Bitter Bite(Elemental Assassin #14)(59) by Jennifer Estep
My ears perked up. That was the first time Tucker had said anything remotely interesting since I’d been watching him and Deirdre, and it was the first time he’d done anything to acknowledge my existence besides nod at me whenever he came into the Pork Pit with her. Plus, a snide tone sharpened his voice, as if he was almost mocking her.
“Of course not,” Deirdre said. “I told you that I would deliver, and I will. You should have more faith in me.”
Tucker snorted, but he kept right on texting, as if he’d already dismissed me and any potential problems I might cause from his thoughts.
“Gin Blanco is a suspicious little bitch,” Deirdre said, coldness creeping into her voice. “But she is predictable. Just like Fletcher was.”
And that was the first time Mama Dee had ever let her true feelings for me show through her big, bawdy persona. Maybe tonight would finally be the night I got something that I could take to Finn, some sort of proof that she wasn’t what she seemed. I made sure that the microphone and camera were picking up her every word and movement. Then I leaned forward, willing her to say more about Fletcher, willing her to spill her guts to Tucker about everything that had really happened between her and the old man.
“Do you know what the bad thing is about being predictable?” Deirdre continued. “It makes you weak. It makes you vulnerable.”
She paused a moment and leaned even closer to the windows, smiling all the while. “Isn’t that right, Gin?”
I gasped, shock zipping through me like a lightning bolt, and I almost dropped my binoculars. Everything just stopped, as though Deirdre had frozen me in place with her Ice magic. Even my brain ground to a complete halt. When it finally started sputtering again, I frowned, wondering if I’d heard her right. If she’d actually said my name. If she knew that I was watching her.
Deirdre stared out the windows again, and this time, she did look straight at me, her face smug with triumph. More shock zipped through me, and the revelations hit me one after another, each one as brutal as a fist to the face.
She’d been playing me this whole time. She had realized that I would be suspicious enough to spy on her. It was what Fletcher would have done, and it was exactly what the old man had taught me to do. Even more than that, it was the predictable move, just like she said. I was betting it was part of the reason she’d taken up residence in this particular penthouse—to make it easier for me to keep tabs on her.
And for her to keep tabs on me.
I cursed, scrambled to my feet, and whipped around. Lights blazed on, illuminating me as clearly as if it were noon, and men stormed out of the access door and onto the roof. I threw my binoculars aside, palmed a knife, and stepped forward, ready to drive the blade into the chest of the first man. But he was closer than I’d expected, and he was already swinging the butt of his gun straight at my face.
I reached for my Stone magic to harden my skin and tried to twist out of the way of the coming blow, but I wasn’t quick enough.
His gun slammed into my temple, and the world went black.
I woke up in a cage.
My eyes fluttered open, then snapped shut again as the bright glare from the bare bulbs overhead stabbed into my brain. My head was already pounding from the hard hit I’d taken, but I swallowed down the groan that threatened to escape my lips. Because I had no idea where I was, only that I was in serious trouble.
And so was Finn.
My eyes snapped open again at the thought of Finn. I had to warn him that Deirdre had finally shown her true self. That she was up to something—something big. So I forced myself to blink and blink until my eyes adjusted to the light and I could examine my surroundings without adding to the constant throbbing already in my head and face.
I was in a warehouse, sprawled across a cold, dirty concrete floor. The walls were made of gray cinder blocks, but the sloped roof was metal and soared about fifty feet overhead. Forklifts of all shapes and sizes squatted here and there in the warehouse, along with heavy-duty wooden pallets that supported large crates and shrink-wrapped boxes. I had no idea what the containers held, but some of the writing on the sides was in another language. Russian, maybe.
I was lying in the center of a cage made out of bars that stretched from the floor all the way up to the ceiling. It probably served as a secure storage space for more valuable items like guns, drugs, and money. I looked from one side of the warehouse to the other. No guards, no gangsters, no goons of any sort. The lights were on, but nobody was home except me. Good. That gave me time to escape.
I pushed myself up onto my hands and knees, then staggered to my feet and took stock of my injuries. Aside from the continued ache in my head and face, I was in one piece. After I was knocked out, they hadn’t done anything other than drag me in here. Fools. They should have already put a bullet in my head.
And that wasn’t their only mistake. The cage was sturdy, and the bars didn’t move at all when I tried to rattle them, but they were made out of regular iron and not silverstone. That meant that I could blast my way out of here with my Ice and Stone magic if I needed to.
But I decided to try something a little quieter first. I went over to the cage door, which was secured with a heavy padlock on the outside. Whoever had put me in here had taken my phone and all five of my knives, so I couldn’t jimmy it open that way. I could easily freeze the lock and then shatter it open with my Ice magic, but I didn’t know where Deirdre might be lurking, and she might sense me using a large, sudden burst of power like that.
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