Shadowed Threads(Rylee Adamson #4)(17) by Shannon Mayer
I put my hands over my face. What the f**k was I going to do?
THE ROAD AHEAD of us was clear, even though the further north we got the more the skies darkened with snow-filled clouds.
I had my foot jammed on the gas pedal, pushing the little car as hard as I could. While I drove, I clung to Berget’s threads, feeling what she felt. Even though she was happy, joyous even, I couldn’t completely push Faris’ warnings away. Was he going to try and kill her, was that what he’d been doing, threatening her? Fuck, I just didn’t know. All I knew was that O’Shea needed me first, and I had to go after him before anyone else.
After Faris’ visit, I hadn’t been able to sleep. No point in sticking around anyway. Who the hell knew where the Beast was behind us? That, combined with my irrational fear that Faris had been telling me the truth, had stolen any chance I’d had at resting.
I eased my foot off the gas pedal as I had a literal moment of wanting to bash my head against the steering wheel. Blaming my stupidity on my sleep-deprived brain.
“Why the f**k didn’t I think of this earlier?”
Letting go of Berget’s threads, I Tracked the Beast. His proximity made me suck a sharp gulp of air and hit the gas with my foot.
Less than two miles, directly behind us. Mother of God, we were up shit creek with holes in the boat and no f**king paddles. Between my fight with that stupid dragon, Blaz, and the few hours sleep, the Beast had gained an amazing amount of ground on us.
“Alex has to pee.”
I turned to glare at the werewolf. “You have to hold it. We can’t stop.”
“No, no peeing in the car!”
His bottom lip stuck out and he fiddled with the window crank. “Have to pee bad.”
Two miles. The Beast was two miles behind us. I Tracked O’Shea—and felt nothing. Fuck, what else could go wrong? No, I didn’t want to know.
Alex was scrambling at the door handle, actually getting the door open, leaving me no choice.
I cranked the wheel over and slammed on the brakes. “Pee and come back, hurry it up.”
Alex fell out of the car, bounding through the deep snow drifts. Not peeing at all, just playing.
“Alex, f**king well pee or get back in the car.” I Tracked the Beast, feeling the distance between us tighten like a noose around my neck. Less than a mile and a half, closer to a single mile in the time it was taking for Alex to take a leak—fuck, we were in trouble.
The werewolf finally cocked a leg on a tree then bounded back to the car, tumbling in. I reached across and yanked the door shut.
Trying not to panic, I pulled back onto the road and again, put the gas pedal all the way to the floor. More and more I was regretting my ‘smart’ decision when it came to my choice of cars. Right about now, a Porsche would be mighty handy. As it was, we were having difficulty getting the speedometer up over forty miles an hour.
I Tracked the Beast, Berget and tried to Track O’Shea all at one time. The Beast came through loud and clear as he continued to gain on us. Berget was fine, same as before, and still, there was nothing from O’Shea.
“Damn you, Liam. Where the f**k are you?”
“Trying, I’m trying,” I whispered, sweat trickling down my spine even with the steady stream of cool air slipping through the car’s vents.
I was going to have to do a group Track, looking for a werewolf instead of O’Shea in particular. I thought about the characteristics, good and bad. Loyal, blood thirsty, pack bound and wild.
Of course, the first thing that came up was Alex sitting right next to me. I pushed his Threads back and reached out further, away from him.
There, to the northeast, in the same direction I’d last felt O’Shea came the hum of a werewolf, strong and clear.
I hung onto those three threads, did my best to ignore the Beast’s, did my best to not worry about Berget’s, and headed straight for O’Shea. A headache began to throb just behind my eyes, no doubt from hanging onto so many threads at the same time. Shit, just add it to the list
The next half hour passed in a white-knuckled drive that had nothing to do with the weather or the road. Each minute that passed, the Beast cut the distance between us down, until, in my rear view mirror, I caught glimpses of his black body just as we’d round a corner. We had run out of time.
Alex barked, excitement spilling off him. “Yay! Fuck! Fucking rabbits?”
“No, no rabbits. Bad kitty.”
The werewolf frowned. “Will?”
“Not Will, bigger kitty.”
The engine took that moment to splutter, to f**king splutter, when I knew it wasn’t out of fuel. I pumped the gas pedal, “Come on, you bastard, you can’t do this to me.”
Harder, I jammed my foot up and down, begging the car to keep going. Coughing and hacking like a fifty-year smoker, the car shuddered, speed falling as it gave up the last of its life.
Oh, we were so screwed.
I jerked the wheel to the right, pulling the car over to the shoulder, made sure I had all my weapons and jumped out of the car. Alex leapt out beside me, almost pushing me into traffic.
From behind us, I could feel the Beast, feel him closing the gap faster now, as if he knew we were on foot.
“Let’s go.” I bolted off down the side of the highway running as fast as I could, Alex loping along easily beside me. How the hell were we going to get out of this mess?
“Big truck!” Alex howled, pointing and dancing as a big rig with a flat deck piled high with strapped down containers came around the bend, going in our direction. The Beast was a hundred feet behind it, maybe less.
“Get on the big truck,” I yelled, and Alex wasted no time, bolting after the rig, leaping up onto the flat deck. I ran full out, arms pumping hard and fast, and I leapt toward the truck, outstretched hands just catching the edge of the flat deck. The wood splintered, old and rotten, under my hands. My legs were pulled along the pavement, dangling out behind me as the wood continued to break away.
The werewolf inched toward me, eyes glimmering with fear as he stared out behind me, whimpering. “Big, bad kitty.”
“Help me up!” I couldn’t get my feet under me, and in about three seconds I was going to lose my grip. Which wasn’t really my biggest problem as I could feel the Beast less than a few feet behind me, within swiping distance.
Alex reached down, his claws digging into my forearms, pinching me hard even through the leather jacket. I wrapped my hand around his forearms as he yanked me up onto the flat deck. We tumbled backward and the Beast let out a roar, the sound of it so close that I could smell his breath, the tangy scent of blood and old meat. Obviously, he hadn’t been stopping to eat … probably just waiting on me.
I rolled to the side, bumping into one of the containers and looked back. The Beast was not being left behind. Shit, this was about to get ugly. “Alex, try to stay clear of him.”
The werewolf whimpered again. “No want kitty to come on big truck.”
“Me neither, buddy.” Not that we had a choice in whether or not he joined us. I looked at what was strapped down on the truck. Five foot by five foot, the square wooden crates were stacked two high and were held on by thick canvas straps, three straps to each double stack of totes. There was no telling what was inside the wooden crates, they could be empty, or there could be f**king bombs inside. I was hoping for bombs.
I yanked my sword, and sliced through the canvas tie downs. “Alex, push it!” I pointed at the tote and he didn’t question me, just shoved the tote off the end of the truck.
With an ease that did not bode well for me, the Beast dodged the falling tote, which exploded in shower of brilliant red ceramic tiles. Maybe the move had gained us a few seconds, a few feet, but the Beast made it up in a matter of heartbeats. So much for that idea.
We backed away from the edge of the flat deck.
“Alex no like kitties.”
Yeah, I wasn’t real fond of them either right at that moment.
The Beast’s muscles bunched and he launched himself toward the rig, landing on the flat deck.
I ducked in between the cargo, knowing the space was small enough that the Beast couldn’t get in after me. He leapt up on top of the containers, his eyes staring down at me. Huge, silver orbs, full of a sorrow that made my heart ache in response, even with the fear he inspired. He was being compelled to do this, to kill someone.
His eyes narrowed and a snarl of frustration slipped out of him, then he was clawing at the straps that held the big containers on. I slashed my sword toward the big cat, cutting through the flesh of its flank, the skin peeling open and then closing back up as I expected it would. He roared and clawed again at the heavy straps holding the cargo containers down. The containers wobbled, sliding toward one another, dangerously close to pinning me between them. I side-stepped and put myself between the next set of containers. I only had two more groupings before I was up against the cab of the truck, so this trick wasn’t going to last long. Shit, what the hell was I going to do?
My mind raced. I knew I couldn’t kill the Beast, like the other Guardians I’d met I didn’t have the ability to kill them. I didn’t really know if anyone did.
But could I maim him? Slow him down?
The Beast’s paw swiping at the straps flicked in and out of view with each blow, giving me the only idea that I had. Timing it, I swung hard on his next swipe, my sword slicing through the bone and flesh connecting his paw to his leg. It came off cleanly, the Beast roaring with pain, a gush of blood flowing out for a brief moment before the wound closed over.
I held my breath. Would it grow back, or would—
The containers I hid between suddenly jerked and slammed me between them. I screamed and then could do nothing, my chest compressed between the two sets of cargo, arms pinned.
Beside me, I saw the other containers the Beast had been working at slide all to one side of the flat bed, and the truck rocked as we took a corner. Oh, f**k, this was about to get ugly.