venin assassin 03 - black shadow, p.7Gena D. Lutz
I heard bare feet scurrying across the ground, and then the cloying fog shifted as she appeared only a few feet away. My quick peek of her from earlier had been accurate. She was petite with fair skin, dark hair and eyes. Blood-red lipstick filled in her lips. But what I hadn’t noticed before was her clothing. Thin layers of webbing wrapped around her torso, barely covering anything, just her breasts and hips and thighs. Pieces of the layering hung like mummy bandages, only thinner and more see-through. Each wispy tatter looked frayed on purpose, all moving slowly, seductively, as if a wind that didn’t exist played with them. Her hair, like her eyes, glistened in the darkness. And now that she was up close, I knew why. She resonated with pure magic.
I swallowed hard.
“Don’t look into her eyes. That’s how she traps you!” Blaze’s warning slipped from the darkness. His voice was weak, straining, he sounded half dead.
I ran a shaky hand over my face and let my gaze hit the ground. “What do you want from us?” I knew I was screwed in every way imaginable, so surprise, surprise, I found my voice fading into a less cocky tone and into a more defeated one.
The predator stalking me finally spoke.
“This is much, much better. Maybe we can talk now.”
I blinked in surprise at the unexpected kindness in her voice. I didn’t, however, look up. Somehow, I knew that her tone was in stark contrast of her intentions toward me.
“Really?” I asked. “You only want to talk?” I shook my head. “Seems unlikely.”
The spider slinked closer. “Brave and smart.” She sounded very pleased with that. Next, she said, almost reverently, “We are more alike than I thought… tenacity and spunk definitely run in the family.”
My head swung up at that and into a set of mesmerizing eyes. White tendrils of smoke churned ominously in their depths. I felt my mind slipping, being intricately spun like a web. After several seconds, the muscles in my body relaxed, and I felt disconnected from the world around me.
She closed the gap between us, framing my face between her cold hands. I tried to pull away but couldn’t. I attempted to call forth my magic only to find that it was frozen, hovering just out of reach. My eyes were locked on the moving, swirling, milky white smoke of her stare. My mouth was closed, so I couldn’t taste the air around me, but it reeked with a relentless, heavy, familiar magic. Standing motionless, I felt my venin-vision fill my eyes, the dark-pink hue bathing my captor’s face as though the whiteness of her pale flesh served as a projection screen, relentlessly playing back the magic that still remained within, but yet, couldn’t access. If I could have screamed bloody murder, I would have—a loud and obnoxious yell that would fill the space with my madness. Wetness prickled at my eyelids, and she watched as a single tear slid down my cheek. Her stare continued until the tear finally rolled under my chin, lastly dropping to spatter against my chest.
She looked at me, and there was sympathy in her eyes, and even more than that, curiosity. “I didn’t know I would feel this way upon meeting the daughter of my obstinate son.” I watched her features smooth out, and then her eyes fell, returning to study every curvature of my face, her attention roamed over my neck, hair, then unfocused, as if she were deep in thought. “This will not do.”
She waved her hand, and a rush of energy slammed into my chest. My legs wobbled, body heaved, and I swallowed a mouthful of air that rolled down my throat like fire, before falling hard to my knees.
I coughed into my balled-up fist. “Free my hounds.” I let my raspy voice hold coldness. I didn’t respond to her claims of being my grandmother. I didn’t have to. I knew she was telling me the truth. My mother had already told me about my grandmother. I just never expected to meet the Black Widow in the flesh.
“If I release your friends, then how will I keep your attention?”
I coughed a few more times before pushing off the ground to stand. “You kidnapped them solely to gain my attention?”
“Yes, and I must say, it wasn’t easy. Your motley court is quiet powerful. A testament, I’m sure, to your bloodline.”
I nodded. “My mother is the Essence of Fairy.”
The Black Widow’s body shook as though she were suddenly cold. But then she smiled at me. “Yes, my son certainly did choose a most unlikely woman to have a child with.”
I guess that was a nice way to say that she didn’t approve of his choice. Which was odd considering that he chose the freakin’ Essence of everything that was, is, and will be Sidhe. And then it hit me.
“You despise the Fae.” It wasn’t a question, but a zinger of a revelation.
The Black Widow lifted one petite shoulder and let it drop. “My revulsion for the Fae isn’t a secret. I left the Unseelie Court with the clear understanding that they feel the same way about our species and the parabloods.” Her focus drifted off once more and returned with a look of disgust. “But it is Tatiana I despise the most. To this day, she actively hunts our people… mainly me. It is why I’ve hidden your father away, and it is also why I need your help.”
“What does she want with veninblood?”
“She fears us.”
My brow rose at that. Not much on Earth or within Fairyland could hurt a queen of the Fae. “What could she possibly have to fear from us?”
“It has been foretold there will be a lone-Blood born in this century that carries a poison that even Oberon’s line can’t combat. And because we venin are inherently venomous, she hunts us the most.”
I shook my head. “Tatiana just recently started collecting venin and parablood. So she must think whoever that Blood is has already been born.”
The Black Widow nodded. “The poison now exists.”
“So she’ll collect all who have recently come into their power? And do what with them?”
Her expression went ten shades of ice. “She has given new orders. Her henchmen are not to capture lone-Bloods. They are ordered to kill on sight.”
I turned and paced between her and the wall.
“A close friend of mine recently came into her power,” I muttered.
“When?” she asked.
“About a month ago. And she is one of the rare ones.” I stopped in my tracks. “Exactly when did the queen become aware of this new power’s conception?”
My gaze snapped to my grandmother. “I have a really bad feeling about this.”
“You think it’s your friend who carries the poison.”
Chilled, I nodded.
“Then you must help me put a stop to Tatiana’s plans.”
I thought for a moment, then said, “Swear by the bloodline and the very light that created all things that you will let me and my hounds go. Then, and only then, will I agree to help.”
She took a moment, at which time she lifted her hands and then clapped them together. After the ringing stopped, I could no longer sense my hounds.
“I freed your hounds. I will not agree to anything beyond that.”
A few of the knots in my gut untied at the news. However, I had no intentions of living out my days in any part of Fairy.
“You’ve imprisoned my father—your own son—and have asked me to handle the greatest threat to your existence. Yet, you can’t promise me safe passage home?”
“You will be safe within the Shadowlands; however, the domains beyond that are ruled by the Seelie and Unseelie Courts. There, I have no power, so therefore, I cannot promise your safe return to the human lands.”
I thought about Rue and her new power. Even though it was impossible to know for sure, I had a hunch that it was her fangs that had filled with the poison Queen Tatiana feared.
I bared my teeth with a smile. “I will help you.”
The Black Widow nodded. “Go back to your world, and I will send for you when it’s time.”
“Send for me? No, that won’t do. My friend’s in trouble now.”
She fixed me with a hollow glare and clapped her hands.
“Cassis!” A strong voice broke me from the darkness.
My eyes cracked open, and I saw that I was sitting in the middle of the fairy circle with Kismet flying around my head. She sniffed around my chin and inside my ear, and I swatted at her.
“What the hell?”
She zipped back out of reach and then beat her wings frantically to hover over my head. “I was just checking to see if it was really you in your skin and not a changeling.”
“I’m not a child, Kismet.”
She crossed her arms, dipped, then darted back up. “One can never be too safe.”
I swallowed down dry air and turned toward the voice that had woken me. “Jake, what are you doing here?”
Jake moved to kneel beside me, his voice low and filled with concern. “I came the moment I couldn’t feel you anymore.” His dark eyes fell to my chin, and he rubbed his thumb there. “I thought you were gone for good. I… I,” His long black hair, loose around his shoulder, swayed as he shook his head. “I thought you were dead.”
The instant I opened my mouth to speak, Jake’s lips covered mine. I sunk into the kiss, I couldn’t think with my body pressed against his. My fingers lightly brushed his cheek. He growled in pleasure. Abruptly, the kiss was broken, and Jake went flying backward, slamming hard against the ground.
I shook my head. I didn’t understand. Then I saw that Edge had tossed him to his back.
Jake reared up, and he kicked Edge in the gut, nailing him right in the ribs. When Edge threw his head back in pain, Jake punched him in the jaw.
I threw my hand out and yelled, “Stop!”
Everything came to a jarring halt. All sound echoed, then faded into nothing.
Kismet’s wings stopped beating, and she dropped into my lap.
I reached out with every sense I possessed and could find no sound, no movement within the fairy forest. My blood ran cold, but then, I could feel, hear, and see life thriving within the boundaries of the mansion. All was as it should be there, so whatever I had done was restricted to the forest.
I could fix this. I would fix this.
I lifted Kismet from my lap with barely any effort, stood, walked over to a tree, and placed the frozen fairy inside an open chasm that was covered with moss. My fingertips slipped over the greenery, and it was warm and soft.
After making sure the fairy would be safe, I strolled over to where Edge was standing in front of Jake with his arm pulled back, fist balled, readying to deliver a punishing blow to the werewolf’s face. I knew why Edge was attacking Jake—the wolf had broken my heart, and the hellhound had told me he would do as much if he ever saw him again. The takeaway from this ordeal: I’d always take everything Edge said very seriously from here on out.
Growling low in his throat, Jake’s stare remained stationary. Even though he couldn’t move, he could breathe. Good, all the inside stuff still worked. Now, all I needed to do was figure out how to unfreeze him.
Being this close, Jake’s spicy, earthen scent invaded my senses, making me we want to pull him in and kiss him, even though the world around me was still… which pissed me off. My arm flew out and I pushed Jake over, and he landed hard on the ground. I didn’t feel bad about it. Better a crash to the ground than a hit from Edge’s boulder-sized fist. Plus, he had some nerve showing up out of nowhere after weeks of radio silence, so it felt good to deliver unto him a little bit of pain.
I used the frustration I had toward Jake to bolster the intent of my next command.
Breath shot out of both of them. I could hear Kismet gasping for air in the tree behind me. It had worked.
“What the fuck, Cass?” Jake asked, pushing off the ground.
I turned away and started walking, leaving all of them to recover on their own and follow if they wanted to. I was done dealing with idiot men.
By the time I reached the mansion, walked inside, dragged my ass up the stairs, slammed my bedroom door behind me, and fell face first into my pillow, I was already regretting the promise I had made to the Black Widow. Yes, I needed to protect Rue from Tatiana, but did I really need to make a bargain with the ruler of the Shadowlands to do it? I took off my belt, dragging it out from underneath me. I tossed it to the ground and let out an exhausted sigh. It didn’t matter. It was too late to change my mind now.
In the silence that surrounded me, only Jake’s words were left floating in my mind…
I came the moment I couldn’t feel you anymore.
His voice, those words, warm and sincere, reminding me that not only did I need to save Rue and my father from two fairy foes, I also needed to figure out the bond that was so obviously connecting us. He had felt it when I left the Earthen realm and moved into the fringe. That kind of connection was strong—life-lasting even. I shivered into my blankets. And the repercussions of such a bond scared me to my very core.
Poisoned Bite: A Venin Assassin Novel, Book 4
Copyright © 2017 Gena D. Lutz
All Rights Reserved
Read on for an excerpt!
Anika smiled as she sprinkled a pinch of dried nettle into a cast iron pot. Its contents boiled with a pop and a fizz, half-full of witch’s brew. For the past several hours, she’d been working on perfecting a complex mixture. The enchantment was textbook magic, the highest level of witchcraft taught within the confines of the coven.
She’d be performing her final spell that night, and if Anika impressed the High Priestess, she would be granted the freedom to use magic outside of the strict guidance and supervision of the coven. After spending her late teens and early twenties suppressing the urge to use her magic at will, she was anxious to succeed.
Anika glanced down and nudged the scaly, red tail that swished and whacked every few seconds against her ankle. “Cut it out, Faing. That hurts.”
Faing, Anika’s mischievous and defiant pet dragon, whipped his tail once more before he jumped over the salt circle that surrounded her work space. He padded across the warm stone floor while throwing a perturbed look over his shoulder. After he made eye contact, to make sure she saw how put-out he felt, he slunk away to hide behind a pile of wood that was stacked three feet tall next to the fireplace. When Faing was in Anika’s workshop, he chose a size appropriate for the space. The pocket dragon could change his size at will, so he could easily fit behind the small wood stack.
Anika rolled her eyes and laughed as she watched the dragon disappear. “Don’t act so wounded, Faing. I will spend time with you later, right after the final trials. I picked up some new marbles for you to play with…and they’re purple.”
Playing with the glass spheres was Faing’s favorite game, and purple, his favorite color. Such news would usually cheer up the cranky dragon, which was curling up to make a nest between the woodpile and hearth while basking in the heat of the fire, but a flame-filled belch was his only response.
“You’re an ungrateful lizard,” she mumbled.
Deciding to deal with her dragon’s attitude later, Anika pressed her eyebrows firmly together. Concentrating hard, she pulled out the wooden ladle she was using to stir the sensitive brew. It was carved from untreated wood, kept in its natural state, so it could be safely used in the preparation of magic. Pride warmed her insides as the concoction she’d slaved over for hours poured from the spoon and back into the pot with perfect consistency.
“Not too shabby, sister-witch.”
Tamra paused on the edge of Anika’s protection circle, the toe of her high-heeled shoe precariously close to breaching the salt barrier that kept stray magic from escaping. Once set loose, magic could wreak all sorts of havoc. This particular spell was capricious, capable of growing a tail on the ass of a sexy swimsuit model, or it could simply change the color of someone’s hair. Magic was unpredictable, as well as dangerous when handled carelessly, so Anika always made sure to set up precautions like t
Anika could already sense a hailstorm of emotions rolling off of Tamra. They manifested in telltale colors—red for hate, putrid green for jealousy, and a burnt orange that represented the utter sense of superiority Tamra felt over her. She hesitated a moment before addressing her sister-witch. It took a lot of patience to deal with someone who so openly despised her.
Anika remembered a time when she and Tamra had been the closest of friends. Their friendship had changed the moment she tested higher than Tamra in the arts of witchcraft. It also didn’t help their relationship, and was the final nail in the coffin, so to speak, when Anika began spending a lot of time with her new boyfriend, Drake. He was a handsome and kind man that belonged to a band of fierce warriors, the Warden Brotherhood. Anika, not even aware of Tamra’s jealousy, had fallen head-over-heels at first sight. Tamra’s hate only grew with Anika’s good fortune in love.
“I’m busy, Tamra. Did you need something?”
Faing belched from the corner, and a streaming fireball sailed through the air, screeching by Tamra’s face. She raked the dragon with a seething look.
“Careful, pet. It would be easy for me to hex you into a pair of dragon-skin boots,” she spat between clenched teeth.
Not to be threatened, the dragon slithered out from behind the woodpile. Faing’s large, round, emerald eyes flashed red, and smoke began to unfurl in curly tendrils from his spike-tipped nose. He let out a warning growl.
Anika cringed at what could happen if she sat idly by and let those two stubborn mules go at it. It would be a monsoon of fire and brimstone. Not what she needed to deal with that, of all days.
venin assassin 03 - black shadow by Gena D. Lutz / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes