Authors: Jennifer Estep
More praise for Jennifer Estep’s thrilling Elemental Assassin series
“Bodies litter the pages of this first entry in Estep’s engrossing Elemental Assassin series.… Urban Fantasy fans will love it.”
“When it comes to work, Estep’s newest heroine is brutally efficient and very pragmatic, which gives the new Elemental Assassin series plenty of bite. Shades of gray rule in this world where magic and murder are all too commonplace. The gritty tone of this series gives Estep a chance to walk on the darker side. Kudos to her for the knife-edged suspense!”
“The fast pace, clever dialogue, and intriguing heroine help make this new series launch by the author of the Bigtime paranormal romance series one to watch.”
“Loaded with action and intrigue, the story is strong and exciting.… With a knock-out, climactic ending and a surprising twist that I didn’t see coming, I was definitely impressed. This dark, urban fantasy series has a promising start.”
“Electrifying! Jennifer Estep really knows how to weave a fantasy tale that will keep you reading way past your bedtime.”
The Elemental Assassin titles are also available as eBooks
is a raw, gritty, and compelling walk on the wild side, one that had me hooked from the first page. Jennifer Estep has created a fascinating heroine in the morally ambiguous Gin Blanco—I can’t wait to read the next chapter of Gin’s story.”
New York Times
bestselling author of
“Watch out world, here comes Gin Blanco. Funny, smart, and dead sexy.”
—Lilith Saintcrow, author of
“I love rooting for the bad guy—especially when she’s also the heroine.
is a sizzling combination of mystery, magic, and murder. Kudos to Jennifer Estep!”
—Jackie Kessler, author of
Shades of Gray
“Jennifer Estep is a dark, lyrical, and fresh voice in urban fantasy. Brimming with high-octane–fueled action, labyrinthine conspiracies, and characters who will steal your heart,
is an original, fast-paced, tense, and sexy read. Gin is an assassin to die for.”
—Adrian Phoenix, author of
Black Dust Mambo
“A sexy and edgy thriller that keeps you turning the pages. In
Jennifer Estep turns up the heat and suspense with Gin Blanco, an assassin whose wit is as sharp as her silverstone knives.… She’ll leave no stone unturned and no enemy breathing in her quest for revenge.
leaves you dying for more.”
—Lisa Shearin, national bestselling author of
Bewitched and Betrayed
“Chick lit meets comics lit in Estep’s fresh debut.… A zippy prose style helps lift this zany caper far above the usual run of paranormal romances.”
“Secret identities and superpowers take on a delightful and humorous twist in Estep’s exciting debut. Fun and sexy.… Here’s hoping for more Bigtime adventures from this impressive talent.”
“Hilarious and, an even better trick, real.… Who among us can say we’d seize our destiny the way brokenhearted Carmen does?
New York Times
bestselling author of
Undead and Unfinished
“Outrageously entertaining. Jennifer Estep’s exciting new voice will leap into readers’ hearts in a single bound.”
New York Times
bestselling author of
Nothing But Trouble
“Snappy and diverting.”
“Smokin’.… Feverishly clever plotting fuels Estep’s over-the-top romance.”
“It’s back to Bigtime, NY, for more sexy, sizzling and offbeat adventures with those zany superheroes. Estep’s twist on the world of superheroes is kick-ass fun!”
PREVIOUS BOOKS IN
THE ELEMENTAL ASSASSIN SERIES
BY JENNIFER ESTEP
Web of Lies
The sale of this book without its cover is unauthorized. If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that it was reported to the publisher as “unsold and destroyed.” Neither the author nor the publisher has received payment for the sale of this “stripped book.”
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2010 by Jennifer Estep
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Pocket Books Subsidiary Rights Department, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
First Pocket Books paperback edition October 2010
POCKET and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
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Cover design and illustration by Tony Mauro
Manufactured in the United States of America
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
ISBN 978-1-4391-5545-5 (ebook)
As always, this book is dedicated to my mom, grandma,
and Andre. Your love and support make me a better person.
Once again, my heartfelt thanks go out to all the folks who help turn my crazy words into a real book.
Thanks to my super agent, Annelise Robey, and to my equally super editors, Megan McKeever and Lauren McKenna, for all their editorial advice, input, and encouragement. Writing about Gin wouldn’t be nearly as much fun without your support.
Thanks to everyone who read the rough draft of
and helped me with a plot point. Your comments were insightful and greatly appreciated.
And finally, to all the readers out there. It’s been a pleasure sharing Gin and her adventures with you.
The bastards never even would have gotten close to me if I hadn’t had the flu.
Coughing, sneezing, aching, wheezing. That was me. Gin Blanco. Restaurant owner. Stone and Ice elemental. Former assassin. And all-around badass. Laid low by a microbe.
It had started as a small, ominous tickle in my throat three days ago. And now, well, it wasn’t pretty. Watery eyes. Pale face. And a nose so red and bright even Rudolph would have been jealous. Ugh.
The only reason I’d even crawled out of bed this evening was to come down to Ashland Community College and take the final for the classic literature class I was auditing. I’d finished my essay on symbolism in
ten minutes ago. Now I plodded across one of the grassy campus quads and feverishly dreamed of sinking back into my bed and not getting out of it for a week.
Just after seven on a cold, clear December night. This was the last day of finals for the semester, and the campus was largely deserted. Only a few lights burned in the windows of the kudzu-covered brick buildings that rose above my head. The stones whispered of formulas, theories, and knowledge. An old, sonorous, slightly pretentious sound that was decidedly at odds with the sinister shadows that blackened most of the quad. No one else was within sight. Which is probably why they decided to jump me here. Well, that and the fact that kidnapping me would be such a
One second I had my face buried in a tissue blowing my sore, drippy nose for the hundredth time today. The next, I looked up to find myself surrounded by three giants.
I stopped, and they immediately closed ranks, forming a loose triangle of trouble around me. The giants were all around seven feet tall, with oversize, buglike eyes and fists almost as big as my head. One of them grinned at me and cracked his knuckles. Someone was anxious to get down to the business of beating me.
My gray eyes flicked to the leader of the group, who had taken up a position in front of me—Elliot Slater. Slater was the tallest of the three giants, his enormous figure making even his flunkies seem small in comparison. He was almost as wide as he was tall, with a solid, muscled frame. Granite would be easier to break than his ribs. Slater’s complexion was pale, bordering on albino, and almost seemed to glow in the faint light. His hazel eyes provided a bit of color in his chalky skin, although
his thin, tousled thatch of blond hair did little to cover his large skull. A diamond in his pinkie ring sparkled like a star in the dark night.