Spider's Trap(Elemental Assassin,book 13)(54) by Jennifer Estep
She snorted. “Jealous? Of Raymond? Please.”
“He’s here with me,” Renaldo continued, as though she hadn’t spoken. “Dealing with the people in the car. Making sure they’re dead. The ones who foolishly thought that they could take away what was mine. I punished your mother for her insolence, for thinking that she could dare to leave me. And now I’m going to do the same to you.”
Renaldo twirled the mace in his hand, building up momentum for a powerful, deadly strike.
I drew in a breath and crept closer to him. I was twenty feet away and closing fast. Fifteen feet . . . ten . . . five . . .
I raised my knife, ready to plunge it deep into his back. I’d only have one shot, and I needed to make it count.
Lorelei’s eyes flicked to me again, and her father realized that she was looking at something behind him.
Renaldo whipped around and caught my arm in his hand. I struggled with all my might, trying to slam the knife forward into his body, but he was stronger than I was. He stared at me, completely unconcerned by the blade hovering inches from his heart. Then he snapped my right wrist back, breaking it. I screamed, the knife slipping from my fingers and hitting the dirt.
Renaldo gave me another bored look, then rammed his mace into my body. The impact was bad enough, but the real pain came from the wicked spikes on the metal ball that stabbed deep into my right shoulder. I screamed, then screamed again, as he yanked the weapon back out, tearing the spikes through my muscles.
I dropped to the ground, still screaming. Every single part of my right arm, from my broken wrist to my mangled shoulder, burned, pulsed, and throbbed with pain.
Renaldo reared his foot back to kick me in the ribs, but I managed to roll out of the way, my one good hand scrabbling over the ground, trying to pull myself out of his range. Every movement sent more agony slicing through my shoulder. Cries of pain bubbled out of my lips, and sweat streamed down my face, the salty drops stinging my eyes and adding to my misery. Nausea boiled in my stomach, and gray spots flashed in front of my eyes in warning. I was this close to blacking out, and if that happened, I was dead.
“Stop it! Leave her alone!”
Lorelei snatched up my knife. Despite how badly she was wobbling on her twisted ankle, she still lashed out with the weapon, trying to stab her father to death. But Renaldo blocked her blow, then slapped her across the face, sending her tumbling to the ground. Her moans of pain matched mine.
Renaldo leaned down and picked up my knife, flipping it end-over-end in his hand, before turning and throwing it across the clearing. Thwack. The knife sank deep into a tree trunk.
Despair filled me. There went my only weapon and my best chance of killing him—
Something sharp stabbed into my right palm, in the center of my spider rune scar. I hissed and raised my hand, to find a nail sticking out of my skin. I ground my teeth together and yanked it free, causing myself even more pain, but I didn’t let go of it. Renaldo had used nails against us, and I was going to do the same thing to him. Yeah, a single nail wasn’t much of a weapon, but it was all I had.
I let out a weak little whimper that wasn’t really all that fake and kept dragging myself through the dirt, rocks, and leaves.
Renaldo laughed. “Running away? I don’t think so. No one runs away from me.”
His footsteps scuffed on the ground, as his shadow slid closer and closer to me on the forest floor. I forced down the pain of my injuries and tightened my grip on the nail, waiting for him to get within reach.
Renaldo’s hand clamped onto my injured arm, and he hauled me upright. He turned me around and held his mace up against my face, one of the points digging into my cheek, close to my eye.
“You should be grateful that I’m going to kill you first. You won’t suffer nearly as much as my daughter will.”
He grinned, then reared back his arm to slam the mace into my face.
But I was quicker.
I snapped my hand up and rammed the nail into the side of his neck.
It was a crude weapon, but the tip was sharp enough to cut through his skin just as it had cut through mine. Renaldo yelped, blood spewing out of the wound. He was so surprised that his mace slipped from his hand, hit the ground, and rolled away.
My fingers were too slick with blood to yank the nail back out of his neck, so I shoved him away. His feet caught on another tree root sticking up out of the ground, and he fell backward.
Right on top of his own mace.
Renaldo screamed and arched his back, as if he could push the deadly spikes out of his body, but all he did was sink even deeper down on top of them. Blood bubbled up out of his lips, and I knew that at least one of those spikes had hit something vital.
Renaldo rolled to his side, the spiked ball of the mace sticking out of his back. His gaze locked onto his daughter, and he started crawling toward her, stretching his hand out. Lorelei scrambled backward out of the way, shrieking all the while.
But there was no need to be afraid of him anymore.
Renaldo’s hand dropped to the dirt, his body stilled, and his head lolled to the side, the glossy glaze of death dimming his eyes . . .
Lorelei’s shrieks startled me out of my own sleep. I lay in bed, gasping for air, my wrist and shoulder throbbing, as though those spikes had torn through my muscles just moments ago.
I let out a long, weary breath and scrubbed my hands over my face, as if that would somehow get rid of the awful memories—or my growing guilt.
Raymond Pike wanted to kill Lorelei for murdering their father. That was the sole reason he’d come to Ashland.
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