Raising Innocence(Rylee Adamson #3)(7) by Shannon Mayer
The doorknob was cool under my touch and I twisted it with care, easing the door open. Poking my head in, I spotted stairs across the lobby, and no one waiting for us.
Shifting Giselle on my back, I walked as fast as I could across the lobby, doing my best to soften the sound of my boots on the marble floor.
“Opulent for a Coven who has no ties to the world, isn’t it?” Giselle noted, her voice low.
I was thinking along the same lines. Milly had claimed the Coven had no ties with the secular world, that they were woefully ignorant of the humans, and even at times, other supernaturals. But this place didn’t give me that feeling, not by a long shot.
There was even a computer at the desk, which meant that there were humans here.
We made it all the way to the third floor before I put Giselle down and pulled my two blades out of their sheaths. There was only a single door between us and Milly, and my heart pounded. I could do this; I had to.
My hands were slick with sweat, my muscles trembled, and it wasn’t the climb of the stairs that was doing it.
Giselle reached over and put a hand on my forearm.“Steady, Rylee. This must be done. Much as we hate it.”
A sharp nod was all I managed. One breath in, I lifted my right leg and slammed the heel of my boot into the door, banging it open.
Milly wore the same skin tight green dress she’d had on the previous day, and had her back to us. Four other people in the room faced us, hands raised. Shit, four witches against the two of us. The odds were definitely not in our favour.
The witches facing us wove spells, and based on the cannonballs rapidly headed in my direction, they knew to choose spells that wouldn’t directly attack me, instead opting to hurt me with other things. Big nasty things that would smash my brains in if I wasn’t careful. Shit, shit, shit! Milly had told them.
“They know!” Was all I managed before spinning to dodge the cannonball that came spinning toward my head.
Giselle threw the two bottles of salt water, one right after the other, but only doused a single witch. Not enough.
Milly had set the trap, and we’d walked right into it.
“Giselle, get out of here!” I yelled, knowing that she wouldn’t leave, but I had to try.
Milly moved away from me as I dodged and ducked the cantaloupe-sized iron balls. It looked like they were throwing two or three each, six balls zinging around the room at a speed I could only just keep ahead of. I tried to keep track of Milly while I dodged the balls, but it was impossible to do both. Dodging the balls became my main focus.
I hit the ground, rolling toward the closest witch, a man who stood about my height with short blond hair. That was all I registered before I grabbed his ankle and jerked him off his feet. He hit the ground with a grunt, two cannonballs dropping with him, and I moved on to the next witch. If I could disrupt their spells enough, we had a chance.
Not a good chance, but a chance nonetheless.
“Rylee, left,” Giselle yelled.
I jerked my body to the left, three cannonballs slicing through the air where I’d been. I flipped up to my feet and ran at the one closest to me, my right sword slicing through the air, taking off her arm at the elbow. She screamed, her face a blur to me as I spun.
One of the cannonballs caught me, slamming into my lower back with a force that knocked the wind out of me and sent me sailing across the room. I hit the far wall, stars dancing in front of my eyes as the pain in my back spread. My fingers and toes tingled, and I could move them, but not fast enough.
The cannonballs caught me then. As they hit me the spells diffused, but that wasn’t enough to stop the impacts, although apparently it was enough to let the witch turn her attention to the cannonballs her fellows had dropped.
Bones crunched. I felt them snap and twist. I slumped, unable to dodge what was coming at me. Pain flared but disappeared as the next ball hit me, leaving a new impression. Fast and hard, I couldn’t see them pinned face-first against the wall, but I sure as shit on a Troll could feel them.
I was so f**ked.
“Enough!” Giselle’s voice rose above the sound of my body being shattered, the grunts of air as they escaped me. I could do nothing to stop the slide of my body down the wall, barely catching myself with my left arm. The right was shattered at the elbow; I barely remembered it happening. What shocked me was the fact that they stopped at Giselle’s command, and then the pain rolled over me, and for a moment I blacked out.
As I came to, voices floated around me.
“You have been misled. As have we. I see that she even left a stunt double.”
Daughter of a whore, did that mean that Milly wasn’t here? A part of me was glad, and the other part was just f**king pissed.
“She said you’d claim that.”
“Convenient,” Giselle said, her voice dry. There was the rustle of someone’s clothes, then, “The least you could do is ease her pain since you attacked us first. You do have the proper herbs, don’t you?”
There was a sputter of disbelief, and then a pair of hands went around my neck. I opened my eyes to look up into the face of a freaking angel. She was stunning, the lines of her face reminiscent of the classic beauties, feminine and soft, full lips, huge blue-green eyes framed with dark lashes and a button nose.
Her voice was high-pitched, yet easy on the ears. “Milly told us you could hold back your Immunity on your hands? Do it and I will heal you.”
Giselle came into my line of sight and gave me a nod. She thought it was a good idea, though I wasn’t so sure. With an effort, I peeled my Immunity back, my fingers bared to whatever magic the witch would use on me.
Her fingers touched mine. “Hold still, this will hurt, but it will be quick and your body will be whole.”
A soft tingle was the first of it, and then my broken bones did a jig, yanking back into place. I bit my tongue on the scream that rose up, shaking as my body re-knit itself. I was shocked—and not just at the pain.
Milly had always claimed that healing like this wasn’t possible. That it wasn’t just not one of her talents, but that you couldn’t heal people with magic.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me a third time, and I’m going to run you the f**k through.
Panting, I lay still while my body finished mending itself under the guidance of the witch’s magic. The pain slowly lessened and the click of bone snapping back together slowed until there was nothing but the beat of my heart in my ears.
I pushed myself into a sitting position, my back against the wall, one sword across my lap the other on the floor beside me.
“Cannonballs. Nasty, but effective,” I said, pushing one of the iron balls with my left foot.
The man I’d stabbed sat up from across the room, the healer stepping away from him. The woman whose arm I’d removed was not in the room. How long had I been out for? “We thought it pertinent, considering your innate ability to avoid magic, to be prepared for an attack.”
A snort escaped me. “Attack? I’m not here for you. I’m here for Milly.”
The witches stilled around us. Apparently, honesty is not always the best policy.
Giselle stepped between us, as if her frail body could withstand even one blow from a cannonball. “Milly has betrayed not only us, but your Coven as well.”
The woman, the one who’d healed me, held her hand up for silence. “The rest of you may stay, but I will lead this. I knew Milly the best. She was like my sister.”
My stomach felt as if it had been yanked out and dropped from the window, the words striking me as easily as one of those gods-be-damned cannonballs. This woman was like Milly’s sister? Then what the hell was I? And why did I care?
I was a goddamned f**king idiot. That was what I was.
Giselle turned her face away, shaking her head. Tears slipped down her cheeks, and I knew that we’d both been fooled. We had been completely blinded by our love for Milly. She’d been able to manipulate us into believing her, and worse, trusting her.
I pushed myself to my feet and with great care cleaned off my one blade, before sliding it into its sheath. With my foot, I flicked the second blade up into the air and put it away too. “Let me guess,” I said. “Milly told you something along the lines of Giselle and I had her under our control, and she needed you to watch out for her. Help her train so she could eventually escape? Some shit like that?”
The members of the Coven exchanged glances. Even if I wasn’t bang on, I was close enough.
Laughing, I touched one finger to my chin. “Would you like to know what she told us about you? The Coven is ignorant of the world and you demanded her complete devotion; you forced her to cut ties with us and the world. And in the end, you wanted to kill her.”
The witch with the angelic good looks seemed shocked, her hand going to her throat. “We would never ask her to cut ties with her family. It is a support system that every witch needs. I can’t believe Milly would tell you that . . . no, you must have been mistaken.” She lifted her hands and three of the cannonballs rose in the air. Ah, crap, I did not want to get smashed again.
Giselle put her hands on her hips. “There was a witch who’d gone with Milly on the last salvage. She was the Coven leader’s wife?”
Eyes widened throughout the room. “Why would you say that?”
My mentor closed her eyes, and I felt her draw on her abilities. I wanted to stop her, to stay her hand and keep her sanity with us a little longer. “Milly was having an affair with the Coven leader. What better way to remove the wife from the picture than to have a Tracker kill her rival in self defense?”
Now, I won’t say I’d forgotten about killing that particular witch, it just didn’t make me lose any sleep. She’d been about to kill Milly, and at the time, I couldn’t let that happen.
Three of the witches turned to face the one man I’d laid my blade on, the blond. He went deathly pale as he addressed the angelic witch. “It is why I stepped down, Terese. I knew I was wrong and was using my connections for Milly. But I did love her.”
“Past tense?” I asked.