Home > Out for Blood (House of Comarré #4)(15)

Out for Blood (House of Comarré #4)(15)
Author: Kristen Painter

He should probably stop thinking about her. Not that she was the only woman on his mind lately. He settled onto the grated steps of the fire escape, twisted the beer cap off, took a pull, then set the bottle beside him. From inside his shirt, he tugged loose the charm his grandmother had made. It was warm from being against his skin. His grandmother had wrapped the three black feathers in leather and silver, sealed the knots with blood, said words over it Creek didn’t understand, then passed the whole thing through the smoke from an assortment of dried herbs and other things Creek didn’t remember.

He lifted it to his nose and inhaled. A faint hint of the soulless woman’s briny, ocean-air scent remained. He turned the charm over in his fingers. “Yahla,” he whispered. If not for the proof in his hand, he’d think she’d been a dream.

“You called?”

He started, nearly sending the beer clattering to the asphalt below as he twisted to look toward the voice.

She perched on the stairs above, her head cocked to one side, eyes bright and blinking, body hugged in bits of black leather and low-slung jeans. “I am here.”

He stood and moved against the rail to put a little distance between them. “I see that.” For a deadly aberration, she was unquestionably hot.

“You have no need to fear me now.” She bobbed her head toward the charm. “Your grandmother is a wise woman.”

He tucked the charm back inside his shirt. “Yes, she is.” And he was a fool for not telling this one to leave him alone.

She rose and walked slowly down the steps. “You have thought of me.”

It wasn’t a question, but he answered anyway, unable to keep the word from leaving his mouth. “Yes.”

Almost toe-to-toe with him, she stopped, an odd smile curving her lips. The long feathers of her hair shifted like silk in the breeze. “Do you find me beautiful?”

“Yes.” Again the word was spoken before he could think otherwise. It was like she pulled the truth from him.

Her hand lifted, her fingers coming to light upon his chest. They were warm through his thin T-shirt. “I can make you forget her,” she whispered.

He didn’t doubt that. He also didn’t doubt she could do a whole hell of a lot of other bad things to him. “I don’t know who you’re talking about.” Could she read his mind?

“The gold one. She is not for you. Her blood is not your blood as mine is. We are of the same people, you and I. We are kin.”

“She’s just a friend.” He drew away to the side of the fire escape and found his voice as soon as her touch left him. “And you’re a myth. A story my people tell.”

Her eyes darkened until not even the light from inside his bedroom reflected in them. “You’re Kubai Mata. How many people believe in you?”

She had a point, but it wasn’t one that made him like her any better. Irritation popped his jaw. “You should go.”

Her head tipped to the side and she blinked a few times. “You are angry with me, but I am not the one who bound you to the Kubai Mata’s promise. You did that to yourself.”

“I did it for my family.” Was every woman in his life going to come down on him for that?

She came a little closer but didn’t touch him again. “Your reasons are enough. But I am sad that you deny yourself for them.” Her lip curled in disgust. “The Kubai Mata.”

“I don’t deny myself anything.”

“They rule you. They are your master.”

“They got me out of prison.”

At the word, her mouth softened again. “You did not deserve that place for what you did.”

“I agree, but the jury thought otherwise.”

She spat. “And none of them tribe. None of them your people.”

“No.” She had a point, but all that was in the past now.

Her hand reached out and her fingers bunched in the fabric of his T-shirt. The space between them disappeared. She pressed against his chest and her pulse vibrated through his body, so fast it was like a shudder. Tendrils of heat curled around his muscles, brushing against his nerve endings with soft insistence. “I am your people.”

“Yes.” She was. He was half Seminole. She was born of Seminole myth.

Her lids fluttered as her hands slipped higher up his chest. “And I can set you free of the Kubai Mata.”

He shook his head, her mouth dangerously close to his, her eyes impossible to look away from. He wanted her. Right down to the soles of his feet. “I… I can’t be free of them until my family is safe.”

She threw her head back and laughed, the sound a soft caw-caw-caw. “I have promised to protect you.”

“It’s not me I’m worried about. My sister, my mother, my grandmother. They’re my concern.”

Her hand flattened down hard on his chest. “You think I would hurt them?”

He looked into her eyes, searching for a reason to answer otherwise, but he seemed destined to always speak the truth around her. “Yes.”

She pushed away, but he grabbed her hand, unwilling to let her go. Unwilling to dismiss the possibility that she could do what she said. “Give me your word. Your promise. Tell me you’ll protect them, too. Otherwise, I want nothing to do with you anymore.”

Her eyes were wild, her mouth slightly open as her chest rose and fell. “What do you give me in return?”

Reluctantly, he released her. “What do you want?”

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