Blood of the Lost(Rylee Adamson #10)(15) by Shannon Mayer
She laughed softly and grabbed another handful of shirts from the rack. “Okay, let’s be teenagers, for now. No spells, no blood, no monsters.”
“Definitely that last,” I said and caught her eye. We burst into giggles like it was the most natural thing in the world.
Within minutes we were in the fitting room, swapping clothes under the door and leaping out at the same time with the most ridiculous of outfits on. And for those few brief moments, I was just Pamela, hanging out with a girlfriend.
There was nothing to be scared of, no future to wonder about.
No monsters, zombies, demons, or vampires trying to take us out.
And for that moment I forgot I was a witch and we were trying to save the world from being overrun by demons.
I LOOKED AT THE women’s clothes, found a pair of jeans that looked like they would fit, and a dark brown T-shirt. I slid out of my beat up clothes and pulled the human clothing on. My sister Belladonna would have loved to be here, picking outfits, and trying them on. I realized I was doing my best not to think about what had almost happened with Pestilence.
Sitting on top of a pile of cotton T-shirts, Peta stared hard at me.
“You know you were wrong, Lark,” she said softly.
I hunched my shoulders a little. “You don’t have to rub it in.”
“I’m not.” She let out a jaw-cracking yawn and then rubbed a paw over her face. “It’s my job to help you grow. Admitting your wrong when you are wrong is a way to do that.”
I frowned at her and she grinned back. Dropping my face to hers, she rubbed against me. “And I only do it because I love you.”
Scooping her into my arms, I held her to me. “Thanks, cat.”
“Anytime, dirt girl. And to soften this, you may have been wrong, but I believe something is wrong with Rylee. She is not herself.”
“I picked up on that too, but unless she opens herself, we can’t help her.”
I set her down and my mind immediately went back to the scene in the parking lot.
Rylee had come so close to being killed, and I’d been unable to do anything as my body was wracked with spasms. If Pamela hadn’t been there, and hadn’t been with it as much as she had, there would have been no way I could have helped Rylee in the end.
Cactus cleared his throat beside me. “You should try the green shirt. It’ll look better on you.”
“The green shirt is two sizes too small.”
“Yes, that’s what I said, it will look better on you.” He slapped my ass and I glared at him.
“Not now, Cactus. I’m not in the mood.”
A low grumbling hiss came from Peta. “Prick, keep your hands to yourself.”
“What? You two badass girls kicked that demon into the seventh Veil, everyone is still alive; what more could you want?” He backed away from Peta a bit. He’d learned the hard way not to ignore her.
I finished buttoning the jeans and tugged at the T-shirt. “It didn’t go as planned. The whole thing fell to pot as soon as Pestilence arrived. I’m supposed to help Rylee get to the final battle with Orion, but how can I do that if I can’t even run a play?”
“What? Have you been watching football?” He smiled at me and I swatted him on the arm.
“Cactus, you know what I mean.”
“I don’t understand why it’s such an issue. When you first started as an Ender, you didn’t exactly plan things. You tried, but then you rolled with the punches as things shifted and changed.”
How did I explain to him this was different? Lives were on the line, but when I was younger, those lives wouldn’t affect the outcome of the whole world.
Rylee’s life would. And I was determined to see her through to the end, no matter what.
“You have to let her do her thing, Lark. You have to. No matter how hard it is for you to let go, this isn’t your hunt. It’s hers. We can only try to manage the fall out, whatever it might be.”
Goblin piss and worm shit, he was right, and I felt that from Peta too. She knew it as well as I did. “See if you can find me a belt, would you?”
He leaned in. “Don’t I get a kiss for helping you figure out you were wrong?”
I lifted my hand and squeezed his cheeks until his lips puckered. “No. I told you we would have this discussion later.”
“It is later,” he spit out through puckered lips.
“Not late enough,” I murmured as I walked away from him, Peta following me. Rylee was a few aisles over, rifling through the tank tops. “Hey.”
She looked at me, her tri-colored eyes swirling. “Hey, nice digs.”
I glanced down at myself. “Listen, I shouldn’t have tried to take control back there. This is your show, so you lead and I will follow.”
Her eyebrows shot up. “Why the sudden change in heart? Admitting you’re wrong doesn’t seem like something you’d ever do, what with the whole ‘I’m an elemental and I’m better than you’ shit you’ve got going on.”
I had to bite my tongue not to respond to the dig and remind myself she was not herself in the least. “Oh, Cactus reminded me I was not so unlike your leap-before-you-look style when I was younger. And that I managed to survive my own crazy ideas. Of course, he also pointed out I am support for you in this. I’m one of the keys to the final battle, but right now? This is your show.”
She gave a slow nod. “Thanks. You do realize I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing, right?”