Spider's Trap(Elemental Assassin,book 13)(62) by Jennifer Estep
“And now here you are, helping her again.”
“Yeah,” I replied in a tired voice. “Caught in my own little spider’s trap again.”
Owen smiled, the moonlight highlighting the rough, rugged planes of his face. “It’s not really a trap, you know. More like doing the right thing.”
I sighed. “Sometimes it feels like it.”
He reached out and squeezed my hand again in a silent show of support.
I squeezed back, then picked up my binoculars and focused on the mansion. After a minute, I lowered them, then checked the time on my phone.
“It’s after midnight,” I said, putting my phone away. “You’d think that Pike would have shown himself by now, if he was going to try to kill Lorelei tonight.”
“Maybe he wants to terrorize her some more first,” Owen said. “So far, that seems to be making him pretty happy.”
“And it would have made a lot of people pretty dead, if I hadn’t been able to stop him,” I muttered, looking at the mansion. “But I can only get lucky so many times before Pike puts one over on me—”
The shadow of a man detached itself from the corner of the garage, raising his arm back and throwing something across the lawn. The object landed on the grass and tumbled end over end before finally stopping about ten feet away from where one of the giant guards was patrolling. The guard turned in that direction, his gaze drawn by the motion just like mine had been—
A ball of fire erupted on the lawn.
The burst of red-orange light illuminated Pike standing at the corner of the garage, a gun in his hand and a satisfied smirk on his face as he watched the flames shoot into the air.
How had Pike gotten that close to the mansion without me seeing him? Had he been here the whole time I’d been watching? Maybe he’d arrived before I had. But if so, where had he been hiding that I hadn’t spotted him?
Compared with Pike’s garden party bomb, this was a relatively small blast, probably from a grenade rather than a full-fledged explosive device. But it was loud and bright enough to get the first guard and the other two to grab their weapons and race in that direction.
Crack! Crack! Crack!
But the explosion was a lure, just a trap to get all three guards to come investigate at once. With all of them in one place, it was easy for Pike to raise his gun and mow them down like weeds. The giants never even knew what hit them.
The second the guards were down, Pike sauntered over to the nearest door, smashed the glass with his gun so he could unlock it, and stepped inside.
Through the fire and boiling smoke, I could see Lorelei jump to her feet in the library, the elemental Ice gun glinting in her hand. Perhaps it was just my imagination, but she looked grim, determined, and almost . . . happy. As if she was finally getting to do something that she’d waited a long, long time for.
And I realized that Pike wasn’t the only one hungry for revenge.
I pulled out my phone and texted Bria, Finn, and Silvio, letting them know that Pike was here. Then I surged forward, but I’d only taken three steps when I thought better of things and stopped. If Pike had indeed gotten here before me, he might have planted some explosives in the lawn to keep people from rushing to the mansion, just like he’d left that booby-trapped bomb in the woods across the river from the Delta Queen. So I turned to Owen.
“Can you scan the ground?” I asked. “In case Pike hid any bombs in the grass?”
He nodded. “Yeah, I can use my own metal magic to sense his power. Follow me, and step exactly where I step.”
I didn’t like Owen being out front, where he would be an easy target if Pike came back outside and decided to shoot him, but this was the safest and quickest way for us to get to the mansion.
Owen’s eyes started glowing a vivid violet, and his gaze dropped to the ground and swept from side to side. He was reaching out with his power, trying to sense any bits of metal that might be buried in the grass and what they might whisper back to him about potential dangers. Still holding his blacksmith hammer, Owen stepped out onto the lawn. I followed him closely, palming a knife.
Pike’s hail of bullets had killed the three guards instantly, so no screams, shrieks, or shouts of pain tore through the air, although a small cluster of flames still crackled at the explosion site. It looked like a cheery campfire, instead of the funeral pyre it really was, marking where the giants had fallen.
I frowned. Pike had picked the perfect spot at the garage to ambush the giants, almost as if he’d known how many guards would be here, along with their exact routes. The garage . . . A suspicion bubbled up in my mind about where Pike might have gotten that information, but I had no way of confirming it right now, so I pushed the thought aside.
Owen didn’t find any bombs hidden in the grass, and we reached the stone patio at the side of the mansion.
I flashed my knife at him. “Now it’s my turn to be in the lead.”
He nodded, his hammer propped up on his shoulder, ready to back me up, just like always, despite the trouble I’d gone looking for tonight.
The grenade had blown the glass out of the patio doors, and I carefully stepped through the jagged opening to the other side, minimizing the crunching of my boots in the shards. I didn’t spot Pike, Lorelei, Corbin, or even Mallory in the hallway in front of me. The popping and hissing of the fire still burning on the lawn faded away, and the mansion was as silent as a tomb.
I sidled along one wall, stopping and peering into every room we passed, with Owen behind me. The interior was quite lovely, each room boasting a different color and theme, from a rose living room with pink sofas to a beach sunroom with white wicker chairs stuffed with blue starfish-shaped pillows.
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