Spider's Trap(Elemental Assassin,book 13)(70) by Jennifer Estep
He stopped short at the sight of Lorelei standing over their father’s body. “You little bitch!” he hissed. “You’re dead! I’ll kill you for this!”
He opened his fist, revealing a hand full of nails. Instead of running or trying to get out of the way, Lorelei stared at him like he was the same sort of zombie their father was.
Raymond reared his hand back, metal magic swirling around him the same way it had his father. I shuddered at the resemblance.
He let the nails fly. I reached for my Stone magic, using it to harden my skin. Then I stepped in front of Lorelei, shoving her out of the way. I tried to dive to the ground, but I wasn’t fast enough.
I screamed and fell to the ground as the nails punched into my back, ripping through what little Stone magic I’d brought to bear. I felt like a porcupine, only I couldn’t get rid of my quills.
A pair of boots planted themselves in front of my face. I peered up and realized that Raymond was glaring down at me—and that he had more nails in his hand. Desperate, I reached for my Ice magic, trying to make a dagger to fend him off, but that power was much weaker than my Stone magic, and all I ended up with was a cold twig. Raymond stomped down on my hand, crushing the Ice and my fingers along with it. I yelped in pain.
“You stupid fool,” he hissed again. “You should have stayed out of the way. Now I’m going to kill you too for protecting her—”
Lorelei smashed a thick, heavy tree limb across the back of his skull, and her brother’s eyes rolled up in his head. He let out an audible oof, as though she’d driven all the air out of his lungs, and toppled to the ground.
But she kept right on hitting him.
Lorelei slammed the branch into his arms, legs, and back, over and over again, before finally concentrating on his head.
“You killed her!” she screamed. “You both killed my mother! I hate you! I hate you both!”
Blood poured out of Raymond’s wounds, but he remained unconscious. All I could do was lie there and watch her beat him. I couldn’t move, not with all the nails in my back, and I was lucky that I hadn’t passed out. Or maybe not so lucky, given all the pain that pulsed through my back, shoulder, arm, and wrist.
Footsteps crashed through the trees, and I tensed, wondering if Renaldo and Raymond had brought more men with them. But Fletcher, Jo-Jo, and Sophia ran into the clearing. They had blackened faces, singed hair, and ugly red burns from the convertible crash, but they were all standing, and some of the terror and hurt in my heart eased at the sight of them.
Fletcher pried the stick out of Lorelei’s hands and tossed it aside. It landed on the ground next to me, Raymond’s blood dripping off the wood.
“That’s enough,” the old man said. “That’s enough. You’re safe now. You’re safe.”
“No!” she screamed. “Let me kill him! Please! Please, let me kill him . . .”
Her voice choked off, and she started sobbing. Sophia grabbed Lorelei, cradling the girl to her chest, shushing her, and telling her that everything was going to be all right, even if we all knew that it wasn’t.
Fletcher stared at Lorelei, an unreadable expression on his face, then hurried over and dropped to his knees beside me. He placed a gentle hand on my shoulder, staring at all the nails sticking out of my back.
“Gin, are you all right?”
“Just peachy,” I drawled, although my voice came out as a hoarse wheeze. “I always wanted to try acupuncture.”
Fletcher laughed, the harsh sound full of worry. “You just lie still. Jo-Jo will help you.”
The dwarf dropped to her knees beside me. “We’ll fix you right up, darling.”
Jo-Jo used her Air magic to fish the nails out of my back, one by one. It hurt—horribly—like getting dozens of shots in reverse, but Fletcher held my hand the whole time.
Finally, Jo-Jo finished, and Fletcher helped me sit up. Lorelei was still crying against Sophia’s chest, and the Goth dwarf jerked her head at Raymond, who was still unconscious.
“What about him?” Sophia rasped. “Kill him now?”
Fletcher stood over the boy, staring down at him, a silverstone knife glinting in his brown, weathered hand. Finally, he shook his head. “No kids—ever,” he murmured. “The boy is only sixteen.”
“No!” Lorelei shouted, her hands clenching into fists. “You have to kill him now! Or else he’ll just come back later and try to kill us all again. I know he will. I know it!”
Fletcher looked at her tear-streaked face, then back at the boy. I could see the struggle in his eyes. He wanted to do as Lorelei asked—he wanted to kill Raymond and end things right here, right now. We all knew that Raymond was going to grow up to be just another sadistic version of his father.
But Fletcher shook his head again and dropped his knife to his side. “No kids—ever,” he repeated in a firmer voice. “Don’t worry about your brother. We’re going to give you a new last name and make sure that he can never find you. You’ll never see him again after today. I promise you that. Okay?”
Lorelei’s shoulders slumped. Because it wasn’t okay with her. Because she didn’t believe that Fletcher could keep her safe.
On the ground, Raymond groaned louder, starting to come around. “Kill you for this,” he mumbled. “Kill you . . .”
Lorelei shuddered and turned away, as though she couldn’t stand to look at him—and the danger he still represented.
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