Spider's Trap(Elemental Assassin,book 13)(10) by Jennifer Estep
I groaned. “Do you have to? It was just a bomb. And I only have a concussion . . . more or less.”
Silvio gave me a sideways look. “Of course I have to. A good assistant always sees to his employer’s needs.”
“And I need my friends swarming all over me and making a fuss? This isn’t the first time someone’s tried to kill me, you know. It’s not even the first time this week.”
That honor had gone to the idiot who thought he could waylay me in the garage where I’d parked my car. He’d tried to crack open my skull with a tire iron, but I’d whacked him to death with it instead. He was still in the refrigerated cooler in an alley close to the Pork Pit, waiting to be disposed of by Sophia Deveraux.
“Of course you do,” Silvio replied. “You just don’t want to admit it.”
I groaned again, but there was no stopping him. The vamp was infuriatingly efficient that way. While he texted everyone, I looked out over the deck, empty now except for the three of us and the mess around the conference table, which was still turned over onto its side, its wooden legs sticking out like a turtle that couldn’t right itself.
“Where’s everyone else?” I asked.
“Gone.” Phillip snorted, crossing his arms over his chest. “Like the cowards they are.”
“Dimitri, Luiz, and their guards finally managed to shove their way down the gangplank,” Silvio said. “They got into their cars and peeled out of the parking lot as fast as they could. The last time I looked, the Delta Queen staff members were milling around down there. And I believe Lorelei Parker was still in the parking lot too.”
I scoffed. “She probably stuck around hoping to see you two fish my body out of the river.”
“Probably,” Phillip said. “But let’s focus on the most important thing right now.”
“And what would that be?”
He stared at me. “Exactly who you’ve pissed off enough to warrant them coming after you like this. Bombs are nothing to mess around with, Gin.”
“No, they are not.”
I thought about his question for several seconds, then shrugged. “Beats me. I’m not without a significant number of enemies. It might be easier to eliminate the folks in Ashland who don’t want me dead.”
Phillip laughed, but his hearty chuckles quickly died down to somber silence. My words were all too true, and he knew it.
“What about Emery Slater?” Silvio chimed in, still tapping away on his phone. “I haven’t been able to track her down, but she could have come back to town on the sly.”
Emery Slater had been Madeline Monroe’s right-hand woman, but the giant had fled Ashland after I’d killed Madeline a few weeks ago. Emery hated me for killing her boss, and for taking credit for offing her uncle, Elliot Slater, last fall.
I shook my head and flinched, as the motion made my knocked-around noggin start throbbing again. I really had to stop doing that. More blood oozed out of the wound, so I held the towel up to my head and put some pressure on the gash to try to stop the bleeding. It was several seconds before I could speak again.
“As much as I would like to lay the blame for this at Emery’s feet, a bomb isn’t really her style. She would much rather beat me to death with her fists than blow me up.”
“True,” Phillip agreed. “But she would be happy either way as long as you were dead.”
“Absolutely.” I lowered the towel from my forehead. “But I don’t think it’s her.”
“What about Jonah McAllister?” Phillip suggested. “He’s always been a fan of elaborate schemes. A bomb would be right up his alley.”
Jonah had been Mab and Madeline’s lawyer. He’d also tried to have me killed multiple times, including during a hostage situation at the Briartop art museum, but I’d exposed his schemes.
“I don’t think it’s him either,” I replied. “Jonah mostly stays holed up in his mansion these days, working on his own defense. Besides, he’s probably saving his money to bribe the judge and jury at his upcoming trial, not spending it on bombs and assassination attempts.”
Silvio finished texting and slid his phone back into his pants pockets. “Well, what I don’t understand is why you couldn’t have just tossed the bomb overboard. That’s what a normal person, a sane person, would have done. Why did you feel the need to throw it and yourself into the river at the same time?”
I started to shake my head again but stopped myself. “I didn’t want you guys to get caught in the blast. Besides, it would have been just plain rude to mess up Philly’s shiny boat any more than I already had.”
I made my voice light and teasing, but Phillip picked up on what I wasn’t saying.
“You think the bomb had enough explosives to sink the Delta Queen?” he asked.
“It had a lot of juice. At least, it seemed to. The entire device was coated with elemental magic.”
Silvio frowned. “What sort of magic? Fire?”
“Metal,” I replied. “Whoever built that bomb is a metal elemental. A strong one.”
They kept staring at me, their faces lined with increasing concern.
“I was worried that he was going to blow the bomb at any second and that it would take out everyone on deck—maybe even capsize the entire boat. I’d just let go of the box and was swimming away from it when . . . boom.”
“But it seemed to be a relatively small, concentrated blast, as far as these things go,” Phillip said. “Yeah, it blew the hell out of the water, but there’s no damage to the boat as far as I can tell. You’re sure the bomb was covered in metal magic?”
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