Watching your mortal enemy get everything she'd ever wanted was torture, pure and simple.
Madeline Magda Monroe stood off to one side of a wooden podium, her hands clasped in front of her strong, slender body and a serious, thoughtful expression on her beautiful face. Next to her, a city official sporting a brown plaid jacket and a gray handlebar mustache droned on and on and on about all the good things that her mother, Mab Monroe, had done for Ashland.
Please. The only good thing Mab had ever done in her entire life was die. Something that I'd been all too happy to help her with.
Then again, that's what assassins did, and I was the Spider, one of the best.
Madeline's crimson lips quirked, revealing a hint of her dazzling white teeth, as though she found the same irony in the speaker's words that I did. She knew precisely what a sadistic bitch her mother had been, especially since she was cut from the exact same bloodstained cloth.
Still, even I had to admit that Madeline made an angelic figure, standing there so calmly, so serenely, in her tailored white pantsuit, as though she was truly enjoying listening to all of the prattle about Mab's supposed charitable works. It was high noon, and the bright sun brought out the coppery streaks in Madeline's thick auburn hair, making it seem as if her long, flowing locks were strings of glowing embers about to burst into flames. But Madeline didn't have her mama's famed elemental Fire power. She had something much rarer and far more dangerous: acid magic.
Madeline shifted on her white stilettos, making the sun shimmer on the silverstone necklace circling her throat-a crown with a flame-shaped emerald set in the center of it. A ring on her right hand featured the same design. Madeline's personal rune, the symbol for raw, destructive power, eerily similar to the ruby sunburst necklace that Mab had worn before I'd destroyed it-and her.
Just staring at Madeline's rune was enough to make my hands curl into fists, my fingers digging into the scars embedded deep in my palms-each a small circle surrounded by eight thin rays. A spider rune, the symbol for patience.
Mab had given me the scars years ago, when she'd melted my spider rune necklace into my palms, forever marking me. I just wondered how many more scars her daughter would add to my collection before our family feud was settled.
"I'd say that she looks like the cat who ate the canary, but we both know that she'd just use her acid magic to obliterate the poor thing." The suave, drawling voice somehow made the words that much snarkier.
I looked to my right at the man who was leaning against the maple tree that shaded us both, his shoulders relaxed, his hands stuffed in his pants pockets, his long legs crossed at the ankles. His hair was a dark walnut, blending into the trunk of the tree behind him, but amusement glinted in his green eyes, making them stand out despite the dappled shadows that danced over his handsome face. His ash-gray Fiona Fine suit draped perfectly over his muscular figure, giving him a casual elegance that was the complete opposite of my tense, rigid, watchful stance. Then again, Finnegan Lane, my foster brother, always looked as cool as an ice-cream sundae, whether he was out for a seemingly simple stroll in the park, wheeling and dealing as an investment banker, or peering through a sniper's scope, ready to put a bullet through someone's skull.
Finn arched an eyebrow at me. "Well, Gin? What do you say?"
I snorted. "Oh, Madeline wouldn't use her acid magic herself. She'd manipulate someone else into killing the bird and the cat for her-and have the poor fool convinced that it had been his idea all the while."
He let out a low chuckle. "Well, you have to admire that about her."