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Raising Innocence(Rylee Adamson #3)(15) by Shannon Mayer

“Smith, ease down,” the tall man said, motioning for the werewolf, Smith, to sit.

Surprisingly enough, he did. Good to know. Perhaps he wasn’t a true Alpha?

“Alex, enough,” I said, lowering hand to the top of his head.

“Boss said take care of you. Keep Rylee safe,” he said, scratching at his ear with a back foot, the ‘almost’ confrontation already forgotten.

My heart squeezed. O’Shea, he meant O’Shea had told him to look out for me.

The other men were talking and I overheard Agent Valley call the tall man Denning.

I grabbed a chair and slumped into it, Alex sitting beside me with his head on my knee. Smith glared at me from across the room and I stuck my tongue out at him.

Alex mimicked me, then proceeded to make progressively worse faces until Smith looked away with a glower. Chuckling to myself, I put a hand on Alex’s head, rubbing him behind his ears.

Will pulled a chair up beside me. “What do you think we should do next?”

“It would be nice if we could figure out what kind of supernatural is taking the kids.”

“Are you so sure it isn’t a human?”

I snorted. “What human is going to know about crossing the Veil, and not just crossing it, but using it as a means to travel? And has the ability to hide the entrance to the Veil so well that in a ten by twelve room the two of us couldn’t find it?”

He was silent.

“Besides,” I said, “they wouldn’t have brought me in for a serial kidnapper unless there was a supernatural element.”

“Are you so sure about that?”

I thought for a moment about the group of men that had been in the room to gawk at me. No doubt Jack Feen would never have stood for that kind of reception. As if reading my mind, Will spoke.

“Jack was a little more low key than you. He only had a few contacts within the agency. Worked with me for the most part and didn’t like Denning all that much. And he never came into the office. Ever.”

Glancing over at the verbally sparring men, I could see why. Denning was arguing that I had to be on a short leash, controlled like the wild card I was. Agent Valley was arguing for me to do what I had to and worry about the consequences later. Maybe O’Shea had been wrong about his boss, or maybe he’d changed since losing his number one agent to the world of the supernatural.

I leaned my head back against the wall behind me and closed my eyes. Jet lag was finally kicking in and it looked like it was going to be a bitch.

Welcome to London, Rylee.

*-*-*-*

Milly crooked her finger, and O’Shea stepped forward, his innards twisting with fury. But all that moved was a subtle twitch over his right eye. She’d commanded him to get into her car, and drove deep into the badlands to the old mining shaft where Rylee and he had crossed the Veil, looking for India in what seemed like forever ago.

He’d done what Milly asked him to without hesitation, unable to stop his body from reacting to her commands. When they reached the mineshaft, there were still remnants of police tape, and he could smell the blood and viscera under the snow as if it were fresh and not months old.

“Come now, don’t fight this,” Milly said. “In the end, this is better. You have to trust me.”

Of course, he couldn’t so much as utter a god-blasted grunt without her giving him a command to speak. Witch or not, Rylee’s best friend or not, he’d rip her throat out the second the torc was off. She commanded him to slip on a repelling harness and pick her up, which he did; and then they went over the edge of the shaft and slid into the darkness.

“Careful now,” Milly said, her voice close to his ear. “You aren’t just carrying my life in your hands, but one other too.”

He could flick his eyes over to hers, and though there was little light he had no problem seeing the glint there. The glow of happiness.

No. Fucking. Way.

*-*-*-*

Finally, after what seemed like hours of arguing, Denning let me and Agent Valley go. With nearly free rein. Will was to stick with me at all times, and Officer Smith was to be our third. That stuck in my craw like a sideways fishbone.

“Another werewolf is not a good idea,” I hissed at Agent Valley as we strode through the precinct to the area that had been set aside for us.

“I couldn’t get him to back down,” Agent Valley snapped back at me, and then smoothed out his hair. “As it was, I could barely get him to agree to you having the lead on this.”

Though it galled me, I knew he’d done the best he could. “Yeah, thanks for that.”

Flipping a stack of files on a desk, he pointed to the chair. “Sit, read. Figure this the f**k out, Adamson. And when you’re ready to Track the kids, let us know. But the last thing you are to do is go out on your own. Got it?”

Lips pursed tight, I gave him a half nod. I wanted to Track the kids now, by myself, and get the job done. Then I could go after Berget. Letting out a deep breath, I flopped into the squeaky chair and flipped open the first file. None of the information was new, just a rehashing of the same stuff I’d already read: the kids, their ages, parents and siblings. Nothing new. Was this what being a part of the FBI was about? Pushing paper around until your eyes crossed and you hoped all to hell and back that you caught something? Ugh. I’d made the right choice; I could never do this on a regular basis. A snore from Alex at my feet made me glance down. He wasn’t the only one feeling the twist from the jet lag. Stifling a yawn, I put my head down on my desk and covered my hair with my hands. Gods, why not just go after the kids now, get it done?

Because you need to know what you’re dealing with. And you need to know why the kids are being snatched so you can stop it and keep it from happening again. O’Shea’s voice seemed to echo in my head. Damn him, even when he wasn’t here he was right.

A hand touched my shoulder and I flinched. I was too tired to even keep my guard up. Not a good sign.

Will bent over me with a cup of coffee. “Jack never liked coffee, but I thought maybe you’d want some?”

“No.” I ran my hands through my hair. “I need to sleep.”

“Right. I can take you to where you’re staying. Just down the street in a basement suite.”

Again, he led the way, me only half awake behind him. Alex stumbled along too. Though only late afternoon here, we’d left yesterday, and at home it was the middle of the night; I’d been up way too long.

Rain pattered down around us, dark grey clouds pressing in from above, giving me the impression of endless grey. Two blocks down from the precinct, Will paused. “Here’s your key, go right in. I believe all your weapons were brought here by Agent Valley.” He handed me the key and a card. “That’s my number on there, call me when you get up and we can get started first thing in the morning.”

I nodded, took the key, mumbled “thanks” and opened the door. The inside was dim, but the walls were painted a cheery blue that matched the curtains, carpet and furniture. Matchy, matchy—how vomit inducing. Locking the door behind me, I propped a chair under the handle. Call me paranoid, but if Faris wanted me on his team, I had no doubt I’d be paid a visit sometime soon.

My weapons bag was still locked and I slid a small key out of my pocket. Opening up the hard-backed case, I took a quick stock of my weapons. I’d mostly brought blades in various sizes, my two swords being foremost amongst those. Silver threaded whip, cuffs, throwing knives, flak jacket, and my newest hobby, full size cross bow and bolts. I wasn’t one-hundred percent that it would work, it might be too mechanical, but my test shoots had been clean, so I was going to give it a try. There were more than a few bad asses out there I’d like to kill at a distance. And it would keep my dry cleaning bill down.

With a deep sigh I pulled one sword free and started through the forms of fighting Giselle had taught me, mostly Muay Thai. Block, parry, thrust, elbows, knees, fist and feet. Over and over until my body hummed with the movements. Then I picked up the second sword and worked my way through a few more imaginary opponents. Sweating, I slid out of my leather jacket and dropped to the floor, forcing myself through sit-ups, push-ups and a variety of other strength training exercises. Sure I was exhausted, but I had to be fit, ready to go after the kids that I was Tracking. Because no matter that I had some supernatural abilities, I was no f**king Superwoman. I could be hurt and killed as easily as anyone else. That was one lesson I was reminded of on almost every salvage, picking up new scars to add to the history already written on my body with blades, teeth and claws.

Finally done with my routine, I hopped in the shower for a quick wash. Stepping back into the main room, I dressed in clean clothes, and then picked up one sword and slid it under my pillows. I left the sheath on the sword. The edge of it was spelled to cut deep, but I’d slept with my weapons more than once and had learned the hard way to keep the sheath on unless I was fighting or practicing. I climbed into bed, pulled the blue comforter up to my chin, and let out a deep sigh. Exhausted, the last thing I did was Track Berget. Her energy and excitement flowed through me. She was happy, that at least was good. Whoever had taken her had taken good care of her. There was no fear in her at all.

A smile swept across my lips; it wouldn’t be long and I’d finally have my sister back. Closing my eyes, I sunk into the world of sleep.

11

The next morning did not dawn bright and cheery. A freaking cloud-ridden, storm-filled sky greeted me and Alex as we stepped out of our blue suite. The light drizzle dampened my hair to my head, and within minutes my face dripped water like I was standing under a faucet. Alex seemed happy though, sniffing the air and yanking on the leash to pull me along, oblivious to the bad weather with his thick coat and naturally happy attitude.

“Ease up, buddy,” I grumbled. I’d slept like the dead, but I still had a hard time waking up, feeling as though my limbs were tied down with weights. Shit, this jet lag business was a bitch.

“Alex hungry.”

“When we get to the station. And stop talking,” I said just as we passed an older couple walking with their umbrella’s held high. The woman pointedly kept her gaze averted, but the man had no problem giving me a grumpy look. I glared back at him. Good, I didn’t particularly feel like being nice anyway.