Release: February 23, 2016
Which is stronger: blood ties or a battle-tested friendship? That’s the question Gin Blanco asks when a friend’s long-lost relative strolls into town. The suspicious reunion is a surprise for everyone—and a big problem for Gin. Book fourteen in the New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series RT Book Reviews calls “unbeatable entertainment!”
It’s not easy being queen bee of an underworld abuzz with crooks and killers. Wielding my potent Ice and Stone elemental magic will only get me so far—my real secret is my tight-knit makeshift family, a motley crew of cops and criminals, dwarves and playboys. My foster brother Finnegan Lane is my right-hand man, but when his suddenly not-dead relative comes back into the picture, I’m the one on the outside looking in.
It’s funny how life works: one minute your best friend is rock-steady, and the next he’s doe-eyed and buying into this whole loving-relative routine to the point of ignoring you. I’d like to be happy for Finn, I really would. But all of my instincts are telling me that beneath the syrupy sweet demeanor and old-fashioned charm, this sudden interloper is planning something. The whole shtick leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. This person might have avoided the grave once, but I’ll put anyone who hurts Finn in the ground—for good.
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I stared at the box, more knots forming in the pit of my stomach and then slowly tightening together. I’d recently gone up against Raymond Pike, a metal elemental who had enjoyed planting bombs before I’d helped plant him in some botanical gardens. Pike had received a letter with Deirdre’s rune stamped on it, and had bragged that the two of them were business associates—and that she was the most coldhearted person he’d ever met. I wondered if he’d booby-trapped the box in Deirdre’s casket as some sort of favor to her, to blow up anyone who might come investigate whether she was truly dead.So I reached out, using my Stone magic to listen to all the rocks in the ground around the casket. But the rocks only grumbled about the cold, the snow, and how I’d disturbed their final resting place. No other emotional vibrations resonated through them, which meant that no one had been near the casket in years.I crouched down and brushed away the dirt that had fallen on top of the box when I’d opened the casket lid. No magic emanated from the silverstone box, although a rune had been carved into the top of it—the same small circle and eight thin rays that were branded into both of my palms.My spider rune.“Fletcher,” I whispered, my breath frosting the air.The old man had left the box here for me to find. No doubt about it. He was the only one who seemed to know that Deirdre wasn’t actually dead. More important, Fletcher had known me. He had realized that if Deirdre ever made an appearance back in Ashland, back in Finn’s life, that I would find his file on her and come to her grave to determine whether she was dead and buried.Once again the old man had left me with clues to find from beyond his own grave, which was located a hundred feet away. For whatever reason, he and Deirdre hadn’t been buried side by side. Something I hadn’t really thought too much about until just tonight. I wondered why Fletcher hadn’t buried the supposedly dead mother of his son next to his own cemetery plot. Something must have happened between him and Deirdre.Something bad.Jennifer EstepJennifer Estep is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea.Jennifer writes the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series for Pocket Books. Bitter Bite, the 14th book in the series, will be released on Feb. 23.Jennifer also writes the Black Blade young adult urban fantasy series. She is also the author of the Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series and the Bigtime paranormal romance series.