Bitter Bite(Elemental Assassin #14)(28) by Jennifer Estep
We left Finn at the salon, and Owen drove me back to Fletcher’s. He offered to spend the night, but I sent him home. I wasn’t good company right now. Not when so many thoughts and questions kept swirling around in my mind about Finn, Fletcher, and Deirdre.
I had just locked the door behind Owen and slipped out of my stilettos when the phone rang. I sighed, knowing exactly who it was—and that he would just keep calling until I answered him.
So I went into the den and grabbed the cordless phone. “Hello, Silvio.”
Silence. “How did you know it was me?” The vampire’s voice flooded my ear.
“Because I turned off my cell phone before I went to the bank, and no doubt you have been trying to reach me ever since you heard about the robbery.” I sat down on the couch. “Not to mention the fact that the phone rang a mere minute after Owen left. How would someone know that I was home right this very second? Unless, of course, he had planted a GPS tracker on Owen’s car.”
Silvio cleared his throat. “I will neither confirm nor deny that.”
“Of course not.”
I didn’t say anything more as I leaned back and put my feet up on the coffee table. The silence stretched on . . . and on . . . and on . . .
Finally, Silvio sighed. “You’re going to make me ask what happened, aren’t you?”
“Would I do something like that?”
“Absolutely,” he grumbled.
Even though he couldn’t see me, I still grinned. “Sadly, it’s the most fun I’ve had all night.”
I filled him in on the robbery and Deirdre’s big reveal. When I finished, he was silent, although a series of clickety-clack-clack-clacks sounded through the phone, as if he was typing out notes on our conversation. Now, that was what a good assistant was supposed to do.
“I have some preliminary information on Ms. Shaw,” he said, still typing away. “I’ll have it and more waiting at the Pork Pit in the morning.”
“Thank you. You’re a good friend, Silvio.”
“I do try,” he said, an amused note in his voice. “Now, get some sleep. I’ve got work to do.”
We hung up, and I went upstairs, took a shower, and got into bed. I thought I would have trouble falling asleep, since my brain was still in overdrive, but as soon as my head touched the pillows, I dropped off into the land of sleep, dreams, and memories . . .
“I don’t think this is a good idea.”
Finn rolled his eyes. “Of course, you don’t think it’s a good idea. You never think anything fun is good.”
He went back to stringing up white lights along the fireplace mantel in the den. I shifted from one foot to the other, my stomach twisting into tight knots, but I didn’t try to stop him. I had no right to. After all, this was his dad’s house. I was just a guest here. At least, that’s how I still felt sometimes, even though I’d been living with Fletcher for almost a year now.
The old man had gone off on some assassin job as the Tin Man and wouldn’t be back until morning. He’d wanted Finn and me to spend the night at Jo-Jo’s, but Finn had griped that he was sixteen now and Fletcher had to start leaving him alone sometime. After an hour of arguing on Finn’s part, the old man had reluctantly agreed. Even though I would never tell him so, I’d thought Finn was right. Neither one of us was a kid. Not after all the bad things we’d seen and done.
What I hadn’t realized was that Finn had a secret agenda.
Sure, he wanted to be trusted enough to be left home alone. But he also planned to throw a massive party.
The second the old man left, Finn had started calling up all his friends.
“Hey, man. Yep, my dad’s gone, just like I planned. Why don’t you guys come over about eight? Sure, it’s cool if you bring your own beer . . .”
He’d had the same conversation with a dozen people. After he’d finished his calls, he raced up to the attic, carried down several boxes of Christmas lights, and strung them up all over the house, as if the small white glows would hide all the clutter, mismatched furniture, and assorted junk that Fletcher had accumulated. Finn also taped up a couple of old silver disco balls on the ceiling.
He had gone into the kitchen and arranged cold cuts, carrot sticks, and more food from the fridge on platters and then filled bowls with chips, pretzels, and popcorn. He had also set out cans of soda, along with bottles of gin, Scotch, and other liquor from Fletcher’s office. For a final touch, he’d hooked up an old stereo system in the den and tuned it to a popular radio station.
“Hey, Gin,” Finn called out now. “Hand me some more tape. I need to get this final string of lights up before anyone gets here.”
I crossed my arms over my chest. “You’re going to get into so much trouble. Fletcher’s going to find out. You know he will.”
The old man was downright spooky when it came to figuring out Finn’s latest schemes and how he was plotting to get around Fletcher’s rules, whether it was about homework or curfew or doing his chores. But Finn was just as stubborn as the old man, and he kept right on doing exactly what he wanted, no matter how many times Fletcher punished him.
Finn grinned, but his smile was more calculating than kind. “He won’t find out if you don’t tell him. And since you haven’t called him or Jo-Jo yet, well, I’d say that makes you just as guilty as me now. Wouldn’t you?”
I shifted on my feet again. I hadn’t called anyone because I hadn’t wanted to get into trouble. Fletcher said that he loved me, that I was part of his family, now and forever, but we weren’t related.
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