Spider's Trap(Elemental Assassin,book 13)(35) by Jennifer Estep
This was exactly the sort of situation Fletcher had been training me for. So I could take care of myself. And if the girl wouldn’t do the same, then I’d just have to do it for her. I glanced around the room for a weapon, but Fletcher, Jo-Jo, and Sophia had taken everything with them.
“He’s reaching for his magic,” the girl whispered. “He’s going to play with us first. He likes to do that.”
At her words, a nail worked its way loose from the wall and tinked to the floor at my feet, rolling around and around, almost like a grenade waiting to explode.
And it wasn’t the only one.
The closer Renaldo Pike got to the cabin, the more nails ripped out of the walls, shooting out of the wood like bullets. They hit the couch, the chairs, even the TV, shattering the monitor. Everything shuddered, splintered, and cracked apart, and glass, fabric, and other shrapnel flew through the air. It was like being in the center of a bomb that kept exploding over and over again.
I ducked down, but the girl stood at the windows, as if she’d already accepted the fact that there was nothing she could do to keep him from killing her.
I yanked her down beside me, out of the path of the flying nails. “Do you have a death wish?” I hissed. “Move!”
I grabbed the girl’s hand. Still crouching low, I headed toward the kitchen, dragging her along behind me, determined to get out of the cabin before her father killed us both—
My eyes snapped open, the squealing of all those nails tearing out of the cabin walls still echoing in my mind, the scent of sawdust still filling my nose, and the cold, sweaty feel of the girl’s hand still imprinted on my skin as though I’d touched her just a moment ago.
I remembered now—I remembered everything.
The girl, her father, all the terrible things that had happened that day.
But with the dream, the memories, came some startling revelations.
I wasn’t the one Pike wanted to kill. I hadn’t been the target of the bomb on the Delta Queen.
In fact, this wasn’t about me at all.
It was all about her.
* * *
I lay in bed for several minutes, thinking about the day I’d met the girl, reviewing all the facts from back then and trying to piece them together with what I knew—or at least suspected—now.
Then I threw back the sheets, pulled on my black skull robe, and hurried downstairs to Fletcher’s office. I slapped on the lights, went over to one of the cabinets, and yanked open a drawer of files still organized by Fletcher’s old method.
This time, I didn’t look for the name Pike or the mace rune. No, this time, I looked for a completely different rune—a rose wrapped in thorns dripping blood—a warning about how deadly beauty could be.
And I found it, right where I thought it would be. Looked like I’d finally gotten my wish about finding the correct file on the first try. Lucky me.
I stared at the rune Fletcher had drawn on the folder’s tab. I’d never noticed it before, but the very top corner of the tab had been creased down. Something that couldn’t have been done by accident. Unease pooled in the pit of my stomach, and I slowly flipped it up with my thumb.
My spider rune was inked on the hidden part of the tab.
I had been so sure that a ghost from my past had come back to haunt me. But this time, the ghost wasn’t mine—it was hers.
My hands were shaking, and I took several deep breaths to steady myself. Then I plopped down in the old man’s chair, snapped on the light on his desk, opened the file, and started reading.
It wasn’t an excessively thick file, not compared with the one he’d compiled on Mab Monroe, but there was still plenty of heft to it. The first several pages outlined all her criminal enterprises. Gambling, money laundering, the occasional art or jewelry theft.
It wasn’t until I got close to the back of the file that the information changed. Because it wasn’t about her anymore; it was all about her dead mother. Several pages had been torn from a notebook, and all of them featured Fletcher’s distinctive handwriting. Just seeing the old man’s script made my heart squeeze, and it took me a few seconds to focus on the words enough to actually read them.
Lily Rose Pike. Contact made through Jo-Jo’s beauty salon. Married to an abusive man. Afraid for her life and her daughter’s life. Desperate to leave her husband but worried what he might do if he catches her. Only in town for a few more days before heading back to Cloudburst Falls, West Virginia. Need to extract the mother and daughter at the same time . . .
Fletcher went on from there, mulling over various plans to get Lily Rose and her daughter safely away from her husband. I flipped through a few more pages, which detailed Lily Rose’s murder and everything that had happened that day at the cabin. Another one of the old man’s scribbled notes jumped out at me.
Girl sent to live with her grandmother here in Ashland. New name/identity given to the girl for added protection.
A photo of the grandmother was included, one that made me blink in surprise. I knew her—she was one of Finn’s clients. In fact, I’d seen her at more than one society event over the years, even though I’d never actually spoken to her.
But it was the very last thing in the file that held my attention: a photo of the girl.
It was an old Polaroid, one that Jo-Jo or maybe Sophia had taken when the girl had first arrived at the cabin, since her face was still a bruised, bloody mess in the shot. A little arrow marked the white strip at the bottom of the photo, pointing to the back.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online