Spider's Trap(Elemental Assassin,book 13)(74) by Jennifer Estep
Ignoring Lorelei, I mixed together some sourwood honey and lime juice, then zested the lime and whisked it into my dressing. I tossed the whole thing together, enjoying the bright mix of colors and the citrusy tang of the lime coating all the fruit. If this didn’t make Owen feel better, nothing would.
When I finished, I washed the sticky fruit juice off my hands. Lorelei crept forward, stepping up to the opposite side of the butcher’s block table, her fingers tapping on the smooth surface. I dried off my hands, crossed my arms over my chest, and stared her down.
“You got something else to say, now is the time.”
She wet her lips. “Appearances aside, I shouldn’t have been quite so nasty to you. I admit that. But I just couldn’t help myself.”
“And why is that?”
She wouldn’t meet my cold gaze. “Because I’ve always been jealous of you, Gin.”
I blinked. Once again, that was just about the last thing I’d expected her to say. “Why in the world would you be jealous of me? I’m the most hunted woman in Ashland. People try to kill me on a monthly, if not weekly, basis. There’s blood on my clothes more often than not, and I’m always waiting for the next attack. Mine is not a healthy, stress-free lifestyle.”
“And all of that just adds to my jealousy.” A bitter laugh escaped her lips. When she spoke again, her voice was whisper-soft. “Because you’ve always been stronger than me.”
I didn’t say anything. After a moment, Lorelei exhaled and raised her eyes to mine.
“That day at the cabin, when my father came after us, I wanted to stand and fight,” she said. “I’d dreamed of doing it so many times. Of standing up for me and my mom. Of finally stopping him. But in the end, I just . . . froze. All I could think about was how he’d already killed my mom and was going to do the same thing to me. But you . . . you didn’t even think about giving up. Not for a second. Not even when it looked like he and Raymond had killed your family.”
I thought of her cryptic words at the garden party. Now I finally understood what they meant. “You wanted it to be you—you wanted to be the one to kill your father.”
She gave me a sharp nod. “And I was ashamed that you did it instead. That you had to do it, since I was so useless that day.”
“You weren’t useless,” I countered. “You saved me from Raymond. He would have killed me if you hadn’t stopped him.”
“It wasn’t enough. Not for me.” She let out another long, tense breath. “So I, of course, have been doing the mature thing and shooting you dirty looks every time I’ve seen you these past few months. Instead of just stepping up and admitting to myself how weak I was that day.”
“I don’t think you’re weak. Not now and not back then either.”
Her mouth twisted with disgust. “Then what am I?”
I stepped forward and placed my hand on top of hers. “A survivor. Just like me.”
Surprise flashed in her eyes, along with gratitude. But her expression slowly darkened with grief and regret for all the things she’d lost. Her mom, her childhood, her innocence. But most of all, there was strength, the strength that had helped her survive her father, the same strength that would help her survive her brother.
Her hand tightened around mine for a moment, and then we both let go. Because we knew what we had to do now: figure out how to kill Pike.
“You should just let me handle this by myself,” Lorelei said. “Raymond’s not your problem. He never was.”
“He almost killed Owen. I would hunt him to the ends of the earth for that alone.”
Lorelei nodded, hearing the venom in my voice. “Raymond is no fool. He’s sure to realize that you’ll be gunning for him now, and he’ll have done his homework on you. He’ll see you coming a mile away.”
“I don’t care whether he knows that I’m coming,” I growled. “All I want is a level playing field. Someplace where his metal magic can be neutralized or at least minimized. And I know just the spot.”
Instead of answering, I opened the refrigerator, then the freezer and a couple of the cabinets, grabbing everything I needed.
“Now what are you making?” she asked in an exasperated tone.
Lorelei watched me put milk, cinnamon sticks, and cocoa powder into a saucepan on the stove. I also filled a blender with some vanilla-bean ice cream and a few ice cubes, and her nose scrunched up in confusion.
A couple of minutes later, I handed her a parfait glass filled with a decadent drink topped with marshmallows, mini chocolate chips, and graham-cracker crumbs.
She let out the first genuine laugh I’d heard all night. “You and your milkshakes. I should have known.”
“Hot chocolate milkshakes,” I corrected her. “The best of both worlds. They’re good for what ails you. Who knows? Maybe they’ll become my official good luck drink. It worked before that day in the woods.”
“Yeah,” Lorelei said in a thoughtful voice. “I suppose it did. Well, cheers.”
We clinked our glasses together, then sipped the shakes, which were just as good as they looked. Cold and sweet but with a lingering hint of cinnamon warmth from the hot chocolate.
Lorelei slurped down half of hers, then let out a happy sigh. “You know, this doesn’t make us friends.”
“Of course not,” I replied. “I would never presume that. But we don’t have to be friends to kill your brother. Just willing to do whatever it takes to end him.”
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