Cut Glass: Jewels Book 2: Ruby
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by Linda Mooney
Category: Erotica/Erotic Fantasy/Fantasy
Description: Forget everything you think you know about mass murderers and crimes of passion, because most killers don't wake up one morning, grab the nearest shotgun or axe, and proceed to hack apart their loved ones. Many do it because they're infected with a jewel. Once the destructive creature takes over a host's body, that person dies, leaving the jewel in total control to thrive on fear and horror. Cut Glass: Jewels Book 2, Ruby When it's discovered that someone is stealing the shards of defeated jewels, word is that an underground faction is trying to re-grow the deadly entities from those pieces. Cutler and David team up to help recover those shards before that can be accomplished. Because if they fail, the number of jewels will increase to where the delicate balance between lapies and demons will be compromised. After which the wholesale slaughter of mankind will be imminent.
eBook Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press, 2011
eBookwise Release Date: January 2012
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [291 KB]
Reading time: 182-255 min.
She had fought jaspers before. Fought them and conquered every one of them. But this stone wasn't acting like a typical jasper. In fact, for a jewel, it was acting very peculiar. And for that reason alone, Cutler could feel the hairs rising on the back of her neck.
Michael Dissmore hissed at her, showing off his spiked, scarlet teeth. "Let's see what you got, cutter. C'mon." Curling its fingers at her, it taunted some more. "You just think you got the upper hand."
Cutler moved on the balls of her feet, careful not to tread on the debris already littering the floor of the double car garage. If there was anything to be thankful for, it was the fact that the remains of Dissmore's family lay inside the house. If any blood had smeared the garage's concrete floor, it would have made for very slippery and dangerous footing.
"I don't have to think, jasper," she told him, gnashing her own teeth together. Their growing hardness felt good, like a trusted friend backing her up. She started to say more, but the jewel lunged at her, breaking her concentration. It came at her with a flying tackle, hoping to knock her off her feet. That's what was so strange about this entire fight. That's also what worried Cutler.
She smoothly vaulted over its head, somersaulted, and landed behind it. Instead of turning around, she then lashed out with a powerful kick to the creature's back, catching it at kidney level. The thing shrieked as it dove head-first into a pile of cardboard boxes. Bottles of motor oil tumbled onto the floor, adding to the crap that had already been scattered during their brief but violent match.
Immediately, Cutler swiveled around and went after the gem. Grabbing the man by the back of his blood-soaked shirt and the waistband of his equally reddened jeans, she hauled him out of the boxes and threw him onto the floor.
The jasper yelled again with a cry of rage rather than any discernable word. Its torn fingers scrabbled to find a way to grab onto her, but Cutler nimbly kept herself out of its reach.
Until it found the monkey wrench lying nearby.
Cutler saw its intent a microsecond before the jewel lashed out at her with the tool. She tried to block its downward swing, but she wasn't fast enough. The unexpected use of the wrench had caught her totally off-guard.
The large, steel head landed in the middle of her upper thigh. Its impact sent bright, fiery spears of pain throughout her body as skin and muscle were pulverized, and the bone suffered a hairline fracture. Swallowing her cry, Cutler's unique system shut down all other relays to her brain as she zeroed in on the jewel.
Catching the jasper's hand with her own, she easily snapped the wrist backwards, and the monkey wrench tumbled out of the man's grasp. Another snap, and the hand was no longer connected to the man's arm. Blood spurted like a kid's water pistol, shooting out hot, crimson streams. The jewel opened its mouth to scream, when she shoved the disembodied hand between the thing's lips.
"Chew on this, you sorry jerk-off!"
Its other hand had stopped trying to find its own weapon. Now it tried to remove the human gag from its mouth, but Cutler had anticipated that action. At least that was one thing she could guarantee it doing.
Catching the other hand, she neatly grabbed it by the wrist and elbow, and wrenched the entire arm out of its socket. The jewel flailed as it tried to hoist itself back up onto its feet. But without any way to provide leverage, it was powerless. Cutler watched as it tried to roll onto its side, swinging its legs to find some kind of purchase. A few well-placed kicks prevented that from happening.
After a few more moments of futile struggling, the man stopped and stared at her with its glittering blood-red eyes. The thing was a banded jasper. She could tell by the slit-like darkness running horizontally through its pupil, making it appear to have goat eyes. The jewel continued to struggle, but it watched her, undaunted and fearless. An almost feral growl rattled in its throat.
It knew what she planned to do. What she had to do. Still, it remained at the ready, as if it could stop her by the strength of its determination alone.
Shit, her leg hurt! Cutler reached down to clutch her thigh, realizing too late her mistake. The small block her body had placed on itself dissipated, and the agony of her damaged leg nearly drained her. She groaned as she tried to place her weight on her other leg.
At the last second, she saw the jasper notice her intent. She saw the thing's legs start toward her foot, to try and kick it out from under her. Letting out a howl of anger and pain, Cutler jumped onto the creature's chest.
"I've had enough of you!" she yelled at the gemstone. "Enough! Do you hear me, you sick, sorry son of a fuck?"
Grabbing the side of the man's head, she rammed the skull into the concrete floor. The sound of crunching was somewhat soothing, but it wouldn't kill the creature inside. Only one thing would kill the living jewel residing inside the poor soul who had once been a man, a husband, and a father.
She raised the head again, but not before staring one final time into the gemstone's eyes. "If there's any consolation to this whole, awful mess, it's knowing that the man you took over isn't the one suffering," she told it, then tore off its head with a crackling pop.
Cutler tossed the head aside and waited for the inevitable, although her senses were now tuned to expect the unexpected. This entire hunt and fight had not followed protocol. Nothing about this jasper was SOP, and that bothered her to no end. More so, Bar hadn't given her any warning about any changes in the jewels.
Unless Bar didn't know about them, a tiny voice nudged her.
But if Bar knew nothing about them, did that mean this was something new in their fight against these creatures? A development that hadn't been reported or noted by another lapie?
Cutler shook her head. All right, forget the fact that she hadn't been forewarned in order to be forearmed. She'd be better off taking this new twist and treating it like she did every confrontation--expecting the unexpected, and dealing with it in whatever way she could. Rubbing her damaged leg, she tried to put aside her worries in order to concentrate on the present. Unfortunately, more pressing questions continued to nag her subconscious. What has caused the change? More frightening, how many others are out there who are similarly affected?
A hundred other questions and "what ifs" descended upon her, making Cutler bite her lips as she tried to keep them at bay. Forcing her eyes to remained glued to the severed man's neck as blood furiously pumped out over the floor, Cutler tried not to think that the rules were about to change, or had already changed, without warning. Any distraction at this critical point in her battle with the jasper could tip the win in its favor, even with its head removed.
She held her breath, waiting for the jewel to emerge, when it finally began to show itself. Rising out of the man's trunk, the blood-smeared jasper resembled a partly solidified blood clot underneath the overhead florescent light. Cutler didn't wait for it to free its head and shoulders like she normally did. "Normal" had been thrown out the window the moment she had entered the house and seen what the jasper had done to its victims. Then when her suspicions had been verified after it had run from her, instead of taunting and attacking as all the other jewels did when confronted.
This time she decided to do things a little bit differently. Grabbing the jasper by the head as she had done with the host body, she twisted it around in a complete circle. The jewel snarled and bared its teeth at her, but there was no satisfying crunching sound of the exo-skeleton breaking. Jewels had no spine, but there was now a funny corkscrew look to its neck. It reminded her of cartoons when a character's head did a complete three-sixty.
Another full turn in the same direction produced another dirty look from the creature, and a tighter twist in its neck.
"Well, hell," she muttered. She had never tried to behead a jewel before. Normally she began eating the thing as it emerged.
One slender shoulder began to make its way out of the host's neck. Cutler bent over, opened wide, and bit through the taut, ropey-looking substance keeping the jewel's head attached to its torso. It was like snapping off a length of taffy candy.
A giggle escaped her. The jewel's head was still viable, but it was helpless to do anything, or make any kind of sound. Other than roll its eyes and gnash its teeth in fury, it couldn't make any kind of move to stop her. Its arms and hands were still trapped inside the narrow confines of the man's neck.
Once she'd bitten through and detached the head, Cutler set it nearby, placing it so it could watch its own demise. After that, it was a simple matter of chowing down on the jewel's body as it continued to slowly ooze from the trunk.
When she was done with the creature, Cutler picked up the head and stared into its face. She could see the life dying inside its eyes. Whatever the jewel had for a brain, it had ceased functioning. The creature had stopped struggling. It had ceased to fight for survival after witnessing her consuming it.
"That's right, you ugly bastard," she whispered. "I hope you enjoyed the show."
She waited until the last shred of consciousness left the jasper before eating the head. When she was done, she struggled to get to her feet. The leg was pure torment, but she had dealt with worse.
Over on the far wall of the garage were three sets of skis. Snatching one from the smaller pair, she quickly broke it in half and used the two pieces as splints around her thigh, tying them tight with a length of nylon rope. It was awkward, but at least she could manage to leave the house under her own steam.
Four blocks away from the scene of the Dissmore murders, Cutler stopped in an alley to throw up the bits of jasper churning in her stomach. A faint taste of cherries remained in her mouth, no matter how much she spat. Digging out a long sliver from the vomitus splattered on the weed-choked grass, she slipped the shard inside her jeans pocket. The plastic bag she normally placed her trophy in was in her other pocket, but access was barred by her makeshift brace.
It was another dozen or so blocks to the dingy little motel where she was registered, but there was no way she could call a cab. Not in her present bloody condition, and with a broken ski tied to her leg. She would have to hoof it and suffer through the pain, unless she could find a pay phone first to call for help.
Grimly biting her lower lip, Cutler hobbled on as she kept her eyes peeled for a convenience store, which she knew normally had pay phones. Pay phones were now almost as rare as lapies, but they both still existed. They both still managed to hang on, in spite of the odds. And in her case, in spite of the dangers.
Even though it appeared they both were heading for extinction.