Venom (Rosewood Realm #1) - Dee Garcia

♫ Requiem, K. 626: Lacrimosa - Mozart ♫

Everything aches.

No—it screams.

Every inch of my body screams in agony to the point that, I can’t move. Yet, somehow, I am moving. The haziness in my mind won’t allow me to make sense of the how; I just know I am.

Can feel the cool night air whipping across my face with such speed, I grow colder by the second. Oddly enough, it feels good. So freeing, like flying once felt.

That’s when it hits me. This must be…

My lips quirk in a faint, pained smile.

I did it. I actually did it. I finally found my peace.

But as I crack my heavy eyelids open and see the tops of the palms blurring past the dark, starry sky, what’s left of my fragile heart sinks to the deepest pit of my stomach.

I’m upside down.

How am I…?

Takes me a moment to realize I’m being carried, by a formidable source, no less, that doubles my size. We’re running, too, flashing through the lush tropical forest of the island at lightning speed.

I know who it is before he can so much as speak.

“Forgive me, love.” It’s Callan—Captain Hook to most of Rosewood. I can just make out his booming voice, but it’s seemingly distant despite our proximity. “Forgive me, please. It was the only way...”

I haven’t the slightest idea what he’s talking about, but almost instantly, that longed-for sense of freedom, of peace, vanishes and I’m left with nothing but fear. Instinct calls for me to move, to wriggle free from his embrace and take flight, but my wings won’t even so much as flutter.

Of course they won’t. How could they when I...

Tears spring to my eyes as the harrowing memory slowly comes back to me. All the while, I lay here limp. Broken. Terrified. I’m literally dead weight in his arms, and it’s all my fault.

I should’ve known it wouldn’t be so easy.

Streams of grief trickle down my cheeks, distorting my view of the full moon overhead. The breeze, one that’s far too cold now, amplifies the anguish radiating through my limbs. I don’t even bother screaming. Why should I?

I probably wouldn’t be able to anyway.

Callan squeezes me as if sensing my sudden realizations, cradling me tighter against his taut chest. I try catching a glimpse of him, but I can’t do that, either. My head hangs heavier than an anchor.

It’s right about then I finally grasp the full extensity of what I’ve done to myself.

I really am that broken now.

As mangled as he left my heart.

Flashes of our time together hit me in a reel, reminding me of why I became so irrational in the first place. Of how I ended up here.

“Stay with me. We’re almost there,” Callan coos. “Don’t think about the pain, just stay with me.”

Except the pain he speaks of seems to be dissipating.

The more I dwell on it, the more I try to feel it, the less I can seem to grasp it. It’s like my body is somehow dulling it.

But how…

I can’t even finish contemplating it. From one moment to the next, a whole new kind of pain envelopes me from head to toe. My mouth is drier than a desert, tongue sticking to the roof of my mouth. And my gums, dear God, my gums burn, as though I’ve poured acid in a glass and drank the entire thing.

Thirsty—I’m so thirsty.

No, famished.

My stomach contracts at the thought, bursting forth a protest off my tongue.

Callan tenses then, and curses under his breath as he bangs on a door with all his might. His door, I note the door to his home.

“Callan,” I whisper, wincing at the havoc raging through my mouth.

Glancing down at me in his arms, he flashes me a look that screams nothing short of remorseful and tucks a strand of my hair behind my ear. “Forgive me, Tinksley. When it’s all said and done, please forgive me. It was the only way.”

♫ Do I Wanna Know - Arctic Monkeys ♫

Watching Tinksley has become one of my favorite things.

She’s a wicked little creature, that one. And she doesn’t even know it; a heady combination of innocent and sexy.



Yet there’s such sass on her, too—a wild, mischievous side she can barely contain.

I would love nothing more than the chance to tame her, to own her, but Tinksley’s heart is spoken for.

Might be a good thing, honestly, because if I were ever to get my hands on her—may the Gods have mercy. I’d corrupt that little pixie with a singular swipe of