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Devils playground, p.7
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       Devil's Playground, p.7

           Gena D. Lutz
 
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  My stomach tightened. I didn’t want to lie to Alayna, but I also didn’t want to be the one to break the bad news to her that monsters were real. Then again, after what she’d just survived, I guess she had firsthand knowledge of the machinations begotten of pure evil. Did it matter if her tormentor was a phantom or a human? I didn’t know. It all went far deeper than that. Thankfully, there was a knock at the door, before I was forced to answer any hard questions.

  Alayna instantly paled.

  I jumped up and said, “I’ll get it.”

  Before I could reach it, the knob turned, and the door was pushed open.

  Rush, with his dark blue tailored suit and mesmerizing eyes—grey orbs that were almost hidden underneath a furrowed brow of worry—breached the doorway. He made a beeline for me. I opened my mouth to speak, but his smothering lips cut off any possible words.

  The moment we touched, I was able to relax somewhat. The throbbing in my head was muted by his presence. I clutched onto him like he was a life raft, and I was stranded in the middle of the ocean. I don’t know why he had that effect on me. Maybe it was because we were both Creators, and with a single touch of skin, he could lend me some of his power. But no matter what the reason, I was thankful for it. After only a few seconds, I reluctantly pulled away.

  He turned questioning eyes toward Alayna, and I nodded.

  From behind Rush, a woman walked into the room. She had shoulder-length dark-blonde hair that was curled to perfection and grey eyes, the exact shade as those of her twin brother, Rush. She held the room captive with her elegance and grace. When she saw me, her glossy pink lips curved into a warming smile.

  “Hi, Kristina, it’s nice to see you again,” Kissa said.

  “I didn’t know you’d be coming.”

  “Of course, I’d come in this situation.”

  “I’m glad you did.”

  She was referring to Alayna’s situation. From what Rush had told me about Kissa, and from what I’d gleaned of her from being around as her brother’s ‘main squeeze,’ she was a tough as nails, take no shit kind of lady. But above all else, Kissa was a bleeding heart for women and children who had ever been abused. She even funded a multi-million-dollar organization based solely on helping battered women.

  “Is that her?” Kissa asked, looking over at Alayna.

  “Yes.”

  Kissa tipped her head and said, “She looks surprisingly healthy.”

  I looked around the room, avoiding eye contact, saying, “I might have healed her a bit.”

  Kissa’s eyes widened with surprise.

  “You’re kidding. How did you pull something like that off?”

  I shrugged, uncomfortable with her implicit praise, because my powers scared the crap out of me, being that they were unpredictable at best, which had me blundering through every predicament I found myself in. It was only a matter of time, before my powers backfired on me in some way.

  Kissa stepped around me, but before walking away, she said, “A modest necro. Now, I’ve seen everything.”

  Our gazes locked for a moment, and then she walked across the room, to where Alayna was sitting alone.

  Rush took my hand, and we followed. I looked over at Alayna, as she watched Kissa sit down on the far side of the couch. She then focused on me, and my features softened.

  “It’s okay,” I said, trying to reassure her.

  Confusion fogged Alayna’s eyes, as she whispered to Kissa, “Are you a cop?”

  Kissa shook her head and said, “No, I’m not with the police. I’m with an organization that helps women who have gone through some pretty tough stuff.”

  She gave Alayna a warm smile.

  Alayna smoothed the green fabric of her dress over her knees and then nervously tugged at the hem. The garment looked like it was expensive, made from the finest material, but it was wrinkled and gave off a smell that matched the room she had been tied up in.

  After several seconds, Kissa said, “Is it okay if I ask you a few questions?”

  Alayna frowned, but she still looked drop-dead gorgeous, with her light brown skin and almond-shaped eyes. She didn’t answer Kissa; instead, she threw cautious glances around the room.

  Picking up on Alayna’s apprehension, Kissa said, “Would you like it better if we talked alone?”

  The traumatized woman gave me a questioning look, and I smiled, before giving her my nod of approval. I thought Kissa could be of help to Alayna, and their private conversation would free Rush and me up to go check on Josh in the garage.

  “I’ll be in the other room, Alayna. If you need me, all you have to do is call out.”

  That seemed to satisfy her, and with a slightly less heavy heart, I walked out of the room with Rush, confident that I was leaving Alayna in good hands.

  Chapter Nine

  Both Rafe and Josh rose from a wooden bench, as Rush and I walked into the garage. Josh looked almost good as new. His face was still a bit gaunt, but he stood on steady feet. He gazed at me with a mixture of awe and gratefulness, an expression that had me shifting in my boots, uncomfortable.

  Josh moved toward me, but Rafe put a hand on his shoulder and stopped him. Rush tensed beside me. I couldn’t tell if he was angered over Josh’s attempt at an approach or Rafe’s kneejerk reaction to protect me. Either way, they were both being ridiculous.

  “How are you feeling?” I asked, ignoring the two brutes in the room.

  His face lit up, and he smiled.

  “I’m feeling great. And I hear that I have you to thank for it.” He put a hand to his midsection, as it made a gurgled noise. He gave a nervous chuckle. “I’m a little hungry, but other than that....”

  “From the sound of your stomach, you could probably eat a horse,” I said.

  “It’s been two months since I’ve had a decent meal, so if you offering…” he joked back.

  We both laughed. I could see why Slone was so fond of the guy, which made me think about how she’d been in the dark over the fact that her friend’s body had been hijacked by a phantom. I shook my head. Damn nasty parasites.

  All business as usual, Rush said, “Do you remember anything that happened to you during the time of your possession?”

  Josh had still been looking at me, as Rush asked him about his horrible experience, so I was the first person to witness his eyes dull, his smile fading as fast as it came.

  He then cleared his throat and answered, “I can remember everything.”

  Rafe stood behind Josh, quiet. I pulled a foldout chair from a wire basket attached to the wall and walked it over to the bench. After I unfolded the chair and sat, the men followed suit.

  We sat there, in the garage, Rush and Josh on the bench, me in my portable chair, and Rafe standing silently in the background, looming in the shadows like the vampire he was. We were all waiting patiently for Josh to speak.

  The entire atmosphere of the house was complicated, with two traumatized victims to question, but time was of the essence. The longer it took, the better the chances of another woman being raped and killed. And I couldn’t stomach the thought of that. So I dug in my heels.

  “Do you mind telling us your story?” I asked.

  “Yeah, I can do that, I guess.” He still looked bothered but accessible. “Where would you like me to start?”

  “Share anything you think will help us find the men who did this to you,” Rush said.

  His bottom lip trembled.

  “It was a day like any other. I was delivering a pound of cronic.”

  He looked at me and blanched, like he was waiting for me to disapprove of his drug dealing. I had bigger fish to fry than his weed peddling, so I just lifted a brow.

  “Anyway, my product is the best in the city, so my customer base reaches all the way to the outskirts of Atlanta, and sometimes, even farther. And that’s how I ended up at a biker bar way out in the fucking boonies.”

  Josh was silent for a few moments, and then he continued.

  “I was to meet u
p with a man named Solofar. All his friends called him Solo, but he insisted that I call him by Solofar, like he was keeping everything at a no-nonsense level between us. The whole situation seemed sketchy from the beginning, but hey, it was a drug deal, so you never know what’s gonna happen, ya know? I just wanted my money, so I could leave. There were tons of bikers around, and they made me hell-a nervous. I gave Solofar his weed, and then he gave me the money. But before I could leave, a hot piece of tail showed up. She was young, with wicked red hair. Man, she was gorgeous, but...” He paused, visibly shivering. “…when she saw me, her nose pinched up, like she’d smelled something rotten, and then she said, “Ugh. More human trash to take out.”

  “Wait a minute,” I interrupted. “Did you say she referred to you as human?”

  Rush turned his head to look at me and said, “That’s exactly what he said. Are you thinking the same thing I am?”

  “She’s supernatural.”

  “Bingo,” Josh said. “Right after that, a tall man came into the room. This guy walked in looking as healthy as an ox, and then after that redhead said something that I couldn’t make out, he dropped dead-as-a-doornail to the ground. That’s when my body was snatched. That mother fucker jumped from his old body, into mine.” He shook his head. “Two months, I was his prisoner. Two months of being forced to watch him kidnap, torture, and sell women for that bitch redhead and Solofar.”

  He leaned back against the wall and slid his hands into his pants pockets.

  “I’m so sorry that happened to you,” I said

  “I’ll get over it. What happened to me is nothing, compared to what he did to those girls.”

  Josh’s face paled, and out of nowhere, he sprang up, like his pants were on fire.

  Rafe flew forward and grabbed Josh by his arm. I was pulled from my chair and was all the way over on the other side of the garage.

  Seriously? This overprotective crap is getting old fast.

  “Let me go, man!” Josh yelled. “She’s still in there. I have to go help her!”

  He was talking about Alayna. I just knew it. I sidestepped to block the door. Rush moved to follow, but I shook my head at him.

  “Excuse me?” Rush asked.

  “I’m a big girl, Daddy, get used to it.” I then shot Rafe a serious look and said, “Let him go.”

  He continued to hold Josh’s twisting arm, so I repeated myself. Finally, the stubborn vampire relented and let Josh go. He then came barreling straight at me. Well, at the door that I had intentionally placed myself in front of.

  “He made me hurt her, Kris. Get out of the way!” His body shook, and he was almost crying in shame. “Don’t you see? I can finally help her now!”

  He pleaded with me, eyes glued to the door, like he had the power to will me out of the way and it to open. I didn’t move, but instead, I placed my hands on his shoulders and shook my head.

  “Calm down, she’s okay. I found her and helped her. She’s no longer in any danger.”

  He desperately searched my face for the truth. What he found there must have been enough, because he unclenched his jaw and stepped away.

  “I’m sorry if I scared anybody.” He looked over his shoulder at Rafe and then sideways at Rush. “I’d never intentionally hurt a lady. The monster who took over my body got off on that shit, not me.”

  Rush looked like he wasn’t buying it for a second, but then his better judgment must have won out, because he walked over to Josh and squeezed his shoulder.

  “I believe you.”

  Josh gave him a weak smile, and tears threatened to spill over his lids.

  “Thanks, man.”

  Rush gave his shoulder a pat and said, “We need to take you over to the Center, where I work, for a debriefing. But after that, you can get back to a phantom-free life. I’ll even give you something to protect you from having this ever happen again.”

  “I’ll let you take me to Mars if you can keep those bastards from controlling my body again.”

  Rush chuckled and said, “Yes, I can definitely help you out with that.”

  With Josh taken care of, I had an overwhelming need to get the hell out of Dodge.

  “Rafe, do you mind getting the directions to that bar Josh was talking about?”

  Peeling himself away from the shadows, he replied, “Sure thing.”

  “We’ll talk later, okay?” I said to Rush.

  He let out a deep sigh.

  “You’re going to investigate that bar, aren’t you?”

  I couldn’t see any way around it, so I nodded.

  “Yup.”

  He smiled coolly and said, “I’m not even going to try to stop you.”

  “I suppose that’s a good thing.”

  He crossed his arms over his chest.

  “Are you never going to let me keep you safe?”

  My voice came out thick, as I said, “I don’t need protecting. But I could really go for a kiss.”

  He moved in, his cheek gliding across mine. He held still, our skin touching, our hands searching for a place to settle. I shivered.

  “I love touching you,” he whispered, like it had been days, not minutes, since he’d last held me close.

  “In that case, I have a better use for your mouth,” I teased. I pressed my hands against his hard chest and lifted up onto the tips of my boots, until we were face to face. “Touch your lips to mine,” I demanded.

  I didn’t know someone could move so fast, his lips wet and eager, tongue delving deep inside of my mouth in an instant. I liked him like that, ravenous for me. He traced the line of my jeans with his fingers, and then both hands dropped to cup and squeeze my ass. As good-bye kisses went, I’d rate that 10+.

  In the background, I could hear throat clearing and a loud cough. It was just a nuisance, because I didn’t give a damn about anything other than the erotic purr emanating from Rush’s throat, vibrating down my own, warm and lovely. I swallowed that sound, tasting him greedily. He plunged his tongue deeper, harder. I gasped, my body warming up for him. And then an overwhelming pressure began to build inside of me, screaming for him to do more than just suckle my lips. Rush, moving his tongue down south, to other areas of my body, was the only progression that could sate me.

  Somehow, common sense seeped through, into my lust-laden brain. We were not alone, and by the way Rush’s manhood bulged against his pants, he was riding the razor’s edge, as well. I pushed away, my breathing heavy and uneven. Rush’s lids were weighty, his eyes storming with lust.

  “Christ, woman, I want you bad.”

  In that instant, all that had mattered was Rush’s wet and trembling lips, his tensed jaw ready to nibble my flesh and bring me unrelenting pleasure. But then, the moment passed, and reality intervened.

  There was nothing like the thought of women being tortured and killed to throw cold water on a scorching hot libido. It was time to go.

  ***

  The crisp, fresh night air rushed at me like a soothing balm, a welcomed reprieve from the stench I’d just escaped by exiting that house. I touched the tips of my fingers to my wet lips. My lover’s scrumptious kiss still lingered.

  I watched, as Rush and his crew pulled away from the house, with Josh in the passenger seat. He waved at me, and I smiled. Then a few seconds later, the van disappeared around the corner.

  Kissa stepped from the house, with Alayna trailing at her heels. I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye. It was Rafe, perched on top of the roof, his wings tucked at his back.

  The two women walked over, and I asked, “Is everything okay?”

  “It is,” Kissa confirmed. “Alayna has agreed to let me take her home.”

  I hid a sigh of relief. I wasn’t sure what to do with her. Contacting the police was obviously out of the question. How could I explain to the human authorities that I’d already killed Alayna’s attacker? Besides, I intended to mete out a little justice of my own, judge and jury to all guilty parties involved. The phantom’s death was only half of
it. And in my opinion, when it was all said and done, a deep hole and six feet worth of dirt piled atop each one of their worthless bodies was the only thing that would do.

  “Are you okay with Kissa taking you home, Alayna?”

  She nodded, and then they looked at each other.

  “She’s been real helpful, and I trust her.”

  I touched her arm and said, “I’m glad.”

  Glancing over at Kissa, I said, “Please give her my number.” I looked back to Alayna. “Call me, and we’ll finish our talk.”

  We had a moment of understanding between us, and then she smiled.

  “I’d like that.”

  The sound of a car pulling up had me looking toward the street.

  “Expecting someone?” I asked.

  Kissa nodded and said, “That’s our ride.”

  When the dark sedan came to a complete stop at the curb, I peered through the driver’s side window. After squinting just right, I was able to make out the silhouette of a round contoured face that was wearing glasses. The man had on a dark hat, pulled down low, almost touching the top curve of the frames. I recognized the man by his shadowy profile.

  “Detective Anderson?” I asked in shock.

  She winked at me.

  “Even the all-powerful Center needs help from Johnny-Law every now and again.”

  “Well, I’ll be damned.”

  Chapter Ten

  Rafe sailed through the air and landed a few feet away from me, masking most of his form in shadows, his magnificent wings flattening down to tuck away behind his back.

  “Did you happen to notice who gave the ladies a ride home?” I asked.

  The vampire was smiling, as he approached.

  “I did. Not bad, having one of Atlantic City’s finest on your team, I suppose.”

  “No wonder he called his police buddy off of me and didn’t arrest you for threatening an officer back at the club. He more than likely knew he was at a vampire-run establishment.”

 
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