any way.”
Solo’s focus moved to an impatient Camille, who was standing next to the door. She rolled her eyes.
“You all bore me. Deal with your new fascination, Solofar. I’ll be out back, getting the girls ready for tonight.”
With that, she walked out of the room.
Solo nodded at Blue, and then the leather-clad vampire left, taking the love of my life with him. It was safe to say that I was having a very bad day. But my day wasn’t near as bad as the one those girls ‘out back’ were having. But lucky for us all, I had help on the way.
I shook my head. I hated putting everyone’s fate in someone else’s hands. But my own hands were tied… literally.
“What do you want from me?” I asked, refusing to take the chair Solo offered.
He lifted one shoulder in a shrug and said, “Suit yourself. I hope the clothes I provided for you are adequate.”
The clothes he was referring to were hideous. I looked down at the ripped jean shorts and the tube top that one of Solo’s minions had shoved me into to earlier, after a quick sponge bath. The obnoxious top was a neon pink 80s throw-back, and the shorts would have Daisy Duke salivating for a pair. On the bright side, I no longer smelled of urine, and my body was somewhat covered.
I stared at Solofar, who hiked up his jean-covered leg and sat on top of a desk across the room. I watched, as one of his steel-toed black leather boots swung back and forth. The heel clicked against the front wooden panel of the desk every few seconds. It was annoying.
I waved a dismissive hand, which I was able to do, since the minion had uncuffed me during my 80s makeover. Since they had Rush to hold over my head, they were feeling pretty confident I’d be a good little girl, a skittish lamb, surrounded by rabid wolves.
“I couldn’t care less about the clothes. I know you want something from me, so spill it already.”
My words seemed to ricochet off the walls for a long minute, until the vampire finally spoke.
“I’ve recently lost an important club member who filled a unique spot here amongst my crew.”
“Okay. What does that have to do with me?”
“He was a necromancer… a Creator, actually,” he said, with an innuendo that was blaringly apparent.
I made no effort to keep the disgust I felt for him from my voice.
“And you think I’d take this guy’s place, or something? And create vampires for you? You’re out of your fucking mind.”
“Would it be so bad, really? You’ll be provided with riches beyond imagining. You’d want for nothing. And let’s not forget, you’d finally be fulfilling your destiny.” He gave me an expectant glance. “It’s your duty to create vampires. If you live long enough, that is. I can only protect you and Rush for as long as you’re both useful to the community.”
Even if death was the final verdict, I’d never create vampires for those monsters. It would make me just like them. I shook my head.
“Not even the Center has had any luck buying me, Solofar. My gifts, as well as my morals, are not for sale.”
Solo let out a disappointed breath and said, “Well, then. You’re left to the mercy of her majesty.”
Solo stood and tugged at both ends of his leather jacket. He gave me a lingering look, before he opened up his mouth and hollered, “Sonny!”
The door immediately pushed open, and my old friend, Sonny the vampire, walked into the room. He gave me a side look full of disgust, and I flipped the bastard off in return.
“Yes, boss?” he said.
“Take her to be prepped for one of the Handlers,” Solo said flatly. “Maybe after a few trips into town, she’ll be more compliant.”
Sonny flashed me a mocking smile and said, “I’ll get right on that boss.”
I flicked a daring look Sonny’s way.
“Touch me, and I’ll kill you.”
Sonny was a coward. He’d already proven that, so I wasn’t surprised when he stepped away from me.
“She gives me the creeps, man. Can I call in Blue to give me a hand with her?”
Patience had never been one of my strengths, and that moment was no exception. So while Sonny was whining to his boss, like the little bitch that he was, and before any more vampires could be called into the room, I decided to make my move. I closed my mind to everything but the utter destruction of my enemies. My palms warmed, as they filled with power.
Devil's Playground by Gena D. Lutz / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes