Spider's Trap(Elemental Assassin,book 13)(59) by Jennifer Estep
The po-po were looking for Pike, but Bria said that there hadn’t been any sign of him. The tension in her voice told me that she didn’t expect the cops to find him either. Pike was smart enough to build bombs with his metal magic. Using a fake ID and avoiding the police would be child’s play. Besides, it wasn’t like any of the cops besides Bria and Xavier would look all that hard for him. Not without some serious financial incentive.
After Bria and Xavier left, I closed down the restaurant early and sent the staff home for the night, along with Sophia and Catalina. I shooed Silvio home too, despite his protests that he should stay by my side on the off chance that somebody spotted Pike.
I turned off the appliances, put all the extra food away, and spent an hour washing dishes, wiping down tables, and straightening up to get the restaurant ready to open again in the morning. Normally, the familiar motions would have marked the end of another busy day and a quiet time to rest, relax, and recharge.
Because I still couldn’t stop thinking about Lorelei.
I finished my chores, left the restaurant, and walked over to my car a couple of blocks away, checking it for rune traps and bombs. But there were no explosives on the vehicle, so I got in and drove home.
I checked the woods, the yard, and all the doors and windows, but no one had been near the house all day. Good. I didn’t feel like dealing with any would-be assassins tonight. Or, worse, some mobster who wanted to whine to me in person about something.
I stepped inside, toed off my boots, and headed back to the kitchen. I didn’t feel like making anything complicated, so I put together a Southwestern salad of shredded barbecue chicken, black beans, diced tomatoes, and other veggies, along with several slices of Sophia’s sourdough bread, toasted and topped with tangy melted parmesan and mozzarella cheese. A glass of blackberry lemonade and some chocolate chip cookies completed my meal. Chocolate chip cookies always made everything better.
I put my food on a tray and took it into the den, determined to enjoy my dinner. I set my tray down on the coffee table and arranged everything just the way I liked it. Lemonade and silverware on the right, salad in the middle, toast and cookies off to the left, napkin draped across my lap. Then I leaned over, reaching for the remote.
Lorelei Parker’s face stared up at me.
I’d forgotten that I’d dropped her photo and Fletcher’s file onto the table when I’d come home from the garden party yesterday. My hand hovered in the air above Lorelei’s bruised, battered face.
“You again,” I muttered.
I nudged the photo aside with my index finger, picked up the remote, and turned on the TV. I found one of my favorite superhero movies and settled in to watch all the caped crusaders and their daring escapades while I ate.
All the while, though, I kept looking at that photo of Lorelei.
She looked so young in the picture, so wounded, vulnerable, frightened. But she wasn’t the same person, the same innocent girl she’d been back then, any more than I was. Lorelei had clawed her way up through the underworld ranks, and she had stayed there by being cold, hard, and ruthless. Just as I’d become an assassin and survived the same way. Lorelei and I had both killed our fair share of people for money, revenge, survival, and more. When it came right down to it, we were almost mirror images of each other.
Murdered parents. Check. Criminal mentors. Check. Criminals ourselves. Double check.
Lorelei didn’t need my help any more than I needed hers to solve my problems. I should stick with what I’d told Mallory and the guys at the Pork Pit. I should stay out of things and let Lorelei and Raymond settle their family feud by themselves.
But I’d be damned if I could do that.
I’d never denied all the bad things I’d done, and I’d especially never let someone else take the blame for them. Fletcher had taught me better than that. But that’s exactly what I’d be doing if I didn’t at least try to help Lorelei, if I left her at the mercy of her brother when I was the one he should have been targeting all along.
I looked at that photo of Lorelei a final time. Then I grabbed my dirty dishes, took them into the kitchen, and set them in the sink. I’d have to wash them later.
Right now, I had a metal man to find and kill.
I went upstairs, stripped off my clothes, and put on my gear for the night. Black boots, black jeans, and a long-sleeved black T-shirt topped with a black vest lined with silverstone.
Wearing the vest was a calculated risk, but I was hoping that it would absorb whatever magic Pike might throw at me, instead of giving him a tool for his metal magic. I left my silverstone spider rune ring on my right index finger and the matching necklace around my throat. More risks, but I didn’t know how much raw power Pike might have, and it would be better to have the reserves of Ice and Stone magic stored in my jewelry than not.
Then came the most important question: whether or not to wear my knives.
I held up one of the blades. The silverstone glinted under the lights, with my rune stamped in the hilt almost looking like a real spider perched on the metal. Pike had already demonstrated that he could disarm me, but I decided to take my usual set of knives anyway. I’d just have to kill him before he got a chance to use his magic on my weapons. Simple as that.
I packed up a few more things I might need, then headed out.
Bria, Xavier, and the cops hadn’t been able to find Pike, and neither had Finn or Silvio, but I knew exactly where he would be: wherever Lorelei was.
So I drove over to Lorelei’s mansion in Northtown. I parked about half a mile away from the edge of her property, which butted up against the Aneirin River, not too far away from Salina Dubois’s former estate, which I’d had the misfortune to visit earlier this year. I just hoped things went better tonight than they had back then.
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