Spider's Trap(Elemental Assassin,book 13)(49) by Jennifer Estep
“It’s been very noble of you, though,” he said. “Even if it all was a waste of time.”
I tightened my grip on my knife and eased forward another foot. Three more steps, and I’d be close enough to gut him. “That’s the difference between you and me. I don’t think that saving people is a waste of time. More like time well spent.”
Pike scoffed, then dropped his hand from his heart and glanced down at his phone. I was out of time, so I raised my knife, ready to lunge toward him and drive the blade through his rotten heart—
A cold, hard force took hold of my knife, as though an invisible hand were peeling my fingers off the hilt. Before I could tighten my grip again, the force jerked the knife completely out of my hand and sent it zipping over to Pike, who plucked it effortlessly out of midair.
“An impressive weapon,” he murmured, hefting it in his hand. “Light, lethal, perfectly balanced. How about I take it for a spin?”
Pike grinned, snapped his arm up, and threw the knife right back at me, aiming for my throat, the same way he’d done when he’d killed Smith. There was no time to duck, so I threw up my forearm as I reached for my Stone magic, hardening my skin.
I didn’t know if Pike used his metal magic to direct the weapon or if he was just that good a marksman, but the knife slammed into my forearm, tip first, in a perfect throw.
I hadn’t brought enough of my magic to bear to completely block the blow, and the knife sliced through my skin, the blade lodging deep in the tendons close to my elbow with a hard, sickening impact. I felt like someone had jabbed an icy poker right into the middle of my funny bone. Ha-ha-ha-ha.
I staggered back, my breath escaping in a hissing yelp of pain, as blood spurted out of my arm and spattered all over my dress. As an added bonus, a sharp bit of rock buried under a pile of leaves sliced into my left foot. Injury and insult.
But I swallowed my screams, reached down, and yanked my own knife out of my arm. The coppery stink of my blood filled my nose, overpowering all the sweet floral perfumes. I tightened my grip on the blade, using my Stone magic to harden my fist around the hilt and make sure the weapon stayed put.
Every movement, every breath, every blink of my eyes sent more and more pain spiraling through my body. Still, it could have been worse. If I hadn’t used my magic, the weapon would have broken my arm outright. If I hadn’t raised my arm, the knife would have lodged in my throat—and I’d be on the ground, bleeding out.
Instead of using his metal magic to rip the weapon away from me again, Pike did something far, far worse: he held up his phone. The screen was large enough for me to see a timer there. Two minutes and tick-tick-ticking down.
“Since you seem to enjoy saving people so much, I’m giving you a chance to do just that,” he purred. “You have two choices. You can try to kill me right now, or you can try to stop my bomb. I’ll give you a hint. This one packs a lot more punch than the one on the riverboat. Up to you, hero.”
A wave of magic rolled off him, and the phone disintegrated in his hand, with bits of plastic, glass, and metal pinging off the surrounding trees and bushes. Pike backed up, his hands held up in front of him, ready to blast me with magic if I came at him.
For a mad, mad moment, I thought about going after him and ending this here and now. But he was right—I would rather save everyone than try to kill him. Besides, there would be plenty of time for that later.
“Tell Lorelei that her big brother says hello,” Pike purred again, realizing he’d won this round. “And that I’ll be seeing her again real soon.”
He waggled his fingers, then raised his hand to his lips and blew me a kiss before disappearing into the trees. Smug bastard.
I plunged through the bushes, shoving my way through the tight branches and staggering out into the middle of the garden.
For a second, nothing happened. Then someone noticed me, my knife, and the blood dripping all over me.
“Look out!” someone screamed. “She has a knife!”
Everyone turned to stare at me. The society ladies. The waitresses. Jo-Jo, Roslyn, Lorelei, and Mallory. They all froze, and the only sounds were my hoarse, raspy breaths and the faint tinkling of the wind chimes in the distance.
Then chaos erupted.
Everyone screamed and stampeded away from me as fast as they could. But they didn’t get far; in their haste, the partygoers slammed into one another, rattling around like bowling pins, upending chairs, tipping over tables, and sending all those pretty tea sets crashing to the ground. One woman—Delilah—tripped and did a header into the podium, knocking herself unconscious. In an instant, the elegant soiree was reduced to a giant rose-and-tea-themed mess, with broken dishes, trampled food, and overturned furniture strewn in the midst of all the colorful flowers.
There was no time to explain, so I shoved through the women standing between me and that box that was still sitting in front of Mallory, who was getting to her feet. By some stroke of luck, hers was the only table that had remained upright and untouched during the stampede. I just hoped it stayed that way. If the box fell to the ground, if someone accidentally kicked it . . . I didn’t know what might trigger the bomb other than the cell-phone timer, and I didn’t want to find out.
Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted Jo-Jo and Roslyn moving against the crowd, trying to get to me. So was Lorelei, although she was heading toward Mallory. But I was closer to the dwarf than any of them, so I shut them out of my mind and focused on the bomb.
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