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Shadowed Threads(Rylee Adamson #4)(16) by Shannon Mayer

A voice spoke from the darkest corner of the room. “You know, I could have taken your blood ten times over, you were so deeply asleep. And your wolf there, he isn’t much better.”

Faris stepped forward, the light from the city through the window illuminating him.

“Do you ever make appointments, you know, show up when you’re supposed to?” I didn’t lower my sword, though I suspected I probably could. He made a good point; if he’d wanted to kill me, he could have on several occasions, not just that night.

I couldn’t see it, but I knew he was smiling at me by the way his voice lilted as he said my name. “And would you make an appointment with me, Rylee?”

“Nope.”

“Well then, it seems that this is the way it must be done.” He continued forward, pulling the only chair in the room with him, sitting down in it.

“Are you aware that your Milly is pregnant?” He laced his hands together in front of him.

“Old news,” I said, wishing I could get to the light switch. Alex snored lightly, rolled over and burrowed his face into the pillows.

“Quiet, Alex sleeping,” he grumbled. What a guard wolf he was.

I shifted my stance, lowering the tip of my sword to rest in the thin carpet. “You know I have people trying to kill me because they think I’ve aligned with you. Now why would that be, why would they think I’m on your side?”

Faris stared at me, his eyes visibly blue even in the shadowed light, like they glowed in the darkness. The freaky-ass vampire.

“Am I wrong to assume you don’t want the supernatural world announced to the humans?”

Fuck, this was not how I wanted the conversation to go. I did not want to agree with him on anything.

“Don’t assume you know me.”

“Am I wrong?” He bit out the words.

I let out a huff of air, once more aware that my level of fear around the vampire had dipped considerably since the first time I’d met him. “No. You aren’t wrong.”

There. I’d said it. The words tasted a bit like bile, having to agree with him.

He spread his hands in front of him. “So whether you like it or not, we are on the same side. I do not want to have the world know about us, and neither do you. The Child Empress wants the world to bow to her. That is a fool’s way of thinking, one she learned at her parents’ feet.”

Again, I agreed, but I didn’t say as much. Since I had him here, I was going to see about getting some of my questions answered. Much as I hated to admit it, Faris knew a great deal—and much of it, I had no doubt, could help me survive. He was in the center of all the supernatural politics and I was barely on the fringes. Which meant I could use what he knew.

“Speaking of the Child Empress, what’s her beef with Pamela?”

Faris blinked several times and I realized that I’d caught him off guard. Score one for me.

“Pardon?”

So damn proper. “The Child Empress sent Doran after Pamela, why?”

“Did you kill him?” There was just a tad too much eagerness there for my liking.

“Never mind that. What beef would this kid have with Pamela?”

Faris pursed his lips, and his eyes dropped to half mast, cloaking the brilliant blue. “Perhaps jealousy. The Child Empress has been spoiled beyond belief, and now she is prepped to rule the world. Your Pamela, if my understanding is correct, once she matures, will put Milly to shame. That makes her a threat. What better time to wipe out a threat than when it is young and defenseless?”

My jaw tightened and I gave him a nod. “Point taken.”

Silence then, as he sat there and stared at me, and I stared back, not sure what exactly was going on.

“What are you doing here, Faris? I doubt you’re just stopping in to chit-chat.”

He answered me with a question of his own. “Aren’t you even the least bit curious how I found you? You are, after all, one of the last Trackers in the world; I’d think this would be of interest to you.”

I shrugged and leaned back on my bent knee. “Milly had some of my blood. I know she has the spells it would take, plus the strength to use them to find me.”

Faris leaned toward me. “I’ve tasted your blood, Rylee. I can find you anywhere now. Anywhere at all. A particular talent I’ve honed over the years.”

Ah, f**k, that is not what I wanted to hear. But I acted like I didn’t care, though my heart tried to leap up my throat, making my next words come out a bit strangled. “Whatever, anything else? A particular reason you wanted to wake me up in the middle of the night in the middle of Poland? Maybe you came to apologize for setting Milly on me, to have her try and kill my friends?”

He stood and started toward me. I rose to stand, facing him. I refused to back down, to give him the pleasure of seeing him push me the way he wanted me to go.

“Rylee, Milly and I were partners—of a sort. What she did to you and yours was nothing I had anything to do with, though no doubt that is what she told you. I wish you could see things as I do.” He reached out, put one finger under my chin and tipped my face up. I batted his hand away, and he just chuckled.

“Spit it out. I have only a little more time to get some piss poor sleep before I have to leave.”

He nodded, his face suddenly drawing tight, as if he had bad news for someone he cared about. But that was ridiculous, because one, I knew he didn’t really give a shit about me. I was just a tool to him, and two, regardless of how bad things were for Milly, I wasn’t helping her.

“Are you aware that your sister is in mortal danger?”

That I hadn’t expected. My heart lurched hard, and sweat beaded up in an instant on my lower back. Every moment of my life since Berget had gone missing, I’d dreamed of going back in time and saving her. Of making right the one thing in my life I could never take back. Son of a bitch, even while my head explained that Faris knew that about me, if he knew nothing else: that my sister was the key to making me do what he wanted. Even knowing that, my heart was screaming at me to move, to get to her and save her, screw the rest of the people around me. With everything I had, I forced myself to hold still, to remember that it was Faris I was dealing with.

“You can’t know that.” I struggled to deny him, to get the words out, old fears waking up with a vengeance as his words hit me.

“But I do know it. Her death is scheduled. Tomorrow at sunset, her blood will be spilled into the canals of Venice.”

I fought to keep my legs from buckling under me. There was no way he was telling the truth. I Tracked Berget, felt her happiness and laughter, she was finding something very funny. Her life coursed through the thread that connected us once more now that we were on the same side of the water. A faint hint of uncertainty lay there too, but no fear. “You lie, I can feel her, she isn’t afraid. There is nothing that would—”

“She knows it comes and she believes it is a thing she must do. She believes it is for the best. That it will save lives.”

He reached for me again, and this time I didn’t pull away. Not because I wanted him to touch me, but because I literally couldn’t move. He had to be lying, there was no other answer. This was just a manipulation on his part. A way to make me do what he wanted. There was no way he would have come here just to help me—just to save my little sister. There had to be some angle, some benefit to him that I just wasn’t seeing. He was a vampire, not some gods-be-damned saint.

His hands settled on my shoulders. “You could stop them, stay the hands that would slay her. But you would have to come with me. We would have to leave now.”

Berget’s life danced inside my head. I felt her as surely as if she were standing in front of me. Faris could be lying—in fact, I was almost certain he was. This was a ploy, a way to get inside my head. A way to control me, to get me to do what he wanted.

Faris had never been straight with me, and he knew that Berget was a card I would have a hard time ignoring if he played it. Fuck, I couldn’t deal with this right now.

I took a deep breath and knew that I had to call his bluff, as hard as it was. “I don’t believe you.” I stepped back from him, watched the unexpected sorrow fill his eyes. Sorrow, not anger.

“Then your sister will die—tomorrow.”

Panic clawed at my throat. If I was wrong, I was sentencing Berget to death without even lifting a single finger. I closed my eyes and Faris spoke from across the room.

“I would save her, if I could. But I can’t. It is outside my abilities to stay a death such as hers, at least not without help.”

“Then what makes you think I can save her?” I opened my eyes, stared at him as if somehow I would gain the answers I wanted from him.

“Because you are the Tracker. The catalyst.” His eyes never left my face. “You will blame me for her death when it happens.”

“She isn’t going to die,” I said, finding the strength to push the doubts away. “This is a game, an elaborate f**king game to you. You think I’m going to Venice? You’re wrong. I’m not. I don’t believe you. Berget is fine.”

“Then the Child Empress wins.”

I blinked and he was gone, the room empty of his blue eyes that were becoming all too familiar to me.

“Fuck,” I snapped, grabbing my sword and driving it into its sheath with perhaps a little too much force. Alex snorted and rolled over, a jaw-cracking yawn splitting his muzzle.

“Going now?”

I paced the room, Berget’s threads strong inside my head. Happy, healthy, not a drop of fear in her, a small hum of sadness and uncertainty flickered from her to me, but it was gone in a flash. Almost like it had never been. How could Faris think I would believe him?

I Tracked O’Shea, felt the fuzzing of his mind, the blip as he went off the radar, and then back on.

I didn’t have time to check on Berget, to prove Faris wrong.

O’Shea was slipping away from me, faster with each passing moment, and that was if I discounted a team of witches going after him to end his life. But what if Faris was telling me the truth? What if this time there was no game in him?