Home > Unraveled (Elemental Assassin #15)

Unraveled (Elemental Assassin #15)
Author: Jennifer Estep



Elemental Assassin series
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Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin #1)
Web of Lies (Elemental Assassin #2)
Venom (Elemental Assassin #3)
Tangled Threads (Elemental Assassin #4)
Spider's Revenge (Elemental Assassin #5)
Thread of Death (Elemental Assassin #5.5) 
By a Thread (Elemental Assassin #6)
Widow's Web (Elemental Assassin #7)
Deadly Sting (Elemental Assassin #8)
Kiss of Venom (Elemental Assassin #8.5)
Heart of Venom (Elemental Assassin #9)
The Spider (Elemental Assassin #10)
Poison Promise (Elemental Assassin #11)
Black Widow (Elemental Assassin #12)
Spider's Trap (Elemental Assassin #13)
Bitter Bite (Elemental Assassin #14)
Unwanted (Elemental Assassin #14.5)
Unraveled (Elemental Assassin #15)

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Unraveled (Elemental Assassin #15)

Acknowledgments


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

   Thanks go to my agent, Annelise Robey, and my editor, Adam Wilson, for all their helpful advice, support, and encouragement. Thanks also to Melissa Bendixen.

   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 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


   It was the perfect night to kill someone.

   Thick, heavy clouds obscured the moon and stars, deepening the shadows of the cold December evening, and an icy drizzle spattered down from the sky, slowly covering everything in a slick, glossy, treacherous sheen. Icicles had already formed on many of the trees that lined the street, looking like gnarled, glittering fingers that were crawling all over the bare, skeletal branches. No animals moved or stirred, not so much as an owl sailing into one of the treetops searching for shelter.

   Down the block, red, green, and white holiday lights flashed on the doors and windows of one of the sprawling mansions set back from the street, and the faint trill of Christmas carols filled the air. A steady stream of people hurried from the mistletoe-festooned front door, down the snowmen-lined driveway, and out to their cars, scrambling into the vehicles and cranking the engines. Someone’s dinner party was rapidly winding down, although it was only nine o’clock. Everyone wanted to get home and be all safe, warm, and snug in their own beds, dreaming of sugarplums, before the weather got any worse. In ten minutes, they’d all be gone, and the street would be quiet and deserted again.

   Yes, it was the perfect night to kill someone.

   Too bad my mission was recon only.

   I slouched down in my seat, staying as much out of view of the passing headlights as possible. But none of the drivers gave my battered old white van a second look, and I doubted that any of them even bothered to glance at the blue lettering on the side that read Cloudburst Falls Catering. Caterers, florists, musicians. Such service vehicles were all too common in Northtown, the part of Ashland where the rich, social, and magical elite lived. If not for the lousy weather, this entire street probably would have been lit up with holiday cheer as people hosted various parties, each one trying to outdo their neighbors with garish light displays.

   Once the last of the cars cruised by and the final pair of headlights faded away, I straightened up in my seat, picked up my binoculars from my lap, and peered through them at another nearby mansion.

   A stone wall cordoned this mansion off from the street, featuring a wide iron gate that was closed and locked. Unlike its neighbor, no holiday lights decorated this house, and only a single room on the front was illuminated—an office with glass doors that led out to a stone patio. Thin white curtains covered the doors, and every few seconds, the murky shape of a man would appear, moving back and forth, as though he were continuously pacing from one side of his office to the other.

   I just bet he was pacing. From all the reports I’d heard, he’d been holed up in his mansion for months now, preparing for his murder trial, which was set to begin after the first of the year. That would be enough to drive anyone stir-crazy.

   Beside me, a soft creak rang out, followed by a long, loud sigh. Two sounds that I’d heard over and over in the last hour I’d been parked here.

   The man in the mansion wasn’t the only one going nuts.

   “Tell me again. How did I get stuck hanging out with you tonight?” a low voice muttered.

   I lowered my binoculars and looked over at Phillip Kincaid, who had his arms crossed over his muscled chest and a mulish expression on his handsome face. A long black trench coat covered his body, while a black toboggan was pulled down low on his forehead, hiding his golden hair from sight, except for the low ponytail that stuck out the back. I was dressed in all black as well, from my boots to my jeans to my turtleneck, silverstone vest, and fleece jacket. A black toboggan also topped my head, although I’d stuffed all my dark brown hair up underneath the knit hat.

   “What’s wrong, Philly?” I said. “Don’t like being my babysitter tonight?”

   He shrugged, not even bothering to deny it. “You’re Gin Blanco, the famed assassin turned underworld queen. You don’t need babysitting.” He shifted in his seat, making it creak again, and shook his head. “But Owen insisted on it. . . . The things I do for that man.”

   Phillip was right. As the Spider, I could handle myself in just about any situation. I certainly didn’t need him here, but Owen Grayson, Phillip’s best friend and my significant other, had wanted it this way. But I hadn’t protested too much when Phillip had shown up at the Pork Pit and told me that he wanted to tag along tonight.

   With the mysterious members of the Circle out there, a little backup might come in handy. Even if said backup was whinier than one would hope.

   “Why couldn’t Lane sit out here with you?” Phillip asked. “Or Jo-Jo or even Sophia for that matter? Why did I get elected to freeze my balls off tonight?”

   Finnegan Lane, my foster brother, was often my partner in crime in all things Spider-related, while Jo-Jo and Sophia Deveraux respectively healed me and cleaned up the blood and bodies I left in my wake.

   “Because Finn is still dealing with the mess that Deirdre Shaw left behind at First Trust bank, and Jo-Jo and Sophia had tickets to The Nutcracker,” I said, ticking our friends off on my fingers. “And of course, you know that Owen promised Eva that he’d help out with that holiday toy drive she’s leading over at the community college.”

   “I would have been happy to help Eva with her toy drive,” Phillip grumbled. “Thrilled. Ecstatic even.”

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