And they were the last thing Dodger saw before someone delivered a strong blow to the back of his head. Granted, it was enough to knock him for a loop, but not quite enough to put him all the way out, which was probably the intended effect. Dodger decided it might be best to play possum for a bit. Lay low, as it were. He went limp in his captor’s arms and allowed them to drag his heavy ass up the steps and inside.
Dodger kept his body limp and his eyes closed while someone propped him in a chair and proceeded to tie him in place. Again. Twice in as many days. (Would every job for the Doc wind up with him cold cocked and tied down?) Dodger flexed his muscles, allowing for a little play in the binding should talking his way out of this not work to his advantage. Speaking of talking, the room was alive with the chatter and natter of a variety of female voices.
With the trill of a French accent, a woman suggested, “I say we drain him now and dump his husk in zee pit. Let zee Jackals have what is left of him.”
A decisively British woman said, “No. Why gorge when we can make a month’s worth of meals out of the chap? I say we should enjoy him nice and slow. Let the bugger suffer long for what he’s done.”
A down home southern woman said, “Girls, girls. Let’s not get out of hand with this. We don’t rightly know what he’s done. Now, do we?”
Dodger recognized her as the shadow from the porch.
The one who rushed him.
All eyes and mouth and … something else. Even though it only happened moments ago, he couldn’t seem to remember now.
“But he has the guns,” the Frenchy said.
“Boon would never willingly part with his girls,” the Brit added.
A chorus of women agreed with this simple truth.
“Yes,” said the Southerner. “But I say we talk to him a little bit first. Find out what’s going on. Get a little information.”
Ah, the voice of reason. Dodger could almost kiss her, whoever she was.
Then the southern gal went and ruined by adding, “Then we kill him.”
The sea of feminine voices approved.
“You should just kill me now,” Dodger said. “Save us the trouble of arguing.”
Gasps rose from his audience and he lifted his head to lay eyes on a bevy of beauties. From pleasantly plump to bone thin, from blonde to redhead to brunette, from delicate to dangerous to delicious, every possible form of feminine glory lay spread around the room in front of Dodger. Some of the women lounged across the few couches, while others perched on benches, with the remaining sprawled on the floor. A quick count gave him twenty heads, and not male among them, though more than one was a bit masculine than Dodger’s tastes cared for. He was pleased to see he had been correct in his assumption. Either the Desert Rose was a bordello or a lingerie shop, because every little filly wore nothing more than a corset, panties and stockings.
And to his randy delight, some wore even less.
“If one of you ladies would be kind enough to set me free,” Dodger said, “then we can talk like civilized folks.”
“Where did you get these?” the southerner asked.
Dodger turned to her, and was taken aback by her beauty; a short but buxom blonde, with bright blue eyes and ruby red lips. A crimson, silky, knee length nightie was all she wore. The kind that one could see everything through if the light was just right.
And the light was oh so right.
She pushed Boon’s guns, as well as her bosom, into Dodger’s face and asked again, “Where did you get these?”
Funny thing was, Dodger didn’t remember being disarmed. He even peeked at his naked waist, just to make sure they were indeed Boon’s guns. Whoever took the guns had the deftest touch of anyone he had ever met. “I told you before. They came with the job.”
“What would I gain by lying?”
“Your life.” The woman smiled, and with her grin something seemed wrong.
Dodger glanced around the room at the women, whom were all smiling now. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but something seemed odd about their collective grins. Aside from the fact that their smiles were the sexiest things he had ever seen, the blonde’s the sexiest of all, something was just not quite right with them.
“My life?” Dodger asked. “Surely you don’t mean to kill me?”
“Surely we do,” the southerner said.
The other women, who had spent the last few minutes chattering like a house of nervous hens, had now grown quiet. As quiet as the grave.
“Over what?” Dodger asked.
“Let’s start with the crime of trespassing.” She lowered the guns and pushed her chest to him again.
He could sense the swell of each breast resting against his shoulder. His pace quickened. His pants suddenly seemed far too tight. “Is it hot in here? It seems awful hot in here.”
She lowered her voice to a sultry purr. “How did you find us?”
“I was sent here.” Dodger swallowed hard, trying to work down the dry lump in his throat, and will away the growing lump in his lap.
“By who?” The blonde smiled again, and the sight of it tore at Dodger’s subconscious.
What was so wrong with her smile? Her sexy, seductive, scintillating smile. He blinked, slowly, trying to flush the image of her grin from his tired mind. It was getting hard to concentrate with the weight of her body against him. She smelled so good too; sweet but cold. Like a rose at the heart of a snow drift. And he wanted her. More than anything else, he wanted to have her. Wanted to touch her. To taste her. To give his life to her.
“I told you already,” he said.
“What do you want with us?” she asked.
He heard his own voice as if through a wall, muffled and miles away. “I told you, I was sent here on an errand.”
She ran her hands through his hair, letting his wild locks slip between her dainty, pale fingers. “You’ve told us nothing but lies. I don’t know how you got those guns, but I think Marguerite has the right idea. We should drain you and toss what’s left to those Jackals in the pit. But, then again …” The blonde traced a line from his forehead, down the bridge of his nose, across his lips and down the length of his throat, stopping to press her fingertips against his throbbing artery, then lower still to grope the area over his racing heart.
Dodger hoped she would keep on going.
“You know,” she said, “in a way I am glad you stumbled across us. It’s been far too long between meals, and we were getting so very, very thirsty.”
She forced her smile wider. Very wide. Too wide. Much wider than Dodger really thought any woman had a right to smile. Any person, for that matter. It struck him in that instant, the thing that was wrong. The wrongness of her smile. Of her mouth. Or more specifically, of her teeth. No, not her teeth.
It was the wrongness of her fangs.
Of all their fangs, for each woman turned on him now, mouth agape and overfilled with sharp teeth. They hissed and spat at him as they came closer, hunger and rage burning from their very eyes. Anger and appetite for the man who had stolen Washington Boon’s weapons. And there was little he could do to resist.
Aside from the fact that he was their captive meal, he couldn’t help but find the whole scenario highly erotic. He gulped in excited breaths, pleased to make contact, any kind of contact, with these beautiful creatures. Let them have him. Let them suck him dry. If this is how he should meet his maker, by the seduction of these sexy ladies, then he was all too satisfied to oblige. He always knew he would die at the hands of a professional, just never knew what profession would get him in the end.
The southern belle leaned into him, lowering her cold mouth to his neck, the point of her delicate but dangerous fangs pushing against his leathery, sun worn skin. Just before she could sink into him, just before she could make a meal of him or drain him or whatever other horrible plan they had for Dodger, a familiar voice and presence filled the room.