Immune(Rylee Adamson #2)(5) by Shannon Mayer
I yanked the steering wheel hard to the left. The Jeep slewed around the larger vehicle and into the deep snow on the side of the road.
The edge of the road disappeared into whiteness when the Jeep hit something hard, snapping it up, flipping us ass over tea kettle. The world seemed to go still as we floated for a brief moment, and I fought to stay conscious.
We landed hard, but the snow partially cushioned us—the only good thing to happen so far. Groaning, I hung upside down in my seatbelt, the material digging into my chest, increasing the pressure on my sternum, driving me to the brink of blacking out. The cold filled me, but not numbing me. Cold fire raced through my veins, my body spasmed.
Alex whimpered, licked my hand, but I couldn’t stop the tremors. I had no control over my own body. Only my eyes would do as I commanded and that didn’t exactly help. The windshield was caved in and I stared at the white snow, again the image of the demon dancing in front of me. Laughing.
“Bastard.” I coughed and spit at the snow. Blood flecked the white, my lip split from hitting the steering wheel.
“Alex, go,” I said, my voice a bare whisper.
“No, stay with Rylee,” He leaned forward to put his face close to mine, balancing on the steering wheel and hitting the horn before settling off to one side. I wanted to cover my ears, but couldn’t even lift my hands. Was I paralyzed? Now that would seriously screw up my life.
Dark spots and bright lights swirled in my vision. In desperation I reached out with my abilities to the one person I knew I could hang onto.
Tracking O’Shea was easy, his mind an open book to me. And he was a hell of a lot closer than I’d expected.
He was close enough that his emotions were right inside my head, less than a hundred feet away. Confusion, anger and worry were at the front of the line and they swamped me with their intensity. Pulling back from him, I tried to lift my hand, to no avail. “Alex. Horn. Hit it.”
Alex reared up and jammed both front paws onto the horn, the sound jarring my senses. Nausea rolled over me and vertigo hit me hard, made me want to throw up.
The dark of unconsciousness swallowed me whole between one breath and the next. Distantly, I could feel hands on my body, a voice I knew speaking softly to me. But what I was seeing inside the darkness held my attention.
I’d met this one before, on the other side of the Veil, after we’d rescued India. He stood watching me, an eyebrow quirked up into his hairline. Crystal clear blue eyes regarded me. “You have yet to even ask my name.”
I frowned. “I don’t care what your name is.”
He smiled. “You may call me Faris. Will you speak with me?”
The darkness seemed to shift around us, putting me only a few feet away from him. I tensed, confused by the feeling of hands on me while I could see that he hadn’t touched me. “I think I’ll pass.” The thing was, I couldn’t turn away from him; my body still wasn’t obeying me.
He tipped his head to one side and stepped closer to me. “The demon that struck you was a Hoarfrost demon. It is designed to turn its carrier into an epicenter for a new ice age. Of course, that only works if the venom can be assimilated. Not the case with you. However, it is slowing you down. Until you deal with it, the cold will follow you, make you vulnerable to all sorts of nasty things.” He leaned closer, his breath brushing across my cheek.
Panic clawed at me. “No, I’m an Immune. I can’t be killed by venom.”
“I didn’t say it would kill you, not the venom at least. But it’s hurting you nonetheless, and the side effects of it, they could kill you. You aren’t immune to hypothermia. It makes you vulnerable, unable to defend yourself. I quite like the change in you.” He lifted a hand and brushed it across my cheek, then down to my bottom lip, tugging at it.
I jerked my head away, the only part of me I seemed to have control over. “Why would you tell me this?”
“I want us to be friends.”
Laughing, I threw my head back. “That’s why you tried to kill me?”
Faris smiled at me, a glimpse of fangs coyly peeking out from beneath thin lips. “You’d upset me. I hadn’t expected you to turn from me as you did. Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve had a woman turn me down?”
“Obviously not long enough.”
Ghost hands slid over my skin and I shivered recognizing O’Shea’s touch. Then those hands that were being so gentle slapped my face, snapping my head to one side.
Faris laughed. “I will tell you one thing because I want you to trust me. There is a way to purge the demon venom. Ask Doran, he will explain. Until then, try to stay warm. Or you could wait for it to run its course, hiding somewhere the snow never flies. That might take a few years.” He lifted his hand, fingertips brushing lightly along my jaw line. “Even Immunes can be hurt, Rylee. Remember that.”
He gave me a slow smile and I glared at him. Not exactly an effective deterrent.
“Perhaps we will speak another time.” He was suddenly holding me tight, his lips above mine, fangs extended. Panic clawed at me; I couldn’t fight, couldn’t even begin to push him away.
I screamed, pushing all my energy toward shoving him away, and a bright light burst beside us. It was his turn to scream, fleeing from the bright pulsing light as I crumpled to the ground.
Hands caught me, a face I saw only in my dreams hovering over me.
“Berget,” I whispered. She smiled down at me, blue eyes sparkling with love and laughter.
“Rylee, be careful. Faris wants you badly, and he will do anything to gain your trust. This one time, though, he is right. Go to Doran.”
This was not like the dreams I had with her in them. This was real; she was here with me.
“I can’t find you,” I said, tears choking me. “I keep trying but . . .”
She shushed me. “I know. I don’t blame you. This is no one’s fault. This is destiny. You will understand in time.” Leaning over me, she kissed me on the forehead and I opened my eyes to see O’Shea leaning over me.
I managed a weak, “Hey.” Then I promptly closed my eyes. I wasn’t out of it, I just couldn’t look at his face, see the worry and concern there. I didn’t want to feel anything right now. My emotions were a jumble of my own and O’Shea’s, and I was struggling to separate them. What had happened when I blacked out? Had I really spoken with Berget? Was she alive somewhere? Was Faris really able to contact me when I was unconscious? That would not be good.
A cold, wet nose jammed into my ear.
O’Shea lifted me up like I was nothing, cradling me against his chest. The world tilted as he walked, and I could hear sirens in the distance.
“We have to go,” I mumbled. “I’m okay, I just need to warm up.”
O’Shea didn’t stop moving. “You were in a car accident, you are not okay.”
“Not the accident. The demon. From before.” Hating that Faris was the one to cue me into my problem, I could now feel the venom pumping through my system. It was slowing everything down, making it hard for me to keep breathing. There had to be a way to get it out of me, but I didn’t want to believe Doran was my only hope. Milly didn’t deal with demons; she wouldn’t know what to do anymore than I did. Shit, I didn’t want to believe Faris, to trust he was telling me the truth, but it wasn’t looking like I had any choice.
O’Shea’s arms tightened around me, then relaxed as he slid me into the back seat of his SUV. I tried to sit up.
“Lay down. Alex, here, get in beside her.” A damp, but warm body pressed up against mine, his head resting on my legs.
I forced my eyes open. “I need to get warm, the venom . . .”
That was it, my strength was done.
“Adamson?” He tried to wake her, but she was out, her face as white as the snow around them. “Shit.”
He glanced around. “Alex, stay here.” The werewolf did as he was told, and O’Shea went back to the flipped over Jeep and grabbed Rylee’s bag of gear. No doubt she’d be wanting it when she woke up.
Tossing the bag into the passenger side, he slammed the door shut and got into the driver’s seat. Training told him to wait on the paramedics that were on their way. He’d seen the skid marks and the grater driver had been freaking out on the side of the road, already calling for help. But Rylee’s words were on repeat. He was a, more or less, by-the-books agent. Going off the rails to help her on the last case was a one-time deal for him.
A tap on his window stopped his flow of thoughts. It was the grater driver. O’Shea didn’t bother to roll down his window. He had the heat cranked up in the hopes it would help whatever was going on with Adamson.
A wrinkled up face, partially covered by a dirty grey scarf, pushed against the window. “Hey, you can’t take her with you! She was in an accident, man.”
“I’m an FBI agent and I can take her into custody if I damn well want to.” O’Shea snapped back, put the SUV into gear and putting his foot on the gas pedal before he thought better of it.
Trust was not an easy thing for him, but he trusted Rylee’s judgment, even in her half-frozen state. If she said all she needed was to get warm, then that was what he would do. One way or another, he would get her to trust him.
The snow continued to fall heavily, and with its deepening state whatever had a hold on Adamson continued to worsen. Her breathing laboured, and if it was possible, her face paled even more. O’Shea glanced over his shoulder as Alex whimpered and rubbed his face on her legs.
“Alex, how warm is she?”
In the rear view mirror Alex tipped his head. This was not the time to have the werewolf not understand what he wanted. He simplified it.
“Is Rylee warm?”
Alex snuffled around for a moment. “No.” Then he shook his whole body, rubbing his claws up and down his arms. “Cold. Icy queenie.”