Spider's Trap(Elemental Assassin,book 13)(6) by Jennifer Estep
The waiter left the bucket behind and fell in step with the others, grabbing the now-empty food platters and passing them off to other staff members, who whisked the trays across the deck, through the double doors, and out of sight. But he made no move to go back over and actually do anything with the champagne. Strange. You’d think that he would have opened the bottle first thing to start serving it while the other waiters replenished the food.
Another thought struck me. Nobody had ordered champagne when the first waiter had gone around, and everybody still had a full glass in hand, since our drinks had just been topped off. Now, Phillip could be playing the part of the gracious host and have asked that the bubbly be brought out in case anyone wanted it. But I’d never heard him give that order either.
Finn often told me that I was completely, utterly, insanely paranoid, but so many people had tried to kill me over the past several months that I thought my constant worry was more than warranted. I wasn’t a superhero, but my Spider sense was definitely tingling right now.
I focused on the waiter, but he didn’t do anything suspicious, and when the table was covered with food again, he took up a position by the railing, right next to the champagne bucket. He seemed as bored as everyone else, since Dimitri was still going strong with his speechifying, but something about the waiter wasn’t quite right.
So I kept staring at him, trying to figure out what it was. He was average-looking, with sandy hair, brown eyes, and a medium build. Nothing about him really stood out at all. No distinguishing marks, no scars, no tattoos. He blended in perfectly with the other waiters, and he could have been a piece of furniture for all the attention he attracted.
All the traits of a perfect assassin.
I’d spent years being just as forgettable. Just another waiter, just another worker, just another bland, polite face in the crowd at some of the most lavish parties in Ashland. Sure, I might have actually been hired and served as a waiter, but what I’d really been doing was conducting reconnaissance on potential targets and scoping out security systems at some of the city’s finest homes.
But if this guy was an assassin, and he was here to kill someone, then where was his weapon? I didn’t see a gun outlined anywhere on his body. He could have a revolver or a knife tucked against the small of his back or strapped to his ankle, but it would be hard to get to a weapon in those spots, whip it out, and kill someone with it. Especially if I was his target. I could easily blast him with magic before he grabbed his gun or got close enough to stab me with a knife.
But the guy didn’t make any moves toward me. He wasn’t even looking at me. Instead, he stood by the railing, with one hand resting on the rim of the silver champagne bucket, and ogled Lorelei Parker, even though she was ignoring everyone and still texting.
“Gin?” Silvio whispered. “Is something wrong?”
He pointedly dropped his gaze to my lap. I looked down to find that my hands were clenched into fists so tight that I could feel my fingers pressing into the scars embedded in my palms—two small circles, each one surrounded by eight thin rays. A spider rune, the symbol for patience. My own personal mark, in more ways than one.
I relaxed my grip, then frowned. Because it wasn’t my Spider sense tingling so much as it was the silverstone that made up my spider rune scars. The metal was itching and burning in a way that only meant one thing: someone here was using elemental magic.
I looked around the deck. Silvio had vetted everyone who was going to be here today, including Dimitri, Luiz, and their guards, and none of them had any kind of magic. Of course, someone could have been hiding their ability, but the vampire was nothing if not thorough. If anyone here had ever used magic out in public where other people could see it, Silvio would have found out about it.
One of Phillip’s waiters or guards could be using magic, but I was familiar with them, given my frequent trips to the riverboat, and I didn’t see anyone I didn’t know from previous visits.
Except for the mystery waiter.
I studied him again, but his dark eyes didn’t glow with magic, and no sparks of Fire or needles of Ice formed on his fingertips from where he might be reaching for some sort of elemental power.
So I focused on the feel of the magic itself. It wasn’t the hot burn of Fire, the cold frost of Ice, or even the gusty breeze of Air. Instead, the power felt most similar to my own rock-hard Stone magic, although it wasn’t exactly the same.
I scanned the deck again, but Dimitri was still talking, and everyone was as bored as before. My gaze latched back onto the waiter, and I finally realized what was wrong about him.
He wasn’t wearing a gold riverboat rune pin on his vest like all the other waiters were.
Most folks in Ashland used some sort of rune to symbolize their businesses, their magic, or even their family ties. So did underworld figures like Phillip, but he and all the others kept a tight watch on their runes—whether they were fashioned into pins or rings or whatever—and especially on who was wearing them. Phillip and the other bosses wouldn’t let just anyone sport their runes. No, in order to wear the symbol, you had to actually be part of the crew and loyal to the head honcho.
Black pants and a matching shirt would have been easy enough to get. So would a red tuxedo vest. But the gold riverboat rune pin was the one thing a would-be assassin wouldn’t be able to pick up at the store the day he decided to impersonate a Delta Queen waiter, slip on board, and try to kill someone.
No, not someone. Me. The Spider.
“Stay here until I get back,” I murmured to Silvio. “Don’t let anyone leave.”
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online