Spider's Trap(Elemental Assassin,book 13)(90) by Jennifer Estep
“Fellas,” I drawled. “What’s up?”
“It’s time you made a decision, Blanco,” Dimitri said, snapping up to his full height. The motion made the black toupee perched on top of his head wobble dangerously, as though it were about to fall off.
“Yeah,” Luiz chimed in. “You’ve kept us waiting long enough. If Mab were still running things—”
“If Mab were still running things, she would have killed you both and taken the coin laundries for herself,” I drawled again. “Actually, now that I think about it, that option is looking better and better all the time. Maybe then I could enjoy some peace and quiet, instead of having the two of you constantly whining at me.”
Their cheeks flushed with anger, but they bit back their harsh words.
“Just tell us what you’ve decided,” Dimitri ground out through clenched teeth. “Please.”
I set the book aside and laced my fingers together. “I’ve considered both your proposals. And I’ve decided that neither one of you is getting the laundries.”
Their mouths dropped open.
“What?” Luiz screeched, drawing the attention of the other customers.
I arched my eyebrows, and he realized his mistake. His voice was quieter but still full of anger as he spoke again.
“You can’t do that!” he hissed.
“Sure I can. After all, you two geniuses came to me to mediate your little dispute,” I said. “Besides, if you really wanted the coin laundries, then you should have made the winning bid.”
Dimitri’s eyes narrowed. “Someone outbid us for the laundries? Who?”
I pointed at a woman finishing her lunch at the far end of the counter. “Her.”
Jade Jamison dabbed at her lips with a white paper napkin, then gave Dimitri and Luiz a cheery wave and a saucy wink before going back to her cheeseburger, onion rings, and strawberry milkshake.
“Her? But all she does is run hookers and hire out people to clean houses!” Dimitri sputtered. “In the suburbs!”
The way he said suburbs, you would have thought it was one of the worst places in all of Ashland. He might have been right about that.
“True,” I said. “But she also happened to top both your bids by ten percent. So Lorelei has decided to sell the coin laundries to her. It’s just business. I told Lorelei that you would understand. Right?”
Dimitri and Luiz looked at me, then at each other, the wheels spinning in their hamster brains. The idiots were actually thinking about teaming up to try to take me down again.
So I reached over, picked up a wayward butter knife lying on the counter, and started twirling it around and around in my hand, making sure that the utensil caught the light and reflected it back into their faces.
“Right?” I asked a second time, my voice much colder than before.
Luiz was the first to back down. “Oh, yeah,” he said, holding his hands up and backing away from the cash register. “Like you said, it’s just business. A winning bid is a winning bid. Right, Dimitri?”
The Russian was far more reluctant, but a few more spins of the butter knife convinced him. “Yeah. Right.”
That didn’t stop them from giving me sour looks as they whirled around, huffed and puffed their way out of the storefront, and skedaddled down the street and out of sight. They were pissed—pissed enough to make another run at me sometime soon—but I’d be ready for them.
And next time, I wouldn’t be as nice as I had been today.
I tossed the butter knife into a bin of dirty dishes.
Jade Jamison finished her meal, then slid off her stool and sidled over to me. “Thanks again for backing my play for the laundries. I appreciate it. And thank Lorelei for me too.”
“You’re the one with a million bucks to spend. If you want to invest in some coin laundries, who am I to keep a rising entrepreneur down?”
Jade grinned. She slapped a hundred-dollar bill on the counter, refused any change, then sashayed out of the restaurant. I put the extra money in the tip jar for the staff to split. I liked her style.
Silvio watched Jade leave, then turned back to me. “Finally,” he murmured. “I can mark something off your to-do list.”
“My to-do what now?”
He turned his tablet around to me, scrolling through screen after screen after screen. “You’ve got meetings the rest of the week. I hope you didn’t think that Dimitri and Luiz were the only bosses who wanted some of your time and attention.”
My eyes glazed over just looking at all the lists on his tablet. “But why so many of them? And why now? A week ago, everyone was dragging their heels about actually involving me in any of their dealings.”
“They heard what you did for Lorelei.”
I frowned. “What do they think I did for her? We didn’t exactly broadcast our garden party with Pike.”
“I might have casually spread the word around that Pike was trying to muscle in on some of Lorelei’s territory—and everyone else’s in Ashland.”
A sly grin creased his features. “And that you took care of it as the big boss.”
I groaned. “So now what? I’m a hero to the underworld too?”
Silvio’s grin widened. “Something like that. After all, good public relations is the first step to winning hearts and minds . . . and loyalty.”
I groaned louder. Silvio chuckled, enjoying my misery. I shot him a dark look, but that only made him chuckle harder. But he quickly went back to work. He was too much of a professional, and he had too much to do, according to him, to keep harping on how I just kept digging myself in deeper and deeper with the Ashland underworld.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online