Bitter Bite(Elemental Assassin #14)(73) by Jennifer Estep
“What are we doing in the men’s bathroom?”
“Making our own elevator shaft.”
Bria gave me a strange look, but she followed me to the back corner of the bathroom.
“I spent a lot of time studying the bank’s blueprints when I was trying to figure out how to mock-kill Finn here. All the bathrooms are located on this side of the building, stacked right on top of each other, which means that we’re directly above the men’s bathroom on the first floor,” I said. “Someplace that Santos isn’t likely to be, since he’s down in the basement vault. So we get through the floor here, and we can get down to the lobby. After that, we’ll see what’s what and go from there.”
Bria nodded. “Let’s do it.”
We both knelt down. The floor was the same beautiful gray marble as in the lobby, but it wasn’t nearly as thick and had been cordoned off into three-foot squares fitted together. I reached for my Stone magic, and a cold silver light flared to life on the tip of my right index finger, burning as brightly and steadily as a blow torch. I leaned forward and traced my finger along the marble seams, using my power to crack the stone.
Bria came along right behind me, her finger glowing an intense blue with her own magic, driving her elemental Ice down into the cracks that I’d created and widening them.
We repeated the process over and over, cracking the marble with our combined magic until we were able to hook our fingers down into the broken stone and start lifting out chunks of the floor. We worked quickly and quietly, careful not to crack too much of the marble at once. The last thing we needed was for a piece of stone to fall down, hit the floor below, and make enough noise for someone to come check on things.
It took us the better part of fifteen minutes to make a jagged hole that was big enough for us to drop through. I went first, with Bria behind me. We landed on the bathroom floor below, raised our weapons, and waited, wondering if anyone had heard or sensed our magical jackhammers, but a minute passed, then two, then three, and no one came to investigate.
I had taken a step toward the bathroom door when a smear of red on the floor caught my eye. I stopped and pointed to the stain, which was in front of the largest stall door. Bria nodded and raised her gun. I tiptoed forward and opened the stall door.
A giant was inside, his knees tucked up under his body and his arm flung over the toilet as though he were about to puke. The pose was so natural that for a second, I thought he was actually alive. Then I noticed his empty, sightless gaze and the black hole in his forehead still oozing blood. Given his gray uniform, he must have been one of the real guards, killed when Santos and his crew had taken over the bank.
Bria tiptoed forward and eased open the next stall door, then the one after that and the one after that. Bodies filled all of them, stacked on top of one another like rolls of toilet paper. There were six in total, all dressed in guard uniforms.
Santos must have eliminated the real guards first thing, so none of them would make any trouble or trip a silent alarm while the heist went down. Then he’d replaced them with his own crew, dressed in the uniforms that Dimitri had gotten them, so the folks from the armored-truck company wouldn’t know the difference as they handed over all the exhibit jewelry. Smart. And brutal.
There was nothing I could do for the dead guards. I just hoped that Finn hadn’t met the same fate, but I shoved the cold worry down into the bottom of my heart. I wouldn’t think like that. I couldn’t let myself think like that. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to do what needed to be done now.
Killing Santos, Deirdre, and every other person who stood between us and Finn.
Bria pressed her lips together in a tight line, as disgusted by the slaughter as I was. She nodded at me, and together we crept over to the bathroom door, which I cracked open. The bathroom was on the far right side of the bank, down a hallway that opened into the lobby. Faint sounds drifted over to me, but I didn’t see anyone, and I slipped out of the bathroom and crept down the hallway, with Bria right behind me.
The sounds grew louder the closer we got to the end of the hallway. Men shouting back and forth. The steady whine of a power saw. The hissing of a welding torch.
I reached the end of the hallway, dropped into a crouch, and peered around the corner, Bria hunkered down right beside me. Six men, all dressed in guard uniforms, stood in the bank lobby. One of the men was stationed at the fire stairs, same as before, while the other five were behind the tellers’ counter.
A second man was using a power saw to cut through the silverstone bars that covered one of the cash cages, while a third guy was doing the same with a welding torch on another cage. The third and final cage was already open, and three men were moving in and out of it, hauling out shrink-wrapped bricks of cash and stuffing them into black duffel bags sitting on the tellers’ counter.
The cash was a great score all on its own, easily millions of dollars. But none of the men was Santos, which meant that he was downstairs in the basement vault, just as I’d suspected.
I memorized the guards’ positions and the distances between them, adjusting my plan. Then I nodded at Bria, and we slipped down the hallway and back into the bathroom.
I raised my cell phone. “Time to call in our distraction.”
I hit a number on the speed dial, and Owen picked up on the first ring. “Update?” he asked in a tense voice.
“Bria and I are in the first-floor bathroom, watching some guys cut their way into the cash cages. No Santos, no Deirdre, and no Finn in the lobby, which means they must be down in the basement vault. Here’s what I need you guys to do.”
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