Spider's Trap(Elemental Assassin,book 13)(52) by Jennifer Estep
Mallory stared at me another second; then she and Corbin swept past me and out of the garden.
“You’re sure you don’t know anything about the bombing?” Bria asked again, still trying to get Lorelei to open up.
“I’m sure.” Lorelei gave her the same kind of syrupy smile that Mallory had used on me and the society ladies. “Bless your heart for asking, though.”
Bria recognized the insult for what it was, and she gave Lorelei an even sweeter, more syrupy smile in return. “And bless your heart for being so cooperative and so very helpful.”
Lorelei’s eyes narrowed, but Bria just cranked up the wattage on her smile. Score one for my baby sister.
Bria stared down Lorelei for a few more seconds, then moved off to speak to the next witness. She couldn’t make Lorelei talk if she didn’t want to.
But I could.
Lorelei started to walk away, but I latched onto her arm. She shook me off, but I grabbed hold of her again. She shook me off a second time but finally faced me, crossing her arms over her chest.
“Why can’t you just leave me alone?” she snapped.
“Because your revenge-seeking, crazy-ass half brother keeps planting bombs in close proximity to me and my friends,” I snapped back. “That happens to concern me. I might be an assassin, but I don’t deal in collateral damage, and I especially don’t like to see innocent people almost get blown up just because they’re in the wrong place with the wrong people at the wrong time.”
“Well, you don’t have to worry about that anymore,” Lorelei retorted. “I said that I would take care of Raymond, and I will.”
“It seems to me like Raymond is going to take care of you first. Are you even doing anything to track him down?”
Lorelei laughed, but it was a soft, ugly sound. “That’s the beauty of this whole thing. I don’t have to track him down. I don’t have to do anything. He’ll find me soon enough, and I’ll be ready when he does. Count on it.”
Her voice held a poison promise that I knew all too well. Her hands were clenched into fists, and anger blazed in her eyes. I didn’t know if the emotion was directed at her brother or me. Probably both of us.
“I can’t believe that you’re standing here, wanting to help me now,” she snarled. “If it weren’t for you and your friends, none of this would even be happening. I could have gotten on with my life years ago, instead of waiting for this day to come.”
This time, I knew exactly what she was talking about. Her words weren’t completely correct, but they had enough truth in them to make me flinch.
“That wasn’t my fault. You know it wasn’t. And neither is any of this.”
Lorelei let out another, even uglier laugh. “Well, I suppose that quibbling over who’s to blame doesn’t make much sense now that Raymond has finally found me.”
More of that acidic guilt flooded my heart, chewing through what was left of it, but I couldn’t argue with her logic.
She gave me a disgusted look. “Just . . . stay out of my way. Okay? For once in your miserable life. I can take care of Raymond.”
“Sure,” I sniped. “Before or after he kills you and Mallory? Because he’s not going to stop until the two of you are dead.”
Lorelei didn’t say anything, but anger, pain, and guilt flashed in her eyes, smoldering like the ruined tree. Her mouth tightened into a hard, determined line.
I drew in a breath and tried to rein in my anger. “Listen, I just want to help—”
“Forget it.” She cut me off. “I don’t want or need your help. I can take care of myself. Stay out of my way, or you’ll regret it.”
Lorelei gave me one more disgusted glare, then stormed out of the garden.
A hot shower and several worried voice mails awaited me when I got home to Fletcher’s. Everyone and his brother had heard about the explosion, and Finn, Owen, and Silvio had all called to check on me—Finn wanting all the juicy details, Owen making sure that I was okay, and Silvio chiding me because I hadn’t brought him along to the party.
I dealt with all their questions and concerns, told them that I wanted to be alone tonight, and went to bed, even though it was just after six. I fell asleep almost immediately, but when the dreams started, dredged up by everything that had happened over the past few days, they felt as vivid as if I were wide awake. . . .
I dragged Lorelei down the hallway, through the kitchen, and out the back door of the cabin. We stumbled down the steps, both of us sprawling in the dirt, but I kept crabbing forward the whole time, yanking her along with me as best and as fast as I could.
Behind us, more and more nails shot out of the cabin walls, the floorboards, and even the roof, the sharp projectiles punching through the windows and raining shards of glass down on us. The entire wooden structure moaned and groaned, threatening to collapse in on itself.
And then, with a single ominous creak, it did.
Without all those nails to hold them in place, the walls toppled together, pulling the supports down with them, and the whole cabin caved in like a house of cards. Thick, choking clouds of dust puffed up, while split pieces of wood zoomed through the air like warped arrows.
I threw one arm up to protect my head, still crawling forward and pulling Lorelei along with me, trying to get us clear of the debris. What was left of the cabin quickly settled down, although the resulting dust churned like a storm cloud above our heads. I let go of Lorelei’s hand. She curled into a ball, crying, but I staggered up onto my feet, coughing and trying to clear the dust out of my lungs.
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