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Rising Darkness(Rylee Adamson #9)(13) by Shannon Mayer

Frank’s eyes widened and I turned to see a shadowy figure of Milly standing in the center of the pentagram. I smiled at her, suddenly feeling shy. “Hello, Milly.”

“Pamela, who is this?”

That stumped me. “You remember Frank, don’t you?”

Her eyes sparkled with pleasure. “Of course, the necromancer. You’ve grown a great deal since I saw you last . . . Frank.”

I wanted to pinch him, to point out how nice she was. To say see, I told you so.

“I want to come live with you now, Milly. Rylee is back and she still doesn’t care about me.”

Beside me, Frank stiffened. “That’s not true.”

Milly smiled at us both. “I will send my friend to pick you up. Frank, you are welcome to come too. Pamela would like that. Wouldn’t you, Pamela?”

I nodded, but couldn’t look at him. “Yes, I would. Very much.”

Milly clasped her hands in front of herself. “Wonderful. I’ll see you both very soon.”

There was a soft pop and her image disappeared.

Frank didn’t waste any time. “You can’t trust her. Even if she wants to help you; she is owned by Orion. You know that.” He grabbed my arms and spun me around to face him. I didn’t fight him, just lifted my hand and made a flicking motion that sent him tumbling away from me. Harder than I meant to. I slapped my hands over my mouth in horror as he hit the ground and lay still.

“Frank, I’m sorry, I didn’t meant to—” I let out a strangled squawk as a hand shot out of the ground and grabbed my ankle. Slimy and cold, it gripped me tightly. I shot a blast of fire at it, and then there were more hands, all of them reaching for me. “Frank, stop it!”

He groaned and I realized he wasn’t even really awake. I’d knocked him out. Then why were the zombies showing up? I didn’t have time to think about it. Each second that passed had more hands shooting out of the ground, pushing themselves out faster than I thought possible. I kicked at one hand, shot a stream of fire at a group of hands and then I was grabbed from behind. “FRANK!” Peta ran to him and licked at his face, butting him gently with her head and even patting him with her paws. But that was the last I saw of them.

A zombie picked me up, wrapped its arms around me, and squeezed. I struggled against the slimy, peeling skin, the flesh rotten and stinky. I gagged and fought to get myself under control. I couldn’t use my magic if I couldn’t think straight. But there was so much going on. Too much.

I gulped in a breath to call to Frank again and ended up with a piece of zombie flesh in my mouth. I heaved and puked, spewing my stomach contents down the front of my shirt. “Frank!” I tried again. Fear made me useless, and if I didn’t do something, the zombie was going to crush me like a peanut.

I went limp in the creature’s arms and it stopped trying to squash me. Breathing easier, I looked around. The field was full of zombies, three of them were bending over Frank. What if they were trying to eat him?

“Frank, WAKE UP!” I yelled, and then started to cry. This was all my fault. If I hadn’t lost my temper, Frank wouldn’t have gotten hurt and I wouldn’t be stuck in the stinking zombie’s embrace.

“Pam, I’m okay.”

My head snapped up and Frank limped toward me, his hair all messed up, and a bump on his head, Peta in his arms. But he was awake. He flicked a hand toward me and the zombie let go. I dropped to the ground and scrambled away. Frank took my hand and I wanted so badly to kiss him, to show him I was sorry. But I had vomit on the front of my shirt, and zombie gore on my back. Not really something I thought would add to the atmosphere.

“I’m sorry.”

“I know it was an accident. Maybe it is a good thing you’re going for more training. You tossed me harder than you thought, right? And you can’t freeze like that when you get scared. It’s not safe.”

I nodded, then realized what he was saying. “You mean, you think I should go?”

“I do. But I’m still coming with you, to make sure everything is legit.” He waved his left hand in a quick circle and the zombies all melted into the ground, as if they never were.

I wanted to ask him why they woke up when he was unconscious, I wanted to ask him if I really meant that much to him, and if he really thought Milly was good now or if he was just humoring me. All of those things and so much more.

But our ride showed up.

A whoosh of leathery wings back drafting as the dragon landed was the only warning we got. Purple and dark gray scales glittered in the early morning light. On its back was a leather strap system not unlike the one we had on Blaz. I waved, excited. “We’re here.”

The dragon’s head swiveled toward us and for a split second, I was sure we were dead. Red eyes glittered, like watermelon-sized rubies. A demon’s eyes. My feet froze and the dragon snaked her head until it was right over us, and her voice whispered inside my skull.

My master beckons you. Get on, puny witch.

I lifted my chin, but my voice trembled. “Frank is coming with us. Right, Frank?”

His fingers tightened on mine. “I’m coming with you.”

The dragon–who did not look pleased by this announcement—snapped her jaws.

Fine by me. When the master kills him, I will snap his bones and shit out his innards.

I froze. “What did you just say?”

She ducked her head away from me. Nothing. Forget I spoke.

Slowly, reluctantly, we climbed onto the dragon, and buckled in, Peta curling up between us despite the zombie gore. Frank put his arms around me and I clung to him as the dragon leapt into the air. Milly wouldn’t hurt us. She was going to help me. I had to hang on to that no matter what the stupid dragon said. I closed my eyes and leaned into Frank, the long night taking its toll. Despite the zombie stench, and bits of vomit on my shirt, I was exhausted. My last thought as I fell asleep was that Rylee wouldn’t miss me. She would be glad I was gone.