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Immune(Rylee Adamson #2)(7) by Shannon Mayer

“You aren’t going to argue with me?”

I shrugged in an attempt to act like I didn’t care. “I will admit that I might need some help on this one, at least until I get the venom out of my system. It doesn’t mean I’m agreeing to anything more.”

O’Shea took a step back. “If this salvage turns out to be more than an easy find, we go get you the help you need. Deal?”

Everything I believed fought me on this. The kids always came first; they had to. Swallowing hard, I thought about how I had been unable to move, the cold paralyzing me. “Agreed.”

As if he’d known my answer he gave a sharp nod of his head. “Let’s get going then. There’s still an hour or so left of light, enough to get where we need to go.” He picked up his shirt where it hung over single chair in the room and walked to the bathroom, closing the door behind him. I glanced down at Alex who had remained surprisingly quiet throughout the whole exchange.

“You okay, Alex?” I reached over to touch his back, his fur warm under my hand.

Frowning, he rolled away from me with a grumble. “Hate stupid man with gun.”

A burst of laughter I couldn’t stop leapt out of me. “You hate him now?”

“Stupid man.”

Although there were days I would have agreed with him, today was not one of them. I most likely owed my life to the FBI agent.

“Okay, that’s all right. But he’s coming with us. He’s going to help us find a kid. So you be nice.”

“I be nice. Nice with teeth.”

Milly’s words rang in my ears. Nope, that was so not going to happen. I had to nip this in the bud now. I grabbed Alex by the throat and he yelped as I first pulled him toward me, and then pinned him to the bed on his back.

“No teeth. Ever.” I clenched my fingers around his neck, digging in. Amber eyes bugged out and fear quickly replaced the defiance that had been brewing. He flailed underneath me, the sheets tangling his legs, his claws catching my bare skin in places. I couldn’t let up, not until we had this settled.

“Alex sorry!” He yelped, his voice a strangled cry, but he still fought me.

“Not good enough.” I hated that I had to do this, but couldn’t let him threaten people, because if he hurt someone, I would be the one who would have to end his life, and I didn’t think I had it in me.

He finally went still, his whole two hundred pounds trembling underneath me. He could have killed me, but he was too submissive to even try.

“Rylee hate Alex.”

“No, I don’t hate you. I love you, Alex. That’s why you have to be good.”

Something shifted in his eyes. “You love Alex?”

“Yes, that’s why you can’t bite people. I don’t want to lose you. You’re my friend.”

His lips trembled over his misshaped muzzle, and tears gathered up in his eyes. “Rylee like stupid man better than Alex.”

Oh. My. God. I felt like he’d kicked me in the gut. Of course, he could scent things like desire and lust. I hung my head and lifted my hands from his neck. This was my fault. With the sheets tangled around us I pulled him up into my arms and held him tight. His fur tickled my bare skin and the brush of his claws on my back only heightened my awareness of how much responsibility I truly had with him. In essence, he was a child trapped in a potential killer’s body, one that I had to keep in line.

“No one will ever take your place, Alex. You will always be my wolf. Okay?”

He snuffled against my shoulder and glanced up at me. “Love Alex?”

“Yes, I’ll always love Alex. No matter what.”

A soft shuffle drew my eyes to the bathroom doorway where O’Shea stood, dressed and watching us. He cleared his throat.

“Your clothes are in the bathroom.”

I nodded. “Thanks.” Taking a sheet with me, I stood, my legs wobbly at first, and walked to the bathroom. I had to get my feelings for O’Shea under control. If not for myself, then for Alex.

5

My clothes were folded on the back of the toilet seat, my weapons on top. Gotta love a man that can fold clothes. No, bad Rylee! No love for O’Shea! If only it were that easy.

The bathroom was warm, but even so, my skin prickled with awareness. I had demon venom surging through me. Shit, what a way to start a salvage. While I dressed, I reached out with my abilities, brushing up against the venom. It was so cold it felt like it was burning, and I pulled back from it, tentatively trying a different approach. I didn’t like things inside of me I couldn’t understand, and I’d never before had to deal with something that felt like it was alive and crawling around in my body.

I tried to poke at it, but the thing was, the venom wasn’t just a lump in my chest where I’d been stung, it was systemic, running through my veins as if it were a part of me. Like a colony of ants making my body their home. Shivering, I stared at the place I’d been stung, using my second sight to see the faint outline of a snowflake. It was lacy and black, and under any other circumstance I would have thought it was a cool tattoo.

As I slipped into my jacket, doing up the buttons, I pulled back my ability and left the venom alone. If Doran could truly help me, then so be it; while I didn’t trust Faris, Berget had said the same thing. Go to Doran. I just had to hold it together long enough to get this kid.

I stepped out of the bathroom and Alex was sitting with his head on O’Shea’s lap.

“I gave him a cookie,” O’Shea said.

Smiling, I took a deep breath. “Glad you two boys are getting along.”

Alex lifted his head and gave me a doggy grin, wagged his tail and let out a fart. Grimacing, I headed for the door.

“I’ve got the SUV warming up, give it a minute,” O’Shea said, but I was already out the door and heading for the front office, not even bothering to try his cell phone or mine. I needed space between us, and a moment to myself, even if it was just in John’s office.

The wind and snow had picked up while I was out of it and all but howled around me. The venom coursing through me pulsed in time with the gusts of ice that yanked on my hair and clothes.

I jerked the door open to the manager’s office and had to push it shut behind me, the wind was blowing so hard.

“Ry? What are you doing here? I didn’t see your Jeep pull in,” John said, his battered cowboy hat pushed back so he could see me.

“Yeah, I came in with a friend. Flipped the Jeep on the highway.”

“Shit, you look not too bad for being flipped over.”

I gave him a smile, my teeth chattering lightly just from that small exposure to the elements. Gods be damned, this was going to be more difficult than I thought. There had been a dim hope I could fight off the cold on my own now that I knew it was venom causing the problem; just tough it out. So much for that thought.

“Can I use your phone? I missed an appointment.”

John waved me in. “Sure, phone’s in the back.” I scooted around the desk and into the inner sanctum of the office. Paperwork was neatly filed on one side; on the other it was piled in several spots. Mary, John’s wife, was as tidy as they came. John, on the other hand, not so much. There was a small woodstove burning hot, keeping the storm at bay. I huddled as close to it as I could, the heat from the fire warming me considerably.

Under one of the piles, I found an older style rotary phone and a phone book. I looked up the bar, ‘Bottom’s Up,’ and dialed.

The beat of the pounding music was the first thing I heard.

“Bottoms up, baby.” Was the second sound that came through loud and clear.

“Hey, is Jewel there?” I fingered the curled cord of the phone around my hand.

“Yeah, she got stood up by some appointment, but she’s still waiting.”

“Tell her I’m on my way. The snowstorm sidelined me.”

The guy grunted. “And you are?”

“Her appointment.”

“Name?”

“Just tell her I’m on my way,” I said, ending the conversation.

One more phone call to make. I dialed home, waited three rings, was almost on the fourth before Milly picked up with a sultry hello.

“Milly, what do you know about demons?” I asked softly, keeping my voice low. No need to freak John out.

I could hear her breathing, but she didn’t answer. “Milly?”

“Why would you ask me that?”

“I just . . . .”

“Nothing, I know nothing about demons. Don’t ask me questions like that!” She hung up before I could get in another question. Shit, so much for help from my best friend.

The door chimed and O’Shea’s voice reached my ears. A rush of heat that had nothing to do with me standing next to the woodstove, and everything with thinking about being in bed na**d with O’Shea, made me tingle all the way down to my toes. I had to get this desire under control. Taking slow even breaths, I thought about Milly and O’Shea in bed together, his broad chest under her hands, her long dark hair trailing around his face. Yup, that did it. Hurt and anger replaced the lust, and I stalked out to the main room, a glower on my face.

John stepped out of my way, smart man. “Take care, Ry.”

“Thanks, you too, John.”

I brushed past O’Shea and outside, running to the dark SUV waiting for me. Slipping into the front passenger seat, I slammed the door. At my feet was my bag of weapons and supplies, including my little black box. In the back Alex sat patiently, tracing designs in the fogged up windows with his claw tips. He seemed happier now, more relaxed. Maybe all he needed was reassurance that he wouldn’t be ousted of his spot in my life. My fingers were crossed that was all it would take, but I doubted it. Werewolves were territorial, and if he’d decided I was part of his territory, even though I outranked him and he was ridiculously submissive, he would protect and defend me against anything to the death. Even against a human like O’Shea.

Speaking of the agent, he opened the driver’s side, sat and quickly shut the door behind him, his eyes flicking over to me as he started up the SUV.