Bitter Bite(Elemental Assassin #14)(72) by Jennifer Estep
“Um, Gin?” Bria asked. “Do you see those security cameras pointed right at you?”
She frowned. “And you’re not worried that Deirdre’s spotted us already on the feed?”
“If you were taking over a bank and planning to pick it clean, what’s the first thing you would do after you got inside?”
She thought about it. “Disable the security system and erase all the footage.”
I shot my thumb and forefinger at her. “Bingo. Deirdre doesn’t want any record that she was ever here, and she doesn’t want to accidentally trip any alarms getting into the cash cages or the basement vault. That’s why the cameras are down, along with the rest of the security system. She doesn’t realize it, but she’s made it a whole lot easier for us to get inside.”
I looked at the lock again. I didn’t want to waste precious time picking it, so I reached for my Ice magic, ready to freeze and shatter the lock—
And that’s when the dead bolt clicked free, and the door started opening.
Bria dashed around the corner and out of sight, but I didn’t have time to do that, so I ended up darting behind the door and hoping that whoever was opening it wouldn’t think to look behind it.
A giant dressed in a gray bank guard’s uniform strode through the door and took several steps out onto the roof. I held my hands up, catching the door before it slammed into my face, then peered around the edge of it. The guard looked around, his hand dropping to his black leather utility belt, as if he were going for the gun holstered there. I palmed a knife and tensed, ready to move. But instead of reaching for his weapon, the giant grabbed the walkie-talkie off his belt, hit a button on the side, and brought the device up to his lips.
“The roof is secure. You want me to hang out up here or come back down and help the other guys with the cash cages while you work on the vault?” the guy asked, then let go of the button and waited for a response.
Static crackled out of the walkie-talkie. “I’ve got the vault covered, and Ralph and the others are cutting through the cages right now. Stay up there. I don’t want anyone trying to get in here from any angle, not even the roof.”
That was Santos’s voice. So he had men working in the lobby, but he was down in the basement vault. That’s where Deirdre would be too, and most likely Finn.
The guy sighed and pressed the button on the walkie-talkie again. “Roger that. Call me when you need me.”
“Roger that,” Santos replied.
The guy sighed again, louder and deeper, disappointed that he wasn’t in on the action down in the lobby. He holstered his walkie-talkie and turned to close the access door behind him.
Right where I was waiting.
His eyes bulged, but he didn’t even have time to scream before I stepped up and sliced my knife across his throat. The giant clutched both hands to the vicious wound, trying to put pressure on the gaping hole, even as his legs slid out from under him and he toppled to the ground.
“I’ll take that,” I said, bending down and plucking the walkie-talkie off his belt.
The guy coughed, but that was the only noise he made as he bled out. I turned the walkie-talkie back on, hoping to hear some chatter from Santos and his crew, but the device remained silent. They were probably too busy breaking into the vault and the cash cages to talk right now. Good. That meant that no one would miss this guard for several minutes, if not longer. I turned off the walkie and slid it into one of the pockets on my vest.
Bria stepped out from behind the corner, gun in hand. “What now?”
“Now we go down into the belly of the beast.” I held my hand out, gesturing at the dark corridor that led into the bank. “Ladies first.”
She nodded, raised her weapon, and stepped through the door into the shadows.
Bloody knife in hand, I followed her.
We were in.
First Trust bank was housed in an old prewar building, so it wasn’t nearly as tall as the modern skyscrapers that made up the downtown skyline. But it took up the entire block, which meant that there was a lot of ground to cover.
The fire stairs were wide enough for Bria and me to creep down side by side. I stopped at every floor, but the doors were all locked, and I didn’t hear any movements on the other sides, much less see anyone through the narrow strips of glass in the doors. No one was working up here in the offices, and Santos hadn’t bothered to station any guards on the higher floors. Excellent.
Bria and I quietly went down the stairs to the second floor. Once we were on the landing there, I leaned over the side of the railing and peered down. Sure enough, a guard was stationed in the stairwell on the first floor, leaning against the open door, thumbing through screens on his phone, totally bored by his assignment.
I motioned to Bria to draw back, then made two Ice picks and unlocked the door on the second-floor landing. I winced at the snick of the door opening, and Bria and I scooted through to the other side and eased the door shut behind us. We flattened ourselves against the wall, out of sight of the strip of glass in the door, and waited, but the guard didn’t come to investigate.
“We’re stuck,” Bria said. “We can’t get past that guard without letting everyone in the lobby know that we’re here.”
“Yes, we can. We just have to be a little more creative. This way.”
The second floor was mostly offices and cubicles, reserved for some of the investment bankers and their assistants or rented out to real-estate and other companies that had extensive dealings with the bank. I stopped a moment, orienting myself, then went over to the opposite side of the building, pushed through a wooden door, and stopped. Bria slipped in behind me and looked around at the urinals, stalls, and sinks.
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