Spider's Trap(Elemental Assassin,book 13)(79) by Jennifer Estep
Pike cursed, realizing that he couldn’t get back to his sedan and that the giants wouldn’t be able to hold off my friends forever. He spun me toward the trees.
“Move!” he yelled. “Now! Before I kill you where you stand!”
I nodded, telling him that I would do exactly what he wanted.
Then he grabbed my shoulder, shoved the mace spikes into my side again, and forced me into the woods.
* * *
Pike’s fingers dug into my shoulder socket like he wanted to rip off my arm, but I kept my head down and concentrated on moving forward and not doing anything to further enrage him. There was no use trying to escape. Not when he had those spikes pressed up against my side, ready to ram them through me if I put up any kind of struggle.
Behind us, steady sounds of gunfire still ripped through the air, along with an occasional shout, but the trees muted the sounds, so I shut them out of my mind. Besides, my friends couldn’t help me now.
We’d gone about two hundred feet when the trees gave way to a smooth lawn crisscrossed with white flagstones. Old-fashioned streetlights lined the paths, the golden glows hovering over the stones like fireflies suspended in a spider’s web.
“The botanical gardens?” Pike muttered. “How did we wind up back here—”
More gunfire sounded, along with several shouts, the voices getting closer and closer.
“Where are they?”
“Do you see them?”
“We’re coming for you!”
Pike cursed and shoved me forward again, forcing me down one of the paths that led into a hedge maze. Rows of thick, impenetrable bushes rose up eight feet on both sides, cutting us off from everyone and everything else. Only a few lights were spaced here and there along the path, adding to the gloom. Pike’s hot breath rasped against my cheek. The stink of cigar smoke clung to his body, overpowering the far more pleasing aromas of the garden.
A few smaller paths split off left and right, but Pike pushed me along the center trail. We’d gone about fifty feet when the maze opened up into a large circular area. White picket fences ran along the path, cordoning off flowerbeds full of pansies, mums, and fat pumpkins with leafy green vines curling all around them. Embedded in the center of the garden was a round mosaic made out of jagged, colorful bits of red, orange, and yellow glass that had been fitted together to form a cornucopia.
Pike marched me over to the mosaic and threw me down face-first in the center of the glass. I used my hands to break my fall, but I still felt the hard, jarring impact. My palms scraped against the words, Harvest Time, that curved over the top of the cornucopia.
Pike circled around me, his boots tapping on the glass. He was wearing another black satchel of nails across his chest, and the metal pieces tinked in time to his footsteps. All the while, he kept swinging his mace back and forth like a scythe of death hanging over my head. Finally, he stopped in front of me.
“Now, bitch,” he growled, “I think it’s time for our long-awaited family reunion—and for you to finally pay for killing our father.”
Instead of begging for mercy like he wanted, I started laughing. Deep, hearty chuckles spewed out of my lips.
“What’s so funny?” he growled again.
It took me another few seconds to stop laughing. “Well,” I said, lifting my head to look at him. “You finally got one thing right. I did kill your father, but he wasn’t my daddy too. Something that I am extremely grateful for.”
His black eyebrows drew together, confusion filling his face.
I reached up and yanked off the black wig I was wearing, which Jo-Jo had braided to look just like Lorelei’s hair.
Pike sucked in a breath, finally realizing how thoroughly he’d been fooled—and that he had kidnapped the wrong woman.
“Surprise,” I drawled. “I’m not the bitch you’re looking for.”
I surged to my feet, palmed the knife hidden up my sleeve, and lashed out with it.
I wanted to gut Pike and end the fight before it even got started, but he ducked out of the way. I raised my knife again, but he was quicker and swung his mace out in a wicked arc. This time, I was the one who stepped back, and we started circling around and around, each of us searching for an opening to take the other down.
Pike’s eyes narrowed. “You’re not Lorelei.”
“Way to state the obvious. Aren’t you the observant one?”
“But there was a woman in the van with you,” he accused. “One dressed in black clothes with a brown ponytail just like yours. I saw her when I planted the bomb on the back of the van.”
“My sister, Bria, dressed up to look like me.” I gestured with my knife at the black boots, dark jeans, and blue leather jacket I was wearing. “With me dressed up to look like Lorelei. A simple trick, but you totally fell for it.”
Pike’s face hardened. “Lorelei was supposed to be in the lead van.”
I smirked. “That’s what we told your boy Corbin, and he spoon-fed it right to you.”
He blinked, surprise flickering in his face. “How do you know about Corbin?”
“That he’s been keeping tabs on Lorelei for you? Feeding you all her movements and plans? Please.” I scoffed. “Paranoia is my middle name. You had to have some way of tracking her, since you kept showing up every single place she went, and how better to do that than by turning Lorelei’s right-hand man? Plus, I thought it was odd that you appeared right after Corbin drove up to the mansion last night. The only way you could have snuck past me was if you were hidden in his car. You also spared Corbin, when you could have easily killed him with your nails. You really should have offed him, instead of giving him all those superficial wounds.”
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