Spider's Trap(Elemental Assassin,book 13)(56) by Jennifer Estep
He made a note on his tablet. “I’ll ask Ms. Jamison again too, since her organization was the one that located Harold Smith.”
I nodded. It made sense. Not only did Jade Jamison run guys and girls, but she also owned several cleaning and service businesses that supplied workers to restaurants, hotels, apartment buildings, and more throughout Ashland.
While Silvio texted Jade, I crossed the storefront, flipped over the sign on the door to Open, and greeted the day’s first customers.
The lunch rush came and went with no problems, unless you counted Dimitri Barkov and Luiz Ramos strolling into the restaurant together, sitting down, and ordering heaping plates of barbecue. In between bites, the gangsters stared at me, obviously wanting me to come over and talk to them, but my cold glower had them staying in their seats and concentrating on their vittles—for the time being.
Silvio’s lips quirked up into a small, amused smile. “You never did tell them who was getting the coin laundries.”
“Well, they’ll just have to wait until I’m good and ready to decide,” I snapped. “I’m sure they’ve heard that I have other problems right now.”
I kept cooking, cleaning, and cashing out customers. By the time two o’clock rolled around and Owen and Finn showed up at the restaurant, I had settled into a mellow mood.
“How are you feeling?” Owen asked, giving me a slow once-over to make sure that I was really okay.
“Fine, just like I told you last night. I’m not even sore from the bombing, thanks to Jo-Jo and her healing magic.”
Owen nodded, but he knew me too well to let me get away with such a simple, easy answer. “And how are you feeling on the inside?” he asked in a softer voice.
I gave him a tight smile. “Those wounds always tend to linger with me.”
“I thought so.”
Owen stepped around the counter and drew me into his arms, just holding me for a second and offering me the comfort he knew that I needed. He dipped his head to mine, and we shared a long, lingering kiss that had Finn making gagging sounds. So I kissed Owen again, even deeper, just for good measure.
“Please, Gin,” Finn whined, clutching his flat stomach. “Stop sucking face with your boy toy before I lose my appetite.”
“Why, to hear you tell it, wading through raw sewage wouldn’t make the great Finnegan Lane lose his appetite.”
He considered my words, then brightened. “You know, you’re right. I could always eat.”
Finn grabbed a menu and started scanning through the choices, even though he’d memorized them all long ago.
He and Owen slid onto the two stools closest to the cash register, with Silvio sitting beside them, and ordered their food. A bacon cheeseburger for Owen, with onion rings and potato salad, barbecue chicken with a side of mac and cheese for Finn, and a grilled chicken sandwich for Silvio, with some chocolate chip cookies that I’d baked fresh this morning.
My friends chatted back and forth with each other and across the counter to me while I fixed their food. Eventually, Finn jerked his thumb over his shoulder at the booth where Dimitri and Luiz were still sitting.
“What’s with the Wonder Twins?” he snarked. “I thought they hated each other.”
“Oh, they’re probably just disappointed that Pike didn’t blow me to smithereens yesterday. They’ll get over it.”
Another dark, pointed glare from me had Dimitri and Luiz pulling out fat wads of bills to pay for their food and skedaddling out the front door. Good riddance. I was tired of them and their whining. Especially when there was a far more dangerous threat in Ashland.
I rubbed my aching head. As much as I tried to stop thinking about Lorelei, Pike, and all the rest of it, my mind kept going back to everything that had happened, both over the past few days and all those years ago.
But I pushed those thoughts away and concentrated on finishing my friends’ food. I had just slid the hot plates over to them when the bell over the front door chimed, indicating that I had a new customer.
I wasn’t all that surprised when Mallory Parker strolled through the door. My friends glanced over their shoulders at the new arrival, and Finn let out a low whistle.
“I wonder what she wants,” he murmured.
“Nothing good,” I muttered.
Mallory was decked out in diamonds, just as she had been at the garden party, although she wore a blue pantsuit today instead of a frilly frock. Still, she was way overdressed for my gin joint, and everyone stared at her, including a few low-level thugs who eyed her jewelry with obvious interest.
At least, until they realized that Sophia was staring at them from behind the counter with her arms crossed over her chest, a butcher’s knife clutched in her hand. The Goth dwarf stabbed the knife toward the thugs, then toward the door. They couldn’t climb out of their booth and run outside fast enough. Sophia snickered and went back to work.
Catalina seated Mallory and took her order, before handing the ticket over to me. The dwarf had skipped all the lunch items and gone straight to dessert, ordering a piece of apple pie with a cinnamon-sugar crumb topping, vanilla-bean ice cream, and a hearty drizzle of rich homemade caramel sauce.
I fixed her pie, along with the glass of milk she’d ordered, and took it over to her. Mallory waved her hand, and I slid into the booth across from her. She nodded at me, then reached out, dragged her plate closer, and dug into the apple pie. I watched her eat in silence.
Mallory finished about half of her pie before she put down her fork and pushed her plate away. She sighed in contentment and delicately dabbed at her lips with a white paper napkin. “The pie is just as good as I remember. I see that you’ve kept Mr. Lane’s recipe.”
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