Bitter Bite(Elemental Assassin #14)(81) by Jennifer Estep
“You meddlesome bitch!” she hissed.
Deirdre shoved her hands forward, shooting out a spray of long, jagged Ice daggers at me, any one of which would be enough to end me if it hit in just the right spot. I covered my head and face with my good arm and ducked back behind the chair, using it as a shield.
The chair took the brunt of Deirdre’s assault, the wood splintering apart as the Ice daggers speared it, but one of the cold, sharp projectiles punched into my thigh. I screamed and staggered back, but my knee buckled, and I sprawled in a heap on the floor. Still, I kept going, clawing at the floor with my one good hand, trying to pull myself over the slick marble and away from her.
Deirdre marched down the hallway and kicked me in the ribs, forcing me to roll over onto my back and look up at her.
“Well, now I realize why the others were all so worried about you.” A sneer twisted her lips. “At least killing you will earn me some favor with them.”
Them? Who was them? And why were they so interested in me?
Deirdre raised her hands, Ice daggers sprouting like blue-white spikes on her fingertips. There was no way I could avoid her magic. Not this time. So I reached for the scraps of my Stone power and hardened my skin as much as I could, even though I knew that it wasn’t going to be enough to stop her from skewering me—
A blue ball of magic streaked through the air, slamming into the center of Deirdre’s chest and knocking her back.
Footsteps pounded on the floor, and Bria, Owen, and Silvio emerged out of the lingering clouds of dust. Bria stepped in front of me, reared back her arm, and hurled another ball of her Ice magic at Deirdre. But the other elemental sent out a spray of daggers, and the two masses of magic crashed together in midair. Shards of elemental Ice shot out everywhere, embedding themselves in the floor, walls, and ceiling. The temperature dropped another ten degrees, and everything took on a pale blue, glassy sheen.
But Bria kept right on attacking Deirdre, sending out blast after blast of magic, driving the other elemental back into the vault.
“Get Gin!” Bria yelled, summoning up more magic in the palms of her hands.
Owen and Silvio darted forward, grabbed me under the arms, and hoisted me to my feet. They started dragging me away from Bria and Deirdre, who was still in the vault. But she wouldn’t stay there for long. I could feel how Bria’s blasts were slowly weakening, while Deirdre’s counterattacks remained at their cold, steady level. In a minute, two tops, Bria would run out of magic, and then Deirdre would step out of the vault and kill her with one Icy wave of power.
“No!” I yelled. “Let me go! I have to help Bria!”
“Forget it!” Owen yelled back. “You’re in no position to help anyone!”
He was right, but I still struggled against him and Silvio, even as they dragged me backward.
Deirdre sent out another, larger blast of magic that had Bria ducking out of the way. She surged out of the vault, pressing her advantage and sending out spray after spray of Ice daggers. Bria knew when she was beaten, and she whipped around to follow us, but one of the daggers caught her in the back and sent her crashing to the floor. Her silverstone vest took the brunt of the blow, but she still grunted with pain.
“Bria!” I screamed, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to save her. “Bria!”
Deirdre looked at me, a smile curving her lips. She raised her hands and focused on Bria again, even as my sister tried to crawl away from her—
Finn staggered up beside Owen, Silvio, and me, guns clutched in both of his Ice-burned hands. I didn’t know where he’d gotten the weapons, and I was amazed that he had the strength to even hold them, much less stand upright, given how he’d been tortured.
The hail of bullets made Deirdre lurch to one side of the hallway. She snarled, whipped around, and reached for her Ice magic again, this time to blast Finn with it. But Finn was faster, and he snapped up his guns and sent more bullets flying in her direction. Owen and Silvio also reached for their guns, and Deirdre realized that she’d lost control of the fight.
So the bitch turned and ran.
She sprinted down the hallway toward the stairs as fast as she could. Finn snapped up one of his guns and squinted down the length of the barrel, aiming square at her back so he could take her down with one shot. He took a step forward to better his aim, and his foot slipped on a patch of Ice on the floor.
The bullet bounced off the marble wall instead of punching into Deirdre’s back. But Finn wasn’t about to give up. He staggered forward, pulling the triggers on both of his guns now, but she was already gone. His legs went out from under him, and he collapsed in a heap on the floor.
“Finn!” I yelled. “Finn!”
His head lolled in my direction, and he grinned up at me, his green eyes filled with pain—so much pain—that wasn’t all from his gruesome physical wounds.
Owen lowered me, and then he and Silvio ran over to check on Bria, who was still groaning and trying to sit up. I crawled across the Ice-slickened floor to Finn.
He grinned at me again, even as tears dripped down his bruised, bloody cheeks. “I’m sorry, Gin,” he mumbled through his split lips. “I’m so sorry. You were right, and I was wrong. She was using me the whole time . . . the whole damn time . . .”
His voice choked off, and he closed his eyes, though the gesture couldn’t stop the tears flowing down his cheeks. The air was so cold that the drops froze on his face, glinting like diamonds against his bloody skin. He curled into a ball on the floor, sobs shaking his body.
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