Bitter Bite(Elemental Assassin #14)(89) by Jennifer Estep
Tucker dug the blade even deeper into my neck, but I didn’t crack and start begging for mercy like he wanted. Instead, my eyes narrowed in challenge, silently daring him to do his worst. If I could have spit in his face without him slicing through my carotid artery, I would have done it in an instant and then lunged forward and sunk my teeth into his throat for good measure.
The vamp saw that I wasn’t going to break. He nodded in approval, dropped the knife from my neck, and stepped back.
“Well, it’s good to see that you’re as tough as advertised, Ms. Blanco,” he said. “It’s time that we replaced Mab, and I think you’ll make a fine addition to the Circle.”
“Join you? The group who supposedly ordered my mother’s murder? Not bloody likely.”
He ignored me and snapped his fingers. One of the giants stepped forward, and Tucker exchanged his bloody knife for the giant’s gun. Deirdre and I both tensed. Tucker could easily shoot us where we sat, have his men roll our chairs out into the shipping yard, and shove us off the docks and into the river. No one would have any clue to what had happened to us until some poor fisherman hooked our bodies and got the fright of his life a few weeks later.
Instead of shooting us, Tucker ejected the clip from the gun, then loaded a single bullet back into the chamber. He put the gun on a nearby table and pulled a set of handcuff keys out of his pocket. He held the keys up in front of my face.
“Don’t do anything stupid, or my men will kill you.”
The giants stepped a little closer, a couple of them pointing their guns at me. I made note of where they were all standing and of all the other obstacles around me. The crates, the boxes, the door at the far end of the warehouse, where a lone giant was posted, angling his phone in my direction.
Tucker uncuffed my right hand, then slapped the gun into it. He stepped out of the way and gestured at Deirdre. “Shoot her. Prove your loyalty to the Circle, and you can go free.”
Deirdre’s eyes bulged. “No! Tucker, no! You can’t do this! Think about all the money I’ve made you and the others over the years. Think about how much more money I can still make you.”
He gave her a cold glare. “We wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place if not for all your bad investments and ridiculous spending habits.”
I remembered what Silvio had told me about Deirdre’s charity foundation, about how someone had bankrolled her when she first started out years ago. And about how she was now broke and playing a shell game with other people’s money.
“All these years later, and this is still all about your trust fund, isn’t it?” I said. “You blew through all your money, just like your parents did, and then you lost all your friends’ money too. That’s why you went for the double shot of the exhibit jewelry and the bank vault. Your friends wanted their money back, or else.” I smirked. “I guess champagne bubble baths don’t come cheap. Do they, Mama Dee?”
Anger stained Deirdre’s cheeks a mottled red, but she didn’t deny my accusations.
Tucker chuckled softly, enjoying her humiliation. “And now, because of your own incompetence, everyone in Ashland—underworld or not—knows that you tried to rob your own exhibit, along with the bank. You’ve exposed yourself, and potentially all of us, and you know what the penalty for that is.”
He shook his head. “You should thank me. If it were only me deciding, I would stake you out here and make your death last for days. Ms. Blanco will probably be far more merciful and shoot you in the gut so it only takes you a few hours to bleed out.”
My fingers curled around the gun, calculating distances and angles. I shifted my feet so that my toes were resting against the concrete floor.
Seeing that she was getting nowhere with Tucker, Deirdre turned her teary eyes and pathetic pleas to me.
“Gin, please, honey, you can’t do this. I’m Finnegan’s mother—”
I snorted. “There is nothing motherly about you. Don’t expect me to save your lying, deceitful, sorry ass. Not after what you did to Finn. I told you point-blank that when you hurt him, I would kill you. You really should have listened. Now you’re going to die here, a victim of your own lies, and absolutely no one will mourn your passing. Especially not Finn.”
Deirdre realized that she wasn’t going to soften my heart, which was just as cold and hard as hers was. “You stupid bitch,” she snarled. “By the time they’re done with you, you’ll wish you were dead too.”
I shrugged. “We’ll see.”
Tucker gestured at the gun in my hand. “Go ahead. Kill her. You know you want to.”
I kept my gaze steady on him, even as I wrapped my fingers around the cuff on my left wrist, sending a small trickle of Ice magic into the locking mechanism. The silverstone soaked up that first wave of magic, so I sent out another, slightly stronger one, wanting to drop the temperature of the cuff and weaken the metal.
“Forget it,” I said. “Do your own damn dirty work.”
“Shoot her,” Tucker snapped. “Now.”
“Why? So you can record the whole thing and blackmail me with it? I see your man with his phone out over there.”
Tucker couldn’t help but look in that direction. The giant at the door winced and lowered his phone.
“Seems like the invitation to join your precious Circle is more of an order, and I don’t take orders from anyone, sugar.”
“Then you’re a fool,” Tucker snapped.
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