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Blood of the Lost(Rylee Adamson #10)(5) by Shannon Mayer

I swallowed hard and raised my hands. Killing supernaturals attacking us was one thing; killing fairly harmless humans was something el—

The sound of a gun retort was followed by a sharp burning in my left forearm. I clamped my hand over it. I peeked under my fingers. Shot? I’d been shot. Not a deep wound; I was lucky the bullet had only skimmed me. The pain and shock snapped me out of my reluctance to hurt anyone. Flicking my hands outward, I sent a roll of pure power into the first wave of humans. It would fling them in all directions, at least fifteen feet back.

Yet even with that, though, there were too many of them. Like roaches swarming an infested house, they just kept coming, climbing over each other faster and faster.

Lark set a quick perimeter, dropping the earth in a huge hollow around us like a moat, which Cactus then filled with fire. A good number of the humans, though, were already on our side of the fiery barrier. Peta shifted to her snow leopard form and kept the humans from getting too close to Lark, her big paws downing them with ease.

I backed up, pulling my short sword and grateful Rylee insisted I learn more than magic when it came to fighting. The first human lunged at me and I didn’t bother with a spell. With a swift twist of my wrist, I slashed him across the chest, opening him. He fell to his knees, blinking at me. “Why would you hurt me?”

I stumbled back, horrified. “Pain makes them clear-headed.”

“Fuck” was all I heard from Rylee and then nothing more. I turned to see her tackled by eight or nine human men. They piled on her like she had the ball in a rugby game.

Blaz swept his wings forward and then back again, knocking most of the men off. Rylee rolled, and was on her feet in a flash, rubbing at her neck. The men who’d been attacking her lay on the ground, seemingly stunned.

Everyone mount. We have to get out of here. There are too many of these minions of Orion, Blaz snapped, his words hitting us all like a kick in the ass.

Alex ran for Eve, and I followed him. Berget and Liam mounted Marcus with the heavy curtains draped between them. Cactus and Lark with Peta climbed up Blaz behind Rylee and then we were all in the air with a whoosh of wings. Below us, there came a smattering of gunshots and a few cries of pain. I grinned over my shoulder at Alex. “Stupid humans.”

He grinned back. “Yeah, and I was one of them.”

I blanched and he dropped his forehead to my shoulder, laughing softly, the same way he had hundreds of times before. Same old Alex.

“Rylee,” I shouted across the divide between Eve and Blaz, “Where are we going?”

She looked to me and then over her shoulder to the elementals behind her. “That’s up to Lark.”

Lark gave a nod and lifted her right hand. “Head to the West Coast. You’re about to see something not even other supernaturals get to see. I’m taking you to the Rim.”

Alex breathed softly behind me, his exhalation ruffling my hair. “The Rim? What’s that, do you think?”

“I don’t know, but I guess we’re about to find out.”

Blaz banked hard to the right and we did a one-eighty, heading straight west.

Eve cocked her head and glanced back at us. “Alex, how do you feel now?”

He shrugged and leaned forward. “I don’t remember much of my time stuck in between forms, Eve. I have emotions attached to people, but that’s about it. I know who my family is.” He tightened his hold on me for a brief moment. “That’s all that matters, I think.”

She bobbed her head and swung closer to Blaz. I wanted to ask Rylee if she felt the same thing I did: escaping the human mob had been too easy.

Like maybe Orion was driving us toward something. I swallowed the fears spooled in me. Whatever we would face, we’d do it together. I placed a hand over Alex’s that rested on my stomach. I was with my family again, and we were whole in more ways than one. We’d lost people we loved—Frank’s face seemed to float in front of me for a moment—but we were together. And I had to believe that would be enough.

Please, let it be enough.

CHAPTER 4

LARK

THE AIR AROUND us was cool, with a hint of the coming dawn. The breeze and the sounds of the world around us were glorious to my freedom-starved body and mind.

Who was I kidding? If the air had been filled with smoke and ash, I would have been as happy.

Behind me, Cactus sat quietly. “Your father isn’t going to be happy you were broken out of the oubliette.”

That was an understatement. Then again, my father hadn’t been happy with me for a very long time. I was getting used to disappointing him.

Peta sniffed, sitting in my lap, curled around herself. Her green eyes all but glowed in the dim light. “Cactus, don’t point out the obvious.”

It felt as though I’d never gone missing, their banter back to where it left off.

“No, he’s not going to be happy. But there is no choice but to go to the Rim and get Jonathan. You know that.”

I felt more than saw him nod. Cactus was my oldest friend, the one who knew me the best and loved me despite the dark spots in my life.

And yet, I wished Ash were with me too. I missed him fiercely, as though a piece of me was gone, shattered against the rocks of lost hope. He’d been the one to train me as an Ender and protector of my home; the one to fight at my side as I’d struggled to find my place in the world. I closed my eyes, envisioning his face as I’d done every day I’d sat in the oubliette.

I kept a hand on Peta, letting her calm flow through me. Having her back was at least one wound bandaged. We’d been apart for too many years. A soft purr rumbled through her, as she picked up on the direction of my thoughts.