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Sweet venom a venin assa.., p.4
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       Sweet Venom (A Venin Assassin Novel Book 1), p.4

           Gena D. Lutz
 
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  “Calm the fuck down.”

  My gaze flicked briefly to Rue. She was still standing in the middle of the room. Her eyes had gone full-blown snake venin: black slits, the midnight blue glowing brighter with her rage. The unhinging of her jaw was audible as she opened her mouth and bared a set of long, razor-sharp fangs.

  Keri’s entire body went rigidly still beneath my hold.

  “Umm, what is she doing?” Keri whispered in a cautious tone.

  “She’s protecting herself, you idiot. Now stay still.”

  I shifted in my borrowed fuzzy pink slippers.

  Rue’s lips drew back even farther.

  I gave her a cool stare and held my hand out in a peaceful gesture. “Easy, Rue. You’re under no threat here.”

  Rue’s response was a drawn out “sssssss.”

  At this point, she was more reptilian in nature than human. And while she might be temporarily feral, Rue was still in there somewhere, my friend who I knew to be a person possessing a heart of gold.

  “The chick is going to take a bite out of me. Just look at her, she’s practically salivating,” Keri mumbled.

  I shook my head slow and whispered, “Shut up.”

  The door to my bedroom was only a few feet to the left. I measured the tension pouring off Rue against the time it would take to barricade myself inside and fell short—any sudden moves and Rue would be on me in seconds. I was fast. But she was faster.

  Keri released the death grip she had on my arm and freed her braid, allowing it to uncurl to the floor. “I’m not going down without a fight,” she announced, sounding more like herself—wild and unpredictable.

  In that moment, I knew there was only one thing left for me to do. I turned to face Keri, and without warning, pulled back my arm and punched her square in the jaw, effectively knocking her out. Keri fell to the ground. Pain sliced across my knuckles like a small devil trying to burn through the skin. I shook my hand and gazed down at my unconscious friend. It had been easy enough to get the jump on her, considering how her entire focus had rested on Rue. My heart thrummed wild in my chest with regret, but honestly, I was pretty sure I’d done the right thing. All I could do now was hope she didn’t kick my ass after she came to.

  Then, as if she’d materialized from air, Rue was behind me, so close that I could feel her hot breath on my skin.

  “Cassis…”

  There was a hint of lucidity in her rolling voice. That bit of hope evened my labored breaths.

  I turned around and tensed, still expecting her to attack. But she didn’t.

  “Is she okay?”

  “What?” My voice was muddled, pointing out my confusion. She looked as if she was about to kill us both after all.

  “I didn’t mean to hit her.” Her glowing stare moved between Keri and me. “She scared me.”

  My brows jumped to my hairline. “She scared you?” I snorted. “That’s rich.”

  Her black-scaled hands traveled meekly down the front of her body, and she took a step back.

  “Well, yeah, she tried to take my wrap off.” She shrugged. “Before I knew it, I lost my mind, and I attacked.”

  Her explanation sent a chill down my spine. For the first time, I noticed the curtain I’d wrapped around Rue was loose—she was gripping the top half, holding it up over her breasts. I then saw a scattered pile of my own clothes on the floor, which I hadn’t left there, and quickly put two and two together.

  “Keri was only trying to help you, Rue.”

  “Yeah.” Rue hesitated. “I figured that out after I’d already slapped her, but then it was too late. She wanted a fight. I was in the frame of mind to give her one.”

  Meaning her newly awakened instincts went haywire.

  “You really need to learn how to control yourself. Your venom is nothing to fool around with, you know. A single nick and you could have killed her.”

  Rue nodded. “I do. That’s why no matter how bad I wanted to…” her eyes blazed with hunger, “and boy did I want to, I stopped myself.”

  “Bitch…” Keri muttered from the floor behind me. I turned and watched her push herself up on all fours, then hop to her feet. Her hand rubbed across her bottom jaw and she scowled at me. “That was uncalled for.”

  I raised an eyebrow. “Was it, really?”

  Her gaze moved to the now calmer snake venin, and she mumbled, “I was just trying to get her into some real clothes.”

  I looked at her, seeing the anger die down and something else blossom in its place.

  I took a step forward and laid a hand on her shoulder. “I’m sorry about that sucker punch. It was all I could think to do.”

  The hurt in her features smoothed out and she smiled at me. “That’s cool, Sis.” She shrugged. “We spar harder than that. It’s just that…”

  “I know.”

  Keri smiled at me then gazed at Rue. “I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable.”

  Rue fumbled with the curtain wrapped around her. “And I’m sorry I overreacted. But you can be scary as hell.”

  Keri slowly shook her head. “I was just trying to help.”

  Rue’s head fell and she didn’t respond. She didn’t need to. I knew why she reacted so harshly to Keri. Common sense should have led Keri to the same conclusion. Rue had been victimized, her freedom and body taken from her without mercy. The innocent act of helping her dress, especially without her permission, was not only soul crushing to her, it was also perceived as an act of aggression.

  I took a deep breath and blew it out slowly. “Are we cool here?”

  Keri nodded. She turned and walked to the back of the loft. I could hear the fridge open and shut a few seconds later. “You need to go shopping!”

  I snorted softly. Keri was over it. She wasn’t the kind of girl to hold a grudge, and I liked that about her.

  My gaze softened on Rue. “How are you feeling? Do you need me to show you where you can dress in private?”

  The corner of her mouth lifted into a shy smile, and the glow in her eyes began to dim as she calmed. “I’d appreciate that.”

  After showing Rue to the spare bedroom, which was little more than a rectangular box that could fit a twin bed and side table, I shut myself into my own room.

  I walked over to the dresser and pulled out a pair of my favorite dark faded blue jeans. The buttery soft material molded around my ass and legs like a well-worn glove as I yanked them on. Next, I put on a black leather iron-studded belt. The iron worked as an excellent faeblood repellant and in a pinch, a useful weapon.

  I looked up to see Keri in the doorway fisting a leftover chicken leg. “Going somewhere?” she asked.

  “Yes. I need to run a couple errands for Charlie.”

  Under normal circumstances, Keri would’ve simply taken me at my word, walking away to finish her chicken, or anything else edible leftover in my fridge. But she knew me better than anyone else did, so after picking up the deflection in my tone and eyeing my self-proclaimed battle belt, she said, “Try again.”

  I leaned over and dragged my boots out from underneath the bed, grabbed socks from the drawer, tossed them next to the boots, and walked across the room.

  “Charlie’s sister has gone missing, and she asked me to help.”

  “You were going to go without me?” Keri’s throaty voice rose.

  I reached inside the closet and pulled out a black leather corset that had silver rose and thorn embellishments sewn into the lapels—another favorite of mine, with the added bonus of being another form of parablood repellant. Werewolves and vamps hated silver, which reminded me… I grabbed my spider necklace, made from pure silver, and the matching ring from the jewelry bowl on the dresser next to the bed and put those on, too.

  “I figured it’d be quicker that way.”

  “So you’re mad at me then, for upsetting your bestie.” It wasn’t a question, more like an accusation.

  I didn’t know she was so fragile.

  I shook my head.

 
Then let me go.”

  I stood my ground as she took another bite of chicken.

  “No.”

  She swallowed and threw me a pissed-off look. “Fine.”

  Chapter Five

  A tall brick and mortar building wasn’t a traditional place to hold a carnival, but the Rebel Circus had no issue with tossing aside tradition by holding their long-lasting event indoors. There were no trees, stars, or moon. But somehow, it still felt magical. The massive space housed a big top, booths, and several rides, and was even tall enough to hold an impressive Ferris wheel.

  The excited mob of adults, teenagers, and children with their exuberant smiles, stuffed animals, and assorted carnival fair, shuffled around me as I made my way inside. A man wearing a dark green tracksuit and headband to match threw me an appreciative glance in a futile attempt to gain my interest, but I just shook my head and kept walking.

  The air was thick with the scents of carnival: cotton candy, sticky fingers, popcorn, and oil-drenched machines. The sights and sounds infusing the space around me were loud and bright, to the point of distraction. Once upon a time, I would have loved this place, but after all the deaths I’d been saturated in and the side effects of my inherent change, I couldn’t wait to find Jake and get the hell out of this place—there were just too many people, not enough exits, and a plethora of ways to get hurt in between.

  When I made it to the back of the building, I veered left and kept walking until I reached the outskirts of the booths and rides where the workers had set up camp behind a long wall and two double doors. Here, amongst the two rows of mobile trailers, it was blissfully quiet. All the carnies were either resting or working. My instincts and preternatural senses began to calm.

  I spotted the blue and white striped trailer that Charlie described to me as being Jake’s and made a beeline in that direction. Before I reached the steps, however, the door flung open and a tall, lean, but well-muscled man was suddenly there. His handsome face looked tan, his black hair, still damp from the shower, hung in shaggy layers past a strongly-chiseled jaw. He wore a simple black t-shirt that he left untucked to hang over a pair of tight fitting jeans.

  “Like I told the fairy who came here yesterday, I don’t know where Finley is,” Jake Landry said, wasting no time, as his raven eyebrows pulled together over large almond-colored eyes. The color contrast was stunning, and by the way he cocked a smile at my stare, he knew it.

  Nice to meet you, too, buddy.

  With a slight limp, I strolled closer to the trailer. My arm and leg were both still sore but healing rapidly. As I neared Jake, I quickly realized that he wasn’t human. This wasn’t out of the ordinary around here; most carny folk were others. His spiced-up, earth-laden scent pointed to parablood, werewolf specific. Interesting fact: I’ve always had a thing for werewolves. There’s something about their raw, carnal instincts that make for one hell of an erotic, animalistic-charged ride between the sheets. A detail I knew from firsthand experience. I cleared my throat, embarrassed by where my thoughts had jumped.

  “But she was here the day before last,” I stated.

  Jake curled his tanned fingers around the door frame, his tattooed arms bulging as he leaned forward, looking at me with more than a little annoyance. “Fin’s a good friend of mine, so she comes around here a lot.”

  He said that as if my statement had offended him. All I was doing was fact finding, so that made me suspicious.

  “Werewolves,” I mumbled under my breath.

  He raised one of his dark brows. “What was that?”

  I shook my head. “Nothing.”

  Jake’s hand dropped from the jamb and landed in a fist around the door knob. He leaned forward, pinning me with a primal stare that spoke volumes of his power. He was an alpha, which meant diddly-squat to me.

  “Okay, look. I don’t have time for this. I’m due on stage in less than twenty. So scoot on home, little lady.”

  Oh, fuck you. He’d even had the balls to make the shoo-fly gesture as he dismissed me. That sonofabitch.

  Outwardly ignoring his rudeness, I let a smile tease my lips. “I’m sure you have a couple more minutes to help, Jake. After all, it’s the least you can do for such a good friend.”

  He didn’t look amused. I didn’t care. For all I knew, he could have Finley inside this very trailer shackled to his bed. It certainly wouldn’t be the first, or the second, time that’d happened tonight.

  “Well, it just so happens I did a little investigating of my own after Finley’s cousin left yesterday.”

  I cleared my throat. “You mean sister. And…?”

  His eyes shifted color, from a medium brown hue to a golden brown. “From what I was able to find, she was last seen at club Punch Drunk with her friend Gentry. I was planning on swinging by the place tonight after my performance.”

  That made me calmer, but I wasn’t foolish enough to take him at his word. I planned on hitting up club Punch Drunk after I was through here. There was one more fact muddled in my brain.

  “Are you and Finley lovers?”

  Jake started laughing. “Oh shit. This is priceless. No. We are not lovers.”

  My smile turned crooked. “Just wondering.”

  Jake stretched till he leaned halfway inside the trailer. I couldn’t help but admire the movement of muscles across his trim torso. A second later, he straightened back up with a black guitar case that had a silver skull with flames for eye sockets painted across the front of it gripped tightly in his fist. The words under that read: Pyre & Ash.

  Ah, he was a musician. That would explain the calluses on his left fingertips and my unnatural attraction to him.

  Like I said, I love me some werewolves—but musicians? Mercy me, they hit my sweet spot like a jackhammer. And Jake just so happened to be both of my weaknesses all wrapped up into one sexy-as-sin, muscled-up package. Too bad he was of questionable value at the moment.

  “That bar’s only a few miles from here.”

  Jake pushed the door shut, and his boots thumped down the rust-eaten steps.

  “Fair warning, the Bloods that frequent that establishment can get pretty damn nasty.”

  Bloods was a term coined by, well…Bloods, to describe a cluster of species: veninblood, faeblood, and parablood. And considering veninbloods were perched high atop the totem pole of power, I wasn’t exactly worried about a bar full of idiots. One bite from me and they’d quickly learn the true definition of nasty. Besides, I was loaded down with iron and silver, the likes of which I’d only rely on if my fangs and dagger failed me.

  I gave him a quick nod of thanks for the heads up. “Trust me. I’ll be just fine.”

  Jake rubbed at his chin and nodded once. “Okay, cool. See you around.”

  I watched him turn and walk away, almost certain that I had a lustful look about me that screamed “do me” that I was thankful he couldn’t see. I shook my head; the thirst was real.

  Chapter Six

  I tossed back a double shot of tequila in one throat-scalding gulp and coughed out a request. “One more, please.”

  After a heated gaze along my scantily clad body, the bartender asked, “Are you sure you can handle it? You're no bigger than my leg.”

  Was he serious? My lips parted to reveal the sharp points of my fangs. And if that wasn’t enough, I let my silver eyes swirl a fiery pink, then mumbled, “Yes, I'm sure.”

  “Alright, lady, don’t get your panties in a wad.”

  I bit back a harsh remark that would have gone something like “piss off, or kiss my ass you dim-witted punk” and shook my head instead. There was only one rule to live by when drinking in a pub, bar, or club—never, and I mean never-ever, piss off the bartender, especially when the drink-slinger in question happened to be an easily provoked werewolf.

  He smiled as he leaned over the bar with the bottle and poured me another double. “I don’t get a lot of veninblood in here. What are you…” his dark blond brows pulled together as he sniffed the air around me,
“spider?”

  I threw back the second shot. That one made my eyes burn.

  I narrowed my gaze at him. “You got it in one.”

  He chuckled. “I’ve never been with a venin, you know, being that your kind is venomous and all. But you, pretty lady, you can make a man consider risking his life.”

  My god, was this his idea of flirting? If so, wolf man really sucked at it.

  I snorted dismissively. “Trust me. I’m no threat to you.”

  What I meant by that was that he didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of getting into my pants. But that didn’t mean I couldn’t use his attraction to further my investigation.

  Biting my lip, I leaned forward, pushing my chest up against the bar to accentuate my ample cleavage.

  The move worked. His eager stare landed on the smooth flesh of my breasts. While he was ogling my goods, I pulled out Finley’s picture and slapped it on the counter.

  “Have you seen this girl?”

  He let out a grunt of protest before moving his eyes to the picture.

  “Yeah. I’ve seen her in here. What’s it to ya?”

  I sat up a little straighter and pushed my shot glass forward for a refill.

  The bartender obliged.

  “When was the last time?” I asked, sitting back against the stool, shot in hand.

  He grunted something that sounded like, “I dunno,” but showed no real interest in anything other than my tits.

  “Was she in here the night before last?” I urged.

  Finally, he made eye contact with me. “Thursday night?”

  I nodded, more than a little surprised that he’d formed a coherent thought, and threw back my third and final shot. I needed to stay alert.

  He hesitated, then said, “She was in here with another faeblood. Yeah, I remember now. He was tall, built like a mountain, and had dark skin and hair. Your friend was pretty hammered.”

  “Succubus, fairy, elf…” This could take forever, so I cut to it. “Which variety of faeblood?”

  “The dude was a hound.”

  Oh, this was sounding bad.

 
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