Last Kiss Goodnight (Page 14)

Last Kiss Goodnight (Otherworld Assassin #1)(14)
Author: Gena Showalter

After that, frustration had become a living force inside him, and out had come the death threats. Rather than cowering, as an abused female would have done, she had taunted him with her disregard.

That’s when the truth had settled deep. She was cold and cruel, without a heart, and he would have to take her down with everyone else. And he was totally okay with that, he told himself. He had always lived by three little words, the strongest words in creation: whatever proved necessary.

In fact, if ripping the door from his cage was a problem, he would remove her thumb—perhaps the only key to the locks—and he would do it with a slash of his claws or a swipe of his teeth. She would scream and she would cry, but nothing she said or did would stop him. She did not deserve Solo’s compassion and, to his mother’s shame, she would not receive it.

X had screwed up royally. Vika was to be Solo’s woman? Hardly. Either she liked to crawl into bed with Jecis Lukas or she had sprung from his loins. Either way, she deserved what she got.

So what if she had exhibited moments of kindness?

So what if her expressive face had revealed hurt, courage, and grim resolve when peering over at Solo, and all three emotions had caused his chest to ache. And okay, yes, the ache had actually sprung to life when the Bree Lian had scratched her shoulder. Solo had been forced to fight the compulsion to bust free of the cage simply to tear the otherworlder into innumerable pieces. A compulsion he’d once again battled as the Mec and the Cortaz had thrown rocks at her.

Silly of him, considering Solo would be harming her tonight. But he remembered all the times the kids at school had thrown rocks at him. Remembered the day his emotions had gotten the better of him, and he’d turned another kid’s face to pulp. Remembered that was the day X, who had been with him since birth only to disappear after the death of his biological parents, had returned. That was also the day Dr. E arrived. He remembered wishing he had a different life—but Vika hadn’t seemed to care.

He didn’t like that he had to wait to act, but patience was his best friend right now. He hadn’t quite recovered from the bombing, weakness still swimming through his veins, affecting his limbs. His grip wasn’t as strong as usual, and he doubted his footsteps would be steady.

“I can feel your anger, Solo,” X said, sitting down on Solo’s shoulder, balancing his elbows on his upraised knees. “Why? The girl has done nothing wrong.”

“Nothing wrong?” Dr. E snorted, pacing. “Maybe we’re thinking of different girls, because this one tried to poison him!”

“Do not be ridiculous. She didn’t try to poison him.”

“Prove it.”

X remained silent, knowing there was no need to speak. Solo was well able to smell the essence of poison, and he had smelled nothing in the chocolate. So . . . why had she given it to him? Had she hoped to soften him or perhaps even to seduce him? Had she slept with any of the other imprisoned males, enjoying her power over them? Just the thought caused his nails to elongate and cut into his palms.

He homed in on her, watched intently, and realized she was showing the female the same detached gentleness as she had shown the males. He relaxed, his nails shrinking to their normal size. No, she hadn’t slept with any of the males.

She’d hoped to soften Solo, then. But why?

Dr. E stomped a foot and growled, “If you aren’t on Solo’s team, you’re against it. She’s against it and needs to be eliminated. That’s all I’m saying.”

“Oh, that’s all? And yet, by lying in wait to destroy another, you will merely ambush your own life.”

As Solo listened to the pair, he fought another wave of fury. Apparently he could think about harming Vika, but if anyone else so much as suggested it, he had major problems—even with a tiny male no one else could see or hear.

X said, “Look deeper than the surface, Solo, the way you’ve always wanted people to do for you. Vika is not what she seems.”

Dr. E wasn’t one to be ignored. “Wait. You’re trying to tell us that you don’t think she’s like every other female Solo has known? Please. They either bolt from him in fear, or throw him down and demand he unleash his big, bad beast. She bolted. Give her a few days, and she’ll do the other.”

Yes, she had bolted, but she had also approached him afterward and offered him a gift.

“Listen to her, whistling so loudly and off-key,” Dr. E continued, his tone dripping with disgust. “It’s obvious she enjoys her work.”

“Perhaps she needs a distraction from so horrific a task,” X replied.

“Yeah. Right.”

Both possibilities had merit. Each time she had finished with an otherworlder, she had left a treat inside the cage. A pile of cookies for the Bree Lian, a rose for the Delensean, an extra blanket for the Morevv. A book for the Teran, and a tube of sunscreen for the Rakan. Kind gestures, sure. Something to assuage her guilt, maybe. Something to prevent the captives from rising up in revolt, definitely.

She finished with the Cortaz and locked up. Gaze downcast, she approached Solo’s cage, stopped, raised her foot as if she meant to take another step, placed it back on the ground. A second later, she shook her head and closed the rest of the distance with strong, determined strides.

“Don’t do it,” he said.

Her arm trembled as she leapt up to press the button to sedate him.

He was bigger than the others and didn’t expect to drop as quickly as they had—but he did. Between one heartbeat and the next, his arms and legs felt as heavy as boulders. His knees gave out, and his face hit the cage floor with a thud.

• • •

The high-pitched squeak of the cage door nearly sent Vika running. Somehow, she found the strength to climb inside the small enclosure. The newcomer’s chest was rising and falling steadily with his breaths, but his limbs were utterly still.

Okay, then. She left him to gather her cleaning supplies, her attention snagged on the special sandalwood oil she’d brought. Always she carried it here, but never had she actually used it. Now . . . she thought it would blend nicely with the otherworlder’s natural peat smoke scent, and she couldn’t help herself. She added the liquid to the spray bottle and reentered the cage.

I can do this. Really.

She started at his feet, shocked by how adorable his toes were. Never before had she seen toenails that resembled the purest of diamonds, sparkling in the light—and if she didn’t hide them, she would never again see them. Jecis would remove them.