Spider's Trap(Elemental Assassin,book 13)(63) by Jennifer Estep
But the deeper we went into the mansion, the more I noticed that there was one thing missing from all the fine furnishings.
Oh, bits of metal flashed here and there, but most everything was made out of glass, ceramic, or plastic. No silver picture frames adorned the walls, no iron sculptures perched in the corners, no brass lamps sat on the tables. I didn’t see so much as an aluminum soda can squatting on a coaster—
Footsteps slapped on the floor, heading toward us. I dropped down into a crouch and peered around the table situated at the corner of the hallway, Owen next to me.
Jack Corbin raced in our direction, his legs and arms pumping hard. Behind him, a man appeared at the far end of the hallway.
Pike had ditched his usual suit and was dressed just like I was—black boots, black pants, long-sleeved black shirt. A gun was holstered at his waist, while a mace dangled from his hand. An open black sack was slung across his chest, the sort that a farmer would fill with seeds, so he could reach in and scatter them as he walked through a field. Weird. What did he have in there?
Pike’s blue eyes glowed with magic. He waved his hand, and a cold, hard surge of power blasted off his body and rolled down the hallway. In a normal house, that one wave of his magic would have been enough to make anything metal shake, rattle, and vibrate. Picture frames would have ripped off the walls, sculptures would have toppled over, chandeliers would have crashed down from the ceiling.
But nothing happened here—no crashes, no bangs, no destruction of any sort. Well, that explained why Lorelei had so little metal in her mansion. She’d wanted to neutralize her half brother’s power as much as possible. Smart.
But Pike wasn’t worried by the lack of metal—because he’d brought his own.
He dropped his hand down into the black sack on his chest, then drew it back out. The bag tinked at his movements, and my stomach clenched as I realized exactly what was inside it.
“Nails,” I whispered.
Sure enough, Pike tossed a handful of nails out in front of him, even as he let loose with another wave of metal magic. The nails blasted down the hallway like bullets—straight into Corbin’s back.
Nail after nail slammed into Corbin’s back, and he screamed out in pain. Owen and I ducked, but the table hid us from Pike’s line of sight. None of the nails even came close to hitting us, since Pike placed each and every one of the projectiles exactly where he wanted them to go, given how much precise control he had over his magic.
Pike waved his hand again, using the nails in Corbin’s back to propel the other man forward and slam his head into the wall. Corbin dropped to the floor, unconscious.
I expected Pike to move in for the kill, but he eyed Corbin a moment, then turned and vanished into another hallway.
Owen and I darted forward. He knelt next to Corbin, while I kept an eye out for Pike. When I was sure that the metal elemental wasn’t coming back, I glanced at Corbin. A dozen nails stuck up out of his back. Blood had already soaked through his blue shirt, but it didn’t look like the nails had hit anything vital. Lucky man.
“Leave him be,” I whispered. “He’s unconscious, which is for the best right now. And forget a frontal assault on Pike. We have to take him by surprise. He’s too strong in his magic, and we brought too much metal with us.”
I held up my knife. Owen stared at it before looking at his own blacksmith hammer. He nodded.
We moved forward and peered around the corner where Pike had disappeared, but he was already gone. We crept down the hallway. Once again, I took care where I put my feet, not wanting a floorboard to creak and give away our position. As far as Pike knew, he, Lorelei, and Mallory were the only people left in the mansion, and I wanted to keep it that way.
“Oh, Lorelei . . .” Pike’s voice rang out with an eerie, sing-song quality. “Come out, come out, wherever you are . . .”
I tried to follow the sound, but the mansion had an open floor plan, with lots of wide archways, and his voice rattled around and bounced off the walls, making it hard to pinpoint exactly where he was. So I reached out with my magic, listening to the marble, brick, and granite, searching for any disturbances in the stone that would tell me which way Pike had gone.
Owen and I reached another hallway, this one running front to back through the house. Dark mutters echoed through the stone at the back, so I pointed in that direction. Owen nodded, and we headed that way.
“Lorelei . . .” Pike’s voice rang out again. “You can’t hide from me. Not for long. You never could. Not even when we were kids.”
“And you always were a sick son of a bitch.” Lorelei finally spoke up. “Even back then, I knew that there was something seriously wrong with you. And all the years since haven’t changed my opinion one bit.”
Her voice was tinny, with more than a little static. Owen pointed to an intercom box on the wall. The whole mansion was probably wired, which meant that Lorelei could be anywhere inside.
“You shouldn’t have run away after you murdered our father,” Pike called out. “If you had just accepted your punishment back then, I might have killed you quickly. But not now. Not after I got locked up. Not after having to chase you all these years.”
“How did you find me?” Lorelei asked.
“It was a bit of blind luck,” he replied. “I recently entered into a new business venture with an interesting group of people. One of my conditions in adding my resources to theirs was their help in finding you. It was surprisingly easy, since one of the members knew all about your new identity. She’d even done some business with you.”
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