Spider's Trap(Elemental Assassin,book 13)(53) by Jennifer Estep
At first, I didn’t see anything but the collapsed cabin, but then a figure emerged out of the dust. Renaldo Pike stopped and stared at the splintered structure, smiling at the destruction he’d caused. He caught sight of Lorelei and me. His cruel smile widened, and he headed in our direction, twirling that mace around in his hand.
“It’s no use,” Lorelei mumbled, staring at her father with dull, blank eyes. “He’ll find us wherever we go. And then he’ll kill us. Just like he killed my mom.”
“He’s not going to kill us!” I hissed. “All we have to do is outrun him. Now, come on!”
I grabbed her arm, yanked her to her feet, and pulled her with me into the woods. She stumbled along behind me, barely keeping up, but I tightened my grip on her hand and increased my pace, ruthlessly tuning out her sobs. Yeah, I was hurting her, and I felt bad about that, but it was better than the alternative. No way was I letting some mace-wielding pyscho murder me. Renaldo had already hurt Fletcher, Jo-Jo, and Sophia—maybe even killed them—but he wasn’t getting us too.
I scanned the woods, trying to come up with a better plan than just running blindly, but all I saw were trees and rocks—and more trees and rocks. Nothing that would help me slow down the monster behind us, much less stop him for good.
With every step, the knife I’d grabbed from the kitchen rode up and down in the back pocket of my jeans. I could kill Renaldo with the weapon. I’d done it before. All I had to do was get close enough to stab him before he realized what was happening—
I leaped over a tree root sticking up out of the earth, but Lorelei didn’t see it and hooked her foot through it. She stumbled, her cold, shaking hand tearing free of my grasp, and hit the ground hard. I ran back to help her up.
Magic surged through the air.
I threw myself down on the ground just in time to avoid the nails that zipped over my head like a swarm of angry bees and then thunked into a nearby tree.
I scrambled back up onto my feet. Renaldo was thirty feet behind us, calmly walking along as if he had all the time in the world. His eyes burned an even brighter blue as he reached for more of his metal magic. He waved his hand, and the nails embedded in the tree trunk started working themselves free for another strike.
“Get up! Get up! Get up!” I screamed at Lorelei, hauling her upright.
She tried to stand on her own but fell back down, sobbing and clutching her foot. She must have twisted her ankle. Behind her, Renaldo kept striding toward us at that slow, steady pace, his grin sharpening with evil intent. He wanted to kill us both, and she couldn’t run away anymore. Only one thing to do.
Leave her behind.
I kept staring at Renaldo as I backed out of the clearing we were in and headed toward the trees on the far side.
Lorelei realized what I was doing, and her eyes widened with fear and panic. “No! Don’t go! Don’t leave me here with him!”
I tuned out her tearful pleas, turned, and vanished into the trees.
“Wait! Please! Come back!” she said, her voice dissolving into a choked sob. “Please don’t leave me!”
My heart twisted at her words, but I knew that I was doing the right thing.
I darted about thirty feet into the woods, then cut to my right, circling back around. Of course, I wasn’t going to leave her. That wasn’t what Fletcher had taught me to do. Not at all. What he had taught me was that it was better to get the drop on a powerful enemy, rather than take him on face-to-face. All I needed was a few seconds of stealth and surprise, and I could plunge my knife into Renaldo’s back. Then Lorelei and I would both be safe. I didn’t like using her as bait, but it was the only way I could think of to save us both.
So I crept through the woods, forcing myself to look and listen, in case Renaldo had figured out what I was up to and was waiting for me. I crept back to the spot where I’d vanished into the trees, but the metal elemental had his back to me. He stood over his daughter, who was huddled on her knees. He kicked a wad of dirt right into her face, causing her to cringe and choke at the small pebbles that pelted her cheeks and the dust that filled her nose and mouth. Then he started circling around her.
“Cringing and groveling, just like your mother,” Renaldo said in a disgusted voice. “She always was weak. Just like you are.”
Lorelei lifted her head, rage making her blue eyes burn even brighter than her father’s. She managed to get back up onto her feet, although she could hardly stand on her twisted ankle. But she raised her chin and glared right back at her father. In that moment, she wasn’t weak. Not anymore. Never again.
“Mom never did anything wrong,” she spat. “You’re the one who’s a complete monster. Always claiming that you loved her even though all you did was hit and yell and make fun of her. She hated you, and so do I.”
Renaldo stopped his circling and laughed, the mocking sound low and evil. “Well, you’ll be joining her soon enough.”
I pulled the kitchen knife from the back pocket of my jeans and slipped out into the clearing. Lorelei saw me, and her eyes widened, realizing that I hadn’t abandoned her after all.
She focused on her father again. “Yeah, well, I’d rather be dead than have to spend one more miserable minute with you and Raymond. You both think that your metal magic makes you sooo strong, sooo special. But all you do is hurt people with it. You’re disgusting, and so is he.”
Renaldo scoffed. “You don’t have enough metal magic to speak of. And that weak bit of Ice power you inherited from your mother isn’t any better. You always were jealous of Raymond’s power.”
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