Striping Hot - Page 19

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Gianna was aware of the pain before anything else. Her head felt like it was full of rocks hammering her skull with the force of steel pistons. She tried to groan, gasped instead, and immediately faded back out of consciousness.

Next time, she fought to wake up. She could hear horrible sounds around her … growls, screams, thuds, ripping flesh. Something was going down, and she knew Rex was going to be right in the middle of it.

She tried to get up and felt the cold, hard floor underneath her. Her fingers were slick, and as she opened her eyes, she saw the blood.

She wasn’t squeamish, but it was enough to turn her stomach. There was a bloody knife in her hand, and rivers of red flowed all around her. Gianna’s eyes followed them across the floor until she saw the slumped body of a man.

Oh, my God. It’s Agrippa!

The man’s face was a mask of horror. He was slumped on the floor as if he’d fallen suddenly, stab wounds all over him. Whoever had done this had to be a complete maniac.

She looked again at the knife in her hand. This time she was able to groan without hurting her head. It was obvious to her that she was being set up.

She knew no matter how confused she happened to be, she would definitely have remembered stabbing someone to death. Besides, what motive could she possibly have against Agrippa?

Except for that time he pulled a gun on me and tried to kill me.

She tried to get up, pressing her hands against the floor. Just as she did, a body flew toward her and sailed over her back. She dropped to the floor again, staying completely still. She watched the burly shifter come to an untidy halt on the floor not far away, then she turned her head to see what had thrown him.

Rex. Of course.

She watched the fight for a few seconds, unsure how many guys Rex was actually fighting. Her head was still pounding, her eyes were blurry, and she didn’t know if the lights were dim or if she had blood in her eyes. She didn’t dare move in case she attracted the attention of the others.

Rex was currently in his human form, and she guessed he’d shifted back and forth a few times already. A wolf and a coyote circled him, as well as two guys in human shape.

She looked around for Voren, finally seeing him lurking in the shadows, pacing. He was watching the fight, obviously hoping the others would finish off Rex.

He really is a fucking maniac! Rex thought Voren wouldn’t kill him because he needed the money … but inviting us out here and then murdering one of the most iconic men in the known world isn’t just lunacy. It’s stupidity!

Gianna shook her head where she hid.

What exactly is Voren’s plan here? Murdering Rex won’t get him the money he needs. Agrippa being dead would only complicate matters further.

She dared a glance at the rumble. Rex and the shifters threw each other around, and Gianna covered her face.

Obviously, they are trying to set me up for the murder, but there were just too many loose ends.

She moved on the floor a little, trying to get more comfortable without drawing attention to herself. She needed to signal Rex somehow, to let him know she was okay.

Voren is out of his fucking mind. I saw the light in his eyes the first time he pulled a gun. He’s utterly nuts.

She could feel her phone digging into her leg where she was pressed against the ground. She put her hand in her pocket, trying to slide it out without making any noise or obvious movements.

The men were too busy to pay much attention to her. She glanced over and saw Rex was in his tiger shape, and he’d torn apart the two shifters. There were two guys left circling him

And Voren.

How do I signal Rex?

Gianna held her phone in her hand, flicking it open with the screen toward her, hoping no one would see its light. She was ready to record. She just needed to get Voren talking.

Rex was backed into a corner, roaring. The two guys in front of him were still in human form. When Rex leapt at one, the guy shifted when he was in midair and turned into a massive wolf. They went down in a tangle, growling, and roaring as they slashed at each other and tried to get purchase with their teeth.

Voren and the other guy stood back. Even if Voren was out of his mind, this wasn’t a bad strategy. Rex would definitely be tired by the time he got to Voren, and the final fight would be far from fair.

The wolf let out a yelp and a howl. Gianna glanced over and saw hot blood pouring across the floor, the wolf’s throat completely torn out. It whimpered a little as Rex dropped it to the ground, then he turned on the last two men with complete, unmasked rage.

Those eyes reflect murder itself. Voren really is a fool.

Clearly, he hadn’t known exactly what he was going up against. He’d underestimated Rex; he’d fucked up his own plan.

I just need proof.

Rex leapt at the last guy. While Rex was in the air, the other man simply disappeared. It took Gianna a moment to realize he had shifted into a slender, vibrant snake. As Rex came down out of his leap, the snake twisted toward him, fangs out.

She almost shouted out loud as Rex jumped out of the way. He couldn’t move fast enough to keep away from the viper. Gianna didn’t know what kind of snake it was, but she was sure it would poison Rex and kill him with one bite.

It looked like the snake was gaining the upper hand. Just when she thought Rex was about to be bitten on his front paw, he feinted to the left and brought his jaws down. With one sharp snap, he cut the snake in two.

As Rex turned, Gianna raised her fingers slightly. Surprise crossed his face, but otherwise, he didn’t react. She pointed at her phone. He nodded.

As he turned to face Voren, he shifted again in one, smooth movement. He stood tall, like a gladiator in the arena after winning a melee. Weapons, puddles of blood, and torn bodies surrounded him, the badges of death and destruction.

“It’s just you and me, Voren,” Rex said. “You ready?”

“Always,” snarled Voren. “You’re a lot tougher than you look. Stupid fucking party boy, always drunk and wandering off on tangents. I expected you to be as soft as butter.”

“Sorry to disappoint you,” Rex said, smiling. He waved a hand vaguely at the state of the room. “Would you mind explaining what went on here, why you killed your own man?”

Voren moved forward, a hand on his pocket. He still had a card left to play. He was going to talk, but only because he was sure he could still win.

“It was a shame to lose Agrippa,” Voren said. “He was a good man. Loyal to a fault, especially for the right amount of dollars. But he was a loose end. Dangerous. When I saw you here with your mate, once I understood what was going on, I saw an … opportunity.”

“Oh?” Rex asked. “What kind of opportunity?”

“To tie up two loose ends at once. I knew I could force your cooperation if your mate was in danger. You’d do anything for her. All I had to do was threaten to turn her over, and I’d get all your money, all your affluence, and your loyalty.”

Rex smiled, shaking his head. “That doesn’t sound very neat to me. What is the point of all of this?”

“You are so fucking stupid!” Voren snapped. “Do you have any idea what this mining contract is worth? All we needed was one dodgy environmental report … which Agrippa so helpfully provided … now we can mine and dam the river. Within a few months, we’ll make billions.”

“And destroy the island and all the people that live here.”

Voren shrugged. “So what? It wouldn’t be the first time.”

Gianna could tell Rex was getting impatient. He was done with the conversation, and he was pretty sure they had what they needed. He glanced over his shoulder at her, and Voren pulled a gun out of his pocket at that moment.

She gasped, ready to scream a warning to Rex. Before she could, she saw Voren point the weapon straight at her.

Rex realized at the last moment what Voren planned to do. He was going to rob Rex of the thing he loved most in the world. If Voren was going down, it was clear he would scorch the earth in his wake.

Gianna instinctively curled into a ball as the gun went off. The bullet ricocheted off the floor right in front of her face.

Rex whipped around, shifting into tiger form to knock the gun away. As he did, Voren suddenly bulked up, becoming a huge, dense shadow. A trumpeting sound shook the walls. Gianna gasped, covering her ears. Voren was a fucking elephant!

He’s going to stampede through this whole fucking place!

He could squash her with one unruly foot. It was clear he would break down walls and tear the house apart in his overwhelming desire to destroy Rex. To her horror, the beast charged straight past Rex and came at her.

She screamed, running around the edges of the room in a mad panic. Voren charged after her, his trumpeting call blasting her eardrums. As she tried to stay ahead of him, she stumbled and fell. She had just enough time to look over her shoulder and see him bearing down on her, one giant foot poised to squish her body as flat as a pancake. She covered her head and screamed.

There was a sudden, absolute silence. She waited for his foot to crush her, but nothing happened. Gulping back tears, she sat up slowly and looked behind her.

Rex was attached to Voren’s throat, his huge, powerful teeth clamped just under the elephant’s jaw. Voren’s eyes were wide and glazed, his trunk falling limply to the floor. With a mighty groan, he toppled over. As Rex let go of his throat, blood sprayed from the wound and ran across the floor in a wide, fast-spreading pool.

“Gianna!” Rex cried, running to her. In less than a second, he was human again, gently helping her off the floor. They wrapped their arms around each other, both breathing hard and lost for words. It was enough to finally be holding each other and know they were safe.

“The bad guys are all dead?” she asked softly. He nodded.

“They are. You got the evidence?”

“I sure did,” she said, grinning. She flicked awake her phone and tapped the screen. “I’ve got a call to make.”

She called her boss at INN. He was only too happy to provide her with an immediate crew, considering the size of the story. Gianna let Rex help her out to the front foyer, where she quickly brushed back her disheveled hair and wiped some of the blood off her face.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Rex asked. She nodded.

“Don’t get me wrong, I really need a hot bath and maybe a fifth of tequila, but I’ll live.”

He grinned, kissing her gently. “I’ll be happy to provide both if you’d do me the pleasure.”

“The pleasure would be all mine,” she whispered, falling into his embrace. The kiss was deep and aroused her so much that she forgot her injuries and almost threw him to the floor to fuck the daylights out of him right then and there.

The throbbing of the arriving chopper reminded her where they were and what they still had left to do. She let go of Rex so he could vanish into the house to clean himself up and find a change of clothes.

She turned to the crew leaping out of the chopper. Gianna wanted to set up just right to show the audience the carnage left by Voren’s evil schemes. As she took the mic and breathed in deeply, she felt her heart lift in her chest.

I’m here. I’m finally here!

She was finally covering the big story that was going to put her on the map and stop all of Voren’s evil business plans. That was all she had ever wanted, but now, she knew there was something else she had always wanted but had never been able to admit to herself.


She didn’t just have success … she had love too.

True love.

Gianna cocked her head and motioned to the cameraman.

“Action,” she whispered. “We are live in three … two ... one …”

Tags: Milly Taiden Paranormal