Mab Monroe, the Fire elemental who'd been head of the Ashland underworld for years, the woman who'd murdered my mother and older sister, was final y, final y dead.
And I was the one who'd made her that way.
Me. Gin Blanco. The assassin known as the Spider.
Now, my kil ing people as the Spider was nothing new. I'd helped more than a few folks quit breathing over the years, whether for money or to help out my friends or for my continued survival. But Mab had been different-and kil ing her had been very, very personal.
The Fire elemental hadn't gone down without a fight-the toughest fucking fight of both our lives. Not that I'd expected anything less from Mab. Not only had she been rumored to be the strongest elemental born in the last five hundred years, but she had also been as smart, cunning, and as vicious as they come. You didn't get to be the head o f the Ashland underworld and stay there as long as she had without being absolutely ruthless. Oh, no. Taking down Mab had been anything but simple. I stil couldn't quite believe she was dead-and I wasn't.
But kil ing Mab hadn't been without a price. We'd fought each other in an elemental duel, my Ice and Stone magic against her Fire power. According to some folks who'd been there, you could see the flames of our respective magics from a half mile away. I didn't know whether I believed that or not, but Mab was seconds from incinerating me before I final y managed to stab the bitch in her black heart with one of my silverstone knives. Even then, Mab's Fire washed over me, engulfing most of my body and burning me down to the bone, and I was about a breath away from dying right along with her. Now, after weeks of healing Air magic and intensive physical therapy, I was final y back to my old self-more or less.
I peered into the mirror in my bedroom, critical y eyeing my reflection. This would be one of the first times I'd been out in public since kil ing Mab, and I wanted to be sure I looked one hundred percent, like the Gin of old, even if I knew I wasn't quite there yet.
My dark chocolate brown hair was pul ed back into a sleek pony-tail, while black shadow, mascara, and liner rimmed my eyes, bringing out their cold gray color. A shiny strawberry-pink gloss covered my lips, softening the heavy eye makeup, while a bronzing powder added some much-needed color to my cheeks. Despite the coppery sheen, a hint of death white stil tinged my skin, reminding me how I'd come close to dying right alongside Mab.
I smoothed down a stray hair and plucked a piece of lint off my right sleeve. I'd traded in my usual jeans and long-sleeved T-shirt for a pantsuit. Stark, black, and simple, given where I was going today. Sturdy black low-heeled boots encased my feet, while my usual five knives were hidden on my body.
One up either sleeve, one in the smal of my back, and two tucked into the sides of my boots.
Just because Mab was dead didn't mean that I could lower my guard and leave my weapons at home. Quite the contrary. There were stil lots of other dangerous folks in Ashland, people who would just as soon shoot you as look at you-and those were some of the nicer folks in town. That was one of the reasons I was going out today and had taken such care with my appearance. I wanted to see for myself just how much the underworld landscape had shifted with the Fire elemental's death and more important what it might mean for me as the Spider and Gin Blanco too.
Footsteps sounded outside in the hal way, a steady, familiar tread that I knew and welcomed. A moment later, a soft knock sounded on the door.
"Come on in," I cal ed out. "I'm ready."
The door opened, and my lover, Owen Grayson, stepped into the bedroom.