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Rising Darkness(Rylee Adamson #9)(8) by Shannon Mayer

“Who else?”

The list was enormous.

Witches and druids, daywalkers, vampires, trolls, mermaids, shifters, and goblins. Any supernatural that had even a hint of human blood could contract the pox.

“How can that be?” I whispered, sinking into a chair as I realized the people in front of me—they were what was left of our team to face Orion and his hordes. A handful of us. That was it.

“Orion knew what he was doing when he unleashed this particular pox. So even those who have been unable to get sick in the past, like the shifters, for example, they are open to being infected. And since no supernatural has ever contracted even a human cold, there are no antibodies in their systems. Zero immunity. The death toll is a hundred percent when it comes to our world.”

One hundred percent.

Shock scattered my thoughts and I leaned forward to press my face against the cool table. A hand was on my back, pressing into me. “Breathe, Rylee, breathe,” Faris said. Faris consoling me, not Doran as I’d expected.

If I had stayed, if I’d ignored Liam and stayed with my friends, our daughter would have been exposed to this. She would likely even now be in the hospital fighting for her life, or worse, dead. I struggled to do as Faris said, the air feeling tight in my mouth and throat. Finally, I got the words out. “How much good are we doing here?”

Deanna answered, slowly at first. “We are barely able to keep the demons at bay, and we can’t send them back. And though we can heal a few people of the pox, it is like trying to empty the ocean with a ladle. The truth of it is . . . this disease has more than a foothold. It is swallowing the world whole.”

Orion had said when he came he would save the world so they would love him and hand the reins to him. The humans would willingly give him anything and everything he wanted in order to be cured, to save the rest of the population.

“So we have no way of stopping this disease?”

Deanna took a slow breath, her eyes never leaving mine. “You could be the key to this, too.”

I raised my eyebrows. “What do you mean? I’m no healer.”

“But your blood, it’s Immune to this. All of this.” She waved her hands around her, fluttering them like spastic butterflies.

“Right. I know that.” I wasn’t following where she was headed.

Faris obviously understood what she meant. “She wants your blood, Rylee.”

“My blood?” I wasn’t deliberately trying to be dumb, I just . . . and then it hit me. “You want to drink my blood?”

Deanna flushed. “Not me. Someone who is infected.”

We didn’t get much further than that because someone new entered the tent. Someone I loved dearly, but the others wouldn’t necessarily see her through the same lens I did.

Berget strode in, her chin held high and her blue eyes clear. I grinned at her.

Doran didn’t.

“I told you I’d kill you if you came back,” he snarled, his green eyes glittering dangerously.

Shit sticks, I did not want to get between two vamps. But I didn’t have a choice.

CHAPTER 4

Rylee

Doran lunged at Berget, and I got in the way. He ended up tackling me to the floor, and I rolled with him so I was sitting on his hips, straddling him. He let me. It wasn’t like I could really take him down. Which meant he didn’t really want to kill her, either. But appearances were everything in the vampire world. I knew that.

I kept my hands on his biceps. “Doran, she is not under her parents’ control anymore.”

“You don’t know that. We can’t have a loose cannon like her around our people!” He could have thrown me off, but he didn’t. He stared up at me and I didn’t take my gaze from him.

“I trust her, Doran. What happened before was not her fault.”

“And when she tries to kill you and no one is there to save you? What then?” His question was not unexpected.

“If that happens, then I will do what I have to do. But it won’t.”

“Can I say something?” Berget asked.

“No,” Doran snapped, as he sat up. I stood and held out a hand to him. He took it, but then jerked me behind him, throwing me halfway across the room. “I’m sorry, Rylee, this is for the best.”

“No!” I screamed as I flew through the air away from them. No, this wasn’t the way it was supposed to go. Berget was finally free of her parents. I saw her as I fell, head bowed in front of Doran as he reached for her.

I hit the ground and was up and moving toward them with barely a breath. I had to stop Doran; I had to make him see she wasn’t the problem.

But someone beat me to it.

Faris.

The blue-eyed vampire slid between them and put a hand on Doran’s chest. “If Rylee says she trusts Berget, then you should too.”

That did not sound like Faris. That sounded more like . . . Liam. But that wasn’t possible, was it?

Everyone else in the tent had backed against the walls to give the vampires room.

Doran and Faris were eye to eye and Doran slowly looked back at me. “For now, keep her. But you are never to be alone with her. Faris. I charge you this task. You will keep the Tracker safe from her sister at all costs.”

I saw a light in Doran’s eyes slowly go out. He was the vampire leader; there was no way he could leave and come with us. It felt like I lost a portion of his friendship in that moment, and a piece of my heart broke.

“Done,” Faris said, without hesitation. Again, not like him.