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Blood of the Lost(Rylee Adamson #10)(6) by Shannon Mayer

There was a creak of the leather rigging as Rylee twisted in her seat, and I opened my eyes. The swirling colors of her irises didn’t bother me; they weren’t that different from my own strangely colored eyes.

“Jonathan. That’s the kid we’re going after?”

“Not really a kid. He’d be about sixteen, now, I guess,” I said. “He is the reason you and I met. I wonder if Giselle knew we had to meet before this moment, and set it up. The shadow walker that stole Jonathan never really had a great purpose for taking him.”

She frowned and I watched her struggle with the new information. “I’d like to say Giselle wouldn’t fuck around like that, but when she saw something she thought needed doing, she did it.” She said.

“Yes, she was like that.” I glanced at Peta, as I debated how much to say about Jonathan. “The automatic writer; he’s not going to seem all that important at first. He will be another psychic who can give you a glimpse into your future.”

Rylee shook her head. “Not possible. Immune, remember?”

“He will have ways around that,” I replied. “The reality is, he already knows he’s going to be at the final battle. He saw it as a kid. And while certain players are going to appear more important than him”—I paused, looking for the right words—“He will be able to show you things no one else can.”

“A whole new world?” Her eyebrow arched and a smile flitted over her lips.

I stared at her. “I hear the mockery in your voice, Rylee. You forget that every person in your circle has a reason for being here. We are all needed to defeat Orion. One piece missing, no matter how miniscule, could cause our failure and Orion’s triumph.”

The smile faded, and her eyes swirled faster, the tri-colors blending and diving into one another. She took a slow breath. “Okay, I get it. But there are other things that are fucking dodgy right now, Lark.”

“What?”

“There are four horsemen out there: war, famine, pestilence, and death. I don’t think that human mob was our real stumbling block, do you?”

Damn, she reminded me of . . . no . . . I wasn’t going there. My past memories were all I had trapped in that damn oubliette. And they were raw, like open wounds gouged over and over, never allowed to heal.

I stared into the dark sky ahead of us. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we have at least one of them waiting for us along the way. Demons and their goblin piss surprise attacks. I hate them.”

Her eyes flickered. “Have you dealt with many demon attacks before?”

This was where things got sticky. I couldn’t tell her everything, not yet, maybe not ever.

Peta gave a slight shake of her head. This was one of those times I was glad Rylee and the other supernaturals couldn’t hear my familiar. Only my own kind could. “You can’t tell her,” Peta said. That’s what I was afraid of.

“I’ve dealt with them enough that I know to be careful and always assume the worst.”

Rylee laughed, but it was bitter and cynical. “Like that’s any different than the rest of my life.”

I wasn’t a touchy feely kind of person, but I could feel her spirit flagging, spiraling downward. Though I didn’t know her well, I knew it wasn’t like her to mope.

Reaching out, I put a hand on her shoulder and squeezed gently. “Don’t think like that, Rylee. That is what Orion wants. He wants you to forget why you’re here, why you’re so important, and what it is you’re saving.”

A quick roll of her shoulders removed my hand. “Don’t try and soften this, Lark. I fucking well know what I’m going into.”

I grabbed her shoulder and half-spun her to face me. “Perhaps I know more than you think, you little fool. If you go into this battle with a hard heart, he will win. Do you understand me? If you go in believing the worst, he will win. If you go in having already given up, he will win.”

Her jaw flexed and her eyes narrowed, the three colors swirling faster as her temper rose. “Let go of me, Lark.”

“Not until I’m sure you understand.”

She shoved my hand off again. “Don’t fucking touch me, Elemental.”

“Then don’t be stupid and think you know everything. You don’t.” I leaned back, glaring at her as she glared right back at me.

Below us the dragon let out a low rumble.

I hate to interrupt, but I need to talk to Rylee.

I let out a breath. Cactus put a hand on either side of my hips. “She’ll come around, Lark. She has to.”

That was the thing. If Rylee couldn’t find it in her to still believe in the impossible, believe we could defeat Orion, we were done before we even stepped foot onto the battlefield.

She had to find that courage again. That strength had brought her this far. Worm shit, why of all times did this have to be the moment she started to doubt herself?

I had less than three days to help her find her heart strength.

Shit on a green stick, this was going to be tough.

CHAPTER 5

RYLEE

TAKE A BREATH, Rylee. She is trying to help you. Blaz’s voice flowed over me and with it a sense of calm. But I didn’t want to be calm. I wanted to be angry because the anger helped me block the fear swiftly wrapping around my heart. How the hell Lark had known, I could only guess.

Her connection to Spirit, Rylee; she can sense when you falter. Hell, even I felt it. Why now? What has brought you so low?