Bitter Bite(Elemental Assassin #14)(20) by Jennifer Estep
“Finn!” I screamed. “Finn!”
Santos pulled the trigger.
The shot rang out, that one sharp, single crack seeming louder than all the previous ones put together.
All the while, I could hear myself screaming—Bria too—but it was like I was underwater, and everything seemed to happen in slow motion. Finn’s eyes widening, his mouth falling open, his entire body tensing, waiting for the bullet to tear through his chest.
But it never happened.
At the last instant, Deirdre shoved Finn out of the way, making him fall to the floor. The bullet hit her instead, and she screamed and spun around before stumbling into a cluster of chairs. She bounced off a chair and slid down, landing on her ass and clutching her left arm, her face white with shock. Given her scarlet dress, I couldn’t tell how badly she might be injured.
And I didn’t care. Finn was okay.
Santos’s lips moved, but I couldn’t hear the curses he was spouting. He turned tail, pushed through the front doors, and disappeared.
I kicked off my black stilettos, palmed a second knife, and sprinted after him. I wanted to end this now, before Santos escaped, holed up somewhere, and started plotting his revenge against me. Not only that, but I wanted to know if Santos had decided to rob the bank on his own or if someone had hired him to do it. And since the bastard had tried to shoot Finn, I was going to carve the answers out of him one slow slice at a time.
Bria and Owen started to follow me, but I stabbed one of my knives toward Finn, who was still sprawled across the floor. He must have taken a harder tumble than I’d thought.
“Stay with him!” I yelled.
Not only because Finn was injured but also because I didn’t want to leave him alone with Deirdre—not even for a minute.
I shoved a few more screaming people out of my way, rammed my shoulder into the door, and barreled down the stairs, which were still covered with that red carpet—
Crack! Crack! Crack!
Santos fired at me, hanging out the front passenger window of a black van idling at the curb. But I was still holding on to my Stone magic, so the bullets bounced off my body instead of punching through my chest. Still, the blows made me stagger back, and it took me a few seconds to shake off the hard, stinging impacts and dart forward again.
Santos cursed and started to reload, but whoever was driving the van had had enough, especially with the growing whoop-whoop-whoop of police sirens in the distance. The getaway driver gunned the engine and peeled away from the curb, tires smoking.
But I wasn’t ready to give up, so I sprinted out into the street, fell to my knees, dropped my knives, and slapped my palms flat against the asphalt. In an instant, I reached for my Ice magic, blasting it out over the entire street. The cold crystals of my power exploded out from my palms and rushed down the pavement like a tidal wave streaking toward shore. The sheet of Ice raced down the asphalt, getting closer and closer to the van’s back tires. If I could just get the vehicle to skid and crash, I could still catch Santos.
“C’mon,” I muttered. “C’mon, c’mon, c’mon . . .”
I poured even more of my magic into creating that solid sheet of Ice, watching it creep closer and closer to the van.
At the end of the block, the driver took a hard right, making the tires screech in protest. The van careened around the corner and vanished from sight, even as my elemental Ice continued to shoot straight down the street.
“Dammit!” I snarled.
Gone—Santos was gone.
And so was my hope of getting any answers about the robbery.
* * *
I released my magic, grabbed my knives, and stood up. The elemental Ice coating the street burned my bare feet as I walked over to the curb. I slid my knives back up my dress sleeves, pushed through one of the doors, and stepped back into the bank.
All sorts of debris littered the floor—overturned tables and chairs, trays of spilled food and drinks, shattered shards from the crystal chandeliers, trash bags of valuables, bullet casings. The waiters and bartenders were clustered along the tellers’ counter, shell-shocked expressions on their faces. The partygoers and the bank’s clients wore similarly stunned looks. No surprise there. Things as low-down and dirty as strong-arm robberies simply didn’t happen at a place like First Trust.
As for the bank staff, all the tellers, investment types, and other hotshots were nervously gathered in the middle of the lobby around Stuart Mosley to see what his orders would be. Mosley had his phone clamped to his ear, his eyes narrowed, and his voice chillingly low as he demanded answers from the person on the other end about how this had happened.
The crime bosses were also on their phones, texting and talking to their crews, telling them what had happened and trying to get info on who the robbers were and where they might be headed. I would be doing the same and calling Silvio soon enough, if the vampire hadn’t already heard what had happened.
But first, I had to deal with Deirdre Shaw.
She was sitting on the same stool as when I’d first come into the lobby. Her scarlet shawl lay crumpled on top of the bar in front of her, along with her purse and several bloody cocktail napkins. A long red gash sliced along her upper left arm, but the wound didn’t look deep, and it wasn’t even bleeding anymore. She’d thrown herself in front of a bullet and had only gotten grazed. I was certainly never that lucky. Then again, I’d long ago lost count of how many times I’d been shot.
But it seemed to be a new, thoroughly horrible experience for Deirdre. The robbery itself might not have scared her, but getting shot certainly had. Shock still whitened her face, her eyes twitched, and her fingers shook with small spasms before she clasped her hands together to try to hide the tremors.
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