Spider's Trap(Elemental Assassin,book 13)(91) by Jennifer Estep
While Silvio typed away on his tablet, setting up meetings between the other bosses and me, I looked out over the restaurant, scanning the crush of customers as they came and went and chowed down on their barbecue.
Raymond Pike might be dead, but he’d left a loose thread behind: whoever had given him all that information about me, Lorelei, and everything else going on in Ashland.
I wondered if Pike’s friend, the one who’d known so much about me, was worried that she hadn’t heard from him in a week now. Or maybe she’d already realized that he wasn’t ever coming back.
This person seemed to be connected to the Ashland grapevine, so it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility that she had heard the whispers about me dealing with Pike. I wondered if she had spies in town—spies who could be in my restaurant at this very second.
But it didn’t much matter. She wasn’t going to make an appearance today, and I didn’t have any way to start tracking her down, not a name, not a rune, nothing but Pike’s smug mentions of how powerful she was. So she would stay in the shadows—for now.
Whoever the mystery woman was, if she wanted to come to Ashland and take me on, she was more than welcome to step into my parlor.
Then I would show her what coldhearted really looked like.
Despite Silvio’s protests that we should squeeze in at least one more meeting, I departed work early, leaving the restaurant in Sophia’s and Catalina’s capable hands. But I didn’t go home. Instead, I went to the other place I’d been visiting a lot recently.
Most people would have thought it morbid, but I actually enjoyed driving out to Blue Ridge Cemetery, walking the winding paths, and admiring the tombstones. It was calm and quiet and just about the only place where I could be by myself these days, without worrying about someone trying to kill me.
So I parked my car, got out, and meandered along the paths, staring at the fading flowers, stuffed animals, and other ornaments that marked the tombstones of loved ones. A faint breeze gusted through the cemetery, making the last of the autumn leaves spiral down to the ground, covering up the green grass like jagged red, orange, and yellow jewels. It was a pretty scene, and I breathed in, enjoying the crisp chill in the air. It wouldn’t be long now before fall slipped into winter and flakes of snow replaced the leaves. I just wondered how many new enemies the changing season would bring with it.
I headed over to Fletcher’s grave and did a careful scan of the cemetery, just to be sure that my peace and quiet wouldn’t be disturbed by some idiot who thought he was tougher and stronger than I was. Most of the time, the cemetery was deserted, especially this late in the day, when the sun was setting over the mountains and the landscape would soon be cloaked in darkness.
But I wasn’t alone today. Another figure stood at a grave partway up the hill.
She was about halfway between my Gin Blanco tombstone and the one that marked the final resting place of Genevieve Snow, my childhood self. That was where her mother’s grave was. I didn’t know how Mallory had managed it, but she’d gotten Lily Rose buried here all those years ago.
Lorelei looked at me, waved, and turned back to the tombstone. I waved back, then went about my own business. Even though we’d arranged to meet here, away from prying eyes, neither one of us wanted to talk right now. We were both too busy thinking about the ghosts of our past and how they’d come back to haunt us over the past several days.
I crouched down next to Fletcher’s gravesite, setting a small jar of his barbecue sauce on top of the tombstone. I’d made it fresh earlier in the day, and it was my own little way of honoring him. Every time I came back, the jar that I’d left the time before was gone. I didn’t know what happened to all that barbecue sauce, and I didn’t really want to. Maybe it was stupid, but I liked to think that it went to Fletcher, wherever he was.
I stayed there for several minutes, just soaking up the quiet and the sense that Fletcher was watching over me. Then I stood and looked up the hill. Lorelei must have sensed me staring, because she turned around again. She laid a bouquet of white lilies and red roses on top of her mother’s grave, then stuck her hands into the pockets of her blue leather jacket and walked down the hill toward me.
We met in the middle.
We looked at each other, then at the graves we’d come to visit. Lorelei grinned when she spotted the jar sitting on top of Fletcher’s tombstone, but she didn’t comment on it.
I didn’t ask Lorelei how she was doing, but she didn’t seem as tense as before and certainly not as hostile toward me. Good. I needed more allies in the underworld, and I wanted her to be one of them. But time would tell whether that would actually happen.
“I’m glad you agreed to meet me here,” Lorelei said.
“I like it here. It’s a good place to think.”
“Yeah.” She stared toward her mother’s tombstone a moment longer, then focused on me again. “I have some information for you.”
“What sort of information?”
Lorelei hesitated, then reached into the pocket of her jacket and drew out a folded piece of paper. “I found this among Raymond’s effects. Your sister, Bria, brought them to me yesterday.”
“I know. She told me that she and Xavier cleaned out Pike’s penthouse.”
Management at the Peach Blossom had finally realized that he wasn’t coming back and had called the cops. Bria had arranged it so that she and Xavier caught the case and could bury it just like we had buried Pike.
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