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Blood of the Lost(Rylee Adamson #10)(3) by Shannon Mayer

“Die,” Alex finished with a nod. “Okay, here goes. Tell Rylee I’m sorry if I can’t shift back.” He slipped out of his clothes, a lopsided grin on his face. “For after.”

The kid closed his eyes and his skin shimmered a split second before his body slid downward, black fur sprouting over him. His joints popped and tendons snapped as he shifted to the werewolf body he’d had before. Stuck somewhere between man and wolf.

Liam sucked in a sharp breath. Fuck, what if he’d been wrong? “Shift back. Now.”

In the back of his head, he could feel Faris’s curiosity. The vampire no longer had real ties to Alex, yet this was still something new. Something even he hadn’t seen in all his years.

Alex grunted, his long tongue flopping out across his big white canines. “Why?”

“Do it,” Liam snapped, using his strength as an Alpha to put more command into his words. Alex bowed his head and his body reversed the process, hair disappearing, body sliding back to a gangly teenage kid. Liam let out a slow breath.

Alex lifted his head, then grabbed his clothes. “Why you gotta be so damn bossy, boss?”

Faris took control, sliding forward with ease. Liam let him, feeling a deep sense of fatigue wash over him. Tired, he was so tired. For a moment, he felt Faris’s concern for him.

“He’s got to act bossy because he’s an alpha, and for some stupid reason he cares for you,” Faris said. “Now, let’s see what Rylee has up her sleeve.”

Alex bounded forward ahead of them, so much of him wolf-like even though no longer trapped in a wolf’s form.

Pausing in mid stride, Faris spoke to Liam. “Wolf, what’s going on?”

Faris’s words floated to him in a fog. I feel like I’m slipping away.

Faris stumbled to a stop. “No, you can’t. Not now.”

This was what Griffin had been talking about, the Veil being open and Liam’s spirit moving on. This was not the time for him to leave and he knew it.

I don’t know if I can stop it.

The vampire came to a standstill and they faced one another in a place that didn’t truly exist. Liam stared at Faris.

“What are you doing?”

His jaw twitched. “Rylee won’t survive without us. Without both of us. You know she won’t.”

“Knowing it and being able to do something about it are two different things.” Liam did his best not to completely lose his shit. “The Veil is pulling me, isn’t it? Now it’s open, and my spirit wants to cross over.”

Faris reached out and grabbed his hand. “You can’t go. Doran said—” He shook his head and seemed to gather himself. “Doran said we can save her. He said she’s going to die, prophecy dictates it. But you and I can save her. I don’t know how, he just said we had to be there at the end. Both of us.”

“I don’t want to leave her, Faris,” Liam said. “I don’t.”

“Then we have to bind ourselves together. It’s the only way to keep you here. You willing to share her? For good, until this body dies?”

Even though time was slipping by, Liam hesitated. Faris was a master manipulator. More than once he’d seemed to be on Rylee’s side, while he plotted his next move and set her up for whatever deeper game he played.

A tug shot through the middle of him, a jerk pulling him from Rylee.

“Do it. Bind us together.”

He hoped he wasn’t making a mistake.

Faris took his cutlass from his side and sliced through his palm. Blood welled, and even though Liam knew they weren’t in the physical world, it still looked and smelled real. He held out his hand. Faris slid the cutlass across his palm. There was no pain at the cut.

They stared at each other. “I love her,” Faris said softly. “I would do this for no other.”

The vampire’s words resonated with truth and Liam accepted there was no ulterior motive in him. Not this time. Faris was doing this for Rylee, to keep her alive.

To keep her safe. It was enough for him to trust the blood sucker.

Liam took the vampire’s hand. “Now what?”

“The words to bind are simple. Blood to blood, soul to soul, two as one, neither alone.”

He repeated the words and a gong seemed to toll within his chest cavity, resonating with the power of blood and the incantation. Their hands seemed to fuse and for just a split second he saw himself through Faris’s eyes.

Blink.

Dark hair, silvery golden eyes, squared jaw, body scarred.

Blink.

Someone who stood in his way, forced him to change plans.

Blink.

An ally in saving the woman they both loved.

Blink.

Shouting in the distance, a voice calling to him, telling him to open his eyes. But how could they be closed when he was blinking? Or was his life flickering in and out of focus? Yes, his life. Did Faris fool him?

“I did not fool you, Wolf. We bound ourselves together.” Sounded like Faris’s voice, but Liam was in control of the body.

“You fucking well did what?” Rylee yelled above them even as she dropped to her knees and wrapped her arms around his neck.

He sucked in a sharp breath and realized Faris had given him the reins for the moment without asking. He lay on his back staring at the night sky through a swath of Rylee’s auburn hair.

“What did he do to you, Liam?”

Putting a hand over hers, he gave her fingers a squeeze. “It’s okay. Faris and I came to a perfect understanding.”