Bitter Bite(Elemental Assassin #14)(61) by Jennifer Estep
“Mmm.” Deirdre’s noncommittal murmur had Dimitri and Santos eyeing her with suspicion. “Regardless, they were clever enough to capture the great Spider. Interesting nickname Fletcher gave you.”
I shrugged. “He thought it was appropriate.”
“Just like his name, the Tin Man.” Deirdre paused, her eyes gleaming with sly satisfaction. “Do you know why he decided on that particular moniker?”
I shrugged again. I had no idea what she was getting at.
She smiled. “He told me it was because he didn’t have a heart anymore. That I had ripped it right out of him. I always liked the idea of him never forgetting what I did to him.”
I gripped the bars. “What did you do to Fletcher? What’s the real story with you two?”
She glanced at her watch. “I suppose I have time to indulge you in this one last thing. Before I let Mr. Barkov dispose of you. He’s been so very helpful these past few weeks. He should be rewarded, don’t you think?”
Dimitri sneered at me again, his whole body puffing up with self-importance. He actually started cracking his knuckles, as if the thought of him beating me would frighten me. Idiot.
I focused on Deirdre again. “So what happened with Fletcher?” I didn’t even try to keep the eagerness out of my voice. This might be my last chance to get the truth out of her before one of us killed the other, and if I had to grovel to do it, then so be it.
“Just a typical story of a girl rebelling against her parents. We never got along. They thought that I should be a prim, proper prude like they were, with no more ambition than catching a rich husband to prop up the Shaw family fortune.” Deirdre shook her head. “But I had other plans. I was supposed to get my trust fund when I was eighteen, but my parents realized that I was going to leave Ashland the second I got the money. They changed the terms so I couldn’t access it until I was twenty-five. Even then, I realized that they’d just keep putting it off. My parents had already blown through their fortune, and they were going to spend mine too.”
“So?” I asked, not seeing her point.
“So I decided to stop them.”
“This is about your trust fund? Seriously?”
She shrugged. “Are you really that surprised? You’re an assassin, Gin. You know better than anyone else what people will do for money.”
She had me there.
“Once I realized that my parents weren’t going to give me my money, I decided to do whatever I wanted. Smoking, drinking, boys.” She grinned, but it was a sharp, predatory expression. “Lots of boys.”
“What about Fletcher?”
“Another boy took me to the Pork Pit, where I met Fletcher. He was quite handsome, charming too. Even better, I knew that my parents would never approve. He ran a barbecue restaurant, which was about as low-class as you could get, according to them. So I decided to have a little fun. I seduced Fletcher, made him think that I was this sweet young girl who totally adored him, and he fell for it. He was totally in love with me. It was amusing enough while it lasted.”
Deirdre paused, her gaze distant, as if she were seeing Fletcher as he had been back then. Her hand crept up to her icicle-heart necklace, her fingers stroking over the rune.
“So what happened? What changed?”
“I got pregnant.” Her nostrils flared with disgust, and she dropped her hand from her necklace. “I didn’t want the baby, but Fletcher was over the moon about it. He thought that we were going to get married and be this perfect little family. He was wrong.”
I thought back to the casket box full of mementos. “Fletcher gave you an engagement ring. I found it in a box of old photos. What did you do with the diamond from it?”
“I hocked it, of course, the day after he gave it to me, and had the diamond replaced with a glass chip. Fletcher didn’t know the difference until it was too late.” She chuckled.
The mocking sound made me grind my teeth, but I wanted to hear the rest of her story, so I forced my voice to stay steady. “What about Finn? Why did you keep him?”
“The idea of a baby put Fletcher even more under my spell, so I went along with it. I could see how useful it was going to be in the end.”
Her voice and face were cold, flat, and emotionless, as if she were reciting some history lesson she’d memorized long ago. It was such a complete change, such a total role reversal from the warm, over-the-top persona she’d shown until now. I’d thought all along that Deirdre was coldhearted, but seeing her complete lack of compassion or feeling up close jarred me much more than I’d expected. I had to keep reminding myself that this was the real Deirdre Shaw—and exactly what Fletcher had warned me about.
“Useful for what?” I asked.
“Once I realized that Fletcher was an assassin, it was easy enough to wait, plan, and set things up. I went ahead with the pregnancy, even though it was the longest, most miserable nine months of my life, pretending that I was excited about the baby.” She rolled her eyes. “But Fletcher never even suspected what I was really up to. Not until it was too late.”
Deirdre started walking up and down in front of the cage, trailing her long red fingernails over the metal bars like a cat sharpening her claws. I made sure not to look at the padlock, even though I was holding my breath the whole time, hoping that she wouldn’t jar it loose and make it drop to the floor. If that happened, I was dead. Deirdre and her Ice magic were dangerous enough, but Dimitri, Santos, and Tucker were still here, standing behind her. One of them could easily pull a gun and put a bullet in my head while I was battling her.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online