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Shadowed Threads(Rylee Adamson #4)(15) by Shannon Mayer

“I feel like you’re always leaving me behind,” she said softly as I helped her out of her long-sleeved shirt.

With a flick of my knife, I sliced her shirt and twisted it into a sling, tying it around her neck in a loop we carefully settled her arm into.

“It won’t always be like this. There are going to be days when we go on a salvage that you’ll wish you were back here with Eve, hanging out in a piss poor shack.” I grabbed my short leather jacket and zipped it up, then slid the long trench coat over Pamela’s shoulders.

Eve bobbed her head in agreement with me. “Rylee is right. My mentor, Eagle, he told me much the same. We are young yet, we will not always be in the midst of the battles. Not until we are ready. If we try too soon, we put not only ourselves in danger, but those that are there to teach and protect us.”

Damn, and why again had I brought the whole crew with me? Gut feeling … right. Slowly, I was learning that sometimes I had to just run with things. Even when I turned out to be wrong. Then again, Pamela had saved my ass with Blaz. Or maybe I just needed to meet him? Maybe our paths wouldn’t have crossed if we hadn’t gone back for Pamela and Alex? In my world, there was little in the way of coincidences. For some reason this was all happening as it was. I just had to figure out why.

“Eve, what was that all about, with the dragons? Do you know?” She’d lived in Europe in her early years and had more knowledge about the creatures specific to the area than I did.

Her beak stuttered with several sharp clacks before she answered me. “My mother told me that the dragons were too tied in their prophecies. That instead of living each day, they were always looking to the future.”

“And the blood mingling? How problematic is this going to be?”

She settled onto the ground just inside the shack. “According to what my mother told me, I would think not that big of a deal. They see signs and prophecies in the smallest details. In things that don’t really matter.” Eve attempted a shrug, then winced as her wings shifted.

I pushed all that away, had to. Whatever ‘mingling’ of blood Blaz and I had, it was clear he wanted no part of it, or me. Which was just fine. And if Eve was right, it probably meant nothing anyway.

Pamela moved to my side, her eyes serious. Crap, she wasn’t going to let this go.

“Alex gets to go with you,” Pamela said.

“You volunteered to stay, remember? And Alex isn’t a child,” I said, adjusting my weapon straps. “He might act like one, but he isn’t. Whatever his life was before, he was a grown up when he was turned into a werewolf.”

Alex nodded his head along with my words. “Alex grown up.”

I lifted my hands in surrender. “See?”

Pamela gave me a smile, a small one, but a smile nonetheless. “So as I get older—”

“I’ll take you with me until you beg me not too. You take care of Eve; that is just as important as me and Alex going after O’Shea. We’re a family; we take care of each other. No matter what kind of shit is thrown at us.”

Her grin grew and she carefully put her good arm around me. I hugged her back. Alex hugged our legs and Eve reached out a talon, which I took in my hand. Though I’d said the words on a whim, they were no less true.

We were a family, messed up, supernatural, getting chased and hurt, but a family no matter what.

Fuck, that was sappy.

“Alex, let’s go.” I untangled myself from Pamela’s arms, pushing her gently toward Eve.

We left them behind without a backward glance. Worst case scenario, they would have to wait for Eve to heal up and then they could fly to Jack. He would help them.

We, on the other hand, were most definitely on our own. I picked up a jog, and Alex kept pace with me easily, sometimes stopping to bite at a bush or a wayward stick. He was, as always, oblivious to the danger we faced, to what was coming behind us. That was, as always, a part of his charm.

For two hours we ran, not full tilt, but close to it.

Just before noon, we stopped on the outskirts of a town, or more accurately, a big city.

From the signs, we were still in France.

From the sounds of the ocean, and the heat that was making me sweat like a pig in my lined pants, Blaz had brought us all the way to the southern region. Shit, this was not going to help when O’Shea was in the north east. I Tracked him to be sure and got nothing back, not even a fuzzy signal.

Jack was right, we were running out of time.

“Alex, we’ve got to get a car,” I glanced down at him, and he rolled his eyes up to mine.

“Yupsies. Feets are pooped.” He waved a paw as if cooling it off.

It didn’t take me long to find a car I wanted to drive. The black 911 Porsche was pristine, just sitting there waiting to be snatched off the side road it was parked on. Fast, sleek, it would have us moving at a clip that would no doubt have our time cut in half. I slid my hand along the body of the car.

“Too flashy,” I muttered, hating that I was right. A car like that would get noticed and the last thing I needed was the ‘politzia’ looking for a missing Porsche.

Three blocks over, I found the car that would do the job, though I cringed at the sight of it. An older mini, painted white by hand, with perfect rust holes added for depth to the areas where the white paint hadn’t peeled away to show the original red color.

Ugly.

But it was easy to break into and easier to start, seeing as the keys had been left in the visor. Maybe someone didn’t want the piece of shit car anymore and had left it out to be stolen; that I could believe.

Alex piled in, all two hundred pounds of him, awkward limbs and seemingly endless tongue. There were mere inches between us, hardly enough room to breathe. The engine started after I pumped the gas pedal several times and begged it to turn over. With a sputtering cough, it revved up and we were off. Not as stylish as a Porsche, not as fast, but less likely to run into trouble along the way.

“Stinky,” Alex said, about an hour into our drive.

What was he talking about … the stench of dog fart filled the small space in a matter of seconds. I gagged, frantically rolling the window down. “Warning, you have to give me some warning.”

“Sorry.”

With the window down, I did my best to ignore the steady stream of gas erupting out of the werewolf. What the hell had he been eating? Nothing I’d fed him smelled like that. Unless you count in the milk and cheese. Shit on a stick, I was never feeding him dairy again.

Tracking O’Shea, I finally got a bead on him. He was even further north now, which could just have been because we were so far south. But I knew better—he was moving steadily further away from me.

“Just stay where you are, O’Shea,” I whispered.

“O’Shea stay.” Alex whispered back to me.

I could only hope that the man left inside of the wolf O’Shea had become would hang on just a little longer.

Stay with us, Liam, just a little longer. I’m coming for you.

Chapter 12

THE WOLF SLEPT easy, the taste of witch blood thick and sweet on his tongue.

Tonight, his dreams bled red with vengeance, soothing the beast raging inside him. More than wolf, less than man, he only knew that to kill those who had chained him would bring him peace.

The crack of a twig snapped his head up, a distant memory recalling a woman with dark hair and green eyes sneaking up behind him. When he’d been weak, when he’d still let the man rule his actions.

His eyes narrowed as he watched a figure approach. He lifted his nose to the air and breathed deep. Not a witch; something else.

Something more dangerous than a witch; a rival for his territory. Steel grey hair floated on the breeze and golden eyes stared down at him. Lean and wiry, the old man—who the wolf somehow knew was like him—stared at him from the shelter of the trees where he stood.

“Wolf, you hunt the witches, but do you know what you are?”

His lips curled back in a snarl, a rumbling growl warning the old man to back off.

Grey hair came forward, though, not back as the wolf had expected.

Closer with each step, the old man came to within leaping distance. A single leap and his throat would be in the wolf’s jaws. Crushed.

They assessed each other, and finally the old man gave a slow nod. “You must go. The witches come in a force even you won’t be able to stop. You endanger us all. Go to the north. Your mate will come for you there. She will save you. But, the witches will destroy her if you bring them together. Her death would be on your hands.”

His words stirred something in the wolf, a buried thought, a broken memory. Tri-colored eyes, auburn hair and a sharp tongue that was sweeter than any witch’s blood.

Lover. Fighter. Mate.

He shook his head and the old man was gone.

As if he’d never been.

The wolf slowly raised himself up and stared to the north. There, she would find him. If the witches came, he would end them. But no longer would he taunt them, hunt them. Not if her life depended on it.

Turning his muzzle into the wind, he headed north.

We made it to Warsaw, Poland with very little problem. No Beast, no cops, seriously relentless wolf farts, but otherwise, we didn’t have much issue. Nearly eighteen hours on the route we’d taken and I was done in. I had to sleep, no matter how much I wanted to keep going.

The car stuttered to a stop in front of a mid-sized hotel. Good enough for me. I told the front desk Alex was a therapy dog. It had worked in London and seemed to go over well in Warsaw too. Perfect.

I checked into my room, glanced over it quickly. We were four stories up, and while I didn’t think it would stop the Beast, I still checked to make sure the window was locked.

The bed was lumpy, and I didn’t turn the sheets down, just crashed on top of them, Alex curling up beside me. I passed out in a matter of seconds.

A few hours later, I woke up with a jolt, sitting bolt upright. I didn’t know what it was, but something woke me up. Blurry-eyed, fuzzy-brained, I acted on pure instinct. I rolled from the bed and landed on one knee as I pulled a sword free from its sheath.