Spider's Trap(Elemental Assassin,book 13)(9) by Jennifer Estep
Bomb still clutched in my arms, I hoisted myself up onto the railing, then leaped off the side of the riverboat into the cold depths of the Aneirin River below.
* * *
My legs churned and churned through the air for what felt like an eternity, although it couldn’t have been more than a couple of seconds, and I hit the water with a loud splash!
The rough, jarring force of the impact almost tore the bomb out of my hands, but I managed to hang on to it. Instead of kicking toward the surface, I let the swift current drag me under, even as I counted off the seconds in my head.
Twenty-five . . . twenty-four . . . twenty-three . . .
The water was dark and murky, and I could barely make out the bomb. I didn’t know if just being dunked in the river was enough to short out the phone and stop the explosion, but I was going to make sure that the bomb would do as little harm as possible.
There was no time to be subtle, so I reached for my Stone magic again. Normally, I used my power to harden my skin or make my hands as tough and heavy as cement blocks. This time, I coated the box with my power, hoping that my Stone magic would weigh it down and send it straight to the bottom of the river. The bright silvery glow of my magic cut through the darkness, clearly illuminating the countdown clock on the phone.
Fifteen . . . fourteen . . . thirteen . . .
My power easily covered the box, and once I had that first layer of Stone magic on top of it, I quickly coated it with several more, sending out surge after surge of magic. All the while, I kept ticking off the precious seconds in my mind.
Ten . . . nine . . . eight . . .
I’d done as much as I could to dampen the explosion. I was out of air and almost out of time, so I dropped the bomb, letting it sink even deeper into the river. Then I kicked my legs and started clawing my way toward the surface as hard and fast as I could.
Five . . . four . . . three . . .
My head broke free of the water. I sucked down a desperate, ragged breath—
The bomb must not have sunk as fast or as far down as I’d hoped, because it seemed to explode right below my feet. I didn’t feel any nails or other shrapnel pounding against my skin, but the resulting shock wave ripped through the river, scooping up the surface of the water and me along with it, like a wave rising and breaking toward shore.
Only in this case, I wasn’t going to land on a soft, sandy beach.
Instead, the gleaming white hull of the Delta Queen loomed up before me. There was no way that I could stop what was about to happen, so I threw my hands up and reached for more of my Stone magic, trying to harden my entire body as much as I possibly could, even though I knew exactly what little good it would do me against all those thick, heavy tons of wood—
My head slammed into the side of the riverboat, water cascaded down all around me, and the world blinked to black.
The pounding on my chest woke me.
Over and over again, a fist slammed into my heart, as though someone were beating me with a sledgehammer. I’d been through this same thing once before, so I knew exactly what was happening. Phillip really didn’t know his own strength sometimes. If he hit me any harder, he was going to crack my ribs.
A final hard blow made me start choking and coughing up the good portion of the river that I’d swallowed. Hands rolled me over onto my side so I could spew all the disgusting, fish-flavored water out of my lungs. Once I was finished, those same hands gently rolled me the other way so that I was flat on my back again.
I wheezed, blinked, and stared up at a very wet Phillip. His blond hair was plastered to his head, while his white shirt was now see-through and clinging to his muscles. More water dripped from the end of his ponytail and plopped onto the deck.
“You know,” he said, his tense features slowly relaxing, “this is the second time now that I’ve fished you out of the water. You really need to learn how to swim, Gin.”
“Oh, I can swim just fine. It’s all the blows to the head that I need to avoid.”
Phillip grinned, then helped me up into a seated position so that I was leaning against the brass railing. The sudden change in elevation made my head pound, and it took a few seconds for the world to stop spinning like a crazy carousel. Something warm trickled down the side of my face. I reached up, wincing and hissing with pain as my fingers probed the large, throbbing knot on my forehead, along with blood from what I assumed was a deep, nasty cut. Boat 1, Gin 0.
A white, fluffy towel appeared in front of me, and Silvio crouched down beside me, his gray suit neat and perfect, as though he hadn’t just spent the last several minutes running around and trying to shove giants out of the way.
“For your head,” he said.
I took the towel and gingerly wiped some of the blood and water off my face. Silvio’s sharp gray gaze focused on my head wounds.
“I believe those will require some assistance from Ms. Deveraux,” he said. “I’ll call and ask her to come over.”
I nodded, wincing at the pounding pain the small motion caused in my face and head.
Silvio got to his feet, pulled out his phone, and dialed Jolene “Jo-Jo” Deveraux, the dwarven Air elemental who healed me whenever I got into a serious scrape like this one. The vampire filled in Jo-Jo, then ended the call. But he didn’t put his phone away. Instead, he started typing on it, his thumbs flying over the keys faster than I could talk.
“Who are you texting?” I asked, my voice slurring a bit.
“All the usual suspects. Owen, Finn, Bria.”
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