venin assassin 03 - black shadow, page 1
Table of Contents
Books by Gena D. Lutz
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.
Cover Design by:
Y. Nikolova at Ammonia Book Covers
Melissa Gilbert at Clicking Keys
Interior book design by:
Bob Houston eBook Formatting
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
Let’s start from the beginning.
Four years, two months, and twelve hours ago…
I sat down in Dahlia’s car for the first time since she bought it brand new over a year ago. Her car—much like her clothes, jewelry, and Botox shots—was one of the only things the step-wench seemed to give a damn about.
“This is for your own good, Cassis,” she said, a little out of breath as she maneuvered her way behind the steering wheel then turned over the engine. “Now that your father and his financial support are gone, I am not equipped to take care of you. I’m not rich, you know.”
I missed my father, who’d died over three months prior in a car accident. Dahlia missed his paycheck.
“I have a job. I can take care of myself.”
She glanced over her shoulder at me and scowled.
“See? That’s what I’m talking about. All you care about is you, you, you. What about me? How will I survive?”
I shrugged while looking out the passenger side window. “Here’s an idea. Maybe you could get a job?”
The back of her hand struck my cheek so quick I could not stop the side of my head from cracking against the glass. Pain blossomed in my eardrum and on both sides of my face. After only two seconds, I straightened back up in my seat as if nothing had happened. My cheek pulsed like it was alive, and I smiled to myself over the familiar heat across my cheek… worth it.
Dahlia’s chatter continued into one long sentence that I picked bits and pieces out of.
“That’s why I’m taking you to private school. They’re equipped to handle an entitled little snot like you.”
“I’m seventeen. I can find a place to live,” I explained.
She gaped at me in shock, always the drama queen. “What kind of person do you think I am to let a young girl live out on the streets? Oh, no… I have my own plans for you.”
Rather than answer, I settled back into my seat. Little did Dahlia know, I planned on running away from whatever home she was taking me to the moment I had a chance. She might think she still had control over me, but one big thing had changed after my father died: me. I was done. Done with her, done with it all.
“It’s a good thing your father isn’t here to see what a selfish girl you’ve become.”
Like a seasoned pro, I ignored her painful jab and let my eyes drift down the front of my too-tall, too-skinny body. The red sleeveless shirt I wore was big for my petite frame; the bottom of it pooled in haphazard folds in my lap. My jeans had holes in the knees and legs—and not the cool distressed kind, but the ripped at the sides and frayed at the bottom kind that were caused from years of wear and tear. My sneakers were in better shape. Still, my wardrobe was inexpensive, and although Dahlia’s manicure cost more than my entire outfit, I loved what I was wearing because my part-time job at the Sun Soak tanning salon paid for each stitch of clothing.
After ten minutes of driving, Dahlia pointed out of the car’s front windshield and into the near distance.
My gaze followed her red-tipped finger until it landed on a massive house situated in the heart of rolling green hills and surrounded by plenty of trees and bushes. The front boasted a columned wraparound porch with a matching extended terrace. Along the driveway, a row of black and white rose bushes bordered marble statues, each one depicting a different mythological creature. There was a Pegasus flaring its nostrils, a set of massive wings extended, as if trying to touch the sky. Next to that statue, a mermaid wearing a crown of coral lounged in a fountain. The statues were the most stunning and foreboding sight I had ever taken in, and I felt breathless as the car pulled up, then stopped, in front of the stately mansion.
I pushed open the car door and hopped out. My first taste of the suburban air was sweet, the following exhale, rushed. I swallowed a big gulp of air and smiled.
“Don’t just stand there, Cassis. Grab your things. I don’t have all day.”
I walked around and popped the trunk. It swooshed when it opened, and I reached inside to grab the suitcase. In another time and place, using this baggage would have meant a fun trip to Tombstone or the Grand Canyon—my father had enjoyed visiting Arizona—but this time, it meant something entirely different. Stalling, I leaned on the car and ran a hand through my hair. Next, I closed the trunk and jogged over to Dahlia, who was poised to knock on the front door.
A tall man with light blue hair answered, a neutral expression smoothing out his sharp elven features. “You’re late.”
“Just tell Sterling I’m here,” Dahlia replied, fidgeting with the purse strap hanging over her shoulder.
“She is aware.” The elf’s eyes glowed with magic as they moved over my person. “Is this the spider?”
That was kind of rude. I crossed my arms and said nothing.
“I will only talk to Sterling,” Dahlia said, none to nicely.
A tick worked his jaw. “Come in then.”
Dahlia rolled her eyes and pushed by him. I stayed put. Call it intuition, call it common damn sense, but something was telling me that it wasn’t in my best interest to go inside.
Dahlia spun on her heels and spat impatiently at me, “Get in here, now.”
My feet hesitantly lifted, and I walked inside, even though I didn’t want to obey, but I wasn’t in the mood for another slap across the face, or worse, one of Dahlia’s temper tantrums.
I swallowed hard when the door closed behind me and the coldness of the room seeped into my bones.
As if out of thin air, a woman appeared past the long, winding staircase that took up most of the foyer, and she sauntered toward us. The chilly air responded to her presence, warming up instantly as she fully entered the space.
Feeling like an outsider, I took a deep breath and flexed my fingers around the leather handle of my suitcase. My best bet was to keep quiet.
The woman’s mouth opened to say something to Dahlia, but then she closed it, glanced past her, and looked at me.
My stance shifted uncomfortably under her scrutiny, and I awkwardly adjusted myself back to a more relaxed posture.
“What is your name?” she asked, golden hair shifting as if a mild wind were playing with it. There wasn’t even a slight breeze moving through the space. Magic was afoot.
Doing my best to appear casual, I cleared my throat and said, “Cassis Dark.”
After a thorough glance of my person, the woman, who I assumed was Sterling, said dismissively, “She’ll do.” Her voice was cold, holding the tone of boredom. “Get her prepped and take her to her chambers,” she added, as she turned to walk away.
The elf brushed past Dahlia and grabbed my arm. Panic quivered through me. This was all wrong. The manhandling, the inspecting me from head-to-toe as though I were a Versace dress made to fit. Wrong.
Dahlia blanched, but not over my rough treatment. “Hold on. There’s still the matter of payment to discuss, Sterling.”
My eyes went alarmingly wide. “What are you talking about?” I tried to pull my arm free, but the elf’s grip was vice-like, burning a brand around my forearm.
Dahlia didn’t let any emotion slip as she turned to me and huffed, “This is for the best.”
My face had to have morphed into a mask of horror because she jerked her eyes away as I cried, “What the hell are you talking about? Are you actually going to sell me to this lady? Not even you could be that vile and cruel.”
Unfortunately, I was finding out that Dahlia was capable of just about anything. And she wasn’t even sorry about it.
Dahlia continued talking as though I wasn’t even there. “I’d like to settle up now. The quicker I can put this nasty mess behind me, the better.”
Even though it was becoming pretty obvious, I asked, “Was this your plan all along?”
Dahlia’s features soured. “Shut up,” she hissed.
“The hell I will!” I yelled back.
Sterling threw an impatient look at the blue-haired elf squeezing my arm, and said, “Take her downstairs.”
Scared shitless, I tugged once more against his hold. It was a feeble attempt at best, but I had to at least try. My desire to run out the door was fierce; the elf’s grip an even greater force.
“You won’t get away with this,” I snapped at Dahlia, tears pouring down my face.
I desperately wished I were a couple of years older, but I was still a fledgling veninblood. My inherent power was docile. And until the day of my maturity, it would remain that way, leaving me as helpless as a human. How could I fight what was happening to me? With sheer determination, that’s how.
“My, my, aren’t you a mouthy one.” Sterling’s tone was almost jovial. “You’re going to be a fun one to tame.”
I cursed and reached deep inside myself for strength, for even a spark of the magic resonating within. In an instant, I was free. I spun, ran for the open door, and, even though I was fast, quick enough to win the top medals in track and field at my old high school, an unseen force yanked me back before I could even breach the mansion’s front door. A magic that sizzled with fire sent me reeling through the air. I hit the ground hard and skidded into a wall at the far side of the foyer, stopping only a step away from the magic wielder who’d zapped me.
I shuddered as I sat up, wincing from the pain, and gazed into a set of cold, almost dead, eyes. Embarrassingly, I whimpered, “Just let me go.”
Sterling crouched before me. “It would be best for you to realize that there is no escape from my court. You, my itsy-bitsy spider, belong to me now.”
My hand came down over a lump forming at the top of my head that was rapidly increasing in size. I frowned. Ow.
Sterling stood and walked away. The elf that was standing behind her helped me to my feet and without wasting any more time, led me to a thick wooden door tucked behind the grand staircase. He opened the door, revealing a wide and dark descending passageway.
“Move,” he ordered, pushing me onto the first step.
Once at the bottom of the stairs, I realized Sterling was telling me the truth. I did belong to her now, and apparently, so did a harem of other women who were moving about the massive, richly appointed room that opened before me.
“There are only three rules,” the elf began to explain as he shut and locked the door he’d led me through. “Rule #1: No fighting amongst yourselves.”
I cleared my throat and glanced around the silk-swathed space, taking my fellow captives’ measure. None of the scantily clad women looked as though they had an ounce of fight left in them. In fact, to me they resembled beautiful zombies. Every sick and depraved man’s or, depending on sexual orientation, woman’s erotic ideal.
The elf continued. “Rule #2: You will act befitting your place in the Night Queen’s court.”
Irritation blossomed in my gut at that, and my fidgety hands found, and clenched, the bottom seam of my shirt. “What exactly is my place?” I asked.
His glance moved over to a gorgeous young woman with dark hair and green eyes. Her paranormal signature pulsed parablood. The silver chains around her waist and throat, which were obviously being used to subdue her magic, hinted at werewolf specific.
“Ravah, come here,” he ordered.
Submission was in the very lines of her body. It showed in the tilt of her head, in the stoic look on her face, and in the slight forward curl of her shoulders as she placed her book down on a table next to where she was sitting. Then, she stood and quickly walked over to us.
My face flushed with heat, and I rolled back my shoulders in an act of defiance over seeing such a travesty taking place. No one should be as broken of spirit as her, especially not a werewolf.
“Yes, my lord…” she replied.
“Where is your place, Ravah?”
Her green eyes remained glued to the floor as she answered the elf in a soft, even tone, “Wherever my queen wills it to be.”
“Very good, Ravah,” he said with an arrogant grin.
There was a short silence while I threw up in my mouth a little.
I brought my hand up and brushed hair from my watery eyes. Oh my god. This was really happening. The step-wench had actually sold me into servitude to the Night Queen.
The elf’s stern gaze settled on me with that same self-important smile twisting his thin lips. “Where is your place, Cassis?” he demanded.
I shrugged my foolishly defiant shoulders. “Honestly, I belong anywhere but here.”
Ravah’s eyes showed their first signs of life at my statement. They clearly said, Holy… shit.
The punch came at me relatively quick, fist through the air, knuckles crashing into my face with a jarring crunch. This time when I went down, I stayed there. And my world went black.
Those kinds of interactions happened many times throughout my three-year stint with the Night Queen before I fully learned rule #3: Never disobey the queen and her court.
“I don’t understand,” I said, gripping the arm of my chair.
“But Cassis…” Rider began.
“No. Don’t even try to get out of it. The dice will be cast at seven sharp, as usual.”
I watched as a discontented Rider paced the private chambers where I held court once a week. He scraped a quick hand through his dark cinnamon hair and shook his head, mumbling. “Rave won’t like this. Not one bit.”
“Oh.” I smiled. “That’s what this is all about… your new girlfriend.” I said girlfriend in the most teasing tone possible.
With a guilt-ridden look, Rider mumbled, “So…”
“Well, why didn’t you just say so?” I understood wanting to spend time with someone you cared about. My thoughts absently roamed to a certain rock star werewolf, and I immediately squashed that shit.
He looked up and shrugged sluggishly. “I didn’t want to bring her up, I guess.”
My shoulders relaxed, and I reclined against the plush red chair I preferred to sit in when I was conducting queenly business.
“Haven’t we already been through this? I am not Sterling. You can bring your women around here anytime you please, as long as they’re not human.” I leaned forward with a little more excitement than I meant to show. “As a matter of fact, why don’t you invite her over tonight? I bet you that Rave would get a kick out of some of our games.”
Rider picked up a bottle of Heineken from the bar. “I don’t know…” More grumbles.
I lifted one eyebrow. “What is it, Rider? Are you ashamed of us?”
He chuckled before taking a long swig of his beer. “Um, no. Even though you jerk-wads definitely give me plenty of reason to be.”
“Yeah,” I agreed, “true story.”
We both laughed for a moment before things settled back down into a more serious rhythm.
I absently plucked at the frayed holes in the leg of my jeans. “Then what it is?”
Other author's books:
- Straight Talk, No Chaservenin assassin 03 - black shadowCreated DarklyDevil's PlaygroundTangled Web (Venin Assassin Book 2)
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