Saved by Venom (Grabbed 3)(2)

By: Lolita Lopez

Dizzy couldn’t deny that it felt good to have her friend, the most popular muse on Calyx, talk about her work that way. “It doesn’t change things, Ella. I’m never going to find someone to sponsor me for a visa. Right now, I don’t have the kind of money it takes to buy a visa or the connections to get one of the seats on the transport ships run by the Red Feather.”

“What about Danny? You know, my friend the fixer? He’s tight with the Red Feather.” Ella grasped her hand. “I could make it happen.”

“There’s not enough time. Fat Pete expects Dad to bring him the money or me by Friday. That’s two days from now! I’m not taking the chance.”

“So you’re going to let one of those awful sky warriors take you?” Ella shuddered. “They’re monsters, Dizzy.”

“They can’t be any worse than Fat Pete!” Dizzy swallowed hard. “The one that my mother…” Her voice trailed off as the sordid details of that assignation raced through her head. “Well…anyway. He seemed nice enough and he saved my life.” She touched the scar on her neck again. “Maybe I can find one like him.”

“I don’t know.” Ella nibbled her thumb. “They’re so overbearing and so controlling.”

“It’s a cultural thing, I think. Maybe it won’t be so bad.” Searching for a positive slant to her crappy situation, she said, “I’ve seen some Harcos men around the embassy downtown. They’re all big and scary but some of them are handsome in a rugged sort of way. I’ve heard they’re good to their wives.”

“If you call being leashed and collared good.”

“I don’t,” Dizzy admitted, “but this is my only chance to get away from here. After the bombing, after losing Mom, I can’t stand it here. Dad is so far gone now that he’s wrapped up in the black market. I can’t let him drag me down. This place is suffocating me. I’ve got to get out.”

Ella squeezed her hand. “I know the nightmares are bad, Dizzy, but are you sure you want to trade all those problems for whatever the hell awaits you up there?”

“It can’t be any worse than this.”

Ella made a frustrated sound. “I realize you’ve been through a terrible, traumatic event, Dizzy, but you have no idea what worse really means. I know. I know what it’s like to be cold and hungry and homeless and terrified that strange men are going to take you and rape you. Please.” She gripped Dizzy’s hand so hard it hurt. “Please reconsider. You don’t have to do this.”

“I do.” Dizzy had settled her mind and there was no going back. “I’m going to run tomorrow morning and one of those sky warriors is going to Grab me.”

For a long moment, Ella simply stared at her. Finally she exhaled slowly and said, “Then let’s get you packed.”

Dizzy relaxed. “Thank you for not fighting me on this.”

“Oh, I want to fight you but we’ve been friends long enough for me to know when I can’t win.” Ella tugged her into a tight hug. “I’m really going to miss you.”

Dizzy didn’t even try to stop the tears that spilled onto her cheeks. “I’m going to miss you too.”

“I hear that some women contact their families a few weeks after being taken. You have to promise me that you’ll get a hold of me if you can.”

“I will.” Dizzy rubbed Ella’s back. “I’ll find a way to make it happen.”

After ending their embrace Dizzy stood carefully and returned to her packing.

“What are you going to do about that?” Ella pointed to Dizzy’s head. “You won’t be able to run very far if it acts up and makes you sick.”

“I know.” She chewed her lower lip. “Hopefully I won’t have to run long. I assume those men are rather fast.”

“Definitely,” Ella agreed. “You’re only taking one bag?”

“That’s all they allow.” Dizzy glanced around the small studio apartment and all the things she was leaving behind. “I told the two Karraway sisters who live next door that they can have all the furniture. The newly married couple upstairs is going to take all the cookware and anything in the cabinets and pantry.”

Ella eyed the closet teeming with colorful clothing. “Um…what about all that?”

Dizzy laughed. “You can have first dibs on anything in my closet.”

“Yes!” Ella popped off the bed like an overeager puppy and darted to the closet. “You have some of the best clothes in The City.”

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