Spider's Trap(Elemental Assassin,book 13)(16) by Jennifer Estep
“Silvio said that you guys went across the river to check out where the bomber was set up,” Bria said. “Did you find anything?”
Someone, probably Silvio, had set the conference table back up on its feet, and everyone gathered around while Owen and I laid out the second bomb and the cigar stub on top of the table.
Finn unwrapped the leaves from around the stub, then brought it up to his nose and drew in a deep breath. Even though the cigar had been smoked down to almost nothing, his green eyes glimmered in appreciation at the rich, lingering scent.
“I’ll be more than happy to investigate where this beauty came from,” he purred. “I’ve been meaning to restock my supply anyway.”
He winked, but I rolled my eyes. “Only you would use my near-death experience as an excuse to go cigar shopping.”
“You want me to be thorough, don’t you?” Finn asked. “Leave no cigar store unturned?”
He kept a mostly straight face as he batted his eyes and pressed a hand to his heart, but his lips twitched, struggling to hold back his snickers.
“Yeah,” I deadpanned. “That’s exactly what I’m concerned about right now.”
Finn pouted. “You’re no fun.”
I ignored him, pulled out my phone, and showed the mace rune photos to Bria. I didn’t know why, but something about the symbol made me think of my sister. No, that wasn’t right. It didn’t make me think of Bria, not exactly, but it made me think about . . . family.
Once again, I tried to remember when and where I’d seen the rune before. I could almost feel the memory swimming around like a fish in the bottom of my brain. But the more I tried to hook it and reel it to the surface, the faster it slipped away.
Bria’s eyebrows drew together in thought as she scrolled through the photos. “I don’t recognize it. Email me the photos, and I’ll run them through the department’s system and see if they match any known gang runes in Ashland and beyond.”
I nodded, took back my phone, and sent her the photos. Bria pulled out her own phone, hit some buttons, and held the device up to her ear.
“Hey, Xavier,” she said, talking to her partner on the force. “I just sent you some photos. I need you to run them through the rune database for me . . .”
While she filled in Xavier, I went over to Owen, Finn, Phillip, and Silvio, who were huddled around the table, studying the second bomb.
“Anything?” I asked.
Finn shook his head. “The box, the nails, and the phone are all things you could buy anywhere. Nothing I can easily track down. I’ll put out some feelers about the explosive, but I don’t know how long it might take to get some concrete info about who bought it, when, and where. Maybe Bria will have more luck with the police records, looking for similar bombs, although the design is fairly simple.”
I had expected as much, but frustration rippled through me. So I turned to Phillip, hoping that he would have better news. “What about the riverboat’s security footage? I know you have cameras recording everything that happens on deck and in the parking lot.”
“I’ve done a quick scan, but there’s nothing useful on it,” he said. “The guy was dressed like all the other waiters, and he walked into the parking lot from one of the side streets, so there’s no car or license plate to trace. He had a backpack slung over his shoulder—which my guards have already found empty in a staff locker below deck—and he hung out and smoked until he saw some folks coming in for work. He approached one of the other waiters, claimed that he was a new hire, and walked right on board with the rest of them. The guards didn’t even notice the new face or the extra body, much less search his backpack, something that I will be talking to them about at great length later on.”
Phillip glowered at a pair of giant guards who were standing by the double doors that led into the riverboat. Both men shifted on their feet and ducked their heads in silent apology. I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes. They’d be lucky if Phillip just fired them.
“Uh-oh. I know that look,” Owen murmured. “If you’re going to throw them overboard, you should at least give them life jackets first.”
Phillip turned his glower to Owen, but his anger quickly melted into a sheepish grin. Tossing people into the river was one of Phillip’s favorite ways of dealing with problems.
Silvio cleared this throat. “There might be another way to track down the bomber.”
We all looked at him.
“How?” I asked.
“Well, you are the head of the underworld now . . .”
I winced at the reminder, but he kept on talking.
“So why don’t you use all of the resources at your disposal?”
“What do you mean?”
Silvio shrugged. “Ask around. See if anyone’s heard anything about the bombing or if there’s a new elemental in town looking to make a name for himself by killing you. At the very least, ask folks to report back to you if they see or hear anything suspicious. Who knows? You might get lucky.”
Silvio was right. Whether I liked it or not, I was the head of the underworld now, so I should at least get some small benefit out of dealing with the criminals and all their constant whining, crying, and turf wars. But I was still wary. It wouldn’t have surprised me if one of the other bosses had hired the metal elemental to try to assassinate me. Inflicting horrific wounds on me with a bomb first, before moving in for the final kill, would have made a great many people in Ashland quite happy. I wasn’t even particularly annoyed by the possibility. It was part of the job description. The other bosses had constantly plotted against Mab, despite how powerful she’d been, although their schemes had never really amounted to anything.
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