Lilith Saintcrow: Heaven's Spite

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Lilith Saintcrow Heaven's Spite
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    Heaven's Spite
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Heaven's Spite: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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When a new hellbreed comes calling, playing nice isn't an option. Jill Kismet has no choice but to seek treacherous allies—Perry, the devil she knows, and Melisande Belisa, the cunning Sorrows temptress whose true loyalties are unknown. Kismet knows Perry and Belisa are likely playing for the same thing—her soul. It's just too bad, because she expects to beat them at their own game. Except their game is vengeance. Nobody plays vengeance like Kismet. But if the revenge she seeks damns her, her enemies might get her soul after all...

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Heaven's Spite

(The fifth book in the Jill Kismet series)

A novel by Lilith Saintcrow

For L.I.

Soon enough.

What like a bullet can undeceive!

—Herman Melville


How fast does a man run, when Death is after him?

The Trader clambered up the rickety fire escape and I was right behind. If I’d had my whip I could have yanked his feet out from under him and had him down in a heartbeat. No use lamenting, had to work with what I had.

He was going too fast for me to just shoot him at the moment.

Didn’t matter. I knew where he was headed. And though I hoped Saul would be quick enough to get her out of the way, it would be better if I killed him now.

Or got there first. And then killed him.

He went over the edge of the wall in one quick spiderlike scuttle and I flung myself up, the silver charms tied in my hair buzzing like a rattler’s tail. The scar on my right wrist burned like a live coal pressed against my skin as I pulled etheric force through it. A sick tide of burning delight poured up my arm, I reached the top and was up and over so fast I collided with the Trader, my hellbreed-strong right fist jabbing forward to get him a good shot in the kidneys while my left hand tangled in his dark, dirty hair.

We rolled across the rooftop in a tangle of arms and legs, my leather trench coat snapping once and fluttering raggedly. It was singed and peppered with holes from the shotgun blast, where I’d lost my whip. I was covered in drying blood and very, very pissed off.

Just another night on the job.

Oh no you don’t, fuckwad. One hand in his hair, the other one now full of knife hilt. The silver-loaded blade ran with crackling blue light as the blessing on it reacted to the breath of contamination wavering around the Trader’s writhing. I caught an elbow in the face, my eye smarting and watering immediately, and slid the knife in up to the guard.

The Trader bucked. He was thin but strong. My fingers slipped, greasy with blood. I got a knee in, wrestled him down as he twisted—

—and he shot me four times.

They were just lead, not silverjacket slugs. Still, the violent shock of agony as four of them slammed through my torso was enough to throw me down for a few moments, stunned and gasping, the scar chuckling to itself as it flooded me with crackling etheric force. My body convulsed, stupid meat freaking out over a little thing like bullets. A curtain of red closed over my vision, and I heard retreating footsteps.

Get up, Jill. Get up now.

Another convulsion running through me, locking down every single muscle. I rolled onto my side as lung fluid and blood jetted from my mouth and nose. The contraction was so intense even my eyes watered, and I whooped in a deep breath. My hands scrabbled uselessly against dirty rooftop. My nails were bitten down to the quick; if they hadn’t been I would’ve splintered them on tarpaper.

Get UP, you bitch!

My feet found the floor, the rest of me hauled itself upright, and I heard my voice from a dim, faraway place. I was cursing like a sailor who just found out shore leave was canceled. Etheric force crackled around me like heat lightning. I took stock of myself and took a single step.

So far so good.

Now go get him. Get him before he gets there.

I stumbled, almost fell flat on my face. Getting peppered with plain lead won’t kill me, but if it hits a lot of vitals it’s pretty damn uncomfortable. My flesh twitched, expelling bits and chunks of bullet, and I coughed again rackingly, got my passages clear. More stumbling steps, my right bootsole squeaking because it was blood-wet. The knife spun, blade reversed against my forearm, and I blinked. Took off again, because the Trader’s matted black hair puffed up as he dropped over the side of the building.

Now I was mad.

Go get him, Jill. Get him quick and get him hard.

A waxing half moon hung overhead, Santa Luz shuddered underneath its glow, and I hurled myself forward again, going over the edge of the building with arms and legs pulled in just in case. The drop wasn’t bad, and I had some luck—the stupid bastard decided to stand and fight rather than run off toward the civilian he’d marked for death.

He hit me hard, ramming us both into the brick wall of the building we’d just been tangling on top of. This rooftop was a chaos of girders and support structure for the water tank looming above us. I got my left arm free, flipped my wrist so the knife blade angled in, and stabbed.

Another piece of luck—his arm was up, and my aim was good. The knife sank in at a weird angle, the axillary region exposed and vulnerable and now full of silver-loaded steel. My knee came up so hard something in his groin popped like bubble gum, and I clocked him a good one with my hellbreed-strong right fist.

Stupid fuck. While he was running, or at least just trying to get away, he had a chance. But fighting a pitched battle with an angry helltainted hunter? Not a good idea.

He folded, keening, and I coughed up more blood. A hot sheen of it slicked my chin, splashed on my chest. I pitched forward, following him down. My knee hit, a jolt of silvery pain up my femur; I braced myself and yanked his head back. His scream turned into a harsh rasping as the neck extended, vocal cords suddenly stressed.

Another knife hilt slapped my palm and I jerked it free of the sheath. My right hand cramped, he made a whining noise as I bore down, my body weight pinning him. I’m tall for a female but still small when compared to most hellbreed, Traders, or what-have-you. The scar helps, gives me denser muscle and bone, but when it comes right down to it my only hope is leverage. I had some, but not enough.

Which meant I had to kill him quick.

The silver-loaded blade dragged across easily, parting helltainted flesh. A gush of hot, black-tinged blood sprayed out. Human blood looks black at night, but the darkness of hellbreed ichor tainting a Trader’s vital fluids is in a class all its own.

Arterial spray goes amazingly far, especially when you have the rest of the body under tension and the head wrenched all the way back. The body slumped in my hands, a gurgle echoing against rooftop and girders, twitches racing through as corruption claimed the flesh. I used to think that if Traders could see one of them biting it and the St. Vitus’s dance of contagion that eats up their tissues, they might think twice about making a bargain with hellbreed.

I don’t think that anymore. Because really, what Trader thinks they’re going to die? That’s why they Trade—they think the rules don’t apply to them. Every single one of them, you see, is special. A special little snowflake, entitled to kill, rape, terrify, and use whoever and whatever they want.

They think they can escape consequences. Sometimes they do.

But not while I’m around.

My legs didn’t work too well. I scrabbled back from the body, a knife hilt in either fist. Fetched up against the brick wall, right next to the indent from earlier. Sobbing breaths as my own body struggled for oxygen, my eyes locked to the Trader’s form as it disappeared into a slick of bubbling black grease starred with scorched, twisting bones.

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