As the danger mounts, can the Prometheans hope to stop the tide of destruction the Brotherhood of Spiders leave in their wake… Or even hope to save the life of one of their own?
“Fatal Conspiracy” – Excerpt from BLOOD DEBT (Project Prometheus, Book #4)
“Your man in the camp is fucking up all our plans!” The scientist shook an accusing finger in the stone-cold face of Dimitri Lapinov. Would it really kill the younger man to display a human emotion, occasionally?
Younger man. Hah! He snorted as he glared at the tall Russian. If the rumors he heard were true, Lapinov was old enough to be his grandfather. Which made it even more disgusting that the man didn’t look a day over forty.
“Calm yourself, amigo.” The soft voice soothed him against his will, even as a gentle, unlined hand rested on his forearm, lowering it and his shaking digit.
He turned his gaze to the source of that hypnotising calm. She wasn’t anything much to look at, on the surface. A soft face – she might actually be pretty if she did something with that stringy, unkempt hair and used a few cosmetics to take care of the dark circles under her eyes. Surprisingly delicate hands and wrists that hinted she was more slender and attractive than those frumpy, wrinkled clothes and the stained lab coat indicated. He couldn’t help the stir of interest. Never mind that she was so far out of his league they weren’t even in the same division. If Lapinov was old enough to be his grandfather, this pale-faced woman who looked like a lost child playing dress-up was old enough to be great-grandmother to every living human being on the planet. And her status, at least, was no rumor.
Magdalena – God alone knew her real name, anymore – claimed the only direct blood tie to Onuris in all the Brotherhood. She was his daughter – a child spawned of a magical union, incapable of aging, or dying. And seemingly entirely content to retreat into her world of plants and potions and let the rest of the world slip by her, until Red Widow traipsed into her territory and started hunting prey. He smirked. Nothing like competition to get a Widow all riled up. Magdalena’s lips flickered in return, a soft smile that said she knew what he was thinking, as she moved a step closer to him.
“Dimitri cannot be blamed for the incompetence of his associate,” she said in that quiet, husky voice of hers.
“Can’t he?” He wasn’t mollified by her deference to the Tarantula leader. “Thanks to that bumbling idiot, Babin, our target is suspicious, now.”
“Not of you,” Lapinov interrupted coldly, the first words he’d spoken since arriving an hour ago.
“But that whore Banks has taken up with is. Or didn’t you listen to the tapes your man brought in?”
Lapinov snorted derisively, as if to say that he had no need of such trivial things as the tapes Babin routinely supplied from the bugs planted all over the Angelis Fund camp. “The Daughter of the Star of Heaven would be suspicious even had Rurik not erred. She is a vessel of the Musir, and a catalyst in the Healer’s life. You failed to cover your own tracks well enough to evade her intuition.”
Rage poured through him, and he fought to keep his expression neutral in the face of this bald-faced attack. There was no way he’d rise to this bastard’s challenge. But, as he opened his mouth to toss a retort back in Lapinov’s face, he was cut off by another voice.
“Enough! Both of you.” The room’s only other occupant, who’d been strangely silent until now, spoke up sharply, reminding them all of her presence. Red Widow turned from the office window to pin each of them in turn with her icy glare. “I refuse to lose this artefact because you two want to have a pissing match. We need a plan. Though,” she favored Lapinov with a censuring look, “he does raise a valid point, Dimitri.”
Smug humor burst in his as he watched Lapinov bristle with indignation. So the pet wasn’t above censure, after all. Interesting.
“Okay. So, what’s the plan, then?”
Red Widow’s scarlet-tinted lips twitched, but he couldn’t tell if it was a smile or a frown that marred her cosmetically-altered face.
“The plan hasn’t changed. The Daughter of Heaven must die, if we are to succeed.”
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