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Blind Salvage(Rylee Adamson #5)(17) by Shannon Mayer

My eyes snapped up to his, my mind about as far from that as it had ever been. “I’ll pass.”

“Too bad.”

“Goodbye, Doran.”

I stepped back from him and spun on my heel. Jogging down the driveway, I passed through the mirrored reflection that kept his home hidden from human view and back onto the human plain. Demons, damn, lately it seemed to be always coming back to those nasty f**kers. Hoarfrost demon, then the prophecies about Orion, and now this. If this salvage was because a demon had snatched the foal, there wouldn’t be a lot of time to get her back alive.

With a sacrifice, there would be some sort of time period that would have to be perfect. If I could figure that out, I would know how much time we had to succeed in getting Calliope away. I wouldn’t think about the other alternative.

I jogged around to my side of the truck and slid in, rubbing my hands together. Whatever conversation the two men were having ended the second I opened the door.

I turned the key over in the ignition. “Don’t let me keep you two hens from gossiping.”

Dox chuckled, but it was strained. Forced. I lifted my eyes to Liam’s in the rearview mirror, but there was no hint there, either. What the hell had they been talking about? Curiosity flowed through me. I couldn’t help it.

“What?”

Dox cleared his throat. “I was waiting for you to finish telling Liam about the veil.”

A blatant lie, his face flushed up and he wouldn’t meet my eyes. Interesting. But I went along with it.

“Okay, where do you think we should start?” I checked the traffic as I pulled off Shawnee Road onto the main drag. Tracking Calliope, I focused on her, let her threads pull me in her direction.

Dox clapped his hands together, like the sound of two giant meaty symbols clashing. “You know about using your second sight to part the mirrored reflections?”

Liam nodded. “I figured that out pretty early on.”

Yup, that had been the first time I’d tried to leave him behind. It hadn’t worked so well.

“Well, the thing with the veil is, a human has to use a physical entry point in order to cross over. And just because they use that point, doesn’t mean they will actually be able to cross.”

Liam started to lean forward and the engine sputtered. He moved as far back as he could and the truck continued on.

“What do you mean? Like it won’t always work?”

Dox shook his head. “Not for a human, no. The entry points for crossing the veil always work for a supernatural, but not so much for a human. Actually, not so much for a human ever unless—”

“Unless they’re holding onto a supernatural?” Liam offered.

Again, Dox nodded. “Right, and those physical entry points can be anywhere, though it might seem like there are a lot, there aren’t more than one or two per state.”

It was my turn to do a jaw drop. “One or two per state? Holy shit sticks.”

The ogre laughed and leaned back in his chair. “Yeah, that I know of.”

“What, you’ve got a map of entry points?” Now I was asking the questions. As well as Giselle had trained me, and for all my experience, I still had a lot to learn, because, damn, every time I turned around, there was something new. Something dangerous and brutal. I could only imagine how Liam felt being thrown into the deep end of the pool with me when even I floundered. Then again, so far he’d handled it as if it were just another day at the office.

Liam reached forward, his fingers just brushing along my shoulder. “You think Milly has a map of the entry points?”

“Hell, I hope not,” I said, though I knew there was a good chance she did. Would explain how she was able to move around, even before she learned to jump the veil.

“Speaking of her, what the hell happened with you two?” Dox again shifted his weight, long legs obviously cramped even in his big truck. I was saved from having to talk about Milly by a red light pinging on the dashboard. I tapped it with one finger.

“We’re running low on diesel. I’ll take the next exit.” I flicked my blinker on, checked my mirrors and pulled off the interstate. The thing was, Milly was on my shit list, and nothing could change that. There would have to be an absolute miracle for her to no longer be on the wrong end of my sword. Yet even with that, with my resolve to end things with her, it still hurt me. Made me vulnerable to her. More than anything, I was happy to have dodged that particular conversation. Much as I hated her now, Milly had been my closest friend at one time. Had been like my sister. Which I had no doubt was why when she betrayed not only me, but Giselle too, the rage she inspired in me was like nothing I’d ever felt before. Love and hate, so entwined in me when it came to Milly, it was like a physical pain. One I avoided as much as possible.

Fuelling up didn’t take long, and then Liam offered to drive. Dox, laughing, shook his head. “Don’t think that’s a good idea, man. You need to ride in the back seat, as far from the engine as possible.”

With a frown, Liam climbed back in, but he didn’t argue. I stretched my back and legs before getting into the truck on the passenger side, feeling my vertebrae pop and my muscles protest the movement. My body was pretty much all healed up, but sitting for so long made me stiff.

Dox started the truck, the engine turning over twice before it coughed to life.

“Now, you were about to tell me what happened with Milly?”

Shit.

“I don’t want to talk about it.” I slumped in my seat like a sullen child and closed my eyes.

“I didn’t ask if you wanted to talk about it. I asked what happened.”

Liam made a choking sound in the back seat and I whipped around to see him looking at me all too innocently. I narrowed my eyes at him, but he just smiled.

I shifted in my seat so that I could stare out the windshield. “She tried to kill Alex, Eve, and Liam, and succeeded in killing Giselle.”

Dox’s hands tightened on the steering wheel. “Giselle’s gone?”

I lifted my feet and set them on the dash. “Yeah. Just before I headed to London.”

“Shit! Rylee, I didn’t know. How is it that Milly’s still alive then?” He knew me well enough, apparently.

“She’s pregnant,” I said, softly.

“Oh.”

That one word encompassed it all. I couldn’t kill her while she was pregnant or I’d be breaking my oaths. And as much as she might be willing to do that, I wasn’t.

“Since we’re spilling secrets,” I said, spinning in my seat and setting my feet against the middle console. “Why did you get booted out of ogre country? Or is Doran wrong about that?”

The ogre’s mouth thinned to a tight blue line. Hmm. Interesting.

“Hello, Dox? I asked you a question.” I tapped a foot on the console, but his hands just tightened on the wheel and his mouth thinned even more, if that was possible.

“I told you about Milly.”

He hunched his shoulders. “This is different.”

“Really, why?”

“Because it is.”

Gods, childish much? “Is it going to affect this salvage, the reason you were booted out?” I needed to know at least that much.

He tipped his head a little to one side, and the tip of his tongue flicked out and touched the ring through the middle of his lower lip before he answered. “It shouldn’t.”

Well, as long as he was right, I couldn’t get too pissy. I let him be. I could see that there was going to be no convincing him at this point to say anything more than he already had. Maybe later. Though, if what Doran had said was true, and Dox had been kicked out because of some perceived weakness, we could actually have more difficulty with him along for the ride than if we were going in alone. Liam chilled in the back seat, his hand resting on the console next to mine. Not touching me, just being there.

“What did Doran tell you?”

I didn’t want to keep anything from Liam, but telling him that Doran thought I was going to fall in love with someone else was not high on my list of priorities, even if it was weighing on my mind as heavily as the salvage.

“He thinks that there might be a demon and a sacrifice involved.”

Liam groaned. “Haven’t we already done this once?”

“Yes, so we should be f**king amazing at it this time, don’t you think?”

Dox barked out a startled laugh. “You’re kidding, right?”

I shook my head. “Nope. But then, Doran could be wrong.”

Liam rubbed his hands together, and then leaned back in his seat again. “Anything else?”

Almost like he knew I was holding back. So I spilled about everything else, about how Doran could read me a little, about some of what he thought he saw for me.

About trying to kiss me. Liam’s jaw tensed up with that. “And?”

I frowned at him. “And what? I didn’t kiss him. He’s saving it so he can royally piss you off at some point.”

Dox snickered. “Yeah, that sounds like Doran.”

Liam didn’t ask anymore questions after that, thank the gods, and since I wasn’t much of a talker and Dox didn’t seem inclined to encourage a conversation, there was pretty much radio silence. And in the most literal sense too, since the radio wouldn’t work with the three of us in the truck.

At least there were no rampant wolf farts. A twinge settled around my heart at the thought of Alex. I missed him, missed his constant companionship; even Liam couldn’t really compete with that, though I’d never tell him. Alex, there had been something special about him from the beginning, even if I’d been loathe to admit it.

Hell, I missed Pamela, even though in some ways it would be easier to do this salvage without the whole freaking three-ring circus. I missed them. And I was worried as hell about Eve.

Fuck it, Doran was right, my life was a big ass mess of trials. I wanted to cross my fingers that he would be wrong about them never ending.

Every few hours Dox and I swapped out driving so that we didn’t have to stop. Though Calliope’s threads hummed along nicely, I was worried. A demon sacrifice, if Doran was right, might mean we had a little time. If it was just the Roc, we had zero time. And if there was something in between that had taken the Roc over and was trying to raise a demon, we were royally screwed. For some reason, I was betting on the last scenario. It was just a matter of who was controlling the Roc, and who was trying to make a sacrifice to a demon and why.