When Gin, codenamed the Spider, isn't busy killing people and righting wrongs, she runs a barbecue restaurant called the Pork Pit in the fictional Southern metropolis of Ashland. The city is also home to giants, dwarves, vampires, and elementals – Air, Fire, Ice, and Stone. Gin herself controls the elements of Ice and Stone, which often adds a magical dimension to her conflicts. Over the series, we've seen Gin grow from an assassin with a secret heart of gold to a full-time good guy who's just excellent at killing the bad guys. She's softened, and been hurt, dealt with her tragic past and fallen in love, but through it all, she always fights and comes out on top!
Here's an excerpt from Jennifer's latest book.
WIDOW’S WEB by JENNIFER ESTEP
Owen hesitated, then held out his hand, but the woman ignored his gesture and stepped into his arms, molding herself to his body and pressing her breasts against his chest. He hesitated again, then awkwardly patted her on the back before stepping out of her embrace as fast as he could. The woman seemed amused by his attempts to disentangle himself from her and did everything she could to slow his getaway.
Her antics did not amuse me—not one little bit. Especially since the woman was staring at my lover like she’d very much like to have him for dessert. Like it was almost a forgone conclusion that she would, despite my presence at the table.
Finally, she tore her gaze away from Owen long enough to glance at me. “Aren’t you going to introduce me to your friend?”
“Of course,” he echoed again. “Salina Dubois, this is Gin Blanco. Gin, Salina.”
I discreetly tucked my knife back into my purse, closed the top, put it down on the table, and got to my feet. Salina held out her hand to me, the same remote expression on her face that she’d shown McAllister—the one that told me just how very far beneath her and unimportant she thought I was.
Still, I took her hand. Even assassins could be polite on occasion. Her grip was firm, and her fingers felt cool against my own. We shook, and I felt the tiniest trace of magic emanating from her, so faint I wondered if it was just my imagination.
Some elementals constantly gave off invisible waves of magic even when they weren’t actively using their power, like a fire throwing off hot sparks. I concentrated, and once again I felt a faint flicker of magic. So Salina was an elemental then. For a moment, I thought that perhaps she had Ice magic, but her power didn’t seem quite cold enough for that. No, her magic felt … softer and more fluid, like a raindrop sluicing across my skin again and again.
I couldn’t tell exactly what kind of magic she had, but I didn’t immediately let go of her hand either. Instead, I held on and turned it to the side, staring at the silverstone bracelet on her right wrist. The cuff was more than two inches wide and had a vaguely Egyptian design to it, as if it was something an ancient queen might have worn. Delicate loops and whorls had been etched into the center of the cuff, along with a rune—a mermaid with long, flowing hair, a curled up tail, and a serene smile on her face.
Elementals, dwarves, vampires, giants—practically all of the magically inclined in Ashland and beyond used a rune to identify themselves, their magic, their families, and their businesses. So it didn’t surprise me that Salina had her own personal rune. In fact, it seemed especially suited for her, since a mermaid was the symbol for deadly beauty. I could easily imagine Salina perched on a rock somewhere, wearing nothing but a seashell bra and a smile and luring sailors to their watery deaths with a mere crook of her finger.
What bothered me was that it seemed like she’d done the same thing to Owen once upon a time, judging from the way he couldn’t quit staring at her.
But more than that, something about Salina’s mermaid rune seemed familiar to me, like I’d seen it somewhere before—and her too. I could almost feel a memory wiggling around, trying to break through to the surface of my mind. Strange, because I should have remembered meeting someone like Salina—and especially Owen’s reaction to her.
“What a beautiful bracelet,” I murmured.
I traced my left index finger over the mermaid rune and realized that I was getting the same sensation from the bracelet I was off Salina’s hand—one of cool, constant motion. So she used the cuff to store her magic then, like so many elementals did with their silverstone rings, watches, and necklaces.
Salina pulled her hand out of mine and made a pointed show of rubbing my fingerprints off the cuff’s glossy surface. “A family heirloom.”
We smiled at each other, being painstakingly polite the way Southern women so often were, even though our eyes were flat and emotionless. Instant dislike on both sides.
Jennifer Estep is a New York Times bestselling author. Jennifer writes the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series for Pocket Books. Widow’s Web, the seventh book, was released on Aug. 21. Visit www.jenniferestep.com for excerpts and more information about her books.
Today, Jennifer is giving away a print copy of her new book, Widow's Web to one lucky winner who answers the question, What should Gin do to Salina? Or who comments on Jennifer's excerpt in some other way. The winner must be a resident of the United States. The contest will close at midnight and the winner will be announced tomorrow on this thread.