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Sweet venom a venin assa.., p.2
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       Sweet Venom (A Venin Assassin Novel Book 1), p.2

           Gena D. Lutz
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  Keri came up from behind me, and whispered, “Sweet Jesus, what happened to her?” With a head tip, she continued, “I thought Fairies were supposed to be tiny, thumb size or something like that.”

  I kept my soggy eyes on the woman. “They can choose their size at will.”

  Keri’s dark brows scrunched together at the sight of the broken and shredded lavender wings that fell limply around the pale and naked bruised body. The fairy’s contorted legs had been left spread wide at the knees, her lavender eyes open in a dead stare. The murderer had shown flagrant disrespect for life and the woman he took it from by leaving her in such a way. Like a used up broken doll.

  Anger enflamed my cheeks. Funny how quickly a mind could change because now I shared Keri’s mindset. “They all die.”

  “I can live with that,” she said.

  I took a deep breath and forced myself to look away. Even though I was having a hard time coming to terms with leaving her, there was nothing I could do for the poor woman now. My sudden fury over that fact was so fierce and raw I felt as if it should be a tangible thing.

  Maybe there’s one thing I can do…

  Keri waited until I closed the fairy’s eyes and draped a sheet over her exposed body before walking into the hall. With swift steps, I followed her out, closing the door behind me.

  “There are two more rooms to check.”

  Keri was right, and both of those rooms had living occupants. I could hear quick, soft breaths coming from the closest one up ahead on the right, and short labored ones coming from the room adjacent to that one.

  We moved to the closest one. I reached for the knob—locked. I bent my knee and kicked it open. A sharp pain traveled down my leg.

  A six-foot succubus with long, straight, red hair that fell unbound past her waist looked over at us. She was pulling a white t-shirt over her breasts. Her long fingers grazed the pointy fangs of a panther tattoo that wrapped around her torso as she yanked the ends of the tattered shirt over her hips.

  I did a quick glance over her person to see if she’d been badly hurt, but the only markings on her body were the one’s she’d had commissioned herself.

  “Are you my princesses in leather armor come to save the day?”

  I didn’t have time for jokes, so I turned to leave.

  Keri on the other hand, “Looks like you’ve done a hell of a job saving yourself.”

  Her brow quirked. “Oh, you mean him?” She pointed behind her at the shriveled-up body of a human male. The man was Caucasian, in his mid-fifties, with more gray hair on his head than black, crumpled in a heap at the foot of the bed. “He was dinner.” She then pointed that same finger at her ankle where a thick iron shackle was fastened; the chain attached to it was short, the other end hiding under the bed. “I could use a hand with this baggage though.”

  Keri’s lips spread wide with amusement. “What was that asshole even thinking trying to get his rocks off on a succubus?” She shook her head. “Stupid idiot.”

  The woman flashed us a wicked grin. “He thought an iron cock bar and a tongue piercing would protect him well enough from me and my insatiable appetites. But other than a nasty burn to my tongue and pussy, I’m peachy, and he’s dead…” She shrugged. “So much for that theory.”

  They both chuckled.

  I frowned at her answer, not really understanding—until I did.

  “Err, got it. Alright then, you have things in hand here?” I asked Keri.

  “Well, yeah, I can bust that chain no problem.”

  The succubus nodded. “After I’m free, I’ll skedaddle my ass on out of here and out of your hair. Thanks for your help… umm…”

  “Cassis,” I supplied, “and that’s Keri.”

  Her amused features fell serious. “I’m Savanah, and seriously, thank you.”

  I smiled. “No problem.”

  Keri’s braid came to life, moving like a serpent through the air until it reached the chain. It then coiled impossibly tight around the iron links, making it snap in half like a twig under the pressure.

  The succubus exaggerated a sigh. “My heroines.”

  With things in Keri’s capable hands, I rushed into the hallway.

  I entered the last room. And everything came to a crashing halt around me. I couldn’t see anything, other than a burlap sack hanging from the ceiling in the middle of the room. The smells of an unwashed body and urine were strong and hung heavy in the air. Inside of the bag, Rue shifted and rolled around in small jerks, her elbows, knees, and head pushing against the material at odd angles for lack of room inside to do much else other than curl up into a tight ball. Her pain-filled whimpers were heart wrenching.

  It was then that I realized exactly what was going on. Rue must have hit her prime—her fangs gaining their venom, body taking on attributes of a dangerous reptile with the abilities of the most skilled contortionist; and if she was amongst the very rarest of snake venin, she could enthrall her prey with a single stare. If that did indeed occur, her eye color would have changed as well, from bottomless black to midnight blue.

  There was only one way to find out.

  For the first time that night, I unsheathed my dagger. It was a family heirloom, the only keepsake I was able to salvage of my father’s. My evil-bitch stepmother, Eva, had sold, burned, or tossed the rest of his stuff away not long after he died in a freak accident four years prior—you can include me in that bargain, I heard I fetched a fortune from the queen.

  Dagger in hand, I leapt through the air and sliced through the bottom half of the bag, landing silently in shadows on the other side of the room.

  A tiny body that was contorted into a tight flesh ball flopped to the floor.

  My first instinct was to run to my friend’s side, but as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t. It wasn’t safe. By the small smattering of obsidian-colored scales that spread down her spine, narrowing at the small of her back to create a thin line that ran between her butt cheeks, I knew that she had indeed gone through the change. She was now, and would forever be, a full-blown snake venin, which meant that I wasn’t just dealing with my friend anymore. I was dealing with an extremely poisonous creature that was terrified, hurt, and half out of her mind. Not a good combo.

  I knelt into a crouch. The fingers on my left hand rested on the gritty carpet while the fingers on my right squeezed the dagger. I waited.

  Rue’s eyes were the shimmering blue of midnight; that was the first thing I noticed when she lifted her head out of the flesh pile a few moments later. Her neck and shoulders moved, surging upward, as though she were under the spell of a snake charmer. After her torso straightened out, she pitched forward, catching herself with both hands before she could topple, once again, to the ground. Her white hair spilled over hunched shoulders, pooling around two trembling thin arms.

  “Cassis, is that really you over there?” The s’s rolled off Rue’s tongue on a tired hiss.

  My body unfroze; that was all it took for me to throw caution to the wind and rush to Rue’s side. I knelt in front of her, our legs touching. “I’m here.”

  The palm of Rue’s right hand settled on my knee. Her head lifted until our eyes met, and she took a deep breath while a single tear rolled down her cheek. “It hurts.”

  She was talking about the change, and I could relate. It did hurt, like a son of a bitch actually.

  My gaze softened, and I placed a hand over hers for reassurance. “Just breathe; it will pass quickly.”

  She nodded.

  Judging by the placement of newly formed scales on her body, the only thing left to come in were her fangs.

  On cue, her head swung back, a sheet of snow white hair arching through the air with the movement. It was long enough to hit the wall behind her before it cascaded to the ground. She screamed as two long fangs ripped through her top gums. Her head was craned far enough back to where I was able see a tiny sac forming, quickly filling with venom. Her face swung into view, her midnight blue eyes burning with rage.

  I scrambled to my feet and held out a beseeching hand. “Just don’t bite me, okay?”

  Danger filled the room, death encroaching.

  Rue surged to her feet with fluid motion, her stare frozen on me, but she didn’t advance. Instead, she scraped her hands down her face, and asked on a hiss, “What’s happening? Everything feels,” her tongue slipped out, thinner than before at the tip, and flickered as if she were tasting the air, testing out her new senses, “different.”

  She would need to work on that hissing when she spoke, if she wanted to blend in with human society. Unlike my class of venin, snakes took on dominant attributes of their serpent nature while still retaining a more human outward appearance. Other than the occasional flash from our infrared vision and fangs poking out, spiders resembled humans almost entirely.

  “You’ve finished your transformation, Rue,” I gently explained.

  Rue looked down at the v-shaped scales on her wrist and frowned. It was only a matter of time before she found the markings on her back and pelvic area as well. “I need clothes,” she whispered, the last of her words heavily hissed.

  S’s were always a bitch to pronounce for a snake venin.

  I nodded and looked around the small space until my eyes stopped on a set of mushroom-colored sheer curtains hanging from the window. “Those will do.”

  I walked over and yanked them down.

  Just as I finished shaping an acceptable robe around Rue’s body, a sudden sound made me glance toward the door.

  The noise that rose from downstairs was the opening and closing of a door. The sound was frightening—mostly because by scent I knew who’d just arrived.

  Keri slunk inside the room.

  Rue hissed and stepped behind me. She’d always been afraid of her own shadow, and it seemed as though the added strength, venom, and killer instincts she’d recently acquired hadn’t changed that fact one bit.

  “So you heard that, too?” Keri said to me while peeking around my shoulder at Rue.

  I nodded.

  “I take it the coiled snake behind you is, Rue?”

  Rue’s hand slipped into mine, and I gave it a squeeze.

  I nodded again, and then whispered over my shoulder, “It’s alright. Keri’s our friend.”

  Keri nodded. “Yeah, we’re all friends here, so keep those dripping fangs to yourself.”

  I could feel Rue’s head moving between my shoulder blades in the affirmative. I was a full foot taller than she was and had about twenty pounds on her. But regardless of size, one nick from those fangs of hers and I’d be as dead as a doornail. So, needless to say, I was pleased that Rue didn’t plan on biting my friend.

  “We’re still in a lot of danger.” I pulled Rue’s hand and led her toward the door. “It’s time we get out of here. And we need to get downstairs to do it.”

  “Why downstairs?” Keri asked.

  “All of the windows up here are barred shut.”

  “That’s a problem,” she agreed.

  Rue didn’t say anything, but I could feel her body trembling through the cold hand I held. I knew Keri could take care of herself, so I left it up to her to follow us or escape from the house by other means.

  We stopped inching our way down the stairs once our feet settled on the first floor landing. The front door was in sight, if only I could get us there before she spotted us.

  Too late…

  The Night Queen cleared her throat, and I froze.

  Chapter Three

  The queen knelt over the bodies of Ice and Edge with her hand at the crook of Edge’s throat. From where I stood at the base of the stairway, it looked as though she were checking for a pulse. Sterling’s raven hair was pulled up into a tight ponytail, and she was wearing a pair of jeans and a red silk blouse. She looked less like the queen that she was in that moment and more like a young, high class woman, the kind you’d expect to see shopping on Rodeo Drive.

  “He’s still alive,” she said, without sparing a glance in my direction.

  Sterling knew I was there, so it wasn’t exactly reassuring that she wasn’t paying attention to me, or my friends. On the plus side, the burning pain from my gunshots wounds had dulled to a numbing ache. Then again, judging by the blood that filled my clothing, it couldn’t be good at all.

  “Can you save him?”

  The space where the queen knelt wasn’t very wide, so the man who asked that question had his leg pressed up against her outer thigh. He didn’t smell preternatural, so he had to be one of her human consorts.

  She lifted an imperial brow. “I can,” she said, confidently. “I will.”

  In the meantime, my mind raced with possible escape routes. The basement: nah, the queen and her thugs were blocking that way out. Maybe a smash jump through the living room window: that would be a great option, if I could guarantee Rue could handle the leap and subsequent crash landing.

  Then it didn’t matter. The queen turned her powerful gaze on us, jogging me right out of my futile planning.

  She smiled primly at Keri, and the hair at the back of my neck prickled. “I’ll need my hound’s blood back from you now, scorpion.”

  Keri and I exchanged a glance.

  “Is this chick for real?” Keri asked.

  All I could do was nod and mouth, “Code. Fucking. Red.”

  That’s when the queen reached out a hand toward Keri.

  I started to tremble, and fear turned my insides to stone. I knew that gesture. Blood call. One of the queen’s signature moves when using her faeblood magic. Once she snared her prey with it, it was nigh impossible to break free from her spell.

  “Leave her alone!” I yelled.

  The air around us thickened. My nostrils flared drawing in the acrid smell of the queen’s magic.

  Keri slowly levitated until her feet were dangling six inches above the floor. Her red lips curled back to show lengthened fangs, emerald eyes glowed with madness as she opened her mouth to put words to her rage, only to find that the queen’s thrall had left her mute.

  Rue immediately moved from the stairs to stand behind me once again. She whispered into my back, “I’m scared.”

  I threw a look over my shoulder and said with more seriousness than I’d ever mustered into a single whisper, “Can you get home on your own from here?”

  She quickly nodded.

  “Then run…”

  My demand was even more alarming than the snake’s hissed response, and in the next instant, she was gone.

  Without a word, the queen narrowed her eyes. Her fingers curled into a fist, and with the gesture, literally began to yank the blood from Keri’s body, streaming out through her open mouth.

  All I could think was that I had to do something because all the victims I’d seen the queen do this to had died—and there’d been many.

  I started to move, but the queen shook her head at me. “Stay where you are, Cassis.”

  Since I knew what would happen if I listened to her, I decided to do the opposite. I bent my knees and leapt at Keri, my momentum slamming us both against the far wall of the powder room that was nestled underneath the stairway.

  Keri’s eyeballs went from stiff to darting all around the room before settling on me. Together, we looked outside the small space to where the queen was in full view. Luckily, she was ignoring us for the time being as she used all of her concentration to finish up the spell that would save her favored hellhound.

  We watched in shock as the hound’s blood that was once inside Keri, flowed in a thin stream through the air and into Edge’s open mouth. After a few seconds of being filled back up, he full-body jerked, rolled to his side, and began choking over the gulps of air he swallowed as if he’d been drowning.

  “We have less than a minute to get the hell out of here,” I warned.

  Towing Keri along for the ride, I pushed myself up to sit against the commode.

  Keri nodded, her long braid trailing lifelessly down her back, her emerald eyes devoid of sheen. My he
art almost stopped. I’d never seen her so fragile before, and I hated it.

  Short quivering breaths slipped out from behind the shower curtain off to the left of us. I leaned over the short distance between myself and the shower, which was no bigger than a coat closet, and yanked the curtain open.

  The look on the man’s face made me feel bad for an instant. That was until I saw the distinct shimmer of purple fairy dust covering him from head to boot.

  With an infuriating heat rushing through my gut, I surged forward, grabbed a handful of white collar, and dragged the guy out of the shower. I tugged him across the floor to where Keri leaned against the base of the toilet. I glanced through the doorway as I knocked the fairy killer out with a quick jab to the jaw.

  As luck had it, the queen was still occupied with her rapidly healing hellhound. I had about thirty more seconds to help Keri gain her strength and get us the fuck out of dodge.

  Fisting the asshole’s over-gelled hair, I held his limp head out in front of me, and said, “Keri. Quick, drink.”

  Keri scooted forward.

  My gaze swung to the queen. Edge was struggling into a seated position. His big beefy hand dragged down his face, his back bowed forward, and his forehead came down to rest on his knees.

  Twenty seconds.

  My attention moved back to Keri. It didn’t take long for her fangs to drop to their full length. She pulled the limp human into her lap, and with a sound reminiscent of a rattling whistle, she struck his throat.

  “Hurry up,” I urged, as I watched Edge make it to his feet. He was wobbling but gaining his strength back by the second.

  Fifteen seconds.

  Keri’s head jerked backed, and she let out a contented whirr sound. Her eyes changed, the dulled green color morphing back into a bright shimmering emerald. She reached over and snagged some toilet paper off the roll and dabbed at the blood running down her chin. ‘That hit the spot.”

  Ten… nine… eight…

  “Quick… through the window,” I pressed.

  Keri gave me a charming smile. “I get the feeling you’re in a hurry.”

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