Bitter Bite(Elemental Assassin #14)(53) by Jennifer Estep
“Deirdre owns all these jewels?” Owen asked.
“Just a few pieces,” I said. “Most of the items belong to folks here in Ashland. Apparently, Deirdre knows everyone who’s anyone, especially among the society crowd, and she got them all to loan their jewelry to her.”
“Impressive,” Owen said.
And it truly was. The display of Mab Monroe’s personal effects here back during the summer had been a sight to see, but this was something else. I’d never been much for jewelry, but even I couldn’t help gawking at all the unique and interesting pieces on view. I could almost admire Deirdre for putting together such a lavish, over-the-top show.
“Let’s find Finn and Bria.” I paused. “After we have a drink. Or three.”
“Sounds like someone needs a little liquid courage for her next encounter with Mama Dee,” Owen teased.
“Absolutely.” I elbowed him in the side. “Now, shut it, wiseguy, and take me to the bar.”
Owen and I grabbed a couple of drinks—a Scotch on the rocks for him and a gin and tonic for me—then walked around the rotunda, looking at the jewelry and searching for our friends. In addition to Ashland’s upper crust, several underworld bosses were here tonight, and I once again had to stop and make nice with the more important ones, just as I had done at the bank’s cocktail party. Once again, my cheeks started to ache from all the fake smiles and inane pleasantries. But as Silvio had told me many times before, it was all part of my job as the big boss now. Lucky me.
Mama Dee had also invited Silvio, who was already here, making the rounds and seeing what info he could dig up to pass on to me later. The middle-aged vampire looked quite distinguished in his tuxedo, his silver hair glistening under the lights. A younger man whom I didn’t recognize was giving Silvio come-hither looks over the top of his champagne flute, but Silvio ignored him.
The vamp caught sight of Owen and me and waved. I waved back and made a motion with my hand, telling him that we would catch up later. Silvio nodded back, walked away from his admirer, and continued circulating through the room, chatting up a few people here and there as he passed.
Owen and I walked on. I said hello to a few more folks, rounded another case, and there they were, standing in the center of the rotunda—Bria, Finn, and Deirdre. Of course that was where Mama Dee would be.
Bria was a vision of ethereal beauty in a lavender dress that floated around her like a cloud, while Finn looked as handsome as ever in his tuxedo, a diamond pin winking in the center of his bow tie. But they both paled in comparison with Deirdre.
She wore a tight, fitted, floor-length gown made of dazzling silver sequins that sparkled even brighter than many of the jewels. A couple of long, thin diamond pins held her blond curls in place, while her scarlet lips were a perfect pop of color in her beautiful face. Her only other jewelry was her rune necklace—that heart made out of jagged diamond icicles.
I wondered when she would finally reveal her own cold heart. Silvio was still digging up info on her, insisting that there was something seriously off about her charity foundation finances, but that didn’t help me combat her growing hold on Finn.
A hold that was on full display tonight.
Even though Bria was with them, Finn was completely focused on Deirdre, his gaze locked onto her face even as he belly-laughed at some joke she’d made. So did everyone else who was gathered around them. Before his mother had come to town, Finn wouldn’t have been able to take his eyes off Bria, especially given how gorgeous she looked tonight, but that wasn’t the case anymore. No wonder she was sick of Deirdre.
Bria saw me and waved. She murmured something to Finn, probably telling him that Owen and I were here, but all he did was nod distractedly and go right back to his conversation with Deirdre.
Bria stared at him, the hurt flashing in her eyes quickly flaring up into annoyance and then outright anger. Not that he noticed. She sniffed, turned her back to him, and stormed over to Owen and me. The sharp crack-crack-crack-crack of her stilettos against the marble floor rang out above the music.
Bria stopped a passing waiter, downed a glass of champagne, and grabbed another one before coming over to us. Owen got waylaid by one of his business associates, so then it was just my sister and me, drinks in hand, watching Deirdre smile, bat her lashes, and entertain the growing crowd around her and Finn.
“The more I see of that woman, the less I like her,” Bria muttered. “It’s like she and Finn are joined at the hip. It’s getting on my last nerve.”
I scoffed. “You think it’s getting on your last nerve? You’re not the one who has to be a dear and fetch her iced teas and grilled cheese sandwiches until the cows come home. She and Finn had a three-hour lunch at the Pork Pit earlier today, which meant three whole hours of listening to her laugh and talk and simper and make an ass of herself and Finn. My face still hurts from smiling at all her stupid jokes.”
Bria snorted her agreement, her gaze never leaving the necklace around Deirdre’s throat.
“Did you ever figure out where you had seen her rune before?”
“Not yet,” she said. “I haven’t had much time to work on it the last few days, and last night I was busy with all of Mallory’s old photos. Thank you for giving them to me. I’ve only gone through about half of them, but it’s been really great, seeing Mom’s face again.”
As soon as I’d left Mallory and Lorelei’s mansion yesterday, I dropped the photos off at the police station for Bria, knowing how much she would enjoy them. I’d look through them later. Right now, I needed to focus on Mama Dee, not get all misty-eyed and maudlin about my own mother and my dim memories of her.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online