Spider's Trap(Elemental Assassin,book 13)(32) by Jennifer Estep
As I looked over the cabin, I realized that someone was here already. The back fins of Sophia’s classic convertible peeked around the far side of the structure.
“What’s Sophia doing here? Is Jo-Jo here too?”
Fletcher shook his head, not really answering me. “Let’s get you squared away inside.”
We got out of the van and headed toward the cabin. Fletcher climbed the stairs, then scuffed his feet on the porch, making plenty of noise. I wondered what he was doing, but he kept right on scuffing his feet, even though his boots weren’t dirty.
The front door cracked open, revealing a black eye.
A welcoming grunt sounded, and Sophia Deveraux opened the door the rest of the way. Sophia might be Jo-Jo’s younger sister, but she had a completely different style—Goth. She sported black boots, black jeans, and a black T-shirt with a cute Dalmatian puppy that was grinning and showing off its bloody vampire fangs. Her lips were painted a dark crimson, the color matching the glittery streaks in her black hair. A white collar studded with red hearts ringed her throat, completing the look. Black and white and red all over.
But the thing that interested me the most was the shotgun in Sophia’s hand.
She leaned the weapon up against the wall before stepping aside so that Fletcher and I could enter the cabin. I’d been staying with the old man for several months now, and in all that time, I’d never seen Sophia handle a gun. Not even once. If there was a problem, she used her fists and massive strength to take care of it. But today, for this job, Sophia had a gun.
That told me everything I needed to know about how dangerous Fletcher’s assignment really was.
I clutched my backpack a little more tightly to my chest, wishing that I’d thought to bring a weapon, even if it was just a kitchen knife. After all, the old man was teaching me how to be an assassin like him. It was time I started acting like one, which meant having a weapon handy at all times. I vowed to find a knife as soon as possible.
“Where are they?” Fletcher asked.
Sophia stuck her thumb over her shoulder. Fletcher headed toward the back of the cabin, stopping when he came to a bathroom. That’s where Jo-Jo was.
Along with the girl.
She was sitting on the closed toilet lid, with Jo-Jo kneeling on the floor beside her. The girl was dressed like me, in sneakers, jeans, and a long-sleeved T-shirt, although her black hair was pulled back into a pretty French braid and studded with sparkly red rose-and-thorn pins, instead of being in a boring old ponytail like mine was. I even thought that she was the same age as me—fourteen or so—although it was hard to tell since her face was such a mess.
Someone had brutally beaten the girl.
Both of her eyes were blackened, her nose was broken, and deep scratches crisscrossed her forehead, cheeks, and chin, as though a wild animal had clawed her over and over again, digging deeper and deeper into her skin every single time. Blood oozed out of the scratches and dripped out of her pulpy nose, spattering onto her pale blue T-shirt and turning it an ugly brown. Tears also streamed down her bruised, swollen face, and every once in a while, the girl would let out a choked sob, her fingers digging into the bloody towel she was clutching in her lap.
“It’s okay, darling,” Jo-Jo crooned. “I’m going to fix you right up. I’ll be done in a few minutes, and then you’ll feel a whole lot better. Okay?”
The girl sniffled, but she finally nodded.
“All right, then. Here we go.”
Jo-Jo held up her hand. A milky-white glow coated her palm, and the familiar sensation of her Air magic gusted through the bathroom.
“Gin,” Fletcher said. “Can you help Jo-Jo, please?”
I slipped into the bathroom, knowing what he really wanted me to do. I skirted around Jo-Jo and went over to the girl. She tensed at my approach, but I sat down on the edge of the bathtub and gently took one of her hands in both of mine. Her skin was hot and clammy, and the rapid throbbing of her pulse in her wrist beat like a drum against my fingers.
“It’s okay,” I said. “Jo-Jo heals me all the time. It hurts a little in the beginning, but she’ll make you all better.”
The girl stared at me, and I realized that her eyes were a very pale, very pretty blue. She sniffled again, curled her fingers into mine, and tightened her grip. With her other hand, she reached up and took hold of her braid, tugging on the end of it in a nervous habit.
Jo-Jo reached for even more of her Air magic and leaned forward. The girl whimpered, and a fresh wave of tears slid down her cheeks, but she sat still while Jo-Jo used her power to stitch her skin together, straighten her nose, and fade out all the bruises and swelling.
About halfway through, I noticed that the girl’s hand had gone cold against mine and that a faint trace of magic rippled through her fingers where they pressed against my own. The girl kept her head down, gritting her teeth. She didn’t like the pins-and-needles feel of Jo-Jo’s Air magic any more than I did, so she must have Ice or Stone power, like me, or perhaps water or metal. It made me even more curious about who she was and who had hurt her.
It didn’t take Jo-Jo long to heal the girl. The dwarf released her hold on her Air magic and patted the girl on the shoulder.
“There you go, darling,” Jo-Jo crooned in a soft voice, as though she were soothing a wounded animal. “You’re all better now. Why don’t you take a shower? I put some fresh clothes on the sink. If you need anything else, just holler. Come on, Gin.”
The girl dropped the end of her braid and slipped her other hand out of both of mine. I smiled, trying to reassure her, but she gave me a dull, flat stare in return. Jo-Jo and I left the bathroom, and the dwarf shut the door behind us. A few seconds later, I heard the water in the shower hiss on—and the girl’s choked sobs as she started crying in earnest.
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