Sweet Venom (A Venin Assassin Novel Book 1), p.7Gena D. Lutz
“Is she okay?”
Keri’s voice was the last thing I heard before the world spun again and went black.
I came to with a scream caught in my throat, and I had the image of a bare lower back in front of me and gravel below. I was being carried.
“Put me down,” I mumbled.
Jake grunted and kept running. The world jogged side to side.
I tried to push myself up but couldn’t. It was a fucking frustrating sensation.
Footfalls were landing heavily to my right. I managed to look over to see Keri sprinting next to us. And she wasn’t alone.
We hit grass and turned right, then veered straight again. Next thing I knew, I was being placed in the backseat of Keri’s Mustang.
“Everything’s going to be okay.”
I raised my eyebrows as I squinted up at Jake. “I’m hurt bad, aren’t I?”
He chuckled and traced my face with one finger. “Not so bad that we can’t fix you.”
My brows creased together.
“Finley?” I could remember bits and pieces about her. All my memories were jumbled, out of sequence.
He smiled. “We’ll talk about everything later.”
My shoulders melted to jelly against the backseat. I peered out of the window. Dawn was coming.
“I think I’ve had enough of this night,” I mumbled almost incoherently.
For a moment, Jake didn’t speak, his features battling a combination of emotions. Then he tipped his head, and whispered, “Let’s get you home.”
I nodded sluggishly—home sounded so good—and let my lids drop.
“You all right, Cassis?” Rue asked, as Jake laid me gently down on my living room couch. “You don’t look so good.”
I could feel the weight of everyone's assessment in the room as they watched me. I understood their concern. I’d never been this messed up before.
Jake’s worried stare caught my confused one, and wow, the voltage between us sizzled.
“She’s good,” he announced, not taking his eyes off me. “But I could use a little help finding a cabinet. Does anyone know where one is, on this side of the fringe?”
A Fae-cabinet was a Blood’s equivalent of a magic shop, with one major exception: our magic truly worked. You couldn’t find a cabinet in any ordinary place, as the Fae rarely ever practiced magic outside of their hillock in fairyland. But I knew of a place. Unfortunately, I couldn’t speak. In every second that passed, I grew weaker.
I looked down at my chest; bright red liquid streamed thin from the gunshot wound. I didn’t have much blood left in me.
Keri sensed my internal struggle and spoke up. “I know who to ask.”
“Who?” That was Rue.
“Charlie. She’ll know exactly how to get what you need.”
“Is she referring to the same Charlie that came to see me at the carnival asking about Finley?” He looked down and asked me.
Jake pressed his wrapped up dress shirt against my wound, then set my hand over that before standing.
“How do I get ahold of Charlie?” he asked Keri.
“She’s right downstairs; I’ll bring you to her.”
We all looked over at the lift as the doors flew open with a sliding bang.
“No need. I have what Cassis needs right here.”
“Charlie,” I managed to croak out over a sharp cough that sent stabbing pains through my chest.
Of course she would have known that I was home, and hurt on top of that. She always knew everything that went down within her territory.
“Don’t you worry, my darling girl. I won’t allow anything to happen to you, not on my watch.”
I nodded, suddenly feeling grateful for the lack of privacy her omniscience suffered me, grateful to have a friend who cared as much as she did.
Charlie silenced the fear in the room as she pulled, out of thin air, a sheer pouch. The sack was lavender and sparkled with all the glitz and glamour of fairy.
“Wolf, can you help her sit up?”
A set of almond glowing eyes blinked at the fairy. “I will do anything she needs of me.”
Charlie’s bare feet moved across the hardwood floor, everyone instinctively moving out of her way. “What is that, wolf? That I see blooming in your eyes? Have you...”
His handsome features turned dark and menacing.
“Enough nonsense, Charlie. She needs help, now.” Jake growled.
Charlie gave him a knowing smile. “Alright, alright, I’ll hold my tongue. But know that your newly awakened magic is highly inappropriate under the circumstances.”
“Yes, dammit,” he swore softly, and there was the tiniest bit of anger edging his voice. “I do know.”
Charlie knelt before me and opened the pouch. She poured glittery powder into the palm of her hand, leaned over, took a deep breath, and blew.
A fog of dust coated my face, and I inadvertently sucked in a mouthful of the stuff.
Slowly, my memories came back as a soft lap of waves nudged against my thighs. I pushed against that awareness, wading deeper into the murky depths of my subconscious until I was fully emerged in it all, over my head, almost drowning in the last several minutes before I was shot.
Then the shadowy veil lifted completely.
I ran like someone was chasing me, toward a structure too large to be a shack, but smaller than the building I’d fled from. My eyes were trained on the closed door, my senses attune to the one voice that mattered most on the other side of it—Keri. She was screaming bloody murder. My eyes sparked pink, and long, sharp fangs dropped to fill my mouth.
Terror caused my power to blaze. A webbing of light shot from my right fingertips, and the sizzling end threaded itself around the building’s doorknob. My arm jerked back with all the force I had, wrenching the door with it. I ducked the flying debris and kept running.
Then something reassuringly sweet filled my ears…
“Fuck you, cock sucker!”
Thwap, thwap… That glorious sound signified Keri’s stinger was in full effect. Silence fell for a moment, then rose into a twisted cry that strangled the air. Thankfully, the wounded voice didn’t belong to my best friend.
“Yes!” A bark of laughter escaped me. Whoever’d been attacking my best friend now had the tables turned on them.
I skidded to a stop inside the guest house. Keri was standing smack dab in the middle of the main room, her fists clenched at her side, chest heaving, legs slightly apart in a fighter’s stance, with a rope of long black hair twisted around the neck of a dead man, who happened to be dangling five feet off the ground.
Gunshots popped off. I spun around to find their origin and witnessed several guests from the party pouring out of the house, guns blazing. I did a quick count—there were eight of them spreading out to circle us.
Bullets flew at Jake, who was still outside the door. With his preternatural speed increased by his alpha status, he easily ducked them.
He pointed at Keri, who had finally reeled in her braid and was now fully focused on me. “Get your friend and let’s go!”
I took a few steps toward the exit as Keri shook her head at me. “I found her, Sis.”
Hope swelled in my chest.
“Finley?” I shouted over another onslaught of gunshots.
“Is she alive?”
For a moment, my legs felt as though they might give out, but Jake grabbed my arm freeing me from the sensation. “We have to go, now, Cassis!”
Keri glanced at me, and I knew that look. I was to follow her.
My stare swung on Jake. “Can you buy us a couple minutes?”
The muscles flexed in his jaw, and his eyes glowed light amber at Keri. It was the first time I’d ever seen them do that.
“Are there any more Bloods in here with us?”
She shook her head.
He sniffed the ai
“I swear it.”
Satisfied, Jake glanced between me and the door before quickly stripping the clothes from his very tan, extremely fit body.
In the next instant, the atmosphere around us infused with primal magic. Jake fell to all fours, his body rippled, and the most beautiful black and dark brown fur began to cascade over his transforming body.
Keri waved at me. “We don’t have much time.”
I took one more look at Jake, who was now—only seconds after his change began—fully shifted into his wolf form, and nodded.
“Be careful,” I whispered to him.
He bobbed his head, spun around, and loped away.
With my eyes trained over Keri’s shoulder, I followed her into a bedroom.
“Help,” whispered a stilted feminine voice, in a sad and shattered sort of way.
The hairs in the back of my neck stood on end, and I kept moving forward until stopping right inside the bedroom.
The room was sparsely lit by a lamp that was knocked over onto its side on the Spanish tile floor. I blinked, switching to infrared to sweep the room. The walls were covered with expensive wallpaper; tasteful pieces of southwestern style decorations were scattered throughout the rather large space. The few pieces of furniture I could see looked sturdy and rarely used, except for the bed. That’s where Finley was, lying beneath a silk sheet with half of her body left uncovered. You’d never guess by looking at her, with the dark circles underneath her eyes, sallow features, and dull, messy golden hair that she was a fairy.
Her head rose with some effort, a drowsy look shadowing her features as she met my eyes. There were bruises dotted along her beautiful face. One of her legs poked out from underneath the sheet with an iron shackle wrapped around her ankle, chaining her to the bedpost. It reminded me of the scene I’d run into at the queen’s brownstone. Edge…that bastard.
Light flickered from the floor. I reached under my dress and unsheathed my dagger. I walked carefully over to the only hiding place in the room. Keri followed my action but with her back to mine, both of us clearing the room before finally stopping next to the bed.
I briefly closed my eyes against the fury that surged within. The thought of what she must’ve endured in this room seared like a poker through my brain.
Gunfire popped right outside the bedroom window, and Keri leapt over to peer between the thick curtains.
She narrowed her eyes and in a controlled voice said, “We should hurry, Jake’s holding those fuckers off, but just barely.”
“He’ll have backup soon.”
And he would. I just needed to free Finley from the iron’s influence. Once that was accomplished, she would have full use of her magic within minutes.
“Please. It hurts,” Finley mumbled, her throat sounding as though it were parched, dry and scratchy.
My gaze jumped to hers. A canvas of confusion and pain strained her face.
“That’s why Charlie sent us here, Finley… to help you,” I whispered in as soothing a voice as I could muster under the circumstances.
I made sure to use her sister’s name, hoping it would relieve some fear and tension. And it worked. Soon her features relaxed and her breathing, although labored, slowed to a more even pace.
I grabbed the iron chain with both hands. It felt cold and solid in my hand, and fortunately, that’s all I felt from the metal. It was not spelled. This was the perfect time for me to try and use venin magic. Even though I’d just used it on the door, I was nervous. Nervous because that feat of metaphysical strength happened purely on instinct. This would be the first time I tried to harness and then use the light form of my magic on purpose.
“Here goes nothing,” I mumbled.
I knelt to the floor and closed my eyes, letting all sound, sight, and feeling melt away until I found my awareness resonating within a meditative void. This was the space where my power originated, where I could find my inherent strength when needed. A pinprick of light grabbed my attention, and I focused everything I had on it. Little by little, the spark grew into a glistening web, an enticing snare to use as I saw fit. I let myself pull away from the void just enough to feel the heavy object in my hands. Once anchored to that, I directed my web from its safe haven. The threads crept down my chest like a warm glaze of honey, the silky mass moving through my arms to pool into my hands. The amassed light instantly latched onto the chain. Opening my eyes, I squeezed my hands into a tight fist. Bolstered by magic, I was able to snap the metal in two. I dropped the two ends and stood.
Hot tears streamed down Finley’s cheeks as the iron’s influence left her. As though alive, her hair un-frizzed, curling up into shiny locks of spun gold. Her pale gray pallor flushed pink and porcelain, and her wings unfolded to stretch impossibly wide, reaching, glistening, as if the gossamer appendages were just now taking their first breath of life.
Finley rubbed her eyes and smiled at me. Not even the shadows in the room could dim the wattage of that grin.
“Thank you,” she said.
I drew a ragged breath. The weight of disbursing that much power made my shoulders slump and my arms feel like Jell-O. My legs wobbled, and I found myself leaning heavily against the bed, kneeling on the floor.
The women became very still, both sets of eyes on me.
“Can you keep going, Sis?” Keri asked, leaving her post at the window.
I looked at my best friend earnestly. “There’s only one way to find out.”
Finley hopped out of the bed and grabbed me by the shoulders. “Let me help.”
The next thing I knew, the fairy’s eyes beamed a glorious emerald, her fingers squeezed tight around my shoulders, and a jolt of what could only be described as concentrated Red Bull and coffee sizzled through my system.
“That should keep you going for a little while,” she said with a wink.
Instantly, I felt more than a little tipsy and amped up with energy. I jumped to my feet and let out a bark of laughter. “That’s some pretty potent magic you got there. Hell, you’d be rich if you could bottle it.”
Finley chuckled and swiped her hand over the length of her body. As it passed, a pair of jeans and a pink shirt appeared. “Actually, I do. Just ask Charlie if you need a hook up.”
“Let’s go, Chatty Cathys. We have a wolf in need of assistance,” Keri instructed, walking past us and out of the room.
Before I moved to follow Keri, a nagging thought had me turning to face Finley. After all, she’d just gone through a crazy traumatizing ordeal, and I felt it odd that she was in such bright spirits—fairy or not, her mood didn’t make sense.
"Did anyone hurt you?" I found myself blurting.
I didn't come right out and ask about the worst-case scenario, but I was pretty sure I didn't need to.
Finley’s slight laughter trailed off until all that was left visible were a frown and a blank stare.
Which meant one thing—I was a complete tool for putting that look on her face.
“Damn it, I’m sorry. You don’t have to answer that. Whatever happened here is your busine…”
“It’s okay,” she cut in. “You got here before anything really messed up happened. To be honest, the iron was the worst of it.”
A sigh of relief I hadn’t known I was holding rushed out. “I’m so glad to hear that. Hell, Charlie will be, too. She’s been an absolute mess since you went missing.”
Finley’s head tipped forward. “I can only imagine.”
Chills ran down my spine as a precursor for what was said next.
“Code red!” Keri was breathing hard as she rushed back inside the room, then out it once more.
I ripped the dagger from its sheath, and with a wicked grin, asked Finley, “Are you up for a little bloodshed?”
She didn’t have time to answer before a burst of strength and energy had me rushing out of the room and fully immersed in battle. As luck would have it, the first person I ran into was G
Anger sizzled through my veins. Screw that! I wasn’t going to give that bitch a chance to sink her teeth into me. I launched myself at her, one hand holding the dagger, the other grabbing a fistful of her hair.
“You fight like a girl!” she yelled, her fist pounding into my side.
I stabbed her in the neck until the hilt of the dagger met flesh. “Fuckin-a-right I do!” I spat.
And I was proud of that fact.
She hit me again, and I heard bones crack. I cried out but stayed on her. After yanking out the knife, I drove it home once more, but this time it sunk deep inside her chest.
“I’m going to rip your throat out!” she swore, her breath hot on my cheek.
I jumped back several feet, summoned my magic, and shot a web of light at Gwynn. It soared through the air, glistening threads branching out into a circumference of at least eight feet. The web flashed a bright white, then silver blue, before landing to shell snuggly around her entire body.
Gwynn’s face flushed red with that night’s dinner. “Let me go, you fucking bitch!”
I chuckled and raised a brow. “Not a chance.”
If it weren’t for the werewolf we had in common, vamperella here would be dead and decomposing instead of ending up a pesky fly tangled in my web. Speaking of that frustrating wolf…
I flared my nostrils and let my eyesight switch to infrared. Instantly, I caught sight of him, just as a careening she-wolf set her sights on me.
What was it with supernatural bitches having such a hard on for me?
I shook my head and had just enough time to brace for impact. Teeth tightened around my throat like a vice, numbness creeping down my body making it hard to move. I tried to scream, but all that came out were wet gurgling sounds.
The warm soothing scent of Jake’s werewolf wrapped around me, followed by an ear-piercing roar. The next thing I knew, I was rolling, my cold damp skin slipping across wet grass. I moaned—a sound that I was getting pretty tired of hearing. In shock, I let my body melt to the ground for a few seconds before surging back to my feet.
Sweet Venom (A Venin Assassin Novel Book 1) by Gena D. Lutz / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes