Tangled Threads - (Elemental Assassin, #4) Page 0,2
fumes of his chicory coffee filled the car. The rich smell always reminded me of his father, Fletcher Lane, my mentor, the one who’d taught me everything I knew about being an assassin. The old man had drunk the same foul brew as his son before he’d died earlier this year. I smiled at the memory and the warmth it stirred in me.
While Finn drank his coffee, I stared out at the scene before me once more. Everything seemed still, quiet, cold, dark. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. That something was just slightly off about this whole setup. Fletcher had always told me that nobody ever got dead by waiting just a few more minutes. His advice had kept me alive this long, and I had no intention of disregarding it now.
Once again my eyes scanned the area. Deserted street. A few dilapidated buildings hugging the waterfront. The black ribbon of the Aneirin River in the distance. The pale boards of the dock. A lone light flickering over the dwarf’s head.
My eyes narrowed, and I focused on the light. The bright, intact light burning like a beacon in the dark night. Then I looked up and down the street, my gaze flicking from one iron post to the next. Every other light on the block was busted out. Not surprising. This was Southtown, after all, the part of Ashland that was home to gangbangers, vampire prostitutes, and junkie elementals strung out on their own magic and hungry for more. People would just as soon kill you as look at you here. Not a place you wanted to linger, even during the daylight hours.
So I wasn’t surprised that the streetlights had been broken, probably long ago, by the rocks, beer bottles, and other trash that littered the street. What did surprise me was the fact that there was one still burning—the one right over the van that the dwarf was packing his boxes into.
How … convenient.
“You might as well get comfortable,” I said, staring at the lone light. “Because we’re going to be here a while longer.”
Finn just groaned.
We didn’t have long to wait. Ten minutes later, the dwarf finished loading the last of his boxes into the van. Once I started watching him—really watching him—I realized that he’d been taking his sweet time about things. Moving slower than a normal person would have, especially considering the bitter cold that frosted Ashland tonight. But then again, this was far from the innocent scene that it appeared to be.
Now the dwarf stood beside the van, smoking a cigarette and staring into the darkness with watchful eyes.
“What’s he doing?” Finn asked, taking another sip of coffee. “If the man had any sense, he’d crank up the heater in that van and get out of here.”
“Just wait,” I murmured. “Just wait.”
Finn sighed and drank some more of his chicory brew.
Five more minutes passed before a flash of movement along the dock caught my eye.
“There,” I said and leaned forward. “Right fucking there.”
A figure stepped out from behind a small shack squatting at the far end of the dock that jutted out into the river.
Finn jerked upright and almost spilled his coffee on the leather seats. “Where the hell did he come from?”
“Not he,” I murmured. “She.”
The woman strolled down the dock toward the dwarf. Despite the darkness, the single streetlight still burning let me get a good look at her. She was petite and slender, about my age, thirty or so. She had a short bob of glossy black hair, held back with a headband, and her features had an Asian flavor to them—porcelain skin, expressive eyes, delicate cheekbones. She also wore black from head to toe, just like the rest of us.
I frowned. No woman in her right mind would walk through this neighborhood alone at night. Hell, not many would dare to do it during the day. Much less wait more than an hour in a run-down shack on a December night when the temperature hovered in the low twenties.
Unless she had a very, very good reason for being there.
And I was beginning to think I knew exactly what that reason was—me.
The woman reached the dwarf, who crushed out his cigarette. She said something to the man, who just shrugged his shoulders. The woman turned and scanned the street, much the same way that I’d been doing for the last hour. But I knew she couldn’t see us, given where we were parked. The Dumpster sitting at