Spider's Trap(Elemental Assassin,book 13)(48) by Jennifer Estep
“That knife in your hand is quite impressive,” he murmured in a cool, smooth voice. “Silverstone is a favorite metal of mine.”
Raymond Pike turned to look at me. I twirled my knife around in my hand and stepped forward so that he could see me, easing closer to him. I didn’t look at the phone in his hand—didn’t so much as glance at it—but I was aware of it all the while.
“Mine too,” I replied. “Especially when I’m killing people with it.”
He chuckled, his face creasing into a wide smile. Most people would have thought the expression charming, but his eyes stayed cold, and the curve of his lips was more cruel than kind. This was not a man to be trifled with. Well, I wasn’t to be trifled with either.
“I don’t think we’ve been formally introduced,” he said in that same suave voice. “I’m Raymond Pike.”
“Gin,” I replied. “Like the liquor.”
He arched his eyebrows. “How quaint.”
He crossed his arms over his chest. I kept staring at his face, even though I was thinking about distances and angles and how I could best get that phone away from him.
Pike’s blue gaze swept over me, taking in my tangled hair, torn dress, and bare, dirt-crusted feet. “Why, aren’t you the very epitome of Southern womanhood,” he drawled, his cultured tone making even the sarcastic insult sound classy. “A veritable flower of perfection in this fine, fine garden.”
I grinned, but my smile was as sharp as the knife in my hand. “Bless your heart. What a lovely compliment. I’m actually not looking my best right now, but I expect that to change in another minute or two.”
“Really? How so?”
My grin widened. “Because that’s when I’ll be figuring out how to wash your blood out of my dress. Red really is my best color.”
He chuckled, unconcerned by my threat. “You’re confident. I like that. It always makes the game so much more interesting.”
He nodded. “Life and death. The one that people like you and me play with all the puppets and pawns out there.”
“Well, if that’s your game, then why didn’t you blow me to bits on the riverboat?” I asked, creeping forward another step. “You had plenty of opportunity. Not to mention that sniper rifle you used to take those shots at me.”
Pike shrugged. “You weren’t my target. Besides, I was rather curious to see what you would do. Most people would have run screaming once they realized there was a bomb on board. But not you. I found it most interesting. And amusing, watching your pitiful efforts to save everyone, even if it cost you your own life. And it almost did. Lucky for you that friend of yours jumped into the river to save you. Or you’d be as dead as Lorelei will be very, very soon.”
“Oh, yes. Lorelei. I’ve heard of family feuds before and have been involved in a few myself, but I’ve never wanted to kill my own sister. What did she ever do to you?”
The coldness lurking beneath his handsome mask of a face rose to the surface and spread out like ice coating his skin. His eyes narrowed, his nostrils flared, and his jaw clenched. In that moment, there was a complete and utter stillness to him, like a snake waiting to strike. I might have thought him a statue planted in the gardens, if not for the hate burning in his blue eyes.
“Half sister,” he corrected in that ever-smooth voice. “She killed my father, and instead of having the guts to face up to what she’d done, she went into hiding. She should die for that alone.”
“But there’s more.”
“You’re damn right there’s more,” he snarled. “After my father’s death, I was put into foster care. Some fool psychiatrist said that I was a danger to myself and others. They locked me up in juvie until I was eighteen. You can imagine the sorts of things that happened to me in there.”
Nothing good. Being locked up, at other people’s mercy, or lack thereof . . . It would have warped Pike even more than his father already had.
“Lorelei is to blame for it all. Every second I was locked up, every time I was beaten, every bad thing that happened to me inside,” he continued. “It’s taken years for me to track her down. Years of dead ends and false leads and being led on a merry fucking goose chase. But now I’ve found her, and I intend to finish what my father started all those years ago. For him and especially for me.”
Memories from that day filled my mind. The horn on Sophia’s convertible beeping in warning. Her car crumpled around that tree, smoke boiling up from the hood. Renaldo Pike striding toward the cabin, using his metal magic to rip all the nails out of the walls and send them shooting out like bullets. And then, everything that had happened after I’d dragged Lorelei out of the cabin and into the woods . . .
I blinked, forcing away the memories. Raymond Pike was wrong about so many things. As far as I was concerned, his father had gotten exactly what he deserved. But of course, Pike wouldn’t see it that way.
I shook my head. “I’m afraid it’s too late for that. You should have killed Lorelei on the riverboat. You would have gotten away with it then. But not now.”
“Why? Because you’re here, and you’re going to stop me?” Pike laughed. “Don’t flatter yourself. All you’ve done so far is run around, stick your nose where it doesn’t belong, and try to save people.”
He raised his phone. I tensed, expecting him to detonate the bomb, but all he did was clutch that hand to his heart, phone and all, mocking me.
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