Priceless(Rylee Adamson #1)(15) by Shannon Mayer
“Come on,” I said. “We can’t be here if you want to stay out of jail tonight.”
“I’m not going with you. That’ll only prove I’m guilty,” he said. “When you run, it shows your guilt more than anything.”
Well if that wasn’t a dig at me, I didn’t know what was. I laughed; I couldn’t help it. Milly, standing beside me in her fashion-forward bright white pantsuit, was shaking her head.
“Rylee is right, Agent O’Shea. You can’t prove your innocence. There aren’t even any of the perpetrators here to point fingers at. Unless you did manage to shoot one of them?”
He shook his head. “No, but you’re innocent until proven guilty. You should know that, Adamson.” Already the shock was wearing off and he was sliding back into this usually difficult self.
Shrugging, I turned my back. “Come on, Milly, if he wants to spend the rest of his life in jail for a murder he didn’t commit, then let him.”
We started to walk away, but it was Alex who stopped us with words he shouldn’t have been able to utter. “Man with gun. He come with.”
I spun in time to see O’Shea stumble backwards, eyes wide at really seeing Alex. He pulled his gun on the werewolf. I bolted toward them, but it wasn’t me that got to O’Shea first. It was Milly.
She slammed him with a knock-out spell that rolled his eyes back into his head and dropped him to the ground.
“Good shot,” I said.
“Thanks.” She gave me a smile.
Grabbing Alex by the collar, the three of us ran around the side of the house as the fire trucks and police cars screamed into the yard. We pointed around the back of the house and they sped off in that direction.
As I shoved Alex into the Jeep, a black unmarked pulled in. “Damn.”
Three hours later, we—Milly and I—were still explaining the same story over and over. I had been trapped in the cellar, Milly had showed up and heard gunshots, but neither of us had seen anything. Now it was up to O’Shea as to whether or not he dug his own grave.
We were released just as they brought O’Shea out of the house. In handcuffs.
I was surprised to feel a pang of guilt hit me. What the hell was that about? I tried to push it away, but it overrode any attempt I made to shrug it off. O’Shea hounded me for years; with him locked up, I wouldn’t have to worry about who was following me around anymore. I let out a sigh. “You know this complicates things.”
Milly touched my arm. “Your life would be easier without him in it.”
“And yours would be easier without me in it,” I said.
She ducked her head, shame flushing her face. “You’re family, you and Giselle. The Coven gave me leave to help you on this case.”
She didn’t answer, our conversation interrupted.
O’Shea and his guards walked passed us. I wanted to make a smart remark; I knew that walk of shame. In fact, it had been O’Shea who’d walked beside me.
But I couldn’t make the words form. He was as innocent as I was. Magic had a funny way of making humans believe the wrong thing.
We were allowed to stay while the police did their investigation, they told us ahead of time that it would likely take all night. They had lights on tall stands lighting up the yard as if it wasn’t close to midnight in the middle of October.
Milly helped me make a late—very late—dinner of pasta and steamed veggies from the garden. Neither of us spoke as we cooked, except for the “pass the salt” variety of conversation. As soon as the food was ready, I put Alex’s share in his bowl. He cleaned it in about thirty seconds flat—except for the carrots, which he left in the bottom of the dish.
“Eat your veggies, Alex,” I said.
“No, Yucky, poopy,” he grumbled, poking at them with the tip of one claw.
Milly leaned over. “You can have some dessert if you eat them.”
Two bites later, and he was waiting patiently beside the fridge for ice cream.
I stood and scooped out some of the Tiger-flavoured dessert, the black and orange stripes visible even through the thick plastic tub.
“I’ll stay the night. But then I have to go,” Milly said, finally breaking the silence.
“You won’t get kicked out of your new club? Your new friends will let you come back?” I couldn’t stop the words; maybe I didn’t want to. She’d hurt me and I was not good at taking hurt, unless it was of the physical kind.
She glared at me. “And what would you do if your parents came back, if they said you could be a part of their family, but you’d have to give me and Giselle and Alex up? You’d do it.”
A bitter laugh escaped my lips. “No, I wouldn’t. They proved they don’t give a shit about me. Why would I choose them over people who I love and care about, and who I thought felt the same?” I stood up, grabbed the plates from the table and stomped over to the sink. “One thing I do want to know, how long before you told your new friends I was looking for India?”
Her eyes filled with tears. “I never told anyone.”
“Not even your new boy toy, whoever the hell that is?”
Her tears turned into a flush. Bingo. “What does it matter?”
I couldn’t stop the anger bursting out. “Because someone left a nasty message for me only hours after I spoke with you, and because whoever has India knows I’m coming. And the only person I told about the case was you.”
Milly stood, her white pantsuit splattered with flecks of spaghetti sauce. “He would not have shared it. I trust him.”
“Just like you trusted the last one? And the one before that?”
Alex decided to chime in. “Before that?”
Milly’s tears dried up. “You can be such a bitch, Rylee.”
“At least I’m not a whore.”
The world stilled around us. Never in all our time together had we let it go this far.
She spun and stomped upstairs, the guest bedroom door slamming behind her. I let out a sigh and slumped into my kitchen chair. I needed to apologize.
“Milly stay?” Alex asked, his tongue stained by the black colouring from the ice cream.
“No, I don’t think so.”
Slowly, I made my way up the stairs and tapped on the door to the guest room. “Milly, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that.”
Trotting back down the stairs, I made my way into the kitchen, glanced at the dirty dishes, and then decided to leave them.
My bed called to me and I still had to practice. Here at home I had a large punching bag, weights, medicine balls, and a climbing rope, all set up in my bedroom, what had previously been three bedrooms until I knocked the walls out. The rope was one of the things I hated most. When I’d bought the house, what was currently my bedroom was open through both floors, which meant I had a ceiling about twenty-five feet high.
I had two ropes hanging about five feet apart. I climbed the first one all the way to the top, reached across and slid down the second one. Then repeated the routine three times until my breath hitched in my chest. After that, came the punching bag, where I slid through my Muay Thai training. Then onto weights, then the medicine ball, and finally back to the ropes.
The final climb burned my hands, the rope fibers stinging, the cut in my forearm aching, sweat dripping into my eyes. But I couldn’t stop, not until I’d done the whole routine.
Finally, I slid to the floor, body exhausted, heart tired, mind nearly numb enough for sleep.
Outside, the police still moved around. Every once in a while, I heard them over their walkie talkies, heard the rev of an engine start up.
Leaning back against my bedroom wall, I closed my eyes, letting the sweat dry on my skin. A cold nose pushed into my face and woke me up as the sun climbed the eastern horizon.
I stood, stiff from the position I’d slept in, and headed to the bathroom. A quick shower and change of clothes left me feeling more optimistic. I’d apologize to Milly again, then things would be okay.
Within an hour of me waking up, the last of the forensics team, police included, had gone, leaving a smoldering wheat field, some yellow tape and a slew of tire tracks.
Milly came out to the back porch, a cup of coffee in her hand. Her eyes were cool, and wouldn’t meet mine.
“Look, Milly, I’m sorry about last night. Really, I don’t think of you that way.” I meant the words. Sure she got around, but she always believed she was in love.
“I still think you can be a bitch,” she said, but a smile was at the edge of her lips.
“Well, we both know that’s the truth.” I leaned back against the porch railing. “Are we okay then?”
She nodded. Neither of us spoke again until she’d finished her coffee. The obvious question had to be asked.
“Okay, Milly, time to confess. What’s going on? You said you couldn’t be around me, yet here you are.” We sat on the back porch, staring out at the burnt field.
She took a deep breath, then laced her fingers together and placed them in her lap. She studied them carefully. “I’m to be your liaison. The people who took India are breakaways from the main Coven.”
I flicked a piece of imaginary dirt off my jeans, giving myself a moment to think. “Why send you? I mean, no offense, but aren’t you the baby of the group?”
High colour flooded her cheeks. “Yes.”
There was only one reason they would send a lesser-experienced witch after a group that broke away from the Coven.
“So are they trying to get rid of you by sending you after the rogues? Because that’s what I see.” And I didn’t like it, not one bit. I might fight with her, but I would never deliberately try to hurt her; she was the closest thing besides Giselle that I had to family.
Milly’s fingers tightened and she clenched her hands until the knuckles turned white, then slowly she relaxed. “They think I’m trouble. This would be a good way for them to use me up without just making an arbitrary decision to have me removed.”