Black and Blue (Page 4)

Black and Blue (Otherworld Assassin #2)(4)
Author: Gena Showalter

“Is that so?” Her narrowed gaze slid past him, taking in the party still in full swing beyond the doors. “I calibrated the poison to the target’s specific body mass and chemistry. If my calculations are correct, this mission will be over in three, two, one . . .”

Someone screamed.

Frantic footsteps sounded.

Evie grinned, all hint of vulnerability gone. “The target is now bagged and tagged. All thanks to me. Good luck next time, Mr. Blue.”

“Work with Evangeline Black? I’d rather be slit open from navel to nose.”

—CORBIN BLUE

“Good thing I always carry a knife.”

—EVIE BLACK

One

FOUR YEARS LATER

WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME?

Evie Black executed her fiftieth lap in the long, rectangular pool that consumed half of her backyard. The sun shone brightly, heating her skin as well as the water. Very precious water. Expensive. During the human-alien war, a good portion of the world’s supply had been contaminated.

But then, she was obscenely rich and wanted for nothing.

She also had a fantastic job. At twenty-six, she was the youngest surgeon at St. Anthony.

It wasn’t the life she once envisioned for herself, but it was a good one all the same.

So why did she feel so utterly unsatisfied?

Fifty-one.

Her heart thumped against her ribs. Her muscles burned from the strain.

Fifty-two.

Something had to be missing. Not a man. She didn’t have time to date. Besides, there wasn’t anyone she wanted to date. Her hormones were in hibernation, and had been for years.

Fifty-three.

Ever since Claire had—

No. No, no, no. Not an acceptable thought path.

Fifty-four.

“Eden Black, requesting video conference,” a computerized voice announced.

Perfect. A distraction.

“Granted,” Evie said, and swam to the pool steps. As she emerged from the water, her sister’s hologram appeared in front of her.

Eden Black was a beautiful woman. One of the rare Rakans to walk the earth, with golden skin, hair, and eyes. Adopted by Michael, trained as an agent. One of the best. Respected as much as John No Last Name, Solo Judah, and—as much as she hated to admit it—Corbin Blue.

The males her father loved as if they were his own flesh and blood.

That had always been a sore point for Evie, who had not met Michael until her eighth birthday. And for ten years after that, she had seen him only a handful of other times. Yet, he couldn’t seem to function without the Dynamic Trio.

Why does no one want to keep me around? Was she really so terrible?

Whaa, whaa, whaa. Baby! Stop whining.

She blamed No Daddy Syndrome. For most of her childhood, she’d assumed Michael hated her, and it gutted her. Even now, knowing that wasn’t the case, she struggled with self-esteem issues. But at least she was on the road to recovery. Step one: admission of a problem.

“Look at Miss Hot Stuff in her teeny tiny bikini,” Eden said, wiggling her brows. “I’m so freaking jelly.”

Evie stalked to the chaise longue to grab her towel, her sister’s hologram moving with her, so that they were always in sight of each other. Before drying off, she struck a pose and said, “Thank you, thank you. I try.”

Eden rolled her eyes. “Goofball.”

Hardly. Everyone else called Evie spoiled and haughty, a party girl without a filter, who let daddy’s money buy her a career she didn’t deserve. Uh, try honest to a fault. And never mind the fact that Evie hadn’t been to a legit rager in years.

“Headed for another job?” she asked, rubbing her hair between folds of the cloth.

“Yep. Michael wants me to do a little recon from inside a Shanghai prison. I’m set for transport tomorrow morning, and I don’t know how long I’ll be there.”

“Dude.”

“I know.” Eden pouted for a moment, then brightened. “Hey, hop on the jet and join me. We can tag team the inmates hard-core.”

She didn’t even try to hide her shudder. “I’d rather be cut up and sold for parts.”

“Come on, Evie. It’s been three years since—”

“Don’t go there,” she rushed out. Looking back hurt. Hurt bad.

Unfazed, Eden said, “You have to forgive yourself.”

Have to? No.

Would she ever? No, again.

Well, hell, why not look back? she thought then. She deserved the pain.

Once, Evie had been desperate to prove her worth to Michael. To outdo his favored boys. To be strong like Eden. And at first she succeeded. But with every mission, every victory, her confidence grew, and her arrogance intensified—until boom!

Blue’s prediction came to pass.

She led the worst kind of criminal straight to Claire’s door. Sweet, innocent Claire. Brutalized. Murdered.

Dead.

Acid churned in Evie’s stomach, splashed through her veins, scorching.

She quit Michael’s agency, and spent the next few months spiraling out of control. Then Eden charged into her life and quite literally knocked some sense into her, and she’d straightened up. She’d even fast-tracked her residency at the hospital.

Her father still used her on the occasional job, but only as an asset, when he needed to get another agent inside a high-class establishment or party. He never used her as an assassin.

“Fine,” Eden said on a sigh. “Stubborn girl. I’ll suffer through the mission all by my lonesome.”

“Like you’re really going to suffer.” Evie stalked into the house, her sister’s image remaining at her side. Cool air kissed her bare skin as she bypassed the leather couch, glass coffee table, and forty-inch holovision screen. “Guaranteed your boyfriend will be sneaking into the prison to secretly satisfy your every desire.” Lucius Adaire was an agent, too, and lived to make Eden happy.

“True.” Eden’s smile was dreamy. “Speaking of boyfriends . . . are you dating anyone?”

Evie stopped in the kitchen to pour a glass of wine. “You ask that question every time we’re together, and the answer has never changed. What makes you think today will be any different?”

“Because you aren’t the coldhearted bitch you pretend to be, and one day you’re going to snap out of this funk and want some guy to give it to you good and hard.”

“No way.”

Not so fast.

An image of Corbin Blue flashed through her mind. Though he had the white hair and lavender eyes quintessential to his Arcadian race, everything else about him was all his own. At least six and a half feet of pure, raw strength, he had a body layered with the mouthwatering muscle he’d earned playing football. Such a silly name for the sport. He had the face of an angel, so beautiful it sometimes hurt to look at him. He also had the smile of a devil. Wicked. Total temptation.