Today it is my pleasure to spotlight the release of SPIDER’S TRAP by Jennifer Estep
The next thrilling book in Jennifer Estep’s New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling Elemental Assassin series
Keep your friends close but your enemies within stabbing distance.
One important lesson I’ve learned in the assassination business is that to be the best you have to roll with the punches. Now that I’m queen of Ashland’s underworld—by default, not by choice—a lot more punches are being thrown my way. But I suppose that’s the price of victory for taking down some of the underworld’s top dogs. Good thing I have my Ice and Stone magic to help me survive my volatile new position. Just when I think things are finally settling down, someone tries to murder me during a hush-hush underworld meeting. But the real surprise is how strangely familiar my shadowy assailant seems to be.
My job is to maintain order among killers, crooks, and thieves, and soon I’m embroiled in a bloody game where the ability to keep secrets could be the greatest superpower of all. My enemies have all sharpened their knives and laid their traps, waiting for me to fall. But this Spider weaves her own webs of death…
Read an exclusive excerpt from Spider’s Trap:
I turned and sprinted back the way I’d come, heading for the front of the boat.
Silvio and Phillip appeared at the far end of the walk- way, no doubt drawn by the sound of the gunshots and coming to help me, but it was too late for that.
It might be too late for all of us.
I waved at them. “Get back! Get everyone off the main deck! There’s a bomb!”
Silvio must have heard me with his enhanced vampiric hearing, because he yanked on Phillip’s arm, and they both whipped around and hurried back to the main deck, vanishing from my line of sight.
Screams and shouts rose up from that area, although they were too garbled to understand. All I could really hear was the heavy thump-thump-thump-thump of my boots on the deck and the roar of my own heart beating like a bass drum in my ears. I ran as fast as I could, but with every step, I worried that I was going to be too late to save my friends. Because that telltale flash of glass still gleamed in the woods across the river, and I expected the sniper to remotely trigger the bomb at any second.
That’s what I would have done, anyway.
But the sniper must have had other ideas, because no explosion ripped through the air. No fire flashed, and no smoke boiled up into the sky. So I kept running. I didn’t know why the bomb hadn’t gone off yet, but I was going to use every extra second I got.
That was the only way we were going to survive this.
I raced back out onto the main deck to find that the meeting had dissolved into complete and utter chaos. Silvio and Phillip were yelling for everyone to get off the riverboat, with Phillip standing by the open double doors, trying to usher his staff to safety.
Across the deck, a logjam had formed at the top of the gangplank, with Dimitri, Luiz, and their respective guards scrambling to disembark first. Silvio was there too, shouting at them to go down the gangplank two at a time in an orderly fashion, but the thin vampire was no match for the giants, and he bounced off their tall, broad bodies like a tennis ball being whacked first one way, then back the other. No one was listening to him, and no one was getting off the boat.
Phillip ran over, grabbed hold of the closest giant, and flipped him over the railing and down into the river. Phillip’s likely mix of giant and dwarven blood gave him more than enough strength to wade into the crowd, shove Dimitri, Luiz, and their men out of the way, and give Silvio some much-needed breathing room.
And create a perfect opening for Lorelei Parker to escape.
Lorelei was no match for the giants’ strength, so she stuck her boot out, tripping one of them as he ran past her. The giant yelled and stumbled forward, knocking down two other men in front of him, like trees crashing together in the forest, and creating a clear path to safety. Lorelei leaped onto the fallen giant’s back, hopscotched over the other two men, and made it to the gangplank as easy as you please. Even I had to admire her sneaky, effec- tive technique. Corbin followed her down the gangplank, and the two of them disappeared from view.
I scanned the rest of the area. The conference table had been tipped over onto its side, with all the serving plat- ters lying around it, the elegant displays of food littering the deck like garbage. Chairs had been overturned, glasses had shattered, and everything was a mess.
Except for the champagne bucket.
It remained untouched, sitting on that serving stand beside the railing right where the fake waiter had left it, shining like a bright silver beacon amid all the trampled food, dented platters, and upended furniture.
I rushed over to the bucket and clawed through the ice. I checked to make sure that there was just liquid in the champagne bottle, then threw it aside. The bottle shattered on the deck, the golden liquid inside hiss- ing, fizzing, and bubbling like acid. It reminded me of Madeline’s horrible magic. I flinched and kept searching through the ice.
Finally, just when I thought that I was wrong and there wasn’t a bomb hidden inside, my hand closed around something small, square, and metal in the bottom of the bucket. Still holding on to my Stone magic to protect my- self from any potential blast, I yanked the object out of the dark depths, wondering all the while why the sniper, the watcher, hadn’t blown up the bomb already—and me along with it.
Or maybe he’d just been waiting for me to pick it up to ensure maximum damage to yours truly.
The thought made me flinch again, tense up, and reach for even more of my Stone magic. But the device still didn’t explode, so I took a few precious seconds to examine it. I didn’t know as much about bombs as Finn did, but it was a simple metal box with a cell phone duct- taped to the top to serve as the trigger. No doubt some sort of explosives had been packed into the container, but the box was still a lot heavier than it should have been. I gave it a gentle shake, and several items rattled around inside. They almost sounded like . . . nails, loose nails that would create deadly shrapnel the second the bomb exploded.
But even worse was the magic that coated the box.
Now that I was actually holding the bomb in my hands, I could identify the type of magic that had been used to make it: metal.
The cold, hard sensation pulsing off the box was eerily similar to my own Stone power. The only real difference was that this magic felt a bit more malleable than mine, just as metal could be shaped more easily than stone. A metal elemental had infused his magic into the box—a very strong one, judging from how much power rippled through the surface.
I looked over my shoulder, hoping that Phillip and Silvio had gotten everyone off the boat. But they were still struggling with Dimitri, Luiz, and their guards, with the Delta Queen waiters and other staff members also yelling, pushing, shoving, and trying to get to the gangplank.
I didn’t know how powerful the bomb was or what the blast radius might be, but the watcher could blow it at any second, and I didn’t want innocent people getting hurt in the explosion. I needed to get it away from the riverboat too, just to be sure that the blast didn’t punch a hole in the side that would sink the vessel, taking anyone else who might still be inside or below deck down with it. My mind whirred and whirred, trying to think of the best way to contain the blast as much as possible, since I had no time to disarm the bomb—
As if hearing my frantic thoughts, the cell phone lit up, confirming my fear that the watcher could detonate the bomb anytime he wanted. I wrapped my arms around the box, reached for even more of my Stone magic, and braced myself for detonation—
I glanced down and realized that a clock had appeared on the phone screen. Thirty seconds and counting down.
There was no more time, so I did the only thing I could think of.
Bomb still clutched in my arms, I hoisted myself up onto the railing, then leaped off the side of the riverboat into the cold depths of the Aneirin River below.
* * *
My legs churned and churned through the air for what felt like an eternity, although it couldn’t have been more than a couple of seconds, and I hit the water with a loud splash!
The rough, jarring force of the impact almost tore the bomb out of my hands, but I managed to hang on to it. Instead of kicking toward the surface, I let the swift current drag me under, even as I counted off the seconds in my head.
Twenty-five . . . twenty-four . . . twenty-three . . .
The water was dark and murky, and I could barely make out the bomb. I didn’t know if just being dunked in the river was enough to short out the phone and stop the explosion, but I was going to make sure that the bomb would do as little harm as possible.
There was no time to be subtle, so I reached for my Stone magic again. Normally, I used my power to harden my skin or make my hands as tough and heavy as cement blocks. This time, I coated the box with my power, hop- ing that my Stone magic would weigh it down and send it straight to the bottom of the river. The bright silvery glow of my magic cut through the darkness, clearly illuminat- ing the countdown clock on the phone.
Fifteen . . . fourteen . . . thirteen . . .
My power easily covered the box, and once I had that first layer of Stone magic on top of it, I quickly coated it with several more, sending out surge after surge of magic. All the while, I kept ticking off the precious seconds in my mind.
Ten . . . nine . . . eight . . .
I’d done as much as I could to dampen the explosion.
I was out of air and almost out of time, so I dropped the bomb, letting it sink even deeper into the river. Then I kicked my legs and started clawing my way toward the surface as hard and fast as I could.
Five . . . four . . . three . . .
My head broke free of the water. I sucked down a des- perate, ragged breath—
The bomb must not have sunk as fast or as far down as I’d hoped, because it seemed to explode right below my feet. I didn’t feel any nails or other shrapnel pound- ing against my skin, but the resulting shock wave ripped through the river, scooping up the surface of the water and me along with it, like a wave rising and breaking toward shore.
Only in this case, I wasn’t going to land on a soft, sandy beach.
Instead, the gleaming white hull of the Delta Queen loomed up before me. There was no way that I could stop what was about to happen, so I threw my hands up and reached for more of my Stone magic, trying to harden my entire body as much as I possibly could, even though I knew exactly what little good it would do me against all those thick, heavy tons of wood—
My head slammed into the side of the riverboat, water cascaded down all around me, and the world blinked to black.
Excerpt. ©Jennifer Estep. Posted by arrangement with the publisher. All rights reserved.
Giveaway: 2 Print copies of SPIDER’S TRAP (Elemental Assassin series Book 13)
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Meet the Author:
Jennifer Estep is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea. Spider’s Bite, Web of Lies, Venom, Tangled Threads, Spider’s Revenge, By a Thread, Widow’s Web, Deadly Sting, Heart of Venom, The Spider, Poison Promise, and Black Widow, along with the e-shorts Thread of Death, Parlor Tricks, and Kiss of Venom, are the other works in her red-hot Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series. Jennifer is also the author of the Black Blade and Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series and the Bigtime paranormal romance series. For more on Jennifer and her books, visit her at www.JenniferEstep.com and @Jennifer_Estep.