Spider's Trap(Elemental Assassin,book 13)(17) by Jennifer Estep
No, what really pissed me off was the fact that Phillip, Silvio, and all those innocent workers could have been seriously injured—or worse—by the bomb. After I killed Madeline, I had made it exceptionally clear to the entire underworld what would happen to anyone who went after my friends and my family—even by accident. Pain, blood, death. But apparently, the message hadn’t sunk in. Well, this time, I was going to make sure that it did.
“And I know that look too,” Owen murmured again, reaching out and squeezing my hand. “This is not your fault, Gin.”
I shrugged and stared down at the deck instead of looking at my friends. They might not hold me responsible, but it was my fault. Death followed me wherever I went, whether I liked it or not. Still, I appreciated Owen’s gesture, so I squeezed back, then dropped his hand and turned to Silvio.
“All right,” I told the vampire. “Reach out to a few folks, but do it discreetly. And only contact the ones who don’t have any serious ambitions of their own. I’m sure that Lorelei, Dimitri, and Luiz have already spread rumors all over town about the bombing, but I don’t want to confirm anything I don’t have to.”
I couldn’t afford to look weak right now, or the sharks would start actively circling around me again. Not that they’d ever really left in the first place.
Silvio nodded and whipped out his phone, while Phillip and Owen started talking about the security footage again. Bria finished her call to Xavier, came back over to the table, and examined the second bomb with Finn.
I held up my phone, staring at the photo of the tree carving. I was grateful that my friends were going to help me run down all the available leads, but it seemed to me like the mace rune was the key to discovering the bomber’s identity.
But more than that, staring at the symbol filled me with uneasy dread, as though I should have already known exactly who my enemy was and what he really wanted.
* * *
That night, Owen and I drove our cars over to Fletcher’s house, my house now. We both parked in front of the ramshackle structure, but I signaled to Owen to stay in his vehicle as I got out and did a perimeter sweep. Normally, I would have just scanned the woods, the lawn, and the rocky ridge that dropped away from the front of the house before going inside.
Instead, I made a slow, complete circuit of the house, crisscrossed the lawn several times, and even ventured into the woods to make absolutely sure that no one was lurking in the trees. All the while, I reached out with my Stone magic, listening to the emotional vibrations that had sunk into the gravel in the driveway, the small rocks hidden in the grass, and even the brick that made up parts of the house. But the stones only whispered of the whistling of the chilly autumn wind, the scurrying of animals in the underbrush, and the soft dropping of the leaves on top of the ground, slowly covering the stones up for the cold winter ahead.
When I was satisfied that no one had been near the house, I signaled to Owen, and we went inside. I took the extra precaution of making him wait by the front door while I swept the interior for intruders and any traps, including more bombs. But no one was hiding inside, and nothing had been disturbed since I’d left this morning.
I sighed, grateful that at least my house was safe and secure for the night.
“What are you thinking about?” Owen asked.
I was tired of speculating about the bomber, who he was, and why he’d tried to kill me, so I didn’t tell Owen my real thoughts. Instead, I wrapped my arms around his neck.
“I was thinking that I’m glad we’re finally alone together,” I said in a low, husky voice, staring up into his violet eyes.
Owen’s nose wrinkled, and he gave me a teasing grin. “As romantic as that sounds, don’t you want to take a shower first? Don’t take this the wrong way, but you sort of smell like . . . fish.”
I sniffed. He was right. Even though I’d changed into fresh clothes, the fishy scent of the river had soaked into my hair and skin.
I laughed, stood on my tiptoes, and kissed him on the nose. “All right, all right. Shower first. Lovin’ later.”
Owen headed into the den to watch some TV, while I went into the bathroom. I stripped off my clothes, turned the water on in the shower, and stepped into the hot spray, soaping up and washing off the lingering stench of the river. I also lathered and rinsed out my hair twice, just for good measure.
When I had finished, I slipped into a black microfleece robe patterned with silver skulls with red-sequined hearts for eyes—a birthday gift from Sophia—and padded into the den.
Owen had been busy while I’d been in the shower, and he’d put together several ham-and-turkey club sandwiches. He’d also heated up two bowls of broccoli-cheese soup, along with some cinnamon baked apples mixed with cranberries for dessert. Perfect comfort food after the day I’d had.
We took everything into the den, enjoying the warm, hearty meal and the easy silence that came with being in each other’s company. Then we snuggled together on the couch, just holding each other, not saying anything at all. There was no need for words. Not now, not tonight.
But our innocent touches, lazy caresses, and soft kisses quickly turned longer, harder, deeper, until we were plastered together on the couch, making out like a couple of teenagers who couldn’t get enough of each other. I loved everything about Owen—his firm touch, his rich metallic scent, the way his warm, hard muscles bunched and flexed under my fingers, even the hint of cinnamon that lingered on his tongue from the apples we’d eaten.
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