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Priceless(Rylee Adamson #1)(19) by Shannon Mayer

Feeling bold, I slid my hand across his chest, my fingers finding their way in past the buttons. Smooth, hard abs trembled under my fingertips, and I couldn’t stop the sigh that escaped me. “Please.”

His hands slid down my shoulders to my elbows where he tightened his grip, pinning my arms to my sides. “In a minute.”

With one smooth motion he picked me up and dropped me into the tub, the water exploding out all around me. Sputtering and gasping, I sat up, the spell receding quickly with the salt water. O’Shea stared down at me.

“Better?”

I took quick stock. My brain functioned fine, and while I still ached with some serious hormones, I knew it wouldn’t have mattered who it’d been, I would have thrown myself at them.

“Nothing personal,” I said, slicking my hair back. “Damn, that was a potent one for it to stick to you and then still have enough juice left to hit me.”

O’Shea nodded. “Does that sort of thing happen often?”

“No.” I dunked down under the water, held my body under for ten seconds, and resurfaced, letting my body float in the salt water. My bra and jeans would survive the dunking, but I’d have to wipe down all my leather jacket with salt water and condition it right away. Shit, what a pain in the ass. But it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

If only O’Shea knew what we’d just avoided.

As if reading my mind, he asked the one question I’d hoped he wouldn’t.

“What would have happened if you hadn’t known how to break that . . . spell?” He leaned against the bathroom counter, cool as could be. Like nothing had happened. Good, if he could ignore the blood-pounding moments, so could I.

I stood, and he handed me a towel. Stripping off my bra behind the towel, I wrapped my body with the fluffy white material. “We would be going at it hot and heavy right now.”

He nodded. “I got that much. But who really cares who you knock boots with?”

Blinking, I realized this was going to be a steep learning curve for the agent—strike that, former agent. I shimmied out of my wet jeans and left them in the water. “How easy would we have been to find if we couldn’t stay out of each other’s pants? And if no one was looking for us, we’d have just banged the life out of each other. Literally.”

It was only a slight shift of his body, but I saw him recoil as the implications set in; in fact, I saw the very moment he got it. His eyes widened and his jaw actually dropped. “You mean we would have f**ked each other to death?”

“Yup. Eventually. I suppose it wouldn’t be a bad way to go, and it certainly would be hard to pin on anyone.” I held my hand out. “Another towel, please.”

He handed me a smaller towel, which I wrapped my hair in. “As soon as we dry out, we’ve got to move. The Coven who has India are the ones who attacked you and tried to kill me, and they will no doubt make another attempt to stop me.”

“Why’s that?”’

“Because I have a reputation for being stubborn,” I said. “And they know it.”

He snorted.

I glared at him.

Putting his hands back on his h*ps he nodded, the hint of a smile flicking across his lips. “It doesn’t take supernatural ability to know that.”

18

In less than an hour we were on the road. I wanted to check out the mineshaft while there was still daylight and we were less likely to run into any uglies.

“Uglies?” Alex barked from the back seat.

O’Shea cringed. It would take him some time to get used to the werewolf.

“Yup, uglies. What are they, Alex?” I wanted him to keep talking. Things had gotten awkward as we’d piled into the Jeep, my hand brushing against O’Shea’s thigh by accident, the heat flaring between us.

“Demons.” Alex whispered and crouched low in the seat, his tail no longer wagging.

“You have got to be kidding me.”

I glanced over at O’Shea. “No. YOU have got to stop saying that. This is reality.” I debated whether or not to mention the Arcane division of the FBI. They might welcome him with open arms, but then, as I glanced over at him, they might not. Most likely, nobody was supposed to know about it. Certainly not me and definitely not someone who was on the lam for killing his partner.

“If I can prove this exists, this supernatural side of things, they might re-instate me,” he said.

We pulled off the main road onto a barely discernible track that had at one point been the main drag into the mine. Now it was filled with potholes and washouts. Just one more reason I had a serious love for my Jeep. I threw it into four-wheel drive and hit the gas, ignoring O’Shea’s statement.

“Bumps!” Alex screeched from the back as we started to bounce down the track. I didn’t take it easy, despite O’Shea’s grunts of displeasure as he was jostled in the passenger seat. This was something Alex loved and I wouldn’t deny him this small pleasure, not with each day being one closer to the day the pack might finally catch him.

“Slow the hell down, Adamson.” O’Shea snapped after his head got thrust into the not-so-well-padded roof.

“Almost there, I think.” I took a deliberate sharp turn in order to hit one last big rut in the road. Alex squealed and I couldn’t help laughing. “Enjoy the ride, Agent. You never know when it might be your last.”

He glared over at me, but said nothing, his hand gripping the Holy Shit handle with decidedly white knuckles. “Fuck.” He muttered it just low enough that I had to strain to hear him.

I couldn’t resist poking at him. “What was that?”

“FUCK!” Alex screeched from the back of the Jeep, and I burst out laughing. A glance at O’Shea and I caught a smile twisting his lips.

“Admit it, that was funny.” I gunned the Jeep and slammed on the brakes so we skidded through the loose scree. I mean, who had a werewolf yell out “fuck” in the back of their Jeep?

“No.”

Of course, that only made me laugh harder. Never had I been so distracted on a case before, but in a weird way it felt like a good fit.

I turned the Jeep off. “Here we are.”

Lucky enough, I’d been right and there were no “uglies,” so to speak. But then, the gateway through the veil wasn’t open either. The mineshaft wasn’t particularly narrow, about two and a half people wide. Walking around the edge of it, I let my fingers trail over the metal rim, feeling the jagged cuts where grappling hooks would have been jammed in, in order to repel down. In my mind I tried to imagine how it would look.

“There’s just enough for two people and a kid,” O’Shea said, coming to the same conclusion I had.

Damn, how many others had this Coven stolen? “Have there been a lot of other missing kids lately? You know, ones with no leads?”

O’Shea gave a sharp nod. “Three. All in the last six months. All within a two day drive of here.”

Double damn, that was not good.

Leaning over the rim, I put my weight in my heels as I stared into the pitch black hole. How terrifying would it be as a little kid, to be forced to go there with people in cloaks, people you didn’t know or trust?

I took a deep breath, the faintest scent of sage wafting up to my nose, a common herb burned in all Covens. “Alex, come smell.”

Loping over to me, he stuck his head down the pipe. I laid a hand on his collar, just in case.

“Witches,” he grunted, then took another sniff. “Demons.” He whimpered, and on the third sniff, he cocked his head. “One more.” He took a long drag and curled his lip, showing his teeth. “Don’t know. Funny smell.”

Hmm. It was never good when Alex couldn’t identify a scent. “Okay, let’s go get ready.”

“That’s it?” O’Shea asked, peeking into the pipe. “We don’t dive in?”

“Not without the right gear—of which you have none. Mine is all back at my house, where the pack is currently staked out. Which means we need to go where I can get us the right weapons. Unless you have a grappling hook, harness and rope stowed away in your pants pocket?”

He didn’t answer except with a glower.

I cast out for India while O’Shea mulled that over. She was not any easier to trace here, but I could feel her. The fear was almost gone, but the most important thing was that she was alive. They—the Coven—hadn’t used her for a sacrifice yet.

O’Shea followed me and Alex back to the Jeep. “You didn’t kill her, did you?”

I froze between one step and the next, but didn’t turn around to face him. In a way, I was surprised it had taken him this long. “You finally believe me?”

The shuffle of clothes told me he’d shrugged. “I’m having a hard time with believing any of this, but I’m seeing it whether I want to or not.”

“Maybe one day I’ll tell you the whole story,” I said, knowing that would pique his interest.

He caught up to me in split second, grabbed my arm, and spun me to face him. “You didn’t tell us the truth?”

In all the interrogations after Berget had gone missing, I’d adamantly stuck to my story. We’d been at a park, she’d been on the swings one second, gone the next. Nothing else to say. But how was I going to explain to the police what had really happened? It was bad enough they thought I was guilty, that I thought I was guilty, even though I’d done nothing. All along, that was the problem. I hadn’t saved her and that made me guilty in my own eyes. In our parent’s eyes.

“You’d believe me now, because you’ve seen what the world holds in truth. But not then,” I said, brushing his hand off my arm.

We started to pile into the Jeep when a hair-raising screech spun me around, my eyes searching the skies above for the only thing that could have made the sound.

Harpies; three of them. They were each the size of a large cow, well over a thousand pounds per, and had greasy brown feathers covering their lumpy, bird-like bodies. While legends sometimes pinned them as having the upper bodies of beautiful women, that wasn’t quite true. Hypnotizing eyes making you believe they were beautiful were the main gear the Harpies employed when it came to seduction. They didn’t look like much as far as being dangerous, but the two sets of claws—one off the bottom of their feet and one set at the tips of their wings—were enough to cut a man in half with a single squeeze. They could rip my Jeep open like a tin can and have us for dinner without breaking a sweat.