Spider's Trap(Elemental Assassin,book 13)(72) by Jennifer Estep
I kept right on slicing. “What I should have done all along—kill Raymond Pike.”
He shook his head. “That might be harder than you think. I just finished talking to Bria and Xavier. The cops are looking for him, but there’s been no sign of him around Lorelei’s estate. It’s like he grew wings and just vanished.”
I’d expected as much, since Pike hadn’t ever turned up at any of the local hotels. Whatever his cover alias was, it was a good one, and he wouldn’t be found through regular methods.
But I didn’t have to play by the rules. Not anymore.
“Don’t worry about finding Pike. I’ll take care of that.”
“How?” Mallory asked.
I stared at her. “You told me earlier that I should step up and start acting like the big boss. Well, consider this my first official command. Everyone’s always whining and crying to me about their problems. Now they’re going to help me solve one of mine.”
“What do you have in mind?” Silvio asked.
“Put the word out,” I said in an icy voice. “To everyone in the underworld, from the top dogs all the way down to the corner con artists. I want Raymond Pike found. Whatever it takes.”
Jo-Jo sucked in a breath, while Finn, Silvio, Sophia, Cooper, and Lorelei all looked worried. Mallory stared at me, then slowly nodded her approval. She understood what I was doing better than anyone else.
Finally laying claim to the underworld.
Finally becoming the big boss.
Finally seizing control, the way Mab Monroe had done so long ago.
I glanced at Silvio again. “Tell everyone that whoever finds Pike first will earn my gratitude—and a hundred thousand dollars.”
Finn winced. “Gin, are you sure you want to do that? You’ll have every crazy person from here to Bigtime calling in with a supposed sighting of Pike.”
I considered his words. “You know, you’re right. Make it a million.”
Finn’s eyes widened. His face paled, his hand clutched at his chest as though he were about to have a heart attack, and he actually whimpered. He didn’t like the thought of me giving away all that money, but it would be worth every penny I had to pinpoint Pike.
I stared at my foster brother, and he finally nodded.
“I’ll call the bank in the morning and have the money ready and waiting,” Finn said.
“Although . . .”
Finn shook his head again, playing devil’s advocate. “Say you find Pike. Then what? You saw what he did at the riverboat, at the garden party, and tonight at Lorelei’s mansion. He’s sure to have a contingency plan in case someone comes looking for him, probably one that involves more bombs. And if he’s holed up in a hotel or an apartment building, then there will be too many innocent people around to try to take him out. Not without causing a whole lot of collateral damage.”
“I know that. But I don’t have to go after Pike. He’s going to come to me.”
Finn frowned. “And why would he be stupid enough to do that?”
I stabbed my knife toward Lorelei. “Because I still have something he wants.”
Silence descended over the kitchen.
Surprise flashed across Finn’s, Jo-Jo’s, and Sophia’s faces before they could hide it. They’d seen me do a lot of bad things over the years—cheat, steal, lie, kill—and they’d done their share of bad things themselves. But my cold determination to serve up Lorelei to her abusive brother shocked even them.
Lorelei crossed her arms over her chest. “Going to make me the bait in your little spider’s trap? Well, it wouldn’t be the first time, would it?”
“You’d better fucking believe it, sugar.”
I looked over at Mallory, expecting her to protest, but something like respect flickered in her eyes.
She cleared her throat. “I think we should let the girls talk. Why don’t we go check on Mr. Grayson?”
Mallory waved her hand. My friends shot me uneasy looks, but they followed her out of the kitchen and into the salon, leaving me alone with Lorelei. I stared at her, expecting her to make some snarky comment, but instead, her features softened a bit.
“I’m glad that Grayson is okay,” she said. “That you were able to save him.”
I nodded stiffly. “With your help. He would have died if you hadn’t told me what to do. Thank you. I owe you for that. More than you know.”
“It’s not your fault, what happened to him.”
“Of course it is,” I said, slicing up a kiwi and adding the green, jeweled pieces to my fruit salad. “Because you’ve been right all along. Fletcher should have let you kill Raymond that day. It would have saved us all a lot of grief and misery now, wouldn’t it?”
“I’m glad that Fletcher didn’t let me kill Raymond back then,” Lorelei said in a quiet voice.
Startled, I looked up. That was about the last thing I’d expected her to say.
“I was afraid for a long time,” she continued. “Knowing that Raymond was still out there and that he was doing his best to find me . . . knowing that he wanted revenge for our father’s death . . . I was afraid to do anything. I couldn’t even go into the backyard without worrying that Raymond might be watching me from the trees. I had nightmares like you wouldn’t believe.”
Oh, I knew all about nightmares, but I couldn’t help but ask the inevitable question. “So what changed?”
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