Last Kiss Goodnight (Page 30)

Last Kiss Goodnight (Otherworld Assassin #1)(30)
Author: Gena Showalter

“Let go,” she said, and prayed she hadn’t yelled. “You’re too weak to do anything to me, and besides that, I have salve over there.”

This time his grip tightened. “I’m not too weak. And I warned you I’m on the edge.”

Her gaze darted through the area, but no one jumped out at her. A blessing, surely, and one she might not receive again. Unable to think up any other option, Vika sat down. Still Blue Eyes maintained his hold on her ankle, forcing her to curl into a ball to meet his eyes.

She placed one hand on her throat, and said, “What do you want from me?”

“I told you what I wanted.”

Just now or before? Deciding to brave it out, she said, “Let me guess. Freedom. Well, too bad. You need medical attention first.”

He frowned at her.

Great. Had she missed by a mile? “Let go of me, or I’ll fight my way free and leave you here. And before you think that will allow you to crawl away to lady liberty, know that I’ll knock you out first. My father wasn’t lying. There’s a tracker in the cuffs, and you’ll be better off staying put.”

“What about you? Will he beat you for helping me?”

“That’s none of your concern.”

Blue Eyes said something, but his lips were moving too quickly for her to track.

Uneasy, she gulped. “Has anyone ever told you that, uh, your accent is too thick to translate?” A question wasn’t a lie, now was it?

The frown returned, darker than before. “You’re staring at my mouth. Stop.”

Her gaze snapped up. “I’ll stop the moment you let go of me. How’s that?”

The intensity of his crystal gaze held her in thrall before she realized his mouth was again moving. She looked down, and he pressed his lips together. Frustrated, she looked up—and he once again began to move his mouth. She looked down.

He paused, and just before she beat at his chest in frustration, he said, “You’re deaf, aren’t you?”

Her entire body stiffened. How had he guessed? No one had ever guessed. Had the other prisoners heard him?

She gritted out a sharp, “I hope you felt silly saying that.” An evasion wasn’t a lie, either, though it wasn’t exactly the truth. But too many people tried to take advantage of her when they knew of her infirmity. “I have medicine over there. Let me go, and I’ll make you feel better.”

“Why?” he demanded.

Her gaze flipped up long enough to catch the slitting of his eyelids, the color darkening his cheeks. “Why what?”

“Why do you want to help me?”

Why indeed. “You’re hurting.”

“So?”

Before she could reply, not that she knew what to say, his gaze slid away from her, over her shoulder. Fearing one of the performers had stumbled upon them, she twisted, ready to leap up and toss out some kind of threat. But again, no one jumped out at her.

Several seconds passed before she calmed down enough to curl back up and meet Blue Eyes’s gaze. “I must hurry,” she said. “Or do you desire another whipping—and to watch one be delivered to me?”

A moment passed without any reaction from him, and she thought that surely no one else in the world could hide their emotions like this man. Then, to her surprise, he released her without further argument. She hopped to her feet and rushed to her supplies.

Twelve

But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.

—EPHESIANS 4:13

GREAT WAVES OF PAIN raked Solo’s entire body, but all he could think about was Vika’s deafness. And she was deaf. He had no doubts. She had watched his mouth constantly, and when he’d gotten over his assumption that she was merely staring in horror at his long, sharp teeth, he’d realized she hadn’t heard anything he’d said. Otherwise, she never would have approached him.

“Come any closer, and I’ll chew off your face,” he’d said through teeth gritted from rage and mortification, and though the words had been a falsehood, she hadn’t known that.

She had come closer.

“Free my arms so I can snap your neck in two.”

Another falsehood, but still she’d freed his arms.

“You’re begging for it, aren’t you?” he’d said. “Well, now you’re mine, and I’ll never let you go. You want mercy, you’ll have to earn it.”

She had displayed no fear.

Then he had recalled the way she had watched her father’s mouth, and the way she had watched the otherworlders’ mouths. The way she had seemed to so easily tune out the rest of the world. The way her father’s men were comfortable enough to discuss her while standing directly behind her.

And really, the handicap explained so much more. She had to have her hand on her throat to judge the volume of her voice, but even that wasn’t 100 percent accurate. She would whisper at inappropriate times and bellow at others.

Solo wasn’t sure what to make of the development . . . or of the fact that she wasn’t as aloof as she wanted him to believe. She hadn’t liked watching his whipping; the knowledge had struck him at the same moment the whip had, stunning him as well as strengthening him. With every blow, Vika had jolted in sympathy. Tears of genuine sorrow had filled her eyes, big and fat and rolling down her cheeks. Her knees had eventually given out.

She had become his anchor.

A laughing Dr. E had abandoned him.

A sighing X had abandoned him, though he had first promised to help the moment his strength returned. Help Solo would have refused if he’d been alone. X had already failed him. He wouldn’t be foolish enough to trust the creature again.

Vika, though, she had stayed put, holding his gaze without wavering so that he was never alone and never had to concentrate on someone else, never had to consider what was happening.

What a puzzle she was. He couldn’t figure her out.

And he wouldn’t be given the chance tonight, he was sure. He had let her go, and she had bolted, which was probably a good thing. Right now he hung at the end of a fraying rope, ready to fall into his most dangerous at any moment. He hadn’t lied about that. His mind was hazed by the ever-increasing pain he had refused to reveal to Jecis, even in the smallest degree. He would rather bathe in acid and towel himself dry with broken glass than satisfy the sick desires of such a madman. Michael had trained him better than that.

“I’m back,” Vika said.

How utterly shocking. She’d kept her word without being forced.