Last Kiss Goodnight (Page 28)

Last Kiss Goodnight (Otherworld Assassin #1)(28)
Author: Gena Showalter

Something strange had happened today. A few minutes after Matas had left her trailer, the lights had flickered again. She had opened the door, expecting to have to deal with him a second time.

Instead, her father had been there. Scowling. Enraged.

“You dared disobey me? Dared place yourself in danger, when you know you’re the most precious thing in the world to me?”

He shoved her backward, stormed in after her, and slapped her.

“I—I’m sorry,” she’d managed.

“Why would you do this to me?” Slap. “Why would you force me to hurt you like this?” Slap.

But that time, he had yelped in pain. Him. Not her. As if her skin had somehow cut at him.

Then a voice had whispered inside her mind. An actual voice, the first sound she’d heard in years. Shocked to her core, she had rubbed at her ears, shaken her head, only to realize the sound hadn’t sprung from out-side—it had sprung from inside her. And yet, it hadn’t belonged to her. Her shock had morphed into confusion, her confusion into dread.

Was she crazy?

You don’t have to accept this, the voice had said.

Then a little louder, You are strong.

Then a lot louder, You are victorious.

Maybe she was crazy, but she was also empowered, as if his words imparted strength straight into her core. She’d somehow gathered the courage to scream in her father’s face, “No! I won’t let you do this to me!”

He’d stumbled back a few steps, as though reeling, before stopping and popping the bones in his knuckles, gearing up for the serious stuff. But instead of hitting her with a closed fist, he had paused, a bead of fear appearing in his eyes. Fear. Directed at her!

“I’m needed in the ring,” he’d muttered, baffling her further. “I’ll deal with you later.”

And he would, fearful or not. He never forgot a punishment due, and he never forgave, never showed mercy. Not even to her, his supposed beloved. That was why she’d decided to go back to the zoo and check on Blue Eyes. After all, a beating was already waiting for her. What better time to disobey and do what she wanted?

As she’d snuck out of the trailer, the voice had returned. Later, you will again fight back. Later, you will again win.

“Who are you?” she’d asked. “What are you?”

Silence. And yet, a warm blanket had seemed to wrap around her, embracing her, only to fade a second later, as if it had never been. As if she’d just been hugged and released.

But . . . that would mean she wasn’t crazy. That would mean something had tried to help her. Something . . . like the absolute good in that other realm? After all, if evil could manifest, it made sense that good could, as well.

“I can’t fight back later,” she’d said. If she became too much of a problem, Jecis would finally make good on his threat to blind her. He might even kick her out of the circus, and she would find herself on the streets, unable to get to her money, with no skills, no protection . . . no hope.

A flash of movement caught her attention, pulling her from her thoughts. Jecis had just unwound the whip. The end was split into three parts, one with a shard of glass, one with a large nail, and one with a splintered piece of wood. A lump grew in her throat, and her chin began to tremble. Blue Eyes was going to hurt tonight.

She almost wished she were the one slumped over that stump, that she would be the one to receive the coming lashes. A stranger had tried to hurt him, and he had defended himself the way she had always wished she had the strength to do. He deserved to be commended, not disciplined!

Guilt over this would destroy her.

Blue Eyes scanned the crowd a second time, slowly, so slowly, slowing even more . . . until his gaze finally rested on her. Vika’s eyes widened as astonishment and confusion flooded her. He couldn’t see her. He couldn’t. No one could. She was to the far left, wrapped in a cloak as black as the night and enveloped by shadows.

Jecis moved behind him.

Blue Eyes’s gaze moved away from her, stopping on . . . the otherworlder Vika had named Kitten, who was gripping the bars of her cage, her expression laced with fury. He gave her a nod of reassurance.

He’d worked fast. At the circus only two days, and already he had romanced a female.

A spark of jealousy heated Vika’s chest. Jealousy? Seriously? But why?

Blue Eyes despised her, surely, and he would continue to despise her until Vika’s escape plan was enacted or until he died at this circus—whichever came first.

She looked away, her gaze catching on the Targon. “Matas!” he called.

Matas gave no reaction.

The Targon tried again. “Matas! Face me, coward. Face your doom.”

Still nothing from Matas.

There were too many cheers to distinguish a single voice, she supposed. Again, she wondered why the Targon hated Matas so intently. As far as she knew, the two had never chatted.

Jecis lifted the whip high in the air. New vibration after new vibration slammed into her, and though she could hear nothing, she suspected the cheers were now obscene. A muscle jumped in Blue Eyes’s jaw.

Grinning, Jecis delivered the first blow.

Specks of blood and tissue flew in every direction. Vika flinched and pressed her fist into her mouth to stop herself from gasping. But Blue Eyes never even flinched—and he was once again peering at her.

“I’m sorry,” she mouthed. “So very sorry.”

A second blow was delivered.

Again, Blue Eyes remained as he was and again Vika flinched. How could Jecis do this? How could anyone be this pitiless?

A third blow rained. More blood and tissue sprayed, and Vika knew the damage to Blue Eyes’s poor back was deep, beyond the need for stitches. Actually, there would be nothing left to stitch.

With the fourth blow, Vika’s knees gave out and she sank to the ground. No one deserved this kind of treatment. No one but the whip wielder himself. Tears pooled in her eyes, hazing her vision. How could she let her father do this?

Shame joined the guilt and beat through her with the same force with which the whip continued to beat against Blue Eyes. She should do something. Should try and stop her father, no matter the consequences to herself.

But did she? No. She was weak. Pathetic. A coward.

You should just end it all, a voice whispered inside her head.

Another voice, she realized with astonishment. Not the same sweet voice as before, but a deeper one, suggesting she . . . kill herself?

You’ll feel better. Everyone else will feel better. What’s not to love about the idea?

Pinpricks of evil brushed against her skin—evil she recognized from Jecis, Matas and that other realm—and the truth hit her. She really wasn’t crazy. The voices were real.