Spider's Trap(Elemental Assassin,book 13)(27) by Jennifer Estep
Owen was right. Not only could I sense the guy’s cold, hard power, but I could feel it pulsing through the wall that separated us, which meant that he had some serious juice, especially since he wasn’t actively using his magic. Oh, I didn’t think he had as much raw power as Madeline Monroe, but he had enough to do some serious damage—and enough to make even me think twice about taking him on face-to-face.
The squeaking of the faucets sounded again, and the water stopped running. A minute later, Smith stepped back out into the main part of his room, wearing a fluffy white robe and toweling off his face and hair. He was still whistling, and it took him several seconds to spot the mystery man sitting at the desk. But when he did, he dropped his towel and let out a surprised, high-pitched shriek that made Finn, Owen, and me all wince.
“Pike!” Smith said, clutching a hand to his heart. “You scared the shit out of me!”
“I really hope not,” the mystery man, Pike, drawled in a cool voice. “That would be very unpleasant for both of us.”
Smith paused, as if he wasn’t sure whether or not Pike was making a joke. He decided to play if off as a joke, because he grinned. “Anyway, Pike, dude, I’m glad you got my message,” Smith said. “And I really appreciate you putting me up in these swanky digs these past few days. It’s been primo all the way around. I just wish that I had been able to help you kill that chick like you wanted.”
Kill that chick? Maybe this was just about murdering me after all.
I took another look at Pike, examining his face, clothes, and posture. I even tried to see what, if anything, might be engraved on his silverstone signet ring, but his hand was turned the wrong way. But I just couldn’t place him. As far as I knew, I’d never even met the man. Granted, lots of people had tried to kill me over the past few months whom I’d never met before, but I at least knew about their or their bosses’ reputations and that they all wanted to take over the Ashland underworld.
But Pike? I didn’t get that greedy, jealous, kill Gin Blanco to get to the top vibe from him at all. Instead, he struck me as the sort who would hold a grudge at the smallest perceived slight, take it very, very personally, and spend a great deal of time plotting how to exact maximum retribution for it.
But try as I might, I couldn’t imagine what I could have possibly done to piss him off enough to plant a bomb on the Delta Queen. Pike was a total mystery to me—a fact that I didn’t like and definitely one that I couldn’t afford. Not if I wanted to keep on breathing and, more important, keep my friends safe from whatever plots he might have hatched.
“No, you didn’t manage to kill that chick,” Pike murmured. “Things took an unexpected turn. I didn’t think that my plan would be uncovered—or that you would abandon your post at the first sign of trouble.”
His face was calm, but clear menace rippled through his voice, and he never stopped drumming his fingers on the desk. Smith eyed the spoon, which was still rattling around on that saucer, but he swallowed his nervousness. Fool. He was already dead. He just didn’t know it yet.
Smith held up his hands and gave an apologetic shrug. “What was I supposed to do? That chick has a serious reputation, and she came at me like she wanted to tear my head off with her bare hands. I wasn’t going to stick around to let her make it a reality. Know what I mean?”
“Hmm,” Pike replied. “Yes, I suppose you’re right. It was better to run away and live to fight another day. I actually think that this will work out better. Now I can regroup. Refocus my efforts and really make the statement that I want.”
Smith perked up. “See? I knew that you’d see things my way. That’s why I texted and asked you to come over. So we could clear the air.”
Pike gave the other man a flat look, but Smith didn’t notice it. Then again, it was obvious that he wasn’t the brains of this operation.
“So are you here to give me the rest of my payment, like we agreed?” Smith asked, a wheedling tone creeping into his voice. “Because I want double what you promised me.”
Pike’s fingers stilled. “And why should I pay you double?”
“Because you didn’t tell me that I was planting an actual bomb on that tub. You said that it was just a smoke grenade that would add to the confusion after you shot that chick in the head.” Smith threw up his hands in indignation. “I could have been killed!”
So Pike hadn’t told Smith the truth about the bomb, which meant that he’d probably planned for his hired hand to stay right by that champagne bucket and die in the explosion. Well, that would have been a neat, effective way of tying up any loose ends that might lead back to him.
“That was the idea,” Pike said. “But since you let that chick, as you call her, spook you into running, I guess I’ll just have to take care of things myself.”
Smith swallowed again, his face suddenly pale, despite his hot shower. He stepped back and dropped his hand down into the pocket of his white robe. “Now, Pike, there’s no need to be hasty. Just because I didn’t finish the job is no reason for this to turn ugly.”
“Oh,” Pike said. “I think that it is every reason for it to turn ugly. I pay for results . . . not disappointments like you.”
Smith huffed, then yanked his hand up out of the pocket of his robe, revealing a small black pistol.
On the bed, Finn perked up. “Now it’s getting interesting.”
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online