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Rising Darkness(Rylee Adamson #9)(11) by Shannon Mayer

He wouldn’t look at me. “Does it matter?”

I grinned. “No, I guess not.”

I shouldn’t have been happy leaving behind all my family and those I loved. But I kind of was. A part of me wanted to escape all that I’d seen and the ties to everything that had happened in the past.

Especially with Liam and Rylee.

This was the only way.

“So are you going to tell me where we’re going?” he asked, his fingers brushing mine as we walked. Getting out was easy, no one would stop us from leaving the triage center. There weren’t even any guards. Too many had died, and those left were dying.

“Does it matter?” I wrapped my fingers around his and gave them a gentle squeeze. He squeezed back.

“No, I guess not.”

We both laughed at the silliness of repeating ourselves.

I was afraid to tell him, though, if I was being honest with myself. Milly had told me a long time ago where she would pick me up, when I was ready to be with her. Ready to fully train. She could only do so much for me in my dreams. So I knew where I was going, I just didn’t want to think about it.

The streets were eerily quiet, even for the middle of the night, everyone hiding in their homes or just plain dead. Frank tightened his fingers on mine and he pulled me to the right, ducking us both into an alley. Before I could ask him what he was doing, he put a hand over my mouth then pointed with his chin. I looked out of the shadows, and my blood chilled.

Three people hulked down the street. They looked normal, but the red glow in their eyes said it all. Demon ridden. I wanted to say we’d go after them, we’d be able to stop them, but Frank held me tightly. And the feel of his arms around me was nice.

He whispered in my ear. “They’re going after Rylee, I bet. I think we should try and stop them. Or at least warn her.”

I twisted in his arms, anger surging through me. “No. She’s a demon slayer, let her do her job. She doesn’t need us.”

Frank’s eyes met mine and I saw the uncertainty in them. So I kissed him. Frank softened against me, his hands coming up to cup my face, and for just a moment I forgot where we were. Then he was talking again and I had to force my brain to catch up.

“What?”

“I said, they’re gone.” He gave me a crooked smile. “Any time you want to distract me, feel free.”

I blushed, and even though he couldn’t see the burning in my cheeks in the dark, I still looked away. “Let’s go, we have a long walk.”

He peered out of the alley, checking both ways before standing straight and holding his hand out to me. I took it, and he didn’t let go. My heart fluttered. Will would always be the one I had a crush on, he still made me weak in the knees. And maybe even Doran a little bit too. But Frank was sweet and kind and he really liked me. “I’m glad you came with me.”

He stopped and gave me a big grin. “Me too. An adventure together.”

A ways down the street, Frank found a car with the keys in it, and gas in the tank. It started smoothly and the engine was very quiet which was good. Not that anyone would be looking for us yet, but better to be on the safe side.

Frank sat in the driver’s seat. “Okay, now you have to give me some direction, if I’m driving.”

“We’re headed to the country. Take a right here.” I pointed out the window, sweat gathering in the hollow at the base of my spine the closer we got to our destination. Frank might not notice right away where we were going, but he would soon enough. Peta sat on my lap, watching things go by the side window, her tail twitching now and again. We didn’t talk, and when we hit the bumpy, rutted road that led to the castle, his face tightened. Like he’d suddenly sucked on a dozen lemons all at once. My nerves got the better of me and I giggled. “Frank, that is an awful face.”

“Pam, why are we here? We can’t cross the veil, you know that. And even if we could, the castle is still on fire.” He parked the car and turned the engine off. Pushing his glasses up his nose, and straightening his hair, he seemed to be nervous again.

I took his hand. “We aren’t going to the castle, just the open plain.”

“Not a whole lot better of a place since it seems to be where giants hang out.”

“Blaz killed the last one,” I said.

He shrugged. “And the last one killed the one before that. There could be another.”

“I doubt it.” I opened my door and jumped out, then reached back in and grabbed my bag. Fear nipped at me, but I said what I had to say. “If you don’t want to come with me, I understand. I appreciate the ride out here. Come on, Peta.” She leapt out ahead of me and trotted down the path, as if she knew where she was going.

I shut the door and walked around the front of the car, the headlights blinding me for a minute. Long enough to not see Frank get out of the car too.

“I’m coming with you, Pam. Wherever you’re going, I’m going.” He grabbed his own bag, flicked off the car lights and shut the door with a slam. The sound echoed in the empty air.

He grabbed my hand again and led the way into the forest. “When did you get so bold?”

Frank laughed. “It’s easy. I’m trying to impress you.”

I blushed, but didn’t let go of his hand, despite the fact we were both sweating and our skin was sticking to one another, neither of us let go.

The forest was cooler than the city, but not by much. A breeze wafted through the trees, bringing us the scent of green things.