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Blind Salvage(Rylee Adamson #5)(16) by Shannon Mayer

“I know.” He slumped into his seat and passed a hand over his face. Never in his life had he felt so protective of someone. Sure, he’d always wanted to be the guy that people could depend on, but not like this.

“You’ve got to find a way to relax,” Dox said, his seat creaking as he shifted his weight. “Or you’re going to push her away. She’s too damn strong to be with someone who can’t let her be who, and what, she is. And she is one tough woman, used to taking care of herself.”

That was exactly what he was afraid of. Rylee helped ground him and his wolf. Losing her was the last thing he wanted. He needed a distraction though, or he’d be back out of the truck and beating the shit out of Doran for how he smelled. Which was beyond ridiculous.

“Dox, why did you really leave your home?”

The ogre tipped his head back in his seat. “A lot of reasons.”

“You know she’s going to ask you about it on the way there. She won’t let up until she gets what she wants.” If nothing else, Liam knew that to be as certain as the sun rising each day. Rylee would never give up once she headed down a course of action. She didn’t have it in her.

Dox turned so he could make eye contact with him. “She can try.”

Oh, he had a feeling this was going to be another one of those epic Rylee road trips.

Just brilliant.

“I knew you’d pick me over the wolf.” Doran reached for me and I pulled a sword from my back in a single fluid move. With a practiced ease, I swung it forward so that the tip rested in the hollow of his throat.

“Don’t try to set us up against one another, Doran. You will always come second.”

He smiled past me, and I knew, could feel him making eye contact with Liam. “Then why are you sending him to the truck like a naughty little boy?”

“Because I know you, and I know your games. Liam doesn’t. Not yet.”

Doran’s eyes sparkled with laughter. “Oh, Rylee. You make me smile.” His lips drooped. “But today, maybe neither of us will be smiling by the time this is all said and done.”

Spinning on his heel, he strode toward the empty lot, disappearing when he stepped past the realtor’s sign.

I glanced over my shoulder, but Liam had his back to me, hands on his hips, a visible tremor running across his upper body. Saying he was not happy would be a ridiculous understatement, but how did I get him to understand that there were times he needed to listen and times that I would need him to lead, and that today just wasn’t one of those days? Not easy, not with the wolf in him clamoring to be a true alpha.

I followed Doran, stepping across the shimmer of the veil’s reflection into the unseen.

His house was a two-story adobe structure, multiple fountains, herb garden and in general, quite nice. Swanky even, if I was recalling my first impression of the place right. The koi weren’t swimming in the fountains, too cold was my guess; another gust of wind whipped my hair out around my face, obscuring my vision for a split second. Through the auburn strands I saw Doran slip the wolf cloak from his shoulders, revealing a much more demure outfit of trousers tucked into knee high leather boots and a loose fitting white shirt that was open at the throat. Very pirate of him.

Doran snapped his fingers over the fire pit and flames curled up toward his hand. Orange and red, there was a flicker of blue, and then a shimmer of all the colors in the rainbow before the fire went back to a normal setting of orange and yellow.

“Have a seat.” He indicated to a bench carved out of what looked like the shoulder blade of some ginormous-ass animal.

“What is it?”

He glanced over, green eyes tracing the seat as if just seeing it for the first time, but his words had nothing to do with the seat. “Rylee, there has been a development with my ability to Read you. I can see flickers of what is coming your way.”

I sat on the bench and rested my hands on my knees. “How is this even possible?” To say that I doubted him would be an understatement. Though I was beginning to trust him, I knew he had his own agenda. Anything even remotely vampiric always did. As an Immune, magic couldn’t touch me, and those who could Read couldn’t see anything about me, not my future, not my past, nothing.

He shrugged and then shook his head. “I think it has to do with taking your blood. Faris was able to give you some of his powers, from what you’ve said, and it looks like your blood gives me a glimpse into what is coming your way. If I’d known that was a possibility, I would have tried to Read you sooner.”

I didn’t say anything right away, the crackle of the flames the only sound. The scent of sage drifted over to me as the wind shifted. Glimpses of my future—only Giselle had done that for me in the past, reading my palms. Tracing what was coming on my skin like a road map. I’d never had anyone Read me before.

“And you think I need to know what you’re seeing?”

His eyes softened. “Yes. This has happened for a reason. But, understand that what I can see doesn’t really make sense. I’m not getting the full picture, just glimpses here and there. I think it’s because it has been some time since I took blood from you.”

I rubbed my hands on my legs, thinking fast. The thing was, any sort of heads up of what I might face would be of help. “Tell me what you see. It might not make sense to you, but it could to me.”

He nodded and strode around the fire pit, the flames seeming to reach out to him as he passed. Crouching down right in front of me, he rested the backs of his hands on my knees and beckoned with his fingers. I put my palms against his, a whisper of electricity passing between us, as if I’d plugged directly into a wall socket. Not unpleasant, but not real comfortable either. The tips of his fingers pressed up against the pulse in my wrists, but he didn’t grab me.

His eyes slid shut and his head dropped forward almost between my knees. “Your life will not be without trials. Ever. What is left for you is battle after battle. This will never change.” A shiver ran through his body and seemed to course up through mine, sending gooseflesh up and along my arms. Fan-freaking-tastic. Just what I wanted to hear.

“The darkness is rising around you, surrounding you. But you have all you need to face it. You are going to lose people you love in these battles. There is no way around this.”

I wanted to jerk my hands out of his, but held still. “I thought this was about me?”

He didn’t answer my question. His fingers brushed along my pulse. “I see lights in the darkness, and fire. Your past and your present will collide with what is coming.”

I stared at the top of his head, the black tips of his hair spiked in its punk-rocker style. And I wanted to believe that he was just making this shit up. But I felt the truth of it in my bones, as I did whenever Giselle had read my palms.

“Will I find this child in time?”

His fingers wrapped around my wrist and he slowly lifted his head, eyes meeting mine. They were filled with a sadness I could barely breathe past, and again he didn’t answer my question but spoke words I could barely believe.

“You will love another.”

I snapped my hands out of his and scrambled away. “Fuck off, that isn’t funny, Doran.”

He rocked on his heels as I skittered across the bench and got to my feet. My heart was out of control pounding. I didn’t love anyone else, couldn’t love anyone else. Liam was it for me and I knew that in my heart and soul. So why did Doran’s words freak me out so badly? Will’s eyes flickered across my mind and I pushed the image away. Nope, that so wasn’t happening.

I shivered, cold to the bone as if the Hoarfrost demon and I had gone a second round.

“Rylee, I can’t see who or what. Only that there will be someone else. Maybe not the great love that Liam is. But someone else.” He shrugged, the strain of reading me visible in the tight lines around his eyes and lips.

I didn’t want to hear anymore. “Anything pertinent to this salvage?”

He flashed me a grin, the other side of him showing back up. “You will have fun with the ogres. Don’t let Dox tell you he knows what he’s about when it comes to his own kind. He doesn’t. Follow your instincts; you’re more like an ogre in some ways than Dox.” With a wink and a flourishing bow, he pointed to the road.

“Just like that, we’re done?”

He stood back up, a decidedly wicked gleam flickering through his eyes. “I am more than happy to have you stay the night, Rylee. But I have a rule. Everyone who stays has to be na**d and covered in coconut oil. To be fair and all.”

“I mean about the salvage, you called it a blind salvage, but the foal isn’t on the other side of the veil.” Gods, he had a one-track mind. Typical man, typical bloodsucker.

He pursed his lips. “You still owe me a kiss. Maybe I should trade it in for the answer?”

Really, a one-freaking-track mind. “Seriously? You don’t want to save that for a more humiliating time?”

He threw back his head, laughing uproariously. With what looked like great difficulty, he pulled himself together. “You’re right, I’ll save it. Maybe for when Liam is on the brink of snapping.”

Fuck, and he would do it too. Back to the point at hand, though. “Blind salvage—spill your guts.”

He walked toward me, stopping only when we were a bare inch apart. Just like on the rooftop. He was only a little taller than me, so he couldn’t pull off looking down his nose at me like Liam did.

“This salvage is not what you think it is. That’s what I can feel. You think you see the truth of it, but you don’t. There are forces I can’t divine, forces that are blocking me from seeing what they wish to hide. But the glimpses I’ve caught make me think that you could be tangling with a demon again. A Unicorn foal would be a perfect sacrifice … .”

His lip ring glinted in the firelight as he spoke and I found myself staring at it as I absorbed his words.

Doran lowered his voice. “Perhaps you would like me to cash in my kiss now?”