Immune(Rylee Adamson #2)(11) by Shannon Mayer
Rylee slumped into her seat, closed her eyes as thunder rumbled the entire SUV. Sitting up straight, she stared out into the swirling snow.
“Did you feel that?”
Oh, shit, he had a bad feeling about this. “Yes. Thunder.”
“No, not thunder.” Her eyes scanned the darkness and snow. She pointed ahead of them. “Just try to avoid them, they aren’t going to cause us any problem, but if you hit one then we’ll be in trouble.”
He strained his eyes, leaning forward. “What are you talking about?”
A large, white, furred body slid out from in front of them, the fur tipped with silver highlights not unlike Alex’s coat, but other than that he couldn’t tell what he was looking at.
He fought not to hammer on the brake, knowing it would send them into a spin. “What are they?”
Rylee crawled over the console and into the front seat, buckling herself in.
She smiled, and it lit up her face. “I think I’ll make you guess. But don’t worry, as long as we don’t bother them, they won’t bother us.”
He slowed down, blinking several times as one large, furred, almost human body came fully into view. Human in shape, not in size, the thing was fifteen feet or better in height. It grinned down at him and his mind struggled to put the pieces together.
Yeti, bigfoot, abominable snowman. The creature towered over the SUV, and it blended in so well with the surrounding area it made his eyes water to stare at it. The way it moved was like nothing he’d ever seen, as if it were a part of the elements, blending into the snow and the wind.
“It’s a part of their camouflage. If I hadn’t pointed them out, you never would have seen them. Like so much of the supernatural, you humans have no idea what you’re looking at most of the time, or write off what you see, as a trick of the eyes.” She waved up at one of the creatures and it grinned down at her, waving back. Alex got excited, hopping up and down, finally managing to roll down a window.
“No, Alex, it’s too cold,” O’Shea barked, thinking about the loss of heat for Adamson.
Her fingers stole over his bicep, gripping it lightly, and she shook her head. “It’s okay, I’m still warm.” The heat from her skin on his shot through him, straight to his groin, at the thought of those fingers sliding other places. Rylee seemed amused at his total disbelief; the anger in the air draining away from them both as they watched the large creatures dance in the snow.
Alex hung halfway out the window, howling and waving at the creatures as they thumped around, their heavy footsteps sounding like distant rolls of thunder.
“There is no way we could miss them, they’re too huge, and they leave footprints,” O’Shea said, just as they left the . . . herd . . . of creatures behind.
“You think creatures like that haven’t learned how to hide their passing? Come on, O’Shea, they aren’t mindless. They think like you and me, like Dox and Alex. Just because they’re supernatural doesn’t mean they’re stupid.”
She snorted; Alex pulled himself back in and pressed the window button delicately with the tip of one claw. “Fuuuuuunnnnnnyyyyyy!” He howled, hopping up and down.
O’Shea tightened his grip on the steering wheel. “Anything else I should expect, in the way of creatures?”
Rylee smiled over at him, a distinct twinkle in her eye. “Oh, Mr. Agent man, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”
Great, just fantastic. More creatures than he could identify, a werewolf in his back seat howling at the top of his lungs, a woman he was as confused about as he’d ever been, and snowstorm that wouldn’t let up.
This was going to be some trip.
We rolled to a stop on the outskirts of New Mexico, right in front of the welcome sign. O’Shea leaned forward and put his head on the steering wheel, a tired sigh escaping him. “Please tell me that doesn’t mean what I think it does.”
I glanced up at the big billboard sign. “The Land of Enchantment. What, you never read the sign before?”
“Tell me it doesn’t mean we are stepping into. . .”
The smile that spread across my lips went unnoticed by him. “A land full of enchantment and the supernatural? You bet. Look, the agent can learn things.” I clapped my hands together and Alex mimicked me, clapping his big mitts together over and over.
O’Shea let out a groan. “Can you drive?”
“I thought you’d never ask.” We switched spots, me climbing over the seats so I wouldn’t have to go outside. While New Mexico was hot as hell in the summer, the winters could be just as bad, even worse than those in North Dakota. O’Shea and I swapped and a flurry of ice filled wind snaked into the SUV before we could stop it. The storm front must have been covering a larger area than we thought. At least I hoped that was all we were dealing with. I wanted Faris to be wrong. I wanted to believe what the Hoarfrost demon had stuck me with wouldn’t cause all this bad weather following us around. All the way through Wyoming and Colorado we’d been chased by the snow, only a few spots were clear and those quickly disappeared.
Rubbing my arms, I buckled up, and headed for Dox’s place, my mind whirling with possibilities. My plan was to drop Alex and O’Shea off, then head to Doran’s on my own. No need for the Daywalker Shaman to realize he could have collateral in my friends.
Speaking of friends, The Landing Pad was a pub and hotel run by one of the few I could call friend, a blue-skinned ogre that seemed to be waiting for us, if him standing on the front stoop of the pub was any indication. We pulled in and he was scooping me into his arms before I could fully get out of the SUV.
“Rylee, this is bad, so bad. I didn’t think you were coming.”
I felt a twinge of guilt. I hadn’t come for him, but now that I was here, I would do my best to help him in the time I had.
Alex scrambled to get out, yelping about brownies, scratching the shit out of the leather seats in the process. I distantly wondered if O’Shea was going to catch hell for the deep gouges.
“Hey, Dox.” The ogre put me down, the rings in his nose, lips and eyebrows winking at me. One day I’d have to ask him why he had none in his ears.
A sharp intake of air turned my head. O’Shea was staring at us, eyes wide. What was his problem now?
“Adamson, you forgot to mention Dox wasn’t human.” He said, his voice controlled, but not altogether steady.
Oh, that was the problem. Right. Now that O’Shea knew what he was looking at, Dox’s method of hiding what he was wouldn’t work anymore.
“Dox, meet Agent O’Shea. Again,” I said, indicating they should shake.
Dox reached over and took one of O’Shea’s hands in his, engulfing it completely. “O’Shea, try not to diss my place again. It’ll go badly for you this time.”
Ogres and subtlety, like oil and water. He made me smile.
I cleared my throat. “Inside.” I strode for the doors, fighting the urge to buckle under the cold. My reaction to the weather seemed to be getting worse each time. Not a good sign.
Dox started in on the questions right away. “Do you think you can Track Louisa? And why is there a Harpy in my back yard?”
How did I tell him Louisa was second on my list of salvages when I was here? I reached for Ricky, and though he was very distant, I could feel his life force. Still good, and still sleeping. That was a bit of a concern. Had they drugged him to keep him quiet? It was possible. We had to hurry, I couldn’t be here long.
“Harpy first.” I glanced around the room. “Dox, you got anything that will keep me warm?”
He pointed to a heavy hunk of fur hanging off a hook. “Buffalo robe should do it. Those things will keep the worst weather out, better than any man-made crap you’ll buy from a store.”
The robe smelled like a mixture of booze, smoke and licorice. Slipping it on, I shifted under it. It had to be over twenty-five pounds, but already my body was warming up under it, a perfect barrier to the cold.
Jogging to the back of the motel, I could see Eve was in fine form, dozing in the sunshine in spite of the cold temperature. Her head bobbed up as we rounded the corner.
“Rylee! You’re here already. I thought you would be longer.” She cocked her head to one side.
“Complications.” I said.
“Is there anything I can do to help?”
Clinging to the robe, I fingered the inner lining, feeling the nicks where the animal had been skinned, while I debated how much to tell her at this point. I had to go see Doran, and that I would need to do alone. A hip bumped into mine and I dropped a hand onto Alex’s head. This was stumbling block number one. O’Shea moved up to flank me on the other side. And there was stumbling block number two. Call it a hunch, but I had a feeling Doran wouldn’t be all that helpful if O’Shea was hovering, or if I had a werewolf at my heels.
“Yes, I think so. O’Shea, would you take Alex inside?”
Shit, what a good question. “For brownies.”
I gave Dox sideways look he caught with ease. He would be the only one not to stand in my way. Alex started to squeal, his body shaking, “Browniiiiieeeesss! YAY!”
O’Shea took me by the arm and stared down at me. “Give me the keys.”
I pulled the SUV keys out of my pocket and dropped them into his hand. “Here. See? I just want to talk to Eve for a minute.” Keeping my eyes wide and innocent, I knew the agent could see through my charade. The thing was, he had no idea what I was up to. Perfect.
Clenching the keys tights, he backed up. “I’ll give you some room, but I’m not letting you out of my sight. You shouldn’t be on your own right now.”
Dox watched the back and forth between us, finally pursing his lips. “Well, I’ll take the werewolf inside, let you two have your little lovers spat on your own.”
I gasped, shocked that not only would Dox so quickly see my hang ups, but that he would air them out.
“We are not—”