Bitter Bite(Elemental Assassin #14)(23) by Jennifer Estep
Bria looked at me, then at Owen, who shook his head. He didn’t know what to do for Finn any more than we did.
Suddenly, Finn whipped around on his wing tips, throwing off Bria’s hand. He stared at her a moment, before fixing his gaze on me, his green eyes growing colder and harder the longer he looked at me.
“You knew,” he accused in a loud, harsh voice. “The two of you knew that Dee-Dee was my mother. Owen was as shocked as I was, but you two? Not so much. Not at all, really.”
My heart dropped, and my stomach clenched. This was the moment I’d been dreading ever since I found Fletcher’s file, but I had no one to blame for it but myself.
“You’re right. I knew about Deirdre. Now, let me explain—”
“That’s the reason for all the soft touches and sympathetic looks,” Finn said, cutting me off. “How long? How long have you known, Gin?”
Before I could answer, Owen nudged me with his elbow and jerked his head to the right. I looked past him and realized that Finn’s coworkers were staring at us, along with Stuart Mosley. So were the cops and everyone else still in the lobby. They all knew a juicy bit of drama when they saw it. Finn hadn’t exactly screamed his accusations at me, but he hadn’t whispered them either.
I turned back to Finn. “This isn’t a conversation I want to have here,” I said in a low voice. “And I don’t think you want to have it here either. Besides, we need to get you to Jo-Jo’s so she can look at that knot on your head. Let’s go to the salon, and I’ll tell you everything.”
His gaze flicked around the lobby. His mouth tightened, and an angry flush stained his cheeks as he realized that we were the center of attention. “Fine.” He spat out the word. “But you’d better hope that Jo-Jo has some alcohol hidden in the cabinets somewhere. Because I need a drink. Several of them.”
He whipped around again and strode away without another word.
Bria gave me a worried look.
“It’s okay,” I said. “Go with him, and make sure he doesn’t do anything crazy. Owen and I will finish up here and meet you at Jo-Jo’s.”
Bria nodded, grabbed her purse off the bar, and hurried across the lobby after Finn, catching up with him just before he reached the doors. She shot me one more worried glance before following him outside.
“Well,” Owen rumbled. “I guess I know what the bad news is.”
I winced. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you earlier. But I wanted to let Finn know first. I just never thought that Deirdre would beat me to the punch. That she would be here tonight. That she would already have her hooks into Finn.”
Anger surged through me, and I kicked the stool where Deirdre had been sitting. The metal chair skidded across the marble floor before banging into the wooden bar and teetering to a stop. The noise made everyone stare at me again, but I didn’t care right now.
“I’m such an idiot,” I growled. “Finn has been going on and on about his great new client for weeks now. I should have realized there was more to it than just him schmoozing with someone. I should have considered the possibility that it was Deirdre, trying to get close to him.”
Owen took my hands in his and stroked his thumbs over my skin. “You’re not an idiot,” he said. “Finn always talks about his clients, ad nauseam sometimes. There was no reason to suspect that this client was different from any other. Although . . .”
“How long have you known about Finn’s mother?”
I had started to answer when I realized that people were sidling closer and closer to Owen and me—all the criminals still left in the lobby. Gun runners, loan sharks, bookies, and more. All standing in a loose knot, all with their arms crossed over their chests, all waiting for me, the big boss, to tell them how I was going to fix this, how I was going to find and take down the people who had dared to try to rob them.
I sighed. “I’ll tell you all about it on the drive over to Jo-Jo’s. But first, let me deal with this.”
Owen squeezed my hands, then stepped back.
I squared my shoulders, lifted my chin, and waded into the middle of the mobsters. Everyone clustered around me, talking at once, their voices growing louder and louder as they demanded that I find the robbers right fucking now and have them strung up from the nearest streetlight. For once, I was in total agreement with them. I wanted the robbers found, all right, especially Santos, so I could make him pay for trying to hurt Finn.
But I put my game face on, made all the appropriate I’m-going-to-find-and-kill-these-bastards noises, and promised all the bosses that this sort of behavior would absolutely not be tolerated on my watch.
The only ones I didn’t have to placate were Lorelei and Mallory, who stood on the fringes of the crowd. Lorelei was busy texting on her phone, while Mallory watched me soothe the bruised egos of the other criminals, an amused expression on her wrinkled face.
By the time I got done playing my part as the head honcho and the other bosses had finally drifted away, more cops had streamed into the lobby, including a seven-foot-tall giant sporting a black leather jacket. Despite the cold night, he wasn’t wearing a hat on his shaved head, and his ebony skin gleamed under the lights. Xavier, Bria’s partner on the force.
Xavier spotted Owen and me and walked over to us. The giant looked around the lobby, his dark eyes taking in all the overturned furniture, smashed glasses, and trampled food.
“This reminds me of that robbery at the Briartop art museum during the summer,” he rumbled. “Minus a few bodies.”
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