Tangled Web (Venin Assassin Book 2), страница 1
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Books by Gena D. Lutz
Fairyland…a long, long, time ago.
Read on for an excerpt
About the Author
A Venin Assassin Novel
Gena D. Lutz
Copyright © 2017 Gena D. Lutz
All Rights Reserved
Published by Gena D. Lutz
This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. All characters and events in this story are fictitious. They are products of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events, organizations, or persons, is entirely coincidental.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without expressed written permission from the author.
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Books by Gena D. Lutz
Venin Assassin Series
Prime Wolf Series
Kris Chase Series
Bite of Frost
Paranormal Hunter Serial
Sonnet Vale: Paranormal Hunter, book #1
Phantom City: Paranormal Hunter, book #2
Demon Touched: Paranormal Hunter, book #3
Dark Flame: Paranormal Hunter, book #4
Contact the author:
A Venin Assassin Novel
Gena D. Lutz
Fairyland…a long, long, time ago.
Out of a mystical land riddled with lava-filled ley lines and flush with magic, four fierce warriors were forged from molten hell-fire by the Essence of Fairy itself to be given as a gift to the Night Queen.
Each of these male creatures was tall and imposing, all possessing magnificent features and sculpted bodies the likes of which no woman could resist.
These enchanting men came to be known as the Fang and Claw—four hellhounds born for no other purpose than to serve and protect their bonded queen.
For millennia, all was as it should be, until one hellhound became restless; he defied his calling and his ruler, and by using up all of his godlike strength, opened the fringe between the fairy and human worlds.
What he didn’t realize was that it wasn’t just his destiny he’d interfered with by doing this.
For breaking the most sacred of laws governing all magical creatures, the Essence of Fairy stripped the Fang and Claw of their free will and banished all four of them, along with their queen, from Fairyland forever.
To this day, the fringe between both lands remains open, allowing the strongest of fairies to travel between the two worlds unimpeded.
All I wanted was a drink and a couple of shots at my favorite watering hole. Apparently, that was too much to ask.
Fuming over the fact that my five-hundred-dollar ad in the Rowen City Gazette hadn’t hooked a single fish, I folded the blasted newspaper in half a little harder than normal, and said to the hellhound who’d just barged into the bar, and into my space, “Let me get this straight. You think I am your new queen?” I shook my head. “Shove off, dude.”
My hand moved away from the newspaper and to the dagger tucked at my side. Even though my breathing was even, I was feeling a little antsy. I had just mouthed off to a very powerful supernatural being after all, who was probably holding a pretty hardcore grudge against me for killing his beloved queen.
My thoughts moved momentarily back to that fated night and to how I watched the life drain from Sterling’s eyes as I sunk my dagger deep inside her cold heart. Then, to my utter disbelief, the hound didn’t leave, instead, he knelt on one knee, and his head tipped forward.
“I can’t leave. I’m compelled by a magic older than time to be here with you,” Edge explained.
My fingers feathered across the hilt of my dagger; my thumb tapped against the side of a shot glass. “You have got to be off your meds or something.”
He didn’t laugh or indicate in any way that he was joking. This couldn’t be good.
“Just leave,” I said over a mouthful of tequila.
Edge removed his knife from his belt and extended it between us. “My essence, my being, my fang and claw, all that I possess belongs to you. Your will is my sworn duty.”
I raised a brow at that and said over a quickly developing lump in my throat, “Stop screwing around and get up.”
He nodded once and stood, his glowing eyes skewing me with how serious he considered the situation.
Obediently, he dropped back down to one knee and pressed his forehead against the extended one.
My fist punched the top of the bar. “I didn’t mean that as a command. Damn it. I am not your queen, Edge. As a matter of fact, I am nothing to you. You repulse me!”
He flinched at my words, as if each syllable were a slap in the face, which was all together absurd. The last time I saw this jerk, he was trying to kill me.
Out of nowhere, a sliver of remorse shot through my system. It was an unwanted feeling, one akin to a fly buzzing around my head that needed to be shooed away. I ignored the sensation and watched on as clear frustration tightened the hellhound’s fists.
It was time to end this impromptu meeting. I braced myself to tell him to go screw himself, but before I could, the doors to Strange Brew swung open making way for an entire pack of hounds to enter the scene.
An unsettling hush moved across the bar. Quick intakes of breath and the juke box were the only sounds left to hear. Until Edge’s rich growly voice rose over even that.
“Your pack has come to offer their allegiance,” Edge barked from his kneeling position.
What the fu… I gazed around the bar, sniffed the liquor and smoke-infused air for the telltale scent of human and didn’t pick up on a one. That was the best news I’d gotten all day.
I gazed down at Edge, then back over at his pack mates without a clue in the world as to what to say or do next. I didn’t want to be the next Night Queen, and I sure-as-shit hadn’t realized that by killing their reigning queen I’d be expected to take her place. And then I realized one important fact…
“You do understand that I am not a hellhound? I am veninblood.”
“We know,” Edge said plainly, before growling a single word to his pack, “Kneel.”
Instantly, all three of them did as commanded.
I held up my hands to stop all the nonsense. “I hate to burst your bubble, boys,
“May I stand to address you?” Edge asked.
I crossed my arms in a huff. “You don’t need to ask.”
He stayed down.
I let out an exasperated breath. “Fine, whatever… stand your ass up.”
Edge stood. “You are our queen until death. The Fang and Claw are yours to command until another takes your place. I suggest you get used to that fact.”
Behind Edge, a low whir of sound rose into a lurid howl. The pack’s fists began to pound against the ground before them like tribal drums; all three sets of eyes danced with flickering flames like their alpha. In unison, their howls turned into a melodic chant:
“My essence, my being, my fang and claw, all that I possess belongs to you. Your will is my sworn duty.”
I looked at all of them infuriated. “I am not your queen!”
“I told you—you have no choice.” Edge’s defeated gaze moved to the floor. “And neither do we. If you abandon your calling, all of us will cease to exist.”
I smiled. “Glad to hear it.”
“You’d let us die?”
I took another shot and slammed down the empty glass. “Abso-motha-fuckin-lutely.”
He looked perplexed. “Why?”
The bartender inched forward with fear in his eyes and poured me another shot. He took one look at Edge, waited a moment, and quickly decided to leave the bottle before ducking into the backroom.
Interesting. I shrugged. At least he’d left the bottle.
“You are evil. That’s why I don’t give a shit if you live or die.”
His scruffy, handsome features turned serious. “We are what our queen requires us to be.”
“So you’re saying that all of you acted badly because your queen commanded it?”
He shook his head.
I sighed. “Then what do you mean?”
“Our essence is connected to yours now, bound by a magic as old as time. You see, if you are of evil nature, ours becomes as such. If you are pure of heart, we become as such. It’s simple really.”
The three hounds moved to stand just behind Edge. The sight of all four of them together was a terrible but beautiful thing to behold.
Edge was the tallest of the group, more muscled, his skin darker by several shades. Then there was his second in command, Rider, who was over six feet with honey-colored flesh. Every inch of his exposed skin was smooth and unmarred. Rider’s eyes, even though glowing fire at the moment, were also a silken-honey hue. I knew all of this on pure instinct, as if my brain had downloaded the bio on each one of the hellhounds into my brain upon completion of their oath to me. The hellhound standing to Rider’s left was an inch shorter than he was. His name was Blaze, and his hair was a shimmering golden bronze, his eyes a pale yellow. Next, there was Syn. He was just shy of six feet, with deep brown, shoulder-length hair. Large sea-blue eyes dominated his face. His gaze held such depth that I found myself almost drowning in them.
Suddenly I felt too hot, sick, I needed to sit down. The fact that I wasn’t feeling well must have shown because Blaze melted away from his pack like a shadowy form, and he quickly slipped a stool behind me. He put his hands on my shoulders and eased me down. His touch was soothing, a balm against my bare skin.
“Just let the bond take hold. If you fight, it will hurt,” Blaze explained, the warmth from his breath bathing my ear and sending tingles down my neck.
I somehow formed a coherent thought around the sensation. Bond?
“Everything will be okay.” I somehow knew that it was Syn who had said that.
My body was so languid that my ass pressed indentions into the cushion. And all I could think over their peaceful voices was how good it felt to take a load off. My legs felt like spaghetti noodles—I couldn’t move at the moment, even if I wanted to.
“I will remain seated. But that doesn’t mean I’m agreeing to any of this,” I murmured.
“We need you to accept us.” That was Syn again.
A wave of empathy consumed me. I couldn’t allow anything to happen to the hellhounds. No matter how much I’d initially wanted to. Letting them expire would be the easiest thing to do, but the thought of not having them with me was repulsive. It was as if by magic, I was seeing the pack in an entirely different light. I saw them as mine.
My voice shuddered. “What have you done to me?”
The room suddenly became cooler, images brighter. Everything smelled more like itself—the taste of my own venom at the tips of my fangs was even sweeter. Whatever magic had taken root was not only bonding me to the pack, it was bolstering my own inherent powers, making me stronger.
I wanted to cry, laugh, but most of all, I ached to be near each of my hounds. My fingers sunk into the seat cushion, and the backs of my legs rubbed against the leather. I was doing everything I could to ground myself into reality, to let my brain tell me what I should do and not my empathy. My brain told me becoming queen was a bad idea.
Rider stepped forward, closer to me than Edge, and Edge hadn’t left more than five feet between us since he’d ambushed me.
“Let us take you home.” Rider’s hand moved forward until tender fingers squeezed just above my knee. His leg rubbed against mine in the process. Even though Rider was a hellhound, the embrace felt much like a cat’s. “Let me make you feel better.”
Still foggy from their half of the bonding, I shook my head, and said, “I don’t know.”
Even though I was experiencing an unnatural connection to Rider, this type of intimacy seemed rushed… as if it needed to be earned in some way. Then there was Jake. The werewolf and I hadn’t made anything official yet. We had been seeing each other for a couple of weeks now, but it wasn’t like I was his mate or anything. I wasn’t quite sure a veninblood could even be mated to a parablood. But that was too much to think about right now.
Damn the Fates for tossing me into a shit storm of this magnitude.
As if he sensed my disapproval, the hound immediately took several strides back.
I breathed a sigh of relief. “I need some time with this. To let it all digest.”
Rider’s eyes danced with hope. “I can wait.”
The knowledge that he wanted to comfort me in more than just a platonic way hit me like a ton of bricks. It would seem that it wasn’t only the queen’s privilege to command her hounds, but to sleep with them as well. Which would be all fine and dandy, if it weren’t for two things: firstly Jake, and second, the fact that these boys seemed to do whatever their queen wanted, so without the license of free will, how could sex with any one of them be a hundred percent consensual? Again… that was too much to think about at the moment.
Just then, the bartender stopped in front me. “Would you like another drink?”
Did I? The fuck if I knew what I wanted right now. I nodded to make things easier.
Edge pulled out his wallet and tossed a few hundred-dollar bills on the bar between me and the bartender. “Give her whatever she wants, guy.” Then his gaze moved to me. His smile was full of respect as he said, “When you’re ready to talk more about this, all of us will be waiting at the mansion.”
Heat exploded through my body. Not the good carnal kind, but the kill-em-all and ask questions later sort.
Edge gave me a concerned look. “Did I say something to offend you?”
Taking a deep breath for strength, I stood. A woozy sensation tilted me sideways, and I tightened my grip on the bar rail to steady myself.
I blinked twice. “The mansion?”
Tense moments of silence passed as we stared at each other.
“Do you forget that I was sold to your queen, held prisoner, drugged senseless, and was beaten and raped in that hell hole for over two years?”
Rider’s eyes sheened with moisture, and his fists began to clench tight at his sides as though he were trying like hell to restrain himself from doing something violent.
Syn whispered, “I’m sorry Ice did that to you. He was not of the queen’s Fang and Claw. None of us has ever taken a woman without consent. Not even Sterling could corrupt us to that point.”
“To the point of pure evil,” Blaze interrupted. “We’ve never completely lost ourselves to our queen, not entirely, even though the Essence deemed it so.”
Edge reached out to touch my arm, and I pulled it back before he could. Heat blazed behind my eyes, and I could tell that they were glowing pink. I took two steps backward, my eyes never leaving the pack.
“Please go,” I whispered harshly.
Immediately, I felt their sorrow slip inside my mind along with a strong reluctance to leave me. Each hound’s emotions held what could only be described as a different flavor. Rider’s was the strongest, coating my senses with the taste of cinnamon, burning it a little with his regret.
Edge narrowed his eyes. “Will you come see us when you’re ready?”
His voice resonated pain. Either I’d said something wrong or he was feeling empathy for what had happened to me under Sterling’s roof. The true cause was just out of my reach, and again, I felt that it was too soon for me to fully understand the hound that intimately… but I would. I knew that as a certainty.
The pack watched me carefully, their eyes, each set beautiful and unique in color and shape, moved over my face as though they were memorizing each freckle, every curvature, each line, and I found that I couldn’t refuse them.
“Yes, I suppose I can do that. But only if, and when, I’m ready.”
Logically, I knew that going to the mansion was a bad idea for my psyche, but under the circumstances, it felt unavoidable.
It was Rider who said, “That’s all we could ask for.”
Blaze looked as though he’d try to persuade me further, but instead, he turned and sauntered off toward the door.