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Immune(Rylee Adamson #2)(19) by Shannon Mayer

“Tut, tut. Such language on a young lady like yourself.” His eyes glinted and he stepped closer, blue eyes shining like jewels, his hands snaking around me faster than I could react. “I like it.”

I jerked away from him, slamming my fist up where his chin had been only to find empty air. Faris was standing to one side of me, smiling as if he had all the time in the world. Being a vampire, that wasn’t entirely untrue.

“What do you want?” I’d asked it before, but the f**ker didn’t seem inclined to tell me the truth.

“I want your trust. I want you to come and work for me.”

I was shaking my head before he finished the first sentence. “Nope. Something else? ‘Cause if not, I’ve got things to do, people to see, asses to kick.”

Laughing, he strolled in a circle around me. “Doran told you something, something that sparked your interest. Ask me the question, I wish to prove you can trust me.”

In the back of my mind I was trying to wake up, thinking if I could just wake up then I could . . . what, never go back to sleep again? No, but at least right now I would be away from him.

“Okay, tell me about vampire politics.”

He blinked as if I’d asked him an unexpected question. “That is not something I can share with you. Though I suspect you will find out more than you ever wanted to know when it comes to vampires soon enough.”

“Then why the fu . . . heck are you here? What possible reason have you got for disrupting my sleep?” Damn, if he liked a potty mouth, the last thing I wanted to do was swear in front of him.

Faris folded his arms and bowed his head almost as if he were praying. “You don’t seem to understand the stakes.” He chuckled at some joke I obviously wasn’t getting. “You will belong to me, one way or another.”

He lunged at me and I reacted, flipping into a backwards handspring, catching him in the jaw with my boot. With a roar, he came at me, blood dripping from his lips, fangs lowering. It was like fighting with the wind; I couldn’t pin him down, his speed was nothing I had ever experienced before.

Despite my best efforts, it took him less than a minute to have me pinned below him. Bucking and writhing, I attempted to throw him off me, but his bloody grin only grew wider. “We can help each other, Rylee. You stand with me, when the time comes, and I’ll give you anything you want.”

Glaring up at him, fighting the panic that was rising, I didn’t dare say anything.

“Now tell me, there’s nothing you want?”

“Nothing you can give me.”

His voice lowered to a whisper. “What about . . . Berget?”

“She’s dead, long ago.”

“Then why can’t you Track her, isn’t that what you do?” The condescension in his voice set me to fighting again, but he held me easily, whispering into my ear. “I know you’ve seen her, what if I could give her to you, whole, the child she once was?”

I closed my eyes, tremors wracking me. “No, you’re a liar.” But even to me my voice sounded weak.

His words, though whispered, were made all the more powerful by the fact that there was so much I would give to have what he offered. “I would give you the world, if you would stand with me, Tracker. Everything you want, your sweet little sister, your wolf, I would even let you keep your FBI agent, if you like. I don’t mind sharing.”

Faris eased off my body, but I lay there on the ground, eyes squinted shut.

“What is your answer, Tracker, Rylee? Will you take my offer? I will not make it again. Your sister for your loyalty to me. A simple oath.”

Gods forgive me for what I was about to do, I loved her too much to deny his words, and there was only one answer I could give him.

“Go to hell, you nasty motherfucker.”

12

Rage twisted the vampire’s features and he dove at me. Claws dug into my side as the vampire’s teeth grazed my face, and I jerked awake to find Alex whimpering beside me.

“Someone comes.”

Mouth dry, pulse hammering, I rolled from the bed and dry heaved. Shaking hard, I fought to get myself under control.

“Who is it?”

“Bird.”

Bird? “Eve?”

Alex shook his head, letting out a low whimper.

Who else but Eve . . . my mind was slow to grasp the threads.

Bird, Eagle Guardian. Shit! That was the last thing we needed. “Come on, we gotta go,” I said, forcing the sleep from my limbs, opening the balcony door, then pushing a rusted iron patio chair under the knob. It might buy us a few minutes if we were lucky.

The balcony was only about ten feet up, not too far, and Alex leapt over the railing, landing lightly below. “Catch Rylee,” he yelped, holding out his arms, standing awkwardly on his back feet.

“Get out of the way.” I waved him off, settled for shimmying down until I could hang from the bottom of the balcony, and then let go. The drop was negligible, but still, Alex grabbed me mid-air.

“Gotcha!”

“Yes, great. We’ve got to go.”

A human scream echoed out above us, twisting and changing until it became the scream of hunting eagle. The glass door shattered as the Guardian burst through, form shifting from man to eagle as he threw himself into open air.

“Find her,” I yelled, pushing Alex ahead of me. We had to get back on Louisa’s trail; if we couldn’t find it, we were screwed.

Arms and legs pumping, I followed Alex, keeping my eyes partially on him, partially on the bright blue sky above. Glimpses of wings teased at the peripheral of my vision. Alex stopped near a slim trail between two homes and I crouched beside him.

“No Louisa. Smell is gone.” He pointed to the ground and, though I saw nothing, I trusted him. Gods be damned, we were going to have to backtrack again. That, or her scent was just too old. I didn’t want to think about that possibility. If we couldn’t find her soon, I was afraid we would be too late for everyone. Louisa, Ricky, and me and my demon venom.

“Let’s go back, pick up the last spot you found the trail,” I said, but we hadn’t taken two steps before a shadow passed over the sun.

The whoosh of wings, and the air around us kicked up dust. Spinning, the giant Eagle shifted into his man form, a formidable opponent in either case.

He spoke low and angry, his words a slew of nonsense to my ears, the Navajo language, if I was hearing it right. I was able to pick out a few words I’d heard Louisa use. Angry, death words. This was a bad spot, one I was pretty sure we were stuck in. Now, I regretted leaving Eve and O’Shea behind. Too little, too late.

We backed away from the Guardian and, though I knew it was useless, I tried to appease him. Hands out, I said, “We’re here to help, not hurt. Louisa, Crystal . . .” buggered if I could remember all the Shaman’s names. His eyes narrowed as I stopped listing them off. We couldn’t keep running and just hope we would out maneuver the Guardian. I was going to have to rely on my ability to talk to people, convince him we meant no harm.

In other words, we were in deep shit.

Whether it was the moon that rode him, or his affection for me, I have no idea, but Alex took that moment to be brave. Scrabbling around from behind me, he stood in front, hackles raised, hair standing on end. “No hurt Ryleeeeeee!” He howled, teeth gnashing.

The Eagle man stood, staring first at the werewolf, then up at me, then back to the wolf. He was tall, six foot at least with nearly black eyes, but a shock of white hair, the same as the eagle he embodied. Leaner than the bear Guardian, every muscle he had was obvious as he took his time looking us over, assessing us. I had the feeling we came up short in his evaluation, as his eyes narrowed and he gave a snort of derision.

I fingered my blades, knowing they would do no good. I wouldn’t fight him unless my hand was forced. I took a breath, adrenaline flooding me, my muscles bunching to sprint away from danger. But the Guardian surprised me.

“Guardian Wolf.” He gestured long fingers at Alex, and then his posture relaxed, eyes softening. Maybe we weren’t so out of luck.

“Yes. We’re here to help the Shamans. To find and free them.”

His long white hair shifted in the breeze, and he held his hand out to me. “Eagle will take you there.”

“You know where they are held?” Damn, this was better and better.

Eagle nodded. “Come. You free them and I will spare you.”

Trust was not something that came easy to me, yet like a war chief of old, I thought the Guardian would honour his word. Dropping one hand on Alex’s head, I stroked him behind the ears. “I can’t leave my wolf.”

“I will carry him.”

What other choice did I have? I could try and fight our way out, but since I’d already decided Eagle was worth trusting, it seemed silly to even consider fighting. Still, I wasn’t about to actually let him carry us. That was just asking for trouble.

A hot wind snapped down the alley and Eagle shifted his form, smoothly, with barely a ruffle of his feathers.

“We will follow on foot. You lead.”

Eagle bobbed his head once and sprung from the ground, straight up. Stepping from the alleyway, I wondered for not the first time at the blindness of the humans around us. A car drove past us, and there was a woman across the street puttering in her flower beds. Not to say it wasn’t better this way; I had no desire to try and explain the giant eagle floating on the currents above us. But I did wonder at what they saw. Maybe just a regular, everyday eagle floating on the breeze?

Breaking into a jog, I followed the path of the eagle, Alex keeping up with me with no problem. Within a short time, we were jogging down a dirt track leading out of the bunch of family homes. Another two miles and the outskirts of the town blurred behind us. Ahead, there was nothing, just expanse of desert, the Guardian filling the sky above us.

I had a feeling we were going to be on the move for a long while.

I was right.

O’Shea clung to Eve’s back, sweat dripping down the sides of his face even in the cold air high above the ground. He had to do something to take his mind off the height, and even his anger at Rylee leaving him behind, again, didn’t help.