Spider's Trap(Elemental Assassin,book 13)(78) by Jennifer Estep
Bria dropped her hand from the wig. “Sorry.”
“Don’t worry about it. These things itch like crazy.”
I reached up and patted my own wig—a black one that had been styled into a French braid—before tugging down my leather jacket, the royal-blue color bright enough to see clearly through the windshield.
I hadn’t exactly told Corbin the truth about what I was up to tonight.
Bria drove on, and the road straightened out, with a four-way stop up ahead. Directly across from us, a black sedan was already sitting at the intersection, another identical sedan idling behind it. Bria slowed the van and stopped at the appropriate spot. We looked at each other, then focused on the other cars.
The first black sedan cruised forward, passing us.
The sound of metal sticking to metal cut through the air. At the same time, the driver of the sedan gunned his engine, tires squealing as he zoomed away from us.
“What was that?” Bria glanced in her side mirror. “Hey, there’s some sort of box stuck to the side of our van—”
An explosion rocked the van. The two back tires lifted off the ground, and I thought the vehicle was going to flip. But instead, gravity took over, and the tires crashed back onto the road. That jolting motion sent the van skittering sideways, taking Bria and me for a very wild and bumpy ride. For a second, all I could see was a swirling mix of greens, grays, blacks, and browns as the vehicle careened off the road and spun around and around through the grass, churning up thick wads of dirt.
But just as quickly as it had started, the ride ended, and the van abruptly jerked to a halt.
The violent, sudden stop would have thrown Bria and me through the now-cracked windshield if we hadn’t been wearing our seat belts. Even as it was, I felt as if my head was trying to wrench itself away from the rest of my body.
Thick, black smoke boiled into the van, and the stench of burned rubber filled the air, sinking deep into my lungs.
I coughed and looked at Bria. “Are you okay?”
She blinked, her eyes a bit unfocused, and she reached up and patted her brown ponytail again. “I’m okay. How about you?”
I didn’t see any blood on my clothes, although my chest ached from where the seat belt had caught me. Like Bria, I also reached up and patted my hair, making sure the black braid was still where it was supposed to be.
“Yeah,” I croaked out. “Just a few bruises—”
My door was wrenched open, and a knife flashed in front of my face. I tensed and lashed out at the hand, but I must have been more dazed than I’d realized, because I completely missed and ended up slapping the dashboard instead.
While I flailed around, the knife made two quick, neat cuts through my seat belt. Then a hand reached inside, grabbed me, and yanked me out of the van. I tumbled out and landed facedown in the grass.
“Hey!” Bria yelled. “Leave her alone!”
She cursed, trying to get free of her own seat belt, but it was too late.
A hand fisted in the back of my jacket and hauled me to my feet, making my brain spin around in my skull again.
“Come along quietly, and you’ll get to live a few minutes longer,” Raymond Pike hissed in my ear.
A hand clamped down on my left shoulder, and something pricked my side, drawing blood and making me hiss with pain. I glanced down. Pike had the spikes on the ball of his mace pressed up against my left kidney. If he stabbed me there, I was done for.
“You’ve caused me enough problems already. I won’t hesitate to end you at the slightest sign of trouble. Do you understand?” he hissed again, his fingers digging into my shoulder with a tight, bruising grip.
I nodded, not trusting myself to speak right now.
“Good. Now, let’s get out of here and go somewhere a little more private.”
Somewhere he could get on with the business of killing me, but I wasn’t exactly in a position to quibble right now.
But my friends weren’t about to let him just march me off to my death.
Engines roared, and tires squealed as Finn and Sophia raced their vans up the road to our position, then screeched to a stop. Doors snapped open, and their loud, worried shouts drifted over to me.
“There he is!”
“He’s got her!”
Inside the first van, Bria was still trying to get free of her seat belt, although she kept cursing and shouting at Pike to leave me alone.
The second black sedan fishtailed to a stop in the middle of the street, forming a roadblock with the first car and cutting Bria and me off from the rest of our friends. Five giants with guns spilled out of the vehicle. Three of the men hunkered down behind the car, using it as a shield, but the other two raced in our direction.
Pike took his hand off my shoulder long enough to stab his finger at the giants, then over at the other two vans still on the road. “What am I paying you fools for?” he snapped. “Kill them! Now!”
The two giants raised their guns and started firing at my friends. So did the men still stationed behind the second sedan on the road.
“Take cover!” Finn yelled.
He ducked behind his open van door, then raised his gun and fired back at the giants. Xavier was out of their vehicle too, returning fire, and I saw Sophia, Owen, and Silvio open the doors of the third van and raise their own guns.
“Get him!” Owen roared over the crack-crack-crack of bullets. “Get Pike before he gets away with her!”
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