Last Kiss Goodnight (Page 22)

Last Kiss Goodnight (Otherworld Assassin #1)(22)
Author: Gena Showalter

Because . . . no matter how much his body had changed, his eyes had remained the same: big and blue, with those long dark lashes better suited to a woman. Innocent eyes. Haunting eyes.

Otherworldly eyes.

Like everyone else, Vika knew about the inhabited planets out there. But unlike everyone else, she also knew there was an unseen world operating here, on earth, all around them. And it amazed her how close the two worlds actually were. As many times as she had fought death, she had caught glimpses of that world and knew that there was absolute good and absolute evil—and both were as real as she was.

One step, that was all it took, and the spirit could leave the body and enter that other realm.

The newest prisoner should have reminded her of the evil side, but he hadn’t. Quite the opposite, in fact.

She’d returned to her trailer, and waited for someone to deliver her breakfast. A few minutes after that, she’d snuck out and returned to the zoo, where she’d thrown the food in his cage. Had he sampled the synbacon, biscuits, or cubes of honey? He’d been awake. He’d seen her, but he hadn’t tried to catch the burlap sack, and if he’d said anything, she wasn’t aware of it. She’d kept her attention away from him. Had they locked gazes, he might have tried to speak to her and she would have been tempted to stay.

She owed him another apology, after all. He’d been at his weakest, and she’d taken terrible advantage of him. It was just . . . wait. Was she going to do this? Was she going to think about the kiss now? When she’d avoided the topic all night?

Yes. She was.

Why had she pressed her lips against his? Why? That wasn’t like her. Desire wasn’t something she experienced, and yet she had been drawn to him on a primitive level. An undeniable level. Now, a part of her she’d thought destroyed long ago, a needy little girl who’d dreamed of a handsome Prince Charming coming to rescue her, kept stretching . . . stretching . . . finally awakening completely. Only, this prince was alone, just like her. He needed a friend, just like her.

Dangerous thoughts. Thoughts that had once gotten her in trouble. First, she could only count on herself, and she knew it. Second, she had befriended one of the first otherworlders to be captured, had actually grown to love and adore the girl. Had snuck out every night to spend with her, with her sweet Mara, and they had talked, shared stories about their lives.

Eventually, Vika had freed Mara and all the others.

And she had suffered terribly for her actions.

She knew better than to travel down that road again. And yet, all she’d seemed to care about was that the newcomer wasn’t used to hunger, and more than that, he was in for a horrible surprise when the circus opened in a few hours. She’d wanted him to experience something nice today.

If he tossed away the food, fine. His loss. She would have done a good deed, and she could—

The overhead lights flickered, and she groaned. She didn’t have a bell; instead, the lighting system was rigged to alert her to a waiting guest.

Her stomach cramped as she stood and shakily turned the knob. Thankfully, it wasn’t her father come to chastise her for her disobedience. Unfortunately, it was Matas, her “bodyguard,” and he radiated menace.

Meeting his gaze, she snapped, “What do you want?”

“Let me in,” he demanded with his patented scowl. He had tousled dark hair and eyes the color of black ice. He possessed a dusty complexion, and he was big of chest and arm—and pride and ferocity.

Today he’d opted to wear pants but no shirt, revealing the thick silver barbell hanging from his left nipple. He was certain it made him look chilled. Was that the right word? Cold? Cool? To Vika, it made him look like a hammer. Wrench? Whatever! He looked like some kind of tool.

“Move aside, Vika.”

Act casual. “No. This is my home. You aren’t welcome.” Act brave. “So go on. Leave.”

“I will . . . after I’ve had my say.” He shoved past her, and at the moment of contact, bugs seemed to jump from him and onto her, burrowing past her skin and into her veins.

A far different sensation from her contact with the otherworlder.

She tried not to cringe as she turned and faced him. “Make it fast.”

“Why? Do you have somewhere to be?” he asked just to be cruel.

She wasn’t surprised; he was a cruel man. Oh, he would never hurt her physically or anything like that. He was too afraid of her father. But he liked to poke at her in other ways.

He plopped onto her couch and fingered one of the necklaces hanging from a bowl on the side table. “We’re going to talk. Understand?”

“I do.” And she could just imagine how the conversation would go.

When are you going to stop being so stubborn and marry me? he would ask.

Never, she would reply.

Don’t be ridiculous. When? I’m the best thing that could ever happen to a girl like you.

A girl like her. Deaf. Defective. After I’m dead, I’ll consider it. Maybe.

He would curse. She would tremble.

So, yes, she was scared of more than just Jecis.

“I’ll kick things off,” she said, refusing to back down. “Have you forgotten rule number one?”

A muscle ticked below his eye, a clear indication of his growing anger. “No.”

“And it is?”

“No touching precious Vika. Ever.”

“And do you recall touching me on your way in?”

“Yes,” he gritted.

“Here’s another question. Do you recall rule number two?”

His fingers curled around the diamonds, and she was surprised the stones weren’t ground into a fine powder. “If I break rule number one, I have to punch myself in the face or you’ll tattle to your father.”

She waited, blinking innocently. Jecis was the only power she held over this man or any other, and she wielded it often and severely.

Matas gave his jaw a pop.

“Well?”

Scowling, he slapped himself.

“Good boy,” she said with all the sugar sweetness she could muster. She had seen him with other women, and knew he had attended the Jecis Lukas school of discipline. He wasn’t afraid to punch to assert authority and prove a (stupid) point when angry . . . or even mildly disturbed.

“Now it’s my turn,” he said. “When are you going to marry me?”

See? “I’m thinking . . . never. Is that good for you?”

A flash of annoyance. “I’m the reason your father’s people hate you, the reason even the otherworlders are turning against you. A word here, a word there, and the poison spreads. Marry me, and I’ll make them love you.”