Blind Salvage(Rylee Adamson #5)(10) by Shannon Mayer
No, Liam was the one place I would always be safe. And with that thought, I finally drifted off to sleep.
We woke hours later. Darkness had fallen, and the clock on the side table blinked a lazy one in the morning. Liam was already awake, his breathing faster and less regular than when he slept. I sat up, grimaced at the twinge across my ribs, then traced my fingers along the stitches that went from the bottom of my sternum almost to my belly button. Good thing Crystal had small hands or I had no doubt that line would be even bigger.
Liam swung his legs over the edge of the bed. “You hungry?”
I smiled in the darkness, wondered if he could see my lips curve upward. He hadn’t asked if I was okay, or how I was feeling. Damn, each time I thought he might not know me as well as I thought, he showed me how wrong I was. Good man.
“Yeah, let’s get something to eat.”
At some point while we’d slept, Dox must have brought in clothes. My jeans had been washed and dried, and there was a fresh button down shirt for me. Jeans and a long-sleeved shirt for Liam. Even as a werewolf, the early December weather was cold for him.
“You never even twitched when he came in,” Liam said as he stepped into his jeans.
I frowned. That wasn’t like me. Then again, I was safe with Liam; maybe that was it. I buttoned up the shirt and slid the jeans on, then looked around for my weapons.
“Dox has them.”
“Am I that easy to read?” I pulled on my leather coat. As much as I’d missed this clean cold snow while in London, now that I was home, I was back to hating it. And while it wasn’t raining or snowing at the moment, the New Mexico winter was in full swing.
He opened the door and gave me a cocky grin. “For me, yes. Anyone else, probably not.”
With a snort, I headed out, pleased to note that while my ribs ached, they were indeed already healing well. More than halfway healed from what I could feel with each step I took.
We headed to the bar that thumped with loud music and had strobe lights on the roof, as if to call down some alien space ships as per its name.
“What can we expect?” Liam moved to my side, but didn’t take my hand. No, we weren’t really the hand holding type of couple. More the kick your ass if you look at us wrong type of couple. The thought made me smile.
“I don’t know. I’ve never been to The Landing Pad when it was open and full of patrons.”
“You can’t get jostled.”
We stopped outside the door. I put my hands on my hips. “Your point is what?”
He mimicked me. “Let me go in and get Dox, or at least make sure that I can clear a path.”
Irritation flared along every synapse I had. A small part of me knew that he was just doing his job as ‘the guy’ and as ‘the alpha’, but it bothered me. I was no shrinking violet to be handled with f**king kid gloves.
Before he could say anything else, I turned and kicked the door open. Patrons scattered away from the door and a path opened up straight to the bar.
I raised an eyebrow at a seriously frowning Liam. “Thanks, but I think I’ve got it.” Okay, so it was brassy and maybe stupid, as my ribs reminded me with a sharp twinge that they weren’t fully healed. But I just couldn’t let him take care of me in public like I did in private. I just didn’t have it in me to be that girl.
Growling under his breath, he followed me in. No one even stepped close to us. The crowd there was mostly humans, but I caught sight of a few supernaturals trying to blend in. A leprechaun in the far corner chatting up a pretty red-headed girl, a water nymph sitting on a table surrounded by men … and Doran, his arm slung over the shoulders of Crystal, the young Shaman who’d helped save my life. His eyes tracked me, as he whispered in her ear. I just shook my head and moved to the bar.
Dox gave me a big grin and shouted over the music. “Your girl is a natural bartender!” He pointed to the far end of the bar where, to my shock, Pamela was slinging drinks. And I mean slinging them. Spinning the glasses across the bar, she flipped them into the air at the same time as she grabbed a bottle of booze from under the table. I squinted, watched the half pause of the bottle and the glass in mid air. The patrons cheered as she poured drinks with a flare that most bartenders took years to learn, if they ever managed at all.
“Well, I suppose that’s one way to practice being subtle with her spells,” I said softly.
Liam didn’t laugh, didn’t answer; he just closed the distance between us. “Dox, you got any food in this joint?”
Dox raised his eyebrows, silver rings glinting in the light. “Don’t go insulting me, Agent. You remember what happened last time? No, never mind, you wouldn’t remember much of that.”
I laughed, grimaced as my stomach muscles clenched, and slid onto a barstool. Liam sat beside me, but turned sideways so he could keep an eye on me, no doubt. I stifled the urge to tell him to chill. Alpha, I had to remember he was an alpha to the core and every urge he had to protect was in overdrive because I was hurt. Still, I struggled not to tell him to back off.
Dox slid a stack of chicken wings and carrot sticks in front of us. I dug in, sucking the meat off the bones as fast as Liam did. My belly grumbled … no, that wasn’t my belly. I looked down to see Alex staring up at me, pointing with one claw to his mouth. He mouthed “hungry please” at me, and scooted closer. I grabbed a chicken wing, intending to give it to him, when Liam’s hand covered mine stopping me.
“He eats after us.”
Shock filtered through me, and I turned to stare at Liam. “What did you say?”
Liam didn’t even twitch, his eyes not giving me any indication that he was joking. “He can eat after us.”
Okay, so shit, I knew this was going to happen, maybe not this exactly, but something where the alpha in him would show up and start a pissing contest. But did it have to be right now with me and Alex?
Liam let go of my hand and I flipped the chicken wing to Alex. Submissive, he might be, but I would be damned if I treated him like a second-class citizen. Liam snarled and stood. I followed him and put myself between him and Alex.
“This isn’t a pack. Not like your wolf wants it to be. I won’t have you treating Alex like shit.”
Liam closed the distance between us so that we were nose to nose. Taking me right back to our early days with him as my nemesis instead of my lover and mate.
“I don’t treat him like shit. I treat him like the submissive he is.” Liam’s whole body quivered with suppressed emotion. I was putting my money on ‘pissed’.
“Not around me you won’t.” I stepped back, and Alex wrapped his paws around my calves.
“Sorry Boss, Alex waits.” He pushed the chicken wing across the floor to Liam’s feet.
Well shit. I hadn’t expected Alex to side with Liam on this. Before I could say anything else, Dox rapped his knuckles on the bar. “Rylee, you’ve got a phone call. You can take it in my office.”
“Who the hell knows we’re here?” I snapped. The bar patrons closest to us backed away. Yeah, I was being a bitch, but I didn’t like seeing Alex get treated like he wasn’t good enough. Especially not by Liam.
Both werewolves followed me, Alex at my heels and Liam moving up to my side. Not that anyone was standing in my way.
I strode through the bar and down the short hallway to Dox’s office, all the while doing my best to ignore the growing ache in my ribcage. The office was neat and tidy, though everything was sized up for his larger-than-life build. His desk and chair were made of some sort of high polished dark wood that was almost black except for the soft swirls of caramel here and there. I slid around the desk and sat down in the chair, my feet dangling, barely brushing the floor.
“We need to talk about Alex,” Liam said, leaning across the desk, his hands flat on it. Alex peeked up over the edge of the desk, then moved to mimic Liam.
“Yuppy doody, Alex is good wolf.”
I didn’t answer, but instead picked up the old school phone lying on the desk.
“Who is this?”
“Me. Who the hell do yous thinks it was going to be?”
I let out a sigh of relief. Of course, Charlie knew to call Dox’s place if he couldn’t reach me. As my middle man with the parents of lost children, the brownie needed to be able to get a hold of me, or at least get a message to me via one of my friends.
“Yous going to be at the big blue ox’s place for a bits?”
“Yes, at least another day.”
“Good. I be sending a parent to yous. I’ve done me best to puts them off, but now that yous be back, yous can deal with them.”
I closed my eyes and leaned back in the chair. “What are the particulars of the salvage?”
“Nope, I can’t tell yous. They said that yous need to be hearing it straights from the father.” His voice sobered. “And I’d be making sure that yous and me do rights by them. I think they be holding your bird hostage.”
My jaw dropped, and I scooted forward in my chair. Liam leaned over the desk, eyebrows furrowing. Right, of course he could hear everything.
I licked my lips. “Eve? They have Eve?” She must have flown straight across again, instead of hopscotching like she’d said she would. Damn it, she just had to prove herself, no matter the cost.
Charlie let out a sigh. “Yes, theys don’t be calling it hostage per se. Buts they does be saying they will be ‘caring’ for her until yous bring their kidlet backs to them.”
Damn it all to hell and back. “Charlie, are they threatening her?”
He clicked his tongue several times. “I think they would kill her if yous don’t be bringing the kidlet back to them. I’ll do what I can, but all I can do is stay with your bird. Right now she’s in your barn, so easy enough for me to keeps me eyes on hers.”
Much as I appreciated what he was willing to do, Charlie staying with her wouldn’t work, not on Eve. “Charlie, give me second. I have to think this through.”