Bitter Bite(Elemental Assassin #14)(80) by Jennifer Estep
The force of the punch threw me back through the dust and up against a bank of safety-deposit boxes, some of which had been opened. I slammed the metal drawers shut with my body, each one punching into my back like a hammer and making me groan with pain. So that was where one of the walls was. Good to know.
Santos loomed up in front of me, his black hair now gray with marble dust. Even more of it coated his face, including that jagged scar on his cheek, making him look like he’d upended a sack of flour over his head. He growled and came at me. I raised my knife to stab him, but he knocked the weapon out of my hand. He tried to punch me again, but I blocked the blow and slammed my fist into his throat, hitting the giant where he was vulnerable.
Santos coughed, wheezed, and sputtered, but he surged forward again and wrapped his hands around my throat. He lifted me off the ground and wrenched me left and right, slamming my body into more open safety-deposit boxes, like I was the silver piece in a pinball machine and he was trying to get a high score.
I punched him, slamming my fists into his face over and over again, but he just snarled and took the blows, even though I managed to break his nose with one of them. The blood mixed with the marble dust on his face and made him look even more angry and vengeful.
I palmed a second knife, but Santos realized what I was up to, and he grabbed my arm, pulled it forward, and then rammed my hand back against the wall. The bones in my left wrist shattered on impact, and I screamed, my knife slipping from my numb, nerveless fingers. The weapon clattered to the floor and dropped into a hole in the piles of rubble.
White spots began winking on and off in my field of vision, and it was only a matter of time before I ran out of air. I’d already used up most of my magic breaking into the vault, and an Ice dagger wouldn’t do me any good against the giant. My eyes flicked left and right, looking for something that I could use to at least get him to let go of me. Once I had air back in my lungs, I could figure out the rest.
Santos drew me away from the wall and then slammed me right back up against it, hard enough to make some of the loose safety-deposit boxes rattle beside my shoulder. My eyes latched onto the one closest to me, and I quit hitting Santos. Instead, I reached down with my right hand and grabbed the handle on the end of the box. At least, I tried to, but the dust and sweat coating my hand made my fingers slip off the handle. I growled with frustration, although it sounded more like a whimper.
Santos must have thought that I was flailing around for no reason because he laughed. “Not so tough now, are you, Blanco? I’m going to enjoy squeezing the life out of you for all the trouble you’ve caused me.”
I ignored his taunts and his hands tightening around my neck. My whole world had shrunk to hooking my fingers through that handle and sliding the box free from the wall. My fingers slipped, and slipped again, but I kept trying.
Santos shook me again, moving my arm just enough for me to wrap my fingers around the handle and tug the box free from the wall. Whatever was inside was heavy—heavy enough to yank my arm down—and I almost lost my grip on the whole thing. Even though my strained muscles were screaming at me to let go, I gritted my teeth and used the downward momentum to swing the box right back up and smash it into Santos’s face.
The box cracked against his left cheekbone hard enough to leave a dent in the metal. The sharp blow stunned him, making him loose his grip on my throat and stagger back. I fell to the floor, coughing and wheezing, but I hung on to the box, surged back onto my feet, and slammed it into his face again, this time catching him in his already broken nose. At this impact, the box popped open, spilling black velvet bags everywhere. Loose diamonds came tumbling out of the bags, sparkling like ice chips embedded in the rubble.
Santos growled and clapped his hands to his nose. I wrapped my hand around the handle and swung my entire body around, driving the box into his head as hard as I could. I managed to get the angle just right, and one of the metal corners stuck in the sweet spot at his temple, cracking his skull open like an egg. Blood sprayed everywhere, and this time, Santos was the one who whimpered. His shoulders slumped, his knees buckled, and he crumpled to the floor, his body sprawling at an awkward angle on top of the shattered stones.
I stood there, sucking down dusty air, and watched him bleed out on top of all those diamonds. Then I tossed the safety-deposit box aside, staggered over to the wall, and followed it over to the vault entrance.
The dust had finally started to dissipate, letting me see that Finn was gone, cut ropes hanging over the chair that he’d been tied down to. I squinted, but I didn’t see him or the others. Santos must have hit me harder than I’d thought. I blinked and peered down the hallway again—
A blast of cold hit me from behind.
I screamed as the wave of magic slammed into my back, catapulting me right out of the vault. I hit Finn’s chair and bounced off, face-planting onto the marble floor of the hallway. In an instant, my body burned with cold, my back turning stiff and brittle, just like the crystals that were spreading across my skin, trying to freeze the rest of me. I immediately pushed back with my own magic, stopping the crystals in their tracks, but the damage had already been done, and most of my back was frozen solid. I felt like an ice cube that had somehow grown arms and legs, but I groaned, grabbed hold of the chair, and pulled myself back up onto my feet.
Deirdre stood in front of me.
I’d been so concerned with keeping Santos from choking me to death that I’d lost track of her. She too was covered with marble dust, and blood dripped down her face, neck, and arms from where the stone shrapnel had shredded her coveralls and cut into her skin. Deirdre was wounded, but she was by no means dead. Her pale eyes glittered in her face, and the cold blue-white flames of her Ice magic shot out of her clenched fists like frosty fireworks exploding over and over again.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online