Immune(Rylee Adamson #2)(4) by Shannon Mayer
“Where is she going?”
Milly pouted, reached out and tugged on his tie. “If you come in, maybe I’ll tell you. You know, we only ever got to chat that one time, and you were in such a hurry that you ran off before I got to know you at all. It’s funny; In all these years, Rylee never mentioned you were such a handsome man. She only ever complained that you were an a**hole trying to pin charges on her. I have to say, I was surprised—pleasantly—when we met.”
He clenched his jaw, and his anger surged, partly at Milly, partly at Rylee’s assessment of him. “Tell me where she’s going.”
A frail hand appeared from behind Milly, and the door cracked open further to reveal a woman who looked to be in her late eighties by the way she was partially slumped over and the pallor of her skin, but he didn’t think that was the case. Brown eyes narrowed, taking him in.
“You are looking for our Rylee?”
Milly snorted, folded her arms across her chest and waved at the older woman. “This is Giselle. Sometimes mad, sometimes lucid. Rescuer of forgotten children.”
“Don’t sass me, Milly. I can still spank your bottom if you give me grief.”
Milly seemed to fight back a smile at the older woman’s reprimand, and O’Shea liked her better for it. As far as he’d seen, Rylee was a far better friend to Milly than the other way around, which didn’t leave the sultry witch many redeeming qualities in his eyes.
Giselle reached out and took his hand, pulling him into the house. “Come, let me have a look at you.”
A shiver slid over him as her fingers grasped his with a strength that surprised him and confirmed she wasn’t as old as she looked. Her eyes narrowed and she took in a short sharp breath through her nose that whistled. That wasn’t what freaked him out though. It was the sound of voices that began to whisper around him.
He swallowed hard. The world he’d known was disappearing faster than he was truly comfortable with. “Tell me what?”
Both Giselle and Milly started as if they’d been pinched at the same time. Milly stepped forward, her face devoid of any sexual machinations, and green eyes wide with surprise.
“You heard them?”
Giselle started to chuckle. “Oooo eeee. Rylee picked herself a good one.”
O’Shea couldn’t move. He had a desire to back out slowly, shut the door, and pretend this encounter hadn’t happened.
Milly tucked her robe tight around her body, covering herself finally. Her eyes softened with worry. “Damn. Come on in. I’ll tell you what I can.”
O’Shea followed her into the kitchen, Giselle chuckled and snickered at a distance, standing in the doorway and peering at them like a child might when a stranger comes for a visit. He didn’t sit down, but stood behind a chair. He didn’t want Rylee getting too far ahead of him.
“I just need to know where she’s going. Until she agrees to be my partner, I have to keep tabs on her.”
Milly motioned to the pot of coffee and he nodded to be polite, chaffing at the time delay. He had to play this right to get the information he needed. Pouring him a mug she asked, “How is that different than before?”
He took the drink from her. “I’m looking out for her now.”
Giselle sidled in, eyes darting to O’Shea, then to Milly and back again. “Blue socks. Rylee needs them. And you,” she pointed at O’Shea. “You both need them.”
O’Shea lifted an eyebrow at Milly. She pursed her lips. “Like I said, lucidity comes and goes for her.” She took a sip of her coffee, grimaced, and stared at him over the rim, green eyes challenging him. He liked this side of her better; this was the Milly he could see being friends with Rylee.
Letting out a breath, he put his cup untouched on the table. “Tell me where she’s going and I’ll get out of your hair.”
“Her friend Dox is in trouble. But she’s got a salvage first. She’s heading to a bar in Bismarck to meet with the mother of the kid. Bottom’s Up, I think.”
His eyebrows rose sharply. That was a strip joint. Not that it mattered, if that was where Rylee was going, he would follow. A sharp nod and he turned to leave, stopped only by a hand; Giselle again. He stared down at her, shocked to see a sharp intelligence in her eyes.
“She needs you. She just doesn’t know it yet. There are people who would manipulate and use not only her talents, but her grief, against her.”
His lips clamped shut, unable to say anything to that statement.
Giselle tightened her grip on his hand, her eyes suddenly welling with tears. “Rylee will die if she doesn’t let you into her life.”
Ice trickled down his spine. “Then I’d better get going after her.”
The old woman, nodded. “And be warned, Liam. The darkness that seeks her life will seek yours. It doesn’t want you at her side and will do anything to keep you apart. It will use any means necessary to turn you two against one another. It will make you fear and hate yourself. You must rise above it all.”
How had she known his first name? He wasn’t sure he wanted to know what was going on. He’d gotten what he’d come for, gotten more than he’d bargained for. With care, he finally pulled his hand free, and Giselle slumped into the chair; he glanced at Milly. The witch was silently crying, a hand trembling at her lips, though she said nothing.
“You believe this?” He motioned to Giselle who seemed to have passed out, head pillowed on her arms on the table.
Milly wiped at her eyes. “She’s never been wrong.”
Without another word, he turned and strode out of the house, the ice wind cutting through his clothes as he stepped outside. He grabbed some weapons from the root cellar, mostly blades, as he knew how to manage those.
Driving off the farm, he looked around at the quickly whitening landscape and the white flakes thick and heavy with moisture.
“Of all the days, Rylee.” His lips quirked as he said her name. She needed him, even if she couldn’t admit it. And that sat just fine with him. Just fine, indeed.
“Alex, get back on your side!”
He did as I asked, though he continued to bounce in his seat, actually rocking the Jeep from side to side. His breath fogged up the windows something fierce.
I cracked my window and said, “Roll down your window, Alex.”
“Snow, snow, snow, snow!” He chanted, not bothering to keep his volume down as he scrambled with his window, rolling it halfway down, a blast of cold air filling the Jeep.
Unfortunately, he was bang on. The white stuff had been falling steadily for over three hours and the road crews seemed to be taking the day off. There was a thin goat trail for vehicles where there should have been two full lanes. The other side of the highway didn't look any better. We should have been into Bismarck already, but we were maybe halfway at best. Shit, I was going to miss my appointment.
Windshield wipers on high, the snow was so heavy it was like driving through a swirling fog, and I leaned forward to get a better view. Middle of the day, lights on, and I still couldn’t see where the hell I was going. Not a good start to this little trip.
The wind blew hard, throwing the Jeep sideways. Fighting the steering wheel, I cursed under my breath. Immune, I might be, unable to be turned into anything furry or blood sucking, and a Tracker of children using my innate abilities. But, I could still be killed. And driving in bad weather like this was not one of my talents. It was the only downside to living where I did, in my opinion.
“Come on,” I grumbled at the weather. Anger was easier to hang onto than fear. Better in this case, ‘cause being afraid would only give me more trouble.
“Come on,” Alex grumbled, shaking a fist at the windshield. Shit, that werewolf made me laugh. I hated to admit he was one of the best things that had ever wandered into my life.
And what about O’Shea? Well, I didn’t think stalking me for ten years counted as ‘wandering into my life.’
Besides, he’d been hanging with Milly; they were lovers, while he and I were . . . what the hell were we? Not friends, not enemies, something in between. Fifty shades of grey, my ass; there were at least a thousand, if you asked me.
My heater took that moment to kick off and within moments the cab filled with icy cold air. Alex didn’t mind, his thick coat perfectly suited to the weather, but a sharp pang in my chest shot through me. I tried to draw a breath, struggled to get a gulp of the cold air. What was happening? I took my foot off the gas pedal, let the Jeep start to slow down on its own as I fought the now crushing pain in the middle of my chest. Each breath I took rattled in my throat, as if I were sucking in water as well as air. Hands clenching the steering wheel, I tried to pull over, but my muscles wouldn’t respond, my foot not even reacting when I made an attempt to lift if off the gas pedal. A flicker of an image danced in front of the Jeep.
The last salvage I’d completed involved a demon. We’d fought, I’d beaten it with a little help from my friends, but it had nailed me with its stinger before dying. The demon’s antennae twitched in the wind, its black body standing out in the white snow. Shaped like an ant standing upright with a scorpion tail arcing over its head, I knew the thing could fight, but we’d sent it back to where it’d come from. Hadn’t we? Shit, I thought we’d killed it. Maybe not.
The demon faded out from in front of the Jeep and I let out a breath, forcing the air from my lungs. I must have been seeing things, my eyes playing tricks on me. Like an asthma attack, I struggled for each breath, but pushed on driving. If I stopped here, there was a good chance we’d not be found until morning and if the temperatures dropped, well, let’s just say I had no intention of being a Popsicle anytime soon.
Alex started to bark, a high-pitched sharp, fear-filled staccato that burst through the fog of whatever was happening to me.
“Rylee, Rylee, Rylee!”
I opened my eyes, unaware I’d even closed them. Right in front of us was a grater, horn blowing as I drove straight toward it.