Last Kiss Goodnight (Page 18)

Last Kiss Goodnight (Otherworld Assassin #1)(18)
Author: Gena Showalter

He . . . had no words.

Actually, he did have words, he realized a second later; they were as black as night and full of barbs. He wanted to unleash them, but he also wanted a target and the otherworlders were sleeping, Jecis nowhere to be seen. How was this situation possible? It should not have been possible. He should be long gone. The circus should be nothing more than a memory. He should be free!

Why wasn’t he free?

After trying to disable the lock and failing . . . after trying to cut through the bars with his claws and failing . . . after trying to punch his way through the floorboards, then the roof, and failing, he had allowed his temper to get the better of him. He had shaken the entire cage—but he hadn’t even managed to turn the thing on its side.

He’d been too weak. And the madder he’d gotten, the weaker he’d become. Dr. E had snickered the entire time, only to vanish a few hours ago. X had stayed with him far longer than he’d liked, sighing every so often, radiating only sadness, before finally vanishing as well.

I’m actually stuck here.

No. No way. He would not accept that.

“Kitten,” he said, using her name when she had not offered it, trying to reveal the fact that he knew she was an AIR agent with skills. She had experience with the circus; she might not have had the strength to free herself, but she would have observed the comings and goings and would know what to do. And two were always better than one—or so X had already tried to tell him.

She stretched awake, sitting up a few minutes later, her long hair knotted at the base of her neck. “Do yourself a favor, big guy, and preserve your energy.”

“I know your coworkers,” he said.

“Wait. What?” Eyes wide, she wrapped her fingers around the bars of her cage. “Who are you? Who do you know?”

Good. He had her attention. “We’re going to have a conversation, you and I, about what I wish to discuss, until I’m satisfied with your answers. All right?”

An eager nod.

“Vow it,” he said.

Kitten gave another nod and said, “I do. I vow it. Now tell me what I want to know!”

He watched her, waiting, and knew the exact moment the vow took root and grew branches through her spirit, soul, and body—branches that would force her to do what she’d promised, or suffer terribly. Her eyes widened and a gasp parted her lips. Her hand fluttered over her heart, baby-bird delicate.

“What just . . . how did . . . you did something to me! I know you did something. I felt a jolt of electricity go all the way through me.”

For Solo, vows were binding whether he spoke them or received them. They attached themselves inside him and the other person, a compulsion that refused to be ignored. Did he try, he hurt. Did the other person try, they hurt.

The ability, he’d learned, could be a blessing or a curse, depending on how it was used. He’d noticed it as a child, had experimented with it, tested it, and it had only grown stronger over the years. In the end, he’d learned he was either saved or snared by the things he promised—and others were saved or snared, too.

“I know your coworkers,” he repeated.

She snapped her teeth in frustration. “You said that before and I’m ready for something new. This conversation is . . . is . . .” Deep grooves formed at the corners of her mouth, her frown intense. “This conversation is . . .” Her eyes closed, and a groan of pain left her. “Why can’t I say the words I want to say?”

Because the words would have broken her vow, leaving him unsatisfied. Even the thought of such a thing pained her spirit, the source of her life, which in turn pained her soul, or her mind, will and emotions, and lastly her body.

She cast him an accusing glare as she gritted out, “Fine. You think you know my coworkers. I think you’re wrong.”

“I’m right. These people, they miss sitting around the fire with you and can’t wait to have you back.”

It took her a moment, but she finally caught his meaning. AIR agents carried pyre-guns, weapons capable of shooting streams of fire. Her coworkers missed her. They were on the case.

She pressed her forehead against the bar, beside her hands, trying to get closer to him. “Really?”

“Yes.”

“Tell them I said hello.”

Translation: Was he in contact? “I would, but they stopped taking my calls.”

Her upper lip lifted, baring her teeth, and she gritted out, “That’s probably for the best. As much as I travel, they’re pretty much dead to me.”

He knew what she meant. The circus moved around so much, AIR would never be able to track them fast enough. And she was right. AIR wouldn’t. But John and Blue? Yeah. They could do anything—if they had survived the bomb.

Don’t think that way. They survived.

“Tell me about your abduction,” he said. “Every detail.”

“No way. That’s private.” She turned away from him, trying to end the conversation. A moment later, she groaned and swung back to face him. Scowling, she said, “I will never vow to do anything for you ever again—so I was at home, relaxing.” The words rushed from her. “Someone must have snuck in and drugged the beers in my fridge, because I had one, only one, and passed out. That had never happened before, not even when I was fourteen and had my—argh! So then, when I woke up, I was . . . I was . . .” She drew her arms around her middle. “I was soon sold to Jecis.”

There was a lot she wasn’t telling him.

“What happened between waking up and being sold? I need to know.”

Red suffused her cheeks, and her gaze darted to the other captives to see if they had awakened. They had, and they were listening unabashedly. “Why? It’s not like you can help me,” she said through clenched teeth.

“Were you beaten? Raped?” Solo asked softly. They’d needed code to discuss a potential rescue, not to discuss events that had happened in the past. Events that could help Solo profile Star, figure out his motives, his means, and his agenda.

“No, but I was . . .” Again she stumbled over her words. “It doesn’t matter.” A groan. She closed her eyes. “Please. It doesn’t matter.”

“All right,” he said, taking pity on her. Immediately she relaxed, unaware that the conversation would resume when everyone fell asleep tonight. “Do you know a man by the name of Gregory Star?” He described the looks of the human he’d seen in the photo. “Do any of you?”