Spider's Trap(Elemental Assassin,book 13)(71) by Jennifer Estep
For the first time since I’d known him, I thought that Fletcher had made the wrong decision. But he always taught me that an assassin without limits was just a monster, and he was keeping to his code . . .
“Gin?” a low, raspy voice said.
At first, I thought that I was still dreaming, that Fletcher was saying something else to me. But then I realized that I was in Jo-Jo’s salon, still clutching Owen’s hand, having fallen asleep next to him. I slowly lifted my head from his shoulder, wondering if I had just imagined the sound of his voice.
But his violet eyes were open and steady on mine.
“Hey,” Owen rasped again, giving me that familiar, crooked grin I loved so much.
“Hey,” I whispered back, tears streaming down my face. “How do you feel?”
“Like a human shish kebab.”
I laughed at his bad joke, but the ache in my heart eased. He was going to be okay.
Owen was still lying in the salon chair, so I got up and carefully lay down next to him, fitting my body against his. He wrapped one arm around me, but even that small motion exhausted him, so I scooted closer and pressed a soft kiss to his lips. Then I laid my head down on his shoulder, splayed my fingers across his chest, and listened to the steady thump-thump-thump of his heart.
Beating strongly, just like always.
* * *
Owen drifted back to sleep, and I lay there, spooned next to him, for the better part of an hour before the front door banged open. Quick footsteps hurried in our direction.
“Owen! Owen!” a familiar voice called out.
Owen’s eyes snapped open as a college-age girl with blue-black hair, porcelain skin, and blue eyes burst into the salon. Eva Grayson, Owen’s baby sister.
“Owen!” she yelled again.
I got up out of the chair. Eva hurried over and threw herself down on top of Owen, even though he was still lying in the chair.
“I’m so glad you’re okay!” Eva said. “You had me worried sick!”
Owen laughed. “I’m fine, Eva. Really, I am. Jo-Jo fixed me right up.”
Eva drew back and gave him some breathing room. “What happened? I got a call from Silvio saying that you and Gin had been in some sort of fight and that you were hurt real bad. I was up at Country Daze, spending the night with Violet, but I got here as soon as I could.”
I cleared my throat. “I’ll give you two some time alone.”
Eva nodded at me, then took my chair next to Owen.
He reached out and grabbed my hand. “Hey,” he said in a soft voice. “It’s not your fault. Don’t you think for one second that it was. I knew exactly what I was getting into.”
I leaned down and brushed my lips across his forehead. “And I love you for that—for backing me up no matter what. Just get some rest. I’ll fix us all something to eat while you two talk.”
Owen nodded and focused his attention on Eva, reassuring her that he was fine and that everything was okay.
I stood in the salon doorway and watched them a moment, then closed the doors so I could get started on what needed to be done now.
Finding and killing Raymond Pike—once and for all.
I headed into the kitchen. Jo-Jo had brewed a pot of coffee, and the rich chicory scent filled the air. I drew in a deep breath, thinking of Fletcher, who had drunk the same dark brew. The scent and all the memories it called up of the old man steadied me. I knew what he would do now in my shoes, and I was finally ready to embrace it myself.
Jo-Jo, Sophia, Cooper, and Finn were talking to Mallory in soft voices, while Silvio texted on his phone. Lorelei stood off by herself a few feet away.
The only people missing were Bria and Xavier. They must have headed back to Lorelei’s mansion to deal with the aftermath of Pike’s attack. I wondered if they had found Corbin unconscious inside the house yet. But I wasn’t worried about him. Corbin hadn’t been injured nearly as badly as Owen had.
The others stopped talking at the sight of my cold, hard face. I nodded at everyone, then washed my hands and opened the fridge, wondering what sort of nibbles I could make. Something light but healthy, I decided. Owen would need his fruits and veggies to get his strength back up. So I grabbed some pineapple out of the fridge, along with strawberries, mangoes, a couple of kiwis, and a lime. I plucked a knife from one of the drawers and started cutting up the fruit, sticking it all in a large bowl.
My friends stared at me, wondering what I was doing making fruit salad at a time like this. But it was either this or go out into the backyard and stab one of Jo-Jo’s trees to death to work out some of my anger. Even now that I knew that Owen was going to be okay, I still wanted to pulverize everything and everyone within spitting distance just so they could feel a small portion of the anguish that I had felt tonight.
But instead of going all Gin smash, I grabbed a mango and started cutting into it.
“Um, Gin?” Finn asked. “Are you okay?”
I whacked my way through another mango, slicing off the thick skin, then filleting the fruit off the troublesome seed inside. Everyone would be over to see about Owen in the morning, so we were going to need a lot of fruit salad. And bacon. And pancakes. Stacks of them. I frowned, wondering if I had time to run out to the grocery store to make sure I had enough for everyone. Later, I decided. After Owen was asleep.
Finn cleared his throat. “Far be it from me to distract you from butchering poor, defenseless fruit, but what are you going to do now, Gin?”
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