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Shadowed Threads(Rylee Adamson #4)(12) by Shannon Mayer

Eve swept down and I climbed onto her back, tucking myself behind Pamela. Eve held Alex in one talon; there just wasn’t enough room for him to ride on her back.

“Rylee, I knew you’d come back for us.” Pamela glanced over her shoulder, her blue eyes full of trust, and a bruise blooming on the side of her face where Daniels’ thugs had knocked her out. Damn.

“I almost didn’t.”

Her eyes dulled a little, but that was just it. I didn’t want her to think I was infallible. Quite the opposite, if you looked at my track record.

Eve flew us across the channel and as dawn broke we landed in a farmer’s field on the outskirts of a town.

The Harpy hopped on one foot, flipping a sleeping Alex out of her grip so she could land easily. He tumbled with a yelp, scrambling awake, his eyes round with that look people get when they’re startled awake. Like they aren’t really seeing the real world yet, but still inside the dream they’d been dreaming.

With a full-bodied shake he turned to glare up at Eve. “Not funny, Evie.”

She snorted. “Did you want me to land on you?”

He sneezed, scrubbed at his muzzle with a paw, and then shook his head. “No throwing Alex!”

They continued to banter back and forth as Pamela and I slid off Eve’s back.

“Rylee …”

I glanced over at Pamela, who was rubbing her hands over her arms. “What?”

“Are we stopping here to rest?”

This was the part I’d not really considered. Alex and Eve could keep up with me, but Pamela was still a kid, and a kid who’d been treated pretty shitty-like prior to me finding her. If I was on my own, I’d start Tracking O’Shea and be leaving right away. But with Pamela along for the ride … .

“I’m just going to get my bearings, give Eve a chance to rest for bit, and then we’ll be flying again. You can sleep in the air, okay?”

She bit her lower lip and nodded. “Okay. I’m kinda hungry.”

“Alex hungry too.”

The werewolf went from chattering at Eve to scooting himself in front of me, tongue lolling out. “Starving.”

I took in the area. The farmhouse would be as good a place as any to grab something to eat. After all, this was France, the land of good food, good wine, and sexy men. At this point, I’d take the first on the list and ignore the other two.

“You three stay here.” I pointed at the spot I was standing on and Alex almost shoved me over trying to plant his butt where I pointed.

With a shake of my head, I started off toward the farmhouse across the field. As I walked, I sent out a thread to Track O’Shea. There was a whisper of him, faint, kinda like he was across the Veil that separated the human world from the hidden supernatural realms, but that wasn’t quite right, either.

I stopped and concentrated on the feel of him. He was there, but it was like the signal was being blocked. To the east and the north, he was at least on this continent and then it was as if the thread I’d tied to him was cut. Not like he was dead, or across a large body of water, which blocked my abilities, but cut in half. I Tracked him again, or tried to, got nothing, and then the faint thread that was O’Shea fuzzed again. Still to the north east. Like a crappy radio signal dipping in and out of reception.

But this was weird; I’d never felt anything quite like this before. I started to walk again, mulling it over in my head. I knew we didn’t have long on the ground; there was no way the Beast would give up so easily, and I had no idea how long Deanna’s spell would hold him for. Food was the first thing, and if I was lucky, the farmhouse would have a phone that I could use to call Jack.

I kept Tracking O’Shea, or trying to. His threads continued to blur in and out of focus. Like one minute he was there, the next he was gone. What the hell was this garbage?

Approaching the farmhouse, I slowed my gait, but walked right up to the front door like I belonged there. No need to go skulking around in the early morning. I tried the doorknob and it turned easily in my hand. Hard to imagine anyone being so trusting in this world anymore.

Stepping across the threshold, I did a quick sweep of the room with my eyes. Nice furniture, older but well kept, a TV and one wall covered in photographs. Family shots mostly, some school pictures, pictures of people who had nice, normal lives.

If only they knew what had just crept into their home. A shot of embarrassment zipped through me. I made my way through the house, noting the exits, the stairs leading up to the bedrooms. Typical two-story farmhouse. The kitchen was at the back and I hit the jackpot. Rifling through the drawers I found a good-sized paper sack and moved quickly, stuffing it with food. Homemade bread, cheese out of the fridge that looked homemade too by the light coloring, three oversized sausages, a couple of apples, and a glass jug of milk. I’d just have to make sure Pamela ate first or Alex would eat it all, the piggy werewolf.

I slung the sack over my shoulder and looked around for a phone. There on the wall was an older style rotary phone, which was perfect since I wasn’t sure one of the new cordless ones would work for me. I moved to the phone, freezing when I heard a creak of floorboards upstairs and the soft back and forth of voices. Shit, I didn’t want to face anyone; it was bad enough I was stealing their food.

I lifted the phone and dialed Jack’s number. He picked up on the first ring.

“Got to be you, Rylee, feels like I’m picking up the phone with no one on the other end,” he grumbled.

“We’re fine, you’re okay?”

“Fine, just f**king dandy.”

“O’Shea’s threads are fuzzing in and out.” I spoke in a rush, the creak of the stairs making me talk fast. “Why?”

“Hmm. Not sure.”

“Hurry. Time crunch.”

Jack took a breath and then coughed. “Could be the wolf has taken too much of him. If he’s lost to the wolf, it isn’t really O’Shea you’re Tracking anymore. If you’re getting a bead on him now, that’s good. But you might run out of time. Might end up having to Track werewolves in general and hope to hell you can find him that way.”

I didn’t answer him, just hung up the phone and moved to stand behind the kitchen door, blocking me from sight as the farmer’s wife padded into the kitchen. Her grey hair was braided down her back and she wore a calf length nightgown, white with pink flowers on it. She’d lived her life probably never even knowing the supernatural was real. I didn’t want that to change for her.

Denning was wrong. Bringing the supernatural into the open would turn it into a clusterf**k of massive proportions. Even though the supernaturals were stronger and faster, there were far fewer of us than them. If it came down to it, we would be overwhelmed with sheer numbers. Like ants, the humans would swarm and devour the world of the supernatural.

As the farmer’s wife bent to pull a frying pan out, I slid around the side of the door and jogged quietly to the front door, slipping through it without a sound. These people didn’t deserve to be robbed, or to have some great hulking Beast show up just because I’d been here. Let them live their lives not knowing about the supernatural, let them be in their world of family, farming and long white nightgowns that would never be used to sop up blood.

I jogged back to my three wards. Three, how the hell had this happened? Jack was right. I had to start saying no. If I didn’t, there wouldn’t be much time before I was stringing along a f**king circus behind me on every salvage I went after.

I handed the milk to Pamela, portioning out the rest of the food between her, Alex and myself. Eve took one of the sausages, but nothing else.

The three of them chattered away at each other and I stood back, watching them. They interacted easily, as if they’d known each other for years, and for a split moment it was as if I saw them ten years from now. Older, wiser, still working together. They would make an amazing team, and when that time came, I knew they wouldn’t need me anymore.

This was their training grounds, and I was their mentor as Giselle had been to me. More than ever before, I felt the weight of that on my shoulders, the responsibility I had to them and to the world, to make sure they were trained up right. To make sure they didn’t end up causing more harm than good.

The last thing the world needed was more supernaturals like Faris.

Or worse yet, more supernaturals like Milly.

Chapter 10

EVE ANNOUNCED SHE was ready to go not long after Alex had polished off the last of the food.

As we rose up into the clouds, I looked down, expecting to see the Beast below us. What I wasn’t expecting was the blow from above.

The only warning we had was a rush of air, the back draft of a wingspan that dwarfed us. Glittering, scaled talons struck hard and deep; they buried themselves into Eve’s body, pinning my legs to her. I expected a Harpy, thought maybe we’d crossed into territory that was already taken. I looked up, shock snapping along my nerve endings.

Pamela screamed, Alex barked, and the noise only added to the confusion of what I was seeing, of what my mind—so used to the supernatural—struggled to accept. Scales of green, silver, and blue rippled in the dim sunlight and the leathery wings that spread above us obscured my vision from anything but what I was looking at. Triangular head, four legs, big f**king wings, long tail that cut through the air like a rudder. And scales. Lots and lots of scales.

A dragon, f**k me, an ever-loving dragon had us in his talons. Teeth that looked as though they were shards of steel glistened just above us, but no fire escaped him. Or maybe it was a her, I had no way of knowing. Either way, we were royally f**ked. I didn’t think for one instant this was going to be anything other than a fight to the finish.

Eve struggled and then went still below me, the calm in her voice surprised me. “Rylee, I can’t break free and I think my wings are broken.”

Without a sound the dragon banked hard to the right, taking us south, away from O’Shea. Though at that particular moment O’Shea was the least of my worries.

I couldn’t take my eyes from the beast above us, knowing that even if my swords bit into the dragon’s skin and he dropped us, we were dead in the air without Eve’s wings. “Yeah, this could be a problem.” We were going to have to wait until we landed. I gave Pamela a light shake. “Screaming isn’t going to help, and it could attract more attention from other supernaturals. Which would be …”