Spider's Trap(Elemental Assassin,book 13)(34) by Jennifer Estep
A low rumble sounded, and I realized that the girl’s stomach was growling.
“Why don’t we get something to eat? You must be hungry after everything . . . that’s happened.” I winced at my own stupid words.
The girl gave me a flat stare, her features dull, drawn, and tired. She swayed on her feet, and she glanced at the floor like she wanted to curl into a ball, lie down there, and die. I knew that look, that feeling. It was the same one I’d had after my family had been murdered. The deep, bone-weary, heart-crushing ache that never truly left me. The one that made me even more determined to ease her pain in whatever small way I could.
“Come on,” I coaxed. “You might feel better if you eat something.”
She kept staring at me, that dull, distant look still on her face, so I grabbed her hand and tugged her through the cabin until I found the kitchen in the back. I led the girl over to the table, and she dropped down into a chair, slumping one shoulder against the wall, as if it and the chair were the only things holding her up. Maybe they were.
“My name is Gin. What’s yours?”
She didn’t answer.
“Okay . . . well, maybe you’ll feel like telling me later.”
I opened the refrigerator and cabinets. Fletcher always kept his hidey-holes well stocked with food, so there was plenty to choose from. Peanut butter, boxes of mac and cheese, frozen pizzas. I didn’t know what the girl would like, but I spotted a bottle of Jo-Jo’s homemade chocolate syrup on one of the shelves, and I figured that I couldn’t go wrong with a chocolate milkshake. So I pulled out the ice cream and milk from the fridge, plugged in a blender on the counter, and whipped everything together.
I poured the shake into a glass, stuck a straw in it, and took it over to the table.
“There you go,” I said, talking to the girl in the same soft, soothing tone that Jo-Jo had used.
“It’s too early for a milkshake,” she said, her voice barely above a whisper.
I scooted it a little closer to her. “Just try it, okay?”
She dutifully took a sip. She stopped and frowned, as if she was surprised by how good it was or how hungry she was after all. But she must have liked it, because she kept sipping and sipping it. She didn’t act like she wanted to talk, so I made a second chocolate shake for myself.
When the girl wasn’t looking, I reached over, grabbed one of the kitchen knives out of the butcher’s block on the counter, and slipped it into one of the back pockets on my jeans. It wasn’t as good as one of Fletcher’s silverstone knives, but it was better than no knife at all.
I finished making my own milkshake and poured it into a glass. Outside, I heard car doors slamming shut, then an engine rumbling to life and tires crunching on gravel. Fletcher, Jo-Jo, and Sophia must finally be leaving—
The horn on Sophia’s convertible blared and blared, as though someone were hitting it over and over again in warning. I froze, but the horn was quickly drowned out by the squealing of tires and the screeching of metal slamming into something.
“Fletcher,” I whispered.
I dropped my milkshake, not caring that the glass shattered on the floor, and ran out of the kitchen. I skidded to a stop at the front cabin windows, with the girl right next to me.
Sophia’s convertible was wrapped around a tree—literally.
Somehow the car had slammed into and then curled around the tree trunk like a plastic tie twisted on the end of a loaf of bread. Broken glass and bent pieces of metal littered the ground, while black smoke boiled up from the hood. I couldn’t see through the smoke, so I couldn’t tell how badly Fletcher and the Deveraux sisters might be hurt.
“Oh, no,” the girl whispered, her trembling finger pointing out the window. “He’s here.”
A man was walking up the gravel driveway toward the cabin. He was dressed in a dark blue suit, with a silverstone ring flashing on his finger. Both were at odds with the old-fashioned weapon he was carrying, a long, thick wooden stick topped with a spiked metal ball. His black hair was swept back from his face, revealing the bright blue burn of magic in his eyes.
The man didn’t give the crumpled car a second look as he passed it, and he kept striding toward the house with steady, certain steps. No emotion showed on his face. No hate, no rage, nothing but the cold, certain promise of pain and death.
“That’s your dad?”
The girl nodded, tears streaming down her pale face.
Another plume of smoke caught my eye, and hot, hungry flames started shooting out of the hood of Sophia’s convertible. My heart twisted, and I sucked in a breath, waiting for the doors to wrench open and for Fletcher, Jo-Jo, and Sophia to spill out of the wrecked car and sprint away from the growing fire.
But they didn’t.
“Your friends are probably dead,” the girl said in a dull voice. “He can control metal. That’s what he did to their car. Crushed it around them like a tin can. He’s done it before. My mom . . . he used that mace on her. He beat her to death with it right in front of me, and he laughed the whole time. Now he’s going to kill us too. There’s no stopping him. There never is.”
More and more tears streaked down her face, her gaze locked onto her father as he drew closer to the cabin.
Cold rage pulsed through me, overpowering my grief and fear. This man, this Renaldo Pike, had murdered his wife, beaten his daughter, and hurt Fletcher, Jo-Jo, and Sophia. Maybe even killed them.
I’d be damned if he was going to do the same thing to us.
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