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Blood of the Lost(Rylee Adamson #10)(17) by Shannon Mayer

And a small piece of Liam was grateful to have the vampire with him, navigating these new waters with Rylee.

She closed her eyes. “I’m not scared to die; that isn’t what terrifies me. But leaving Marcella does. She’s so little. How will she know how much I love her if I’m not there to tell her? How will she know I would willingly go through everything in my life a hundred times if it would take me to her? The thought of never seeing her again, of not watching her grow up, eats at me like nothing I’ve ever felt, and I don’t think I can do it. I can’t leave her. I know I can’t.”

Her head bowed forward until it touched his chest. What the hell was he supposed to say to that? He blinked several times while trying to formulate the right words, but Faris beat him to it.

“You will never lose her, Rylee. Even if you die, you would never be away from her. She would carry you in her heart, and see you in the mirror every morning the same way I carry my sister. You never truly lose the ones you love, and I believe my sister even now walks with me in my darkest hours.”

She let out a sob. “It isn’t the same as holding her when she cries out from a nightmare. Or seeing her off to her first day of school. Or watching her go on her first date with the boy down the street.”

“No, it’s not.” He tipped her head up and kissed her, holding her tightly to him as if his love would somehow protect her from her fears, from the path that lay ahead. There was a desperate urgency to the kiss, as if for the first time she let herself feel it. Their mouths were hot against each other, and if they had been alone he knew what would have happened. Even as it was, his hands found their way under her tank top and slid along her skin, feeling the tremble of her muscles as she leaned into him. A groan slipped out of her, a whisper of his name.

Gently he pulled back, keeping his forehead pressed against hers. “No matter what happens, I am with you, Rylee. You are not alone in this, and Marcella will be loved beyond that of any child in this world because of the people who love you, the people you’ve touched in your life.”

She rubbed the back of her neck. Her eyes narrowed and she snapped at him, “Stop trying to soften this shit, Liam.”

Kiss her. The thought came over him and he acted on it, pressing his lips to hers. Her eyes softened and she kissed him back, tentatively. A few tears trickled down her cheeks. What the hell was wrong with her? None of this was like her. Tough, yes, that would always be a trait of hers. But not this snapping, lashing out she’d been doing. Something was happening to her.

Slowly, she nodded, and he could almost see the resolve harden in her eyes once more. “Sorry I’m being such a fucking baby.”

He cupped her face. “Your eyes are even more beautiful when you cry.”

She took his hands and gave them a squeeze before pushing him away. “Get out of here, you two. Round everyone up, we need to move.”

The moment was over, but Liam felt the shift in her, as did Faris.

She would love them both.

And they were good with that.

CHAPTER 11

RYLEE

LIAM STRODE AWAY as I reached to the back of my neck and the throbbing ache that beat in time with my heart.

I ran my finger over the bump . . . and it moved.

“Fucking hell,” I breathed out, horror flickering through me followed swiftly by a thunderous roll of fatigue and a sense of hopelessness so deep I knew I’d never be able to get back out. I might as well lay down and die right there. The fatigue was all bound up with an anger so intense I thought I would burst with wanting to lash out at those around me. They were not the friends I’d thought they were.

The emotional pendulum swung back the other direction.

What was the point in fighting if I was going to die anyway?

Blaz called to me, but I couldn’t answer him; I couldn’t see past the blackness that had come for me.

The sounds of my friends around me in the store echoed to me as if from a great distance, and I silently said my goodbyes to them, begging them to understand that I was not strong enough.

Hands were touching me, trying to hold me up.

“She’s not breathing.”

“What is it, what happened to her?”

“I think she’s been demon stung; they must have implanted something in her when the humans mobbed us. Cactus, grab my spear, we need the blade if we can find the entrance point.”

The world as I knew it faded, and I stood on a white plane of sand, wind whipping around my face and lashing me with my own hair. In front of me stood a man with long black hair streaked with white and silver, his back stooped as if he were about to pick something up off the ground.

I took a step toward him. “Where am I?”

“Desolation, Tracker. You are in desolation.”

“And who the hell are you?”

A sigh slipped out of him. “I am the demon who brought you here. My name is Moloch.”

My hands went to my swords, but they weren’t on my back. “I suggest, Moloch, you send me back. Right fucking now.”

He looked up at me from under his long hair, a rather soft smile on his face. His eyes flickered red, but there was no menace in him, which didn’t jive for me. Not with a demon. “Tracker, not all demons want Orion to succeed. I am one of those who oppose him, but the only way I could speak to you is if I was a part of your body and brought you to the edge of death. It is how my abilities work.”

Swallowing hard, I forced myself to hold my ground as he approached me, limping. “You’re the reason I’ve been so fucking emotional, aren’t you?” The rest of his words sunk in. “Wait . . . the edge of death, are you fucking kidding me?”