Black and Blue (Page 22)

Black and Blue (Otherworld Assassin #2)(22)
Author: Gena Showalter

The logo represented the Lucky Horn. A strip club he may or may not have visited . . . countless times.

Was it Michael’s lighter? Or could it belong to Fry Guy?

“Ever seen this before?” he asked, holding it up for Evie’s inspection.

She looked it over, shook her head. “No. And to my knowledge, Michael has never visited the Lucky Horn.”

How’d she know the logo?

“Like he’d really tell you if he had,” Blue quipped.

“Like he wouldn’t. He doesn’t think of me as a daughter but as an agent. Well, as a doctor now.”

Threads of deep inner pain stroked over him, cold and stinging. They’d come from her, he realized. When would he stop being astonished by that? “What are you talking about? Of course he thinks of you as a daughter. He’s always spoiled you rotten, letting you get away with crap he would have killed other agents for.” And it had always bothered Blue, though he couldn’t seem to work up any kind of indignation at that particular moment.

Her expression turned pensive as she mulled over his words. A few seconds later she said, “Why did he leave me in Westminster with Mum, then? Why did he visit me so rarely?”

She thought . . . what? That Michael had never really loved her? Ouch.

But she couldn’t be more wrong. Hurt was coloring all of her memories.

He had his own experience with that. He couldn’t remember his biological parents, only his three older brothers and two older sisters. They’d lived on the streets, his brothers stealing every scrap of food and clothing, and his sisters . . . he didn’t want to think about what they’d done. But then they all got sick, dying one by one, until, at the age of four, Blue was on his own. To survive, he ate out of trash cans.

A sweet old homeless man noticed him and tried to take care of him for a while. But it wasn’t long before Blue’s pretty face drew the notice of the wrong kind of people. The homeless man was stabbed and killed, and Blue shoved into a car.

That’s when power first bonded with him and activated.

Frantic, scared, he somehow caused the car to levitate and crash into a building. And when the survivors tried to drag him out, he caused them to levitate and crash into the building. Alone once again, he hid in the shadows.

Michael found him two days later.

After feeding him, cleaning him, and clothing him, Michael ensured that Blue was given to a good home. One with lots of children, so that he would have brothers and sisters again.

At first, the parents included him in the family meals. He protested, wanting to be alone with his grief, and they finally stopped asking, allowing him to remain in his room. It was then that Blue decided they didn’t really like him, and that they were glad to be rid of him.

After that, every interaction was strained.

Looking back, without the pain of loss, he could see the couple had only been trying to help, doing everything possible to let him heal.

“Why don’t you ask Michael why he did what he did the next time you see him?” Blue said, using his gentlest tone. “The answer might surprise you.”

Dark eyes probed him, as if searching for answers he couldn’t give her. She offered him a small, sweet smile. “I will. Thank you.”

“Welcome.” He got back to business before he did something stupid, like pull her into his arms. “We need to find out everything we can about the Lucky Horn. If the lighter belongs to Fry Guy instead of Michael, we might be able to ID him.”

“I’m assuming Fry Guy is the man who tried to torch you.”

“Yes. If we can ID him, we can link him to friends. Friends who might know where Michael, John, and Solo are.”

She heaved a sigh of dread. “I have a feeling that includes a personal field trip.”

Blue nodded, astounded by the amount of dread building inside him. For once, he had no desire to be pawed by naked strippers. He just wanted—

Nothing.

“Let’s go,” he snapped.

* * *

Five hours later, Evie invaded the Lucky Horn, claiming a table just to the side of the stage.

Blue was the club’s newest stripper.

They’d found out the place was hiring, and he insisted she apply.

“Screw that,” she’d said. “You want someone on the inside. Therefore, you are responsible. I shake tail for no one. Besides, one of us has to pry information out of the patrons, and the more people look at your face, the more likely they are to recognize you. And let’s be honest, up on the stage, no one is going to be looking any higher than your groin.”

He’d only huffed and puffed for a few minutes. “Someone is trying to either abduct you or kill you. Meaning you need a disguise. What better disguise than stripper?”

Nice try. “Give me one hour and I’ll show you a better disguise.”

And she did!

Right now, her hair was so blond it was almost white, and streaked with pink. Her eyes were bright blue and her chest hugely inflated by a silicone-infused bra.

Blue had taken one look at her and shaken his head in disapproval. Disapproval she didn’t understand. No one would recognize her and she fit his preferred type of female.

But on top of the disapproval, he displayed zero hints of arousal. And the lack, well, it disappointed her.

Lo. Bot. Omy.

Even with his scar and piercings, Blue was hired at first sight. No one had a body quite like his. Cut from granite. No one could move quite like he did. Every action was a sensuous mating call.

Now, hoping she appeared awed by her surroundings, she scanned the club. Dark walls, dark carpet. Dim lighting, except onstage. At both sides of that stage, women dangled from wires, their naked bodies sparkling as they twisted and turned into different sexual positions. In the center, glitter rained from the ceiling, sticking to the exposed skin of the half-naked bumping, grinding brunette currently teasing the audience with the removal of her G-string.

One of the patrons shoved a bill in her box—and, no, box wasn’t a euphemism. Men weren’t allowed to touch the goods until they’d paid, stuffing their money inside an actual box at the edge of the stage. The bills disengaged the shock line, allowing the girl to stroll up to the patron and settle a high-heeled boot on his shoulder, giving him the perfect money shot.

A topless waitress arrived and asked for Evie’s drink order. “Beer in a bottle. Don’t pop the cap.” There was no reason to think anyone would try and poison her, but she wasn’t taking any chances.

The brunette finished her show, and a husky voice spilled from the intercom. “And now, ladies and gentlemen, we are proud to introduce the newest addition to the Lucky Horn family. Give it up for the hard and horny . . . Jack Hammer!”