Last Kiss Goodnight (Page 16)

Last Kiss Goodnight (Otherworld Assassin #1)(16)
Author: Gena Showalter

Solo wanted to shout and demand she return, but he couldn’t work his mouth. His absolute, utter helplessness enraged him.

He needed to hold Vika in his arms and return her kiss properly. It was the sweetest he’d ever had. And he had enjoyed it immensely. She had treated his mouth as if it were a treasure, and she an explorer. She had been gentle, and oh, so tender. She had lifted her head, then once again fit her lips over his, and the second time, she had tasted him. Had moaned, as though she’d adored everything she’d discovered.

“Solo,” Dr. E said, drawing him from his thoughts. “We’re basically alone. Shouldn’t you be planning your escape and the murder of everyone here?”

Escape. Yes, that was all that mattered. No warrior worth the kind of paycheck Solo received would have gotten lost during a time like this. And over so innocent a kiss, of all things.

But . . .

Why had she done it?

“You will save Vika and take her with you,” X announced.

“Wrong! You will kill Vika, as you threatened,” Dr. E replied. “But feel free to bring her better parts with you.”

A pulse of anger sprang from deep in his chest. He ran his tongue along his teeth. Good. Movement. “Both of you do me a solid and zip your lips.” Words. His jaw now worked.

He tried to roll his neck from one side to the other—success. He rotated his shoulders. That took a bit more effort, but still he managed it. The drugs were wearing off, then.

A deep breath in . . . out . . . and he was able to force himself into a sitting position. He surveyed the cages. All of the captives were sleeping soundly.

Beyond them and the equipment he’d already noticed, he could see a big red tent with multiple smaller white tents lined up along the sides. There were no trees to use as cover on the off chance he was spotted and chased, which meant there would be no limbs to use as daggers on the off chance he failed to find a weapon before leaving this clearing. That wasn’t a big deal. His hands were weapon enough.

His ears twitched, and he picked up a bickering conversation about . . . sixty yards away, was his guess.

“I’m telling you, he’s big and red and as ugly as sin,” a male voice he didn’t recognize said. “He’s got to be the devil himself.”

“And I’m telling you, we work for the devil himself.”

The two cackled with humor.

“You gotta get a peek at him.”

“Vika’s probably there.”

“So?”

“So, she’ll make us fetch and carry sooner rather than later, and we won’t be able to say no to Jecis’s precious daughter,” was the sneered reply, “or we’ll end up disappearing in Matas’s magic act.”

Relief cascaded through Solo, a warm waterfall he didn’t understand but wasn’t going to question. Vika was Jecis’s daughter, not his lover.

“If you can stare into the creature’s eyes, you can withstand Matas.”

A pause. The sound of spitting. “Fine. But only ’cause I don’t believe anything can be as ugly as you described.”

Two sets of pounding footsteps.

Solo knew the men were coming to check him out. Annnd . . . sure enough. About thirty seconds later, two stocky men with rotund bellies and swarthy skin stormed into the circle of cages and spun to search for the new guy. The one on the left spotted Solo, and his eyes grew wide. He stumbled backward, only to catch himself and shake his head.

“I’ll be. You was right, Leonard.”

“Yeah, but you gotta get a closer look to really appreciate the ugly.”

The pair stalked to just in front of him, allowing Solo to study the fourth and fifth people who would fall under his coming attack. Both had yellow teeth, and the man on the right was even missing a few. Tobacco filled their mouths.

“It’s hideous, ain’t it?” one said, and Solo realized his skin had once again taken on a crimson cast.

At any other time, in any other situation, he would have erupted. Here, right now, he had to control his temper.

The other spit a stream of black. “We should take pictures, you know. Prove we tangoed with a beast. Women’ll be so excited by our bravery, they’ll drop their panties and beg us to show our beasts.”

“You ain’t never gonna tango with a creature like that.”

“Oh, yeah? Watch me.” The speaker grabbed a few of the rocks that had been tossed at Vika and launched them at Solo.

Some slapped against his chest, some against his legs, but each one provided a slight sting, reminding him of all the times he’d walked outside for recess, the humiliation, the anger. Humiliation and anger even now rising to the surface. And if he experienced all of this, what had the much smaller Vika experienced?

His narrowed gaze strayed to the sleeping Mec and Cortaz. They had hurt her. They would pay.

“I think you’re ticking it off,” the other said with a laugh.

The word it echoed in Solo’s mind, and his nails elongated into sharp-tipped claws.

“Calm down,” X commanded.

“Get madder,” Dr. E retorted.

The two men clomped off, murmuring about finding a camera. Every word was quieter than the last, until Solo could no longer discern their voices. He wanted to shake the cage until the bars popped loose. He wanted to try something, anything, but he still wasn’t at full strength, and until he was, he was too vulnerable and couldn’t afford to put his plan on the fast track.

Shouldn’t have to wait too much longer, though. He would be stronger and ready to go by sunset, at the very least, but he would wait until everyone else was in bed. Then . . .

Yeah. Then.

• • •

A few hours later, the captives awoke. Most sat up with a jolt. Some eased up and stretched. All muttered and complained about Vika.

As though summoned by the complaints, she reappeared, wearing a new T-shirt and jeans. The top was pink, lacy, and the pants sparkly. She looked as though she’d just come from a nightclub after dancing for hours with the man of her dreams.

Solo’s hands fisted, a hot surge of irritation blasting through him.

She’d touched him, kissed him. He didn’t want her dancing with another man.

Stupid of him, yes. Did he care? No.

The tobacco-spitting men—who had never returned with a camera—trailed behind her, both carrying buckets and leering at her. When she stopped and faced them, their expressions cleared. She pointed to the ground, a queen with her subjects, expecting absolute and immediate obedience.