Spider's Trap(Elemental Assassin,book 13)(41) by Jennifer Estep
“Why, just enjoying the party,” I drawled again. “I always like to come out and support a good cause, don’t you? And there are so many listed on that sign. Although I find myself most intrigued by the name of the event itself. Lily Rose. Such a pretty name for such a pretty party.”
I took another sip of my mint julep. Lorelei kept glaring at me, admittedly with good reason. My words had been far more cruel than kind. Maybe I fit in with the society sharks better than I thought, even if I wasn’t bothering with fake smiles and syrupy-sweet bless your hearts.
Mallory Parker stared at me, wondering who was upsetting her granddaughter so very much. Her eyes narrowed with recognition. “Gin Blanco.”
I stared back, surprised that she knew me. We didn’t exactly move in the same social circles. But there was a knowing tone in Mallory’s voice, telling me that she knew exactly who I was and what I did. Interesting. Then again, I supposed that I shouldn’t have been surprised, given what Fletcher had tried to do for Lily Rose and Lorelei all those years ago.
“Ms. Blanco,” the dwarf said, leaning forward and holding her small, weathered hand out over the table to me. “I’ve seen you at various events with Mr. Lane, but I don’t think that we’ve ever been formally introduced. Mallory Parker.”
“Ma’am,” I murmured, shaking her hand.
Her grip was much firmer than I expected. Then again, she was a dwarf. Even at more than three hundred years old, she still had enough inherent strength to break every bone in my hand if she wanted to. And she was also smart enough to realize that I wasn’t here for the mint juleps.
“Lorelei?” Mallory asked, a hint of steel hardening her hillbilly voice. “What’s going on? Why is Ms. Blanco here?”
Lorelei opened her mouth, but I beat her to the punch.
“I’m here because Raymond Pike is trying to kill your granddaughter.”
* * *
All around us, the society ladies flitted to and fro like colorful butterflies, each one twitching the wings of her billowing skirt to attract maximum attention as they talked, laughed, and cut one another to pieces with soft words and sly smiles. A soft breeze gusted through the garden, causing a set of silver wind chimes dangling from one of the trellises to tinkle-tinkle together, but the notes sounded more mournful than cheery. Farther out in the garden, the tree branches tangled together, then scraped apart, while the limbs on a nearby rhododendron bush quivered, as if chilled by the cool fall wind.
But our table was completely quiet, except for Mallory’s sharp, sudden intake of breath.
Her gaze swung back to Lorelei. “Is this true? Has Raymond finally tracked you down?”
Lorelei shook her head, making the brim of her white hat bob up and down like a ship riding the ocean waves. “It’s nothing I can’t handle.”
“That’s not the question I asked, young lady,” Mallory snapped in true grandmotherly fashion.
Lorelei sighed. “Yes, Raymond is in Ashland.”
“How do you know for sure?” Mallory asked.
“There was an . . . incident on the Delta Queen riverboat a couple of days ago.”
The dwarf’s eyes narrowed. “What sort of incident?”
The way Lorelei was skirting around things, she’d never tell her grandmother what had really happened, so I decided to cut to the chase.
“Raymond Pike planted a bomb on the riverboat,” I said. “One that was full of potential shrapnel. Nails, to be exact.”
Mallory blinked. “Nails. Are you sure?”
“I got an up-close-and-personal view of the device, along with a second one that he left behind in the woods. Trust me, I’m sure.”
Lorelei kept her posture easy and relaxed, but her fingers fisted around the linen napkin in her hand, making the diamonds in her rose-and-thorn rune ring flash in warning.
And the faintest bit of magic surged off her.
It was just a brief pulse of power, like the chill you would feel if you opened a refrigerator door and then quickly shut it again, but it was there. Curious. Lorelei wasn’t known to be an elemental. Perhaps hiding her power had been Fletcher’s idea, another way to protect her from her brother. I wondered if she had the same metal magic that Pike did—and if she was as strong in her power as he was.
Lorelei got a grip on her magic, smothering it, but she didn’t bother to hide the death stare she was giving me. She was plenty pissed at me for dropping the dime on Raymond being in town. Too damn bad. Yeah, ratting out Lorelei to the old lady wasn’t exactly the nicest thing I’d ever done, but I doubted that Lorelei would have agreed to see me otherwise, much less answer any of my questions about her half brother. She still probably wouldn’t do that, now that I’d riled her up.
Mallory drummed her gnarled fingers on the table, deep in thought. “So that’s why you want me on a plane to Hawaii. You’re trying to get me out of the way. So you can do what, exactly? Stay behind and kill Raymond yourself?”
“That is exactly what I’m going to do,” Lorelei snapped. “Just like I’ve been dreaming about for years now. My only regret is that my father isn’t still alive so I could do the same to him.”
The cold venom in Lorelei’s voice shouldn’t have surprised me, but somehow it did. It was hard for me to reconcile what I knew about Lorelei Parker, suave smuggler to the stars, with that beaten, battered girl I’d met all those years ago. But as I looked at Lorelei, her features slowly darkened, bruises ringing out from around her eyes to blacken her entire face, just as it had been back then. I blinked, and the illusion vanished, although not the memories it left behind.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online