The shimmer of the gemstones matched the sparkle of greed in his eyes. I looked at the price tag beside the diamond-crusted monstrosity. He grabbed a purple pump off a shelf and waggled the shoe at me before holding it up and inspecting it himself. He gazed at the shoe with a rapt expression, as though it were a work of art instead of merely overpriced pieces of leather sewn together. But my impeccable fashion sense is one of the many things you love about me. I snorted and moved over to look at some dresses hanging on a rack near the wall.
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The shimmer of the gemstones matched the sparkle of greed in his eyes. I looked at the price tag beside the diamond-crusted monstrosity. He grabbed a purple pump off a shelf and waggled the shoe at me before holding it up and inspecting it himself. He gazed at the shoe with a rapt expression, as though it were a work of art instead of merely overpriced pieces of leather sewn together.
But my impeccable fashion sense is one of the many things you love about me. I snorted and moved over to look at some dresses hanging on a rack near the wall. Not mine, though.
I never paid too much attention to what I was wearing, beyond making sure that my jeans and boots were comfortable enough to fight in and that my T-shirt sleeves were long enough to hide the knives I had tucked up each one.
But here I was, along for the consumer ride. Finn had shown up at the Pork Pit, my barbecue joint, just after the lunch rush ended and had dragged me all the way up to Northtown, the part of Ashland that housed and catered to the wealthy, social, and magical elite. Now we were browsing through Posh, the biggest, fanciest, and most expensive boutique on this particular block. Racks of ball gowns and evening dresses filled the store, starting with all-white frocks on the left and darkening to midnight black ones on the right, like a rainbow of color arcing from one side of the store to the other.
Not to mention the minuscule handbags that cost ten times as much as a good steak dinner. And that skinny stiletto would make a decent weapon, if you took the time to snap it off the rest of the shoe and sharpen the end of it. But my impeccable sense of improvised weaponry is one of the many things you love about me. My grin widened. I loved needling Finn as much as he enjoyed teasing me.
The things she collected? What she thought was beautiful or valuable or at least worth hoarding? She was your nemesis, after all. Killing Mab had been one of the most satisfying moments of my life. I have plenty of little black numbers in my closet at home, anyone of which would be perfect for this event. Funny how killing people inevitably led to ruined clothes. And probably half the folks on the guest list. As to why you have to go with me, well, naturally, I asked Bria first, but she has to work.
I need someone to drink champagne with and make snide comments to about everyone else in attendance. Or Jo-Jo?
He just picked up a strappy, canary-yellow sandal and admired it a moment before showing it to me. Is yellow your color? Not with your skin tone. You know, dress up, go out on the town, have a little fun. I know how hard this last month has been, with you and Owen on the outs. Even assassins could have their hearts broken. I sighed. Really, I am. Finn started to say something else when one of the saleswomen sidled up to him. The perfect fit showed off his strong, muscled body, while his walnut-colored hair was artfully styled.
After a moment, she smiled at him, and then subconsciously licked her lips as though Finn were a hot fudge sundae that she wanted to gobble up. At the back of the store, a second saleswoman eyed her associate with anger. While Finn had been waxing poetic about bracelets and shoes, the two of them had been having a whispered argument about who got the privilege of waiting on him. Looked like Red here had won. That sky-blue color is amazing with your hair.
Her gaze flicked to me for half a second before she focused on Finn again. Despite the fact that he was involved with Detective Bria Coolidge, my baby sister, Finn still flirted with every woman who crossed his path, no matter how old or young or hot or not she was.
Dwarf, vampire, giant, elemental, human. As long as you were breathing and female, you could count on being the recipient of all the considerable charm that Finnegan Lane had to offer. What do you think about this color?
I might be standing right next to Finn, but I was as invisible as the moon on a sunny day. I sighed again. It was going to be a long afternoon. Twenty minutes later, after being dragged from one side of the store to the other, Red showed me to a fitting room in the back. Rightfully insisting that he knew more about fashion than I did, Finn had picked out several dresses for me to try on. Red placed the gowns on a hanger on the wall before brushing past me.
Red stepped up next to Blonde and not so subtly elbowed her out of the way. Blonde retaliated by shoving her breasts forward that much more. The two of them might as well have filled up a pit with mud and settled their differences that way. That would have been far more entertaining than the petty one-upmanship they were currently engaged in.
I rolled my eyes. Finn was the only man I knew who could inspire a catfight just by grinning. The sooner I picked something, the sooner I could get back to the Pork Pit. Too tight, too short, too slutty. None of the garments was quite right, not to mention the fact that Finn had chosen more than one strapless evening gown. I wondered how long it would take Red and Blonde to tear themselves away from Finn to see to the new customer— A surprised scream ripped through the air, along with a sharp, smacking sound.
The pain-filled moan that followed told me that someone had just gotten hit. I perked up at the thought, and a genuine smile creased my face for the first time today.
For the first time in several days, actually. I cracked open the fitting room door so I could see what was going on. Sure enough, a man stood in the storefront, right in front of the jewelry case. He was a dwarf, a couple inches shy of five feet tall, with a body that was thick with muscle. He wore jeans with holes at the knees and a faded blue T-shirt. A barbwire tattoo curled around his left bicep, which looked like it was made of concrete rather than of flesh and bone.
He held a revolver in his right hand, the kind of gun that could definitely put a large hole in someone, especially if you used it at close range.
Blonde was the closest to the gunman. She had one hand pressed to her cheek, probably from where the dwarf had reached across the counter and slapped her, while her other hand was clamped over her mouth to hold back her screams. Finn stood about ten feet away from the dwarf. Red had the same stunned, horrified expression on her face that Blonde had. Finn had his hands up, although his eyes were narrowed, assessing the dwarf and the danger he presented, just like I was.
A solo job, then. The second thing I did was study the dwarf to see if it looked like he was searching the store for someone else—me, Gin Blanco, aka the assassin known as the Spider. But the only thing the dwarf was interested in was the jewelry. His eyes glinted and his mouth curved up into a satisfied smile as he glanced down at all the expensive baubles. So this was nothing more than a simple robbery, then.
Plenty of those in Ashland, even up here in the rarefied air of Northtown. Really, if the Posh owners were going to keep all those diamonds around, then they should have at least hired a giant or two to guard them. Well, at least she had a good sense of self-preservation. Red knew it, too; she gave her coworker a hostile glance over her shoulder. I turned my attention back to the robber, wondering if he might have any magic to go along with his inherent dwarven strength and the hand cannon he was sporting.
No hot, invisible waves of Fire power, no cold, frosty blasts of Ice magic, and nothing else to indicate that he was an elemental. That would make this easier. The dwarf grabbed the keys and used one of them to open the lock on the jewelry case, instead of just smashing the glass and setting off the alarms. He threw the keys down on the floor and started shoving bracelets, rings, and necklaces into his jeans pockets. Cursing Finn under my breath, I hiked up the long skirt of the dress I was wearing and opened the fitting room door.
With the yellow dress, I might as well have been a mother duck, watching over her little ones. I thought you said she was your sister! Finn winced and gave her an apologetic shrug, but he never took his eyes off the dwarf. He stepped to the end of the counter and grabbed hold of my bare arm, his fingers digging into my skin as he pulled me next to him. His hot breath wafted up my nose, reeking of onions and garlic.
I was. The second his eyes dropped to the diamonds, I stepped forward, yanked the gun out of his hand, and drove my fist into the side of his face.
ARC giveaway for Deadly Sting …
Okay, I also read it because I was hoping Owen would somehow miraculously redeem himself. For me, Deadly Sting is the weakest installment of the series so far. I had a number of issues with Deadly Sting: -The story was very simple and unimaginative. It was basically a hostage and robbery plot, led by new player, Clementine.
Deadly Sting released …