Blind Salvage(Rylee Adamson #5)(15) by Shannon Mayer
“Yeah. And they’re mean bastards. They like to play with their food like a cat. But why the hell there would be a Roc in those mountain ranges bordering ogre territory doesn’t make sense to me.”
I checked my mirrors and changed lanes, scooting the truck around a tiny blue VW Bug. “Why not?”
Dox scratched at his chin. “They love heat, lots and lots of heat. Like a snake. I don’t remember any Roc’s there when I still lived—” He cleared his throat. “Anyway, if there is a Roc hanging around, it can’t be good. Someone has to be holding the reins in order for one to fly this far north. They’re native to South America, if I remember correctly.”
Liam snorted. “And that’s all Kyle could find when it came to possible suspects?”
“The only thing in that area that has the strength to pick up a six-month-old unicorn foal and get away with it, and has the Pacific Northwest as a home territory, even if that is only a temporary home territory.” I tapped my fingers lightly on the wheel. The fact that the AA division had even that much info on a creature that was not in its home territory … I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. Either the AA division was getting better at finding supernaturals or they had someone helping them. I was betting on option number two. Not that it pertained to me and this particular case, but it was a good piece of info to tuck away. For later.
I Tracked the young foal as we drove to Doran’s place. Still alive, her vibrant threads soothed the darkness that had begun to cling to me. The fears that were being dredged up, the uncertainties, and all that fate had been throwing at me lately. A vacation, that’s what I needed after this. Maybe Liam and I could get away somewhere, use the veil to make a jump somewhere warm and cozy. I snorted softly to myself. Yeah, I could hope for that all I wanted, but I had a sinking feeling that ‘trials and tribulation’ were going to be my middle name for a while.
Calliope’s threads hummed through me, stronger now, spreading peace over my worries. A peace that previously I’d only ever found in Liam’s arms.
Holding her threads lightly, I Tracked Pamela and then Alex, and then Eve. Pamela and Alex were in high spirits, laughter dancing along the threads of their lives. I smiled and Liam caught the reflection of it in the rear view mirror. No words were needed. He gave me a wink and smiled back. I didn’t let him see my face as I Tracked Eve. She was terrified, fear coursing through her threads strong enough to bring tears to my eyes. At least she wasn’t hurt. Gods, let Pamela and Alex get there fast. For all that Eve was a Harpy, and deadly dangerous, she was still just a child. A juvenile at best.
Liam surprised me out of my Tracking.
“Tell me about the veil.”
I blinked several times, gathering my thoughts before I answered. We were still a ways from Doran, so I had time to try and explain this to him. “Well, it divides the world. Supernatural on one side, world the humans see on the other.”
“Yeah, I’ve got that, but why don’t all supernaturals reside there then? Why not just stay out of the humans’ way?”
Funny how quickly he put himself separate from the humans. Good too, because he no longer was one of them. I’d seen people fight what they’d become and it had killed them in the end.
Again, Dox beat me to it, twisting in his seat so he could look Liam in the eye. “The veil is a safeguard, somewhere we can go if we need to, but with so few entrances and so little room, it isn’t feasible that all creatures live there. That was why it was created, at least from what I understand.”
I shifted gears. “And it was never meant to be a place to live. Just a help. That’s what Giselle told us. The problem comes when those who would f**k with the rest of it use it as a tool to hide the shit they do.”
Liam took that in, his lips quirking to one side. “And what about the levels of the veil? How many are there?”
Now that was a question I wasn’t sure how to answer. I settled for brutal honesty. “I know that there are at least three because Jack talked about a Tracker named Brin getting dropped into the third level, where apparently a ghost took him. But I don’t know how many veils there are.” I thought about what Agent Valley had said. “If what your ex-boss said has any bearing, then there are possibly seven. But I’m not sure how accurate a human’s understanding of a prophecy would be.”
Dox sucked in a sharp breath. “Shit. I didn’t know that.”
I glanced at him. “I don’t think it’s common knowledge. Giselle never spoke of more than the one veil to us. And anything that slipped out of her mouth about deeper veils I just chalked up to her madness.”
We pulled up to the curb across from Doran’s place and I waved a hand at the empty lot with the scrub brush and garbage floating through it. To the humans, it was nothing but a run down piece of property without even a house. A lone cactus grew on it, looking extremely forlorn. Pitiful. “Perfect example of using the veil to hide yourself.”
“So he’s on the other side of the veil?” Liam frowned out the window, his eyes narrowed.
I shook my head. “No. Not exactly. More like it’s a mirror reflection of the veil he’s using to cover himself up. His home isn’t truly on the other side of the veil, and it isn’t an entrance. Just a ruse to keep the humans at bay. It works pretty well too, by the looks of things.”
Liam gave a slow nod. “Like being able to see the doorways that are hidden that lead through the veil. They aren’t on the other side, just a reflection? Is that how creatures that are as big as Blaz and this Roc go undetected, by using the veil to hide?”
“You got it, wolf boy.” I slid out of the truck, and the sharp winter wind bit at my face. Before I’d crossed the street, Liam had caught up with me. But Dox … I turned around. The ogre sat in the truck, staring straight ahead.
“What’s with him?” Liam grumbled.
“I don’t know. I suppose we’ll find out soon enough. Hell, we’ve got a long enough drive, we’ll need something to talk about.” Oh, boy, not looking forward to that. If Dox was all wound up about going into ogre territory, I should probably have been shitting my pants. Dox was the most mellow, laid back guy I’d known, human or supernatural. For him to be high strung was making my skin itch.
“He’ll tell us when he’s ready,” I said softly.
A laugh wrapped around us. “Don’t count on it, Rylee.”
Liam took a step and put himself just in front of me, a low growl escaping his lips, vibrating through him and into me. Yeah, the whole alpha thing was really going to have to be addressed soon or we were going to have problems. He had to let me do my job, regardless of how he felt about protecting me.
I did not need to add ‘talk with Liam about not being such a pushy alpha’ to my list of things to do. I stepped sideways so I could see Doran. And then I understood why Liam was pissed and I felt like a shit for thinking he was overreacting.
Doran wore an ankle-length wolf pelt that was fully intact, the wolf’s head sitting on top of his. Grey fur dusted with red highlights here and there; it was a beautiful coat, but no doubt he wore it for a reason. As in he wanted to piss off Liam. And it was working.
“What the hell, Doran?” I shook my head at him. “You ask me to come here, and then you pull this shit?”
He grinned widely at me, flashing his fangs. “Whatever do you mean? It’s cold out; I thought I’d wear something toasty and warm. You of all people should know how warm it is to be wrapped up with a wolf.” He gave me a long slow wink and blew a kiss at Liam.
Yeah, welcome back, Doran. Whatever help he’d been, whatever changes I’d thought I’d seen in him, this was the Doran I’d first met. The shit disturber.
Liam vibrated beside me. “You blood-sucking piece of shit. You might have helped in the past, but we don’t need your scrawny ass.”
Liam grabbed my arm and started to drag me back toward the jeep. I knew what Doran was up to, and I shouldn’t have been surprised that it was working. Liam just wasn’t used to this sort of manipulation. To be fair, the Daywalker had a talent for sure, and he could get me riled up with the best of them. “Liam, let me go.”
He kept dragging me. Damn Doran for this, for forcing this issue. I pried Liam’s fingers off my arm and jerked away from him. “I said, let me go!”
Eyes narrowing, Liam glared at me. Yeah, here we go, revert to past tendencies in three, two, one.
I lifted my hands in the air in mock surrender. “Go sit with Dox, I’ll deal with Doran because apparently you are going to get sucked into his stupid games.”
His face twisted up in a snarl. “Are you … dismissing me?”
Short and sweet. “Yes.” I turned my back on him and walked toward an openly gloating Doran.
Watching her walk away from him … damn, it took everything he had not to grab her and throw her into the truck. Doran wasn’t a physical threat to Rylee. No, that wasn’t the problem.
What bothered his wolf was that Doran liked Rylee. The smell the Daywalker gave off wasn’t quite lust, but close. Like a strong affection that could be more than what it was. And it reminded him of Faris. Which pissed him off and made controlling his wolf very, very hard.
It took everything he had to turn his back on them and stand there, breathing in the sharp cold air, clearing his nose of the scent of the Daywalker. He glanced over his shoulder once and caught Doran smiling at him, his eyes glittering with mirth. He turned away again. Shit, he hated that his rational mind claimed one thing, and … their footsteps crunched on the dirt as they walked away from him. With a growl he couldn’t stop escaping his lips, he forced himself to walk normally to the truck, open the door without wrenching it off its hinges, and slide in the back seat.
“She’ll be okay,” Dox said. The ogre turned in his seat to look at him. Liam’s jaw twitched, but he managed to keep his response civil. Which was more difficult than it sounded.