Spider's Trap(Elemental Assassin,book 13)(75) by Jennifer Estep
“Believe me, I am more than willing, and I will certainly drink to that.”
Lorelei grinned and held her glass up again. I clinked mine against hers and returned her grin with a wider one of my own.
“Good. Now, here’s what we’re going to do.”
Once Lorelei and I had hammered out the details of our plan, we went into the salon to fill in the others. By that point, it was after three in the morning. Sophia helped Owen upstairs to one of the spare bedrooms, and the rest of us crashed in other beds and sofas throughout the house for what was left of the night.
I got up at around nine o’clock and made a hearty Southern brunch of fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, bacon, and waffles, along with the fruit salad I’d already put together. One by one, the others plodded into the kitchen, still bleary-eyed from the long night but irresistibly drawn to the scents of sizzling meat and baking batter. Jo-Jo, Sophia, Mallory, and Lorelei ate in the kitchen, while Finn and Silvio fixed their food to go, since they had several things to check on for me this morning. So did Cooper, who had to get back to his blacksmith forge, and Eva, who headed to the community college for her morning classes.
Owen was still resting, so I took a tray up to the spare bedroom where he’d spent the night. Jo-Jo had checked him again and declared that he was fully healed, but I still wanted him to take it easy for as long as possible.
He sat up in bed, and I placed the tray on his lap.
He looked at all the food, then grinned. “It was just a little knife wound, Gin. Hardly worth all this effort. Although if I knew that it would mean breakfast in bed, I would have gotten myself stabbed a long time ago.”
I smoothed his black hair off his face, then kissed him, so he wouldn’t notice how forced my laughter was. “You’re always worth the effort, stab wound or no stab wound.”
I kept my words light and teasing, just like his, but I could still picture him bleeding out from that knife—my knife—sticking out of his chest. It was one of the most horrible things I’d ever seen, and I wouldn’t be able to get the image out of my head anytime soon—if ever. Lorelei had her nightmares about Raymond and her father. Well, now I had another one for my collection too.
Owen scarfed down his food. I wasn’t all that hungry, but I forced myself to swallow bite after bite, knowing that I would need to keep my strength up for the long day ahead.
He finished the last of his orange juice, then eased his head back against the pillows, his violet eyes sliding shut. He was still tired, and his body needed time to recover from all the trauma it had received, both from the stab wound and from the elemental Ice that Lorelei and I had used on him.
I removed the tray and pulled the sheets and blankets back up to his chin.
“Gin?” Owen mumbled in a sleepy voice.
“Be careful when you kill that bastard.”
I kissed him again. “Don’t you worry your pretty little head about a thing now. Because I promise you this—Raymond Pike will be dead by midnight.”
* * *
As much as I wanted to stay with Owen and reassure myself that he was okay, I wasn’t going to find Pike by sitting around the salon. So I went home to Fletcher’s, showered, and threw on some fresh clothes before going downtown and opening up the Pork Pit for the day.
After all, nobody could snitch to the big boss if she wasn’t in her office.
It was almost eleven when I got to the restaurant, and a dozen people were already waiting outside. Some of them just wanted to get their barbecue on, but more than a few had shifty eyes and nervous grins that told me they were here with information they hoped would score them a fat payday.
Silvio handled them in true assistant fashion. While I cooked, cleaned, and went about my chores, the vamp sat in a booth at the back of the restaurant near the restrooms, listening to all the stories the underworld boys and girls urgently whispered to him. Silvio faithfully listened and took copious notes on his tablet. Sometimes he would make a call or two to check on something. But after every person had said his or her piece, he would look over at me and shake his head no, indicating that they didn’t have any valid info on Pike.
Frustration surged through me, but I forced myself to rein in my temper and keep on running my restaurant as though nothing were wrong and I wasn’t itching to kill a man by sundown. This was my home turf, and I was going to use that to my advantage. Raymond Pike couldn’t hide forever. Not in my city.
Finally, at about two o’clock, the front door opened, and Jade Jamison sashayed into the Pork Pit. She looked at the man sitting with Silvio, then over at me. Silvio raised his eyebrows in a silent question, but I waved Jade over, and she plopped down on the stool closest to the cash register.
“Come by for another milkshake? Those have been a real crowd pleaser these past few days.”
“Sure,” she chirped. “With a side of information.”
I groaned. “Wow. That was really bad.”
She grinned. “I know, but I always wanted to say a cheesy line like that, and it seemed like the perfect time.”
She requested a strawberry shake, and I started fixing it. Whatever info Jade had, it was enough to make her grin from ear to ear. That alone told me that she had the goods about where Pike was hiding. Some of the tension in my chest eased. I’d waited all day long for someone to bring me Pike’s head on platter, and it looked like she was finally going to deliver.
“So,” Jade said, after she’d taken a long, appreciative sip of her milkshake, “I hear that you’re looking for someone else now. A guy named Raymond Pike.”
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