Saved by Venom (Grabbed 3)(4)

By: Lolita Lopez

Dizzy wondered if she was getting out just in time. The sky ships orbiting her planet were extremely safe—much safer than living down here where crazy people were blowing up buildings.

“Oh, and for all you night cats out there, I hear that a certain hopping spelunker is opening up the rabbit warren. First band starts at ten o’clock sharp. This one is a bring-your-own-booze affair.”

Ella lowered the volume and shot Dizzy her most pleading look. “Please?”

“Well…” She wavered. The “hopping spelunker” the Mouth described was a girl everyone called Hopper. Like a lot of street kids, Hopper had spent most of her youth living and exploring the tunnels of the abandoned subway system below The City. As an adult, she made a living organizing parties that took place literally and figuratively underground to avoid the morality laws of The City.

And they were such good parties! Dizzy loved to dance. She didn’t know when she might get the chance to do it again, especially not with some of the hottest bands on Calyx playing for a live crowd.

“Come on, Dizzy. Let me send you away in style. We’ll consider it your bachelorette party.”

“Well how can I pass up an offer like that?” Dizzy pushed down the sadness threatening to overwhelm her. She didn’t want to spend her last night on Calyx in tears and questioning her father’s betrayal. She wanted to spend it laughing and having a good time with her best friend in the whole world.

“Great!” Ella jiggled the dress in her hand. “But I’m changing into this first!”

Dizzy rolled her eyes and pointed to the closet. “Don’t forget the shoes.”

“Score!” Ella disappeared into the small space. A moment later the dress she’d been wearing sailed through the air and landed on the bed. Snorting at her friend’s utter carelessness, Dizzy picked it up and draped it neatly over the chair at her desk.

When Ella stepped out a few moments later, she looked effortlessly sexy. With that bee-stung pout and bewitching hazel eyes, she was a natural in her career as a muse. It was no wonder that companies lined up to have Ella showcase their products.

Once Dizzy had been in the same line of work. That was how they’d met as teenagers. Ella had been one of the muses Dizzy’s mother had recruited to work for the agency she owned.

But the explosion that had killed her mother and brought the Harcos civil war to Calyx had taken away any possibility of Dizzy succeeding in that career. The scars on her neck weren’t awful but they were noticeable—too noticeable.

Once recovered, she had moved behind the camera. There she had discovered her real passion. Designing clothing had provided her a steady income and a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment. She couldn’t imagine how her life might have turned out if she hadn’t had her scissors and sewing needles to fall back on after the bombing ruined her chances of being a muse and stripped her family of its wealth and influence. She was damn lucky not to be living on the streets.

“Are you ready?”

Dizzy considered Ella’s question. In three words, Ella had captured her warring mindset perfectly. Was she ready?

* * * * *

“You ready for tomorrow?”

Jerking forward from the impact of Raze’s unexpected whack between his shoulder blades, Venom choked on his mouthful of pretzels. Raze laughed as Venom took a long drink of his cold beer to clear his throat. Coughing, he scowled at his best friend and watched him drop into the empty chair across the small table. “A little warning next time?”

Raze held up both hands. “Sorry.”

Placing his beer on the table, he loudly cleared his throat and considered his friend’s query. “Sure. I’m ready.”

Rather imperiously, Raze arched a dark eyebrow. “You sound rather relaxed for a man about to change his entire life with one silly race.”

He frowned at Raze. “It’s not a silly race. The Grab is one of our honored traditions.”

“That often ends in heartache,” Raze grumbled. “How many damn SRU calls have we been on in the last year with brides who want to leave their sky warrior husbands or for men fighting over a woman who got snatched away from her husband during the trial period?” He shook his head. “They’ve got to come up with a better way of screening these women than a damn lottery.”

Venom didn’t disagree with that. “The system isn’t perfect but it’s all we’ve got out here. If you want a wife and a family, it’s the Grab or one of the matchmaking services from back home.”

Raze’s jaw twitched at the mere mention of matchmaking. Venom was probably the only man on the warship Valiant brave enough to say the word around him.

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