Spider's Trap(Elemental Assassin,book 13)(51) by Jennifer Estep
I looked at Lorelei, who was slowly getting to her own feet. She’d been behind me, so she’d been spared the brunt of the blast. All it seemed to have done was to knock her down and dirty her dress.
Lorelei gave me a guarded look, her gaze lingering on the bloody gash on my arm as it slowly healed. Once she realized that I was still in one piece, she hurried over to Mallory, who was calling her name. Lorelei hugged her grandmother tightly, then bent down and started whispering in her ear. Mallory’s face was pale, but her blue eyes glittered with determination. So did Lorelei’s.
“Now what happens?” Roslyn asked, staring at them the same way I was.
Despite Jo-Jo’s healing magic, my head was still aching, and it wasn’t from the bomb blast or the resulting concussion. “I have no clue.”
* * *
Naturally, all the panicked society ladies called the cops, and the po-po showed up about ten minutes later. Bria and Xavier were the lead investigators on the scene, with uniformed officers moving through the crowd and taking witness statements. Still more folks dressed in bomb gear swept through the Rose Garden, then spread out to the other sections, searching for more explosive devices. I doubted they would find any, though. Pike had only wanted to kill Mallory. He wouldn’t have cared enough about anyone else to make more than one bomb.
Bria came over to me, while Xavier split off to check on Roslyn. My sister hugged me tightly, then looked me over, her blue gaze taking in the blood, soot, and ash that streaked my face, arms, and pink dress.
“It’s nothing,” I said. “Just some dirt and grime. Jo-Jo already healed me.”
Bria’s worry seemed to lessen but only a little bit.
She focused on the still smoldering tree and all the nails glinting in the ruined tree stump. “Another bomb.”
“Yep. Compliments of one Raymond Pike.”
I filled Bria in on my encounter with Pike. The only thing I didn’t mention was how he’d used his metal magic to turn my own knife against me. I was the only one who needed to know that troubling fact. It had been a long time since I’d been up against a metal elemental, and I’d been in such a hurry to kill Pike that I hadn’t thought about him being able to neutralize my knives, much less control them.
I should have, though. Pike had taught me a painful lesson, one that rattled me far more than I liked. My knives were such a big part of who and what I was that I didn’t know quite what to do without them. How to protect, how to attack, how to win. But I’d figure it out. I always did.
And then Raymond Pike would die.
“Well,” Bria said, cutting into my dark thoughts, “I should talk to Lorelei.”
“Good luck with that.”
My sister shrugged, but it was her job, so she headed in Lorelei’s direction. I followed her, curious about what the smuggler would—or wouldn’t—say.
Lorelei and Mallory were seated at the same table they’d occupied when I first arrived. Lorelei was whispering to her grandmother, but she stopped talking once she noticed Bria approaching. Her face was blank and shuttered. So was Mallory’s.
“Ms. Parker,” Bria said. “Mrs. Parker. I’d like to talk to you about the bombing. My sister tells me that you were the intended targets.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Lorelei said, somehow managing to look down her nose at Bria, even though she was seated. “I don’t know what your sister thinks she saw or overheard, but my grandmother and I don’t know anything about the bombing. We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Right, Grandma?”
Anger surged through me. “Don’t be an idiot, Lorelei. Tell the cops about Raymond. Maybe you’ll get lucky, and they can arrest him for the bombing before he takes another crack at you and Mallory.”
Lorelei shrugged. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Mallory looked back and forth between me and her granddaughter, but she didn’t say anything. And I realized that she wouldn’t. Neither would Lorelei.
“You should let me help you, Ms. Parker,” Bria said. “It’s what I do, and I’m pretty good at it.”
Lorelei snorted. “The police? Help me? The police have never helped me—and especially not my mother. She called the police for help. More than once. But do you know what they did?”
Bria shook her head.
“Nothing,” Lorelei spat out. “Not a damn thing except take the bribes that my father doled out to get them to ignore the bruises on my mom’s face—and on mine too. So forgive me if I don’t put much stock in the police, especially the Ashland police. Let me save you some time and energy. We didn’t see anything, we didn’t hear anything, and we don’t know anything. Now, if you’ll excuse us, my grandmother needs her rest.”
Lorelei helped Mallory to her feet, then waved at Jack Corbin, who was standing at the garden entrance. He came over and took Mallory’s arm. The dwarf smiled up at him and patted his hand. Corbin tried to smile back, but his expression was more of a miserable wince, and he glanced over at the ruined tree. His eyes widened, and then he wet his lips and quickly looked away from the damage. Curious.
They walked past me, and Mallory turned her head to stare at me. Corbin was looking straight ahead, clearly wanting to get out of here as fast as possible, so he didn’t see her mouth the words to me.
Help her. Please.
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