Widow's Web (Elemental Assassin)

BOOK: Widow's Web (Elemental Assassin)
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Contents

Acknowledgments

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

‘Deadly Sting’ Excerpt

To my mom, my grandma, and Andre—for everything
To my papaw—you will be missed

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Once again, my heartfelt thanks go to all the folks who help turn my words into a book.

Thanks go to my agent, Annelise Robey, and editors, Adam Wilson and Lauren McKenna, for all their helpful advice, support, and encouragement. Thanks also to Julia Fincher.

Thanks to Tony Mauro for designing another terrific cover, and thanks to Louise Burke, Lisa Litwack, and everyone else at Pocket and Simon & Schuster for their work on the step-back cover, the book, and the series.

And finally, a big thanks to all the readers. Knowing that folks read and enjoy my books is truly humbling, and I’m glad that you are all enjoying Gin and her adventures.

I appreciate you all more than you will ever know.

Happy reading!

1

Breaking into the building was easy.

Too easy for an assassin like me.

Hell, I didn’t even really have to break in—I could have walked right through the front door, waved at the guard stationed behind the reception desk in the lobby, and taken the elevator up to the appropriate floor. Stroll into an office building holding a vase of flowers, an oversize teddy bear, or a couple of pizza boxes smelling of grease, pepperoni, and melted mozzarella, and no one looks too closely at you. Except to wish they were the ones who’d thought to order pizza.

The delivery ruse was one I’d used countless times before, and I would have done it again today—except my target knew that I was coming for him. He was on his guard, and everyone entering the building was being checked and double-checked for weapons and to see if they even had the right to be there in the first place.

Besides, I preferred to be subtle about these things—to creep around in the shadows, leap out, take down my target when he least expected it, and then vanish back into the darkness once more. As the assassin the Spider, I had a reputation to uphold—that I could get to anyone, anywhere, anytime.

Something I planned on proving once again this evening—no matter how tight the security was.

It had taken me the better part of a week to scout out locations where the hit might go down. Home, office, the route in between, restaurants he liked to frequent, even Northern Aggression, Ashland’s most decadent nightclub, where he spent some time after hours. I’d eventually decided to do the job in his office, which was housed in one of the city’s downtown skyscrapers. He probably thought he was safe there, but he was going to learn exactly how wrong he was.

It had taken another week, and been a bit more difficult than I’d expected, getting my hands on the building’s blueprints and figuring out a way to get close to him, but I’d managed. I always managed. I wouldn’t have been the Spider otherwise. Besides, I always enjoyed a challenge.

Now I was into the third week of the operation, and it was finally time to put my plan into action, since the job had to be done before the end of the month. Normally, that wouldn’t be a problem, but the target knew about the looming deadline and that I was gunning for him. Every day that passed meant that security got that much tighter and my job that much more difficult.

I strolled into a downtown parking garage, wearing a black pantsuit and matching heels. I’d pulled my dark,
chocolate-brown hair up into a high, sleek ponytail, while black glasses with clear lenses covered my cold gray eyes. I looked like just another corporate office drone, right down to the enormous black handbag I carried.

This particular garage lay on the opposite side of the block from the front entrance to the skyscraper I wanted, but thanks to the blueprints I’d looked at, I’d discovered the two were connected by a series of maintenance corridors, which meant I didn’t have to go anywhere near the skyscraper lobby to actually get inside the building.

Always take the most unexpected route
. That was something my late mentor, Fletcher Lane, had told me more than once, and I expected it to work just as well this evening as it had so many other times.

Still, I’d thought that my target might have a few guards stationed in the garage, hence my business attire, but I didn’t see anyone as I walked down the ramp from the street to the basement level. A few security cameras swiveled around in slow loops on the walls, their red lights blinking like malevolent eyes, but it was easy enough for me to walk through their blind spots. Sloppy, sloppy of him not to make sure the entire garage was covered, even if it was on the other side of the block. This was Ashland, after all, the city that showcased greed, violence, corruption, and depravity in all their deep-fried, Southern glory.

My heels cracked against the concrete as I headed toward the elevator, the harsh sound bouncing around like a Ping-Pong ball someone had tossed into the garage. Despite the fact I was in the business district, muggings weren’t unheard of here, and my eyes scanned the shadows, just in case there was anyone lurking around who
shouldn’t be. Assassin or not, I had no desire to get blood on my clothes before I’d gotten close to my target. I was the only one getting away with any violence tonight.

As a final precaution, I reached out with my magic and listened to the stone around me.

People leave behind emotional vibrations in their surroundings, in the places where they spend their time, in the houses, apartments, and offices where they live, love, laugh, work, and die. All those feelings, all those emotions, especially, sink into stone, whether it’s a concrete foundation of a house, the gravel that constantly crunches under the tires of a convertible, or even an expensive marble sculpture prettily perched in a living room.

As a Stone elemental, I can pick up on those vibrations as clearly as if the person who had put them there was standing beside me, telling me all about how he’d used that marble sculpture to bash in his wife’s brains for the life insurance payout.

I reached out with my magic, and the usual sharp, worried murmurs echoed back to me. Nobody much cares for parking garages, and the low mutters told me just how many folks had fearfully clutched their bags and briefcases to their chests as they hurried to unlock their cars—and how many hadn’t made it before they’d been beaten, robbed, and left for dead. Par for the course in this garage and so many others like it.

Still, there were no recent disturbances in the stone, and no indication that someone had set his sights on me. Satisfied, I shut the murmurs out of my mind, rounded the corner, and reached the elevator that led from the garage up into the office building on this side of the block.

A man wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase waited in front of the elevator, watching the numbers light up as it descended to our level. I gave him a polite nod, then pulled my cell phone out of my bag and started tapping the buttons on it, sending a message to no one.

The elevator arrived, and the man stepped inside, holding the door open for me.

“Going up?” he asked.

I waved him off. “I need to finish this text first. My reception always gets cut off in there.”

He nodded and let the doors slide shut. I hit a few more buttons on my phone, just in case there was anyone else behind me heading toward the elevator, but no one appeared. When I was certain I was alone, I put the phone away and headed to the far end of the corridor and a door marked
Maintenance Only
.

I looped my bag across my shoulder so my hands would be free, held my palm up, and again reached for my magic. Most elementals are only gifted in one area—Air, Fire, Ice, or Stone—but I had the rare ability to tap into two areas. So now, instead of using my Stone magic, I grabbed hold of my Ice power and used it to form a specific, familiar shape—one that would help me get through this locked door.

BOOK: Widow's Web (Elemental Assassin)
3.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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