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Shadowed Threads(Rylee Adamson #4)(18) by Shannon Mayer

I had to get out from between these containers. Like now.

Pushing myself sideways, grimacing with the pressure on my body, feeling as if my skin was going to peel from my body, I gained a few inches toward the next set of cargo. The Beast was still here, but I didn’t know what he was up to. The truck lurched again in the other direction and the containers holding me loosened up. I scrambled to get out from between them, diving to the next set of containers as the ones I’d just been between slammed together.

With no warning, the Jake brakes on the truck came on, screaming as the driver lost control of the big rig. The rig flipped as we hit a corner, and for a split second, gravity no longer held me as I floated in the air between the two containers.

A clawed hand shot out, yanking me from the death trap, and Alex jerked us both off the truck as it tumbled down the embankment. The twisted shrieks of metal competed with the roar of the beast as we sailed through the air, hitting a snow bank that seemed more gravel and dirt than snow.

There was no graceful roll. We hit the snow bank hard and our bodies flipped over it, sliding down a good ten feet before we stopped. I pushed myself to my knees and did a quick check of my weapons.

“Alex, we’ve got to move.” I yanked him up, running before I even really got myself balanced, feeling the bruising in my chest and legs already tightening up my muscles. I Tracked the Beast, but he stayed where he was, not moving. He was alive, but … maybe that was the trick? Maybe you had to de-limb, or detain the Guardians in order to hurt or stop them?

Fuck, that would be messy. But at least it was something. Maybe.

We ran, Alex and I, deep into the forest, using the paths the local wildlife had created. The feel of the werewolf that wasn’t Alex hummed in my head, closer now than ever before. Maybe O’Shea had started back toward us. Not that he knew we were coming, but maybe his roving pattern had changed? But what was I going to do when I found him? Now that I was this close, I had to figure out a plan. I still had the Beast behind me, and I had no way of holding O’Shea if he was unreasonable. No way of binding him.

No time, there was just no time to even plan. I would have to deal with O’Shea when we found him and hope for the best. We hopped a frozen creek, scrambled up the other side of the embankment, and emerged out onto a wide path, wide enough for a car at least, though it was covered in a thin layer of frozen snow.

A shadow of movement at the far end of the trail stopped me, stilling my mind and body.

“O’Shea?”

Alex lifted his nose to the breeze. “Wolf.”

“Good enough for me.” I jogged down the trail as fast as my stiffening body would allow, the trees around us hanging low with the frozen snow. Our breath misted out in bursts of steam in the cold air. Alex tried to bite his.

We reached the spot where I’d seen the movement, where I’d seen O’Shea.

A low growl rumbled off to our right. Shit, I’d really, really hoped that O’Shea would remember a little about me. Just enough that he’d know we were here to help him.

“Liam, it’s me, Rylee. I’m going to take you home.” I kept my voice even and as soothing as I could.

The growl eased off and a black nose emerged from the heavy underbrush followed by a grey muzzle, grey head and huge golden eyes. The werewolf stared up at me, his wolf body dwarfing Alex’s by at least a hundred and fifty pounds.

Staring into his eyes, I knew only one thing.

This was not O’Shea.

I yanked my sword out and slid into a crouch, holding the blade steady. “Who are you? And don’t you for one f**king second try to tell me you don’t understand.”

The werewolf tipped its head to one side and then withdrew into the bush, disappearing as if he never had been there. I glanced at Alex, not wanting to take my eyes from the werewolf in front of me. Alex’s eyes were wide and he pointed with one claw at the bush. “Old man wolf. Not Boss.”

His explanation was a little belated, since I’d already figured out it wasn’t O’Shea.

There was a rustle in the bush, the sounds of a person’s steps cracking branches underfoot as a tall, grey-haired man emerged from where the wolf had peered only moments before. “You must be his mate, yes?”

At first I thought he meant Alex. “No, I’m not Alex’s mate.”

“Rylee is Alex’s Boss,” Alex said, his tongue lolling out as he grinned up at the grey-haired man.

“And she shall teach the submissive to stand.” He murmured, smiling at me. “No, I meant the black wolf who hunts the witches. He is your mate. He waits for you.”

Chills swept through me, my body twitching with the desire to run after O’Shea. I couldn’t deny it, we were bound, he and I, had been for years.

“Yes, I am.”

“I am Peter. Your mate waits for you in the north, near the wolf stone. The witches are almost on him, you must hurry.”

I slid my sword back into its sheath, Tracked the Beast and found with a sigh of relief that he hadn’t yet stirred from where we’d left him. He must have been pinned under the rig. Yay for big-ass trucks.

“Yeah, that’s the plan. How far is this wolf stone?”

“Twenty-five miles northeast. Stay on this path, it will take you most of the way there.” His golden eyes traced over my body. “And when you are ready to know the truth behind him, come back to me. I will share with you the legend of what he is becoming.”

With those words, he melted back into the bush, without a sound.

I spun and ran down the path, grateful at least that we wouldn’t be slogging through the forest. The legend of what O’Shea was becoming? Wasn’t he just a werewolf?

What was I missing?

I shook it off, no point in freaking out about something that I wasn’t sure would even matter in a few hours. Twenty-five miles, the Beast on my ass, O’Shea dealing with witches. All bad, so very, very bad. And we were running straight toward it with open eyes.

Chapter 14

SWEAT STUNG MY eyes, the run taking more out of me than I thought it would have. The combination of lined pants, slippery footing, and packing all my weapons made the distance seem twice as far, regardless of all the training I did. The day was waning, and I knew that we were getting close to sunset. Close to Berget’s supposed death sentence. Still, though, her threads were sweet and happy. Vibrant and without fear, not even that small glimmer of uncertainty I’d felt earlier. She was fine. Faris was a f**king liar.

I sent a thread out to Track a werewolf, again pushing the feel of Alex aside. There were three ways I was being pulled. To the north and then there were two werewolves to the east.

O’Shea was being hunted by witches though. I Tracked for a group of witches and hit a bingo. They surrounded one of the werewolves to the east of me. The path didn’t take us that way, so I jogged into the bush, pushing my way through the dense foliage. Alex helped, breaking branches with his paws and mouth with a vigor that told me he had no idea this was a salvage.

“You having fun, buddy?” I panted, hopping over a downed log.

Alex leapt it beside me, curling his paws tight to his body, as if he were an Olympic jumping horse.

“Alex funny!” He bolted ahead, tucking his tail under his butt and scooting around in a mad dash. Yeah, he didn’t have a clue.

“Alex, this is serious.” I could feel the witches, and they were less than a quarter mile away. The werewolf I was Tracking, the one that had to be O’Shea, was full of rage and bloodlust. And maybe even a little bit of fear. Shit.

“Alex, O’Shea is in trouble. Witches, like Milly, are going to kill him. We have to stop them. Got it?”

Alex’s eyes went wide, and he shook his head. “No kill Boss.” After that, he stayed close to me, peering into the woods, cocking his head from time to time. Once focused, he was actually pretty good back up. The deal was just trying to get him to focus.

“Rylee, Alex hears.” He grabbed at my leg, slowing me down.

“What?”

“Bad witches. Talking bad to Boss.”

I let out a slow breath, running my hands over my weapons, the comfort of having them easing some of my anxiety. I had to assume these witches we were going to be facing would know about my Immunity. So we had to take care of them fast. I could still so easily feel the crunch of cannon balls slamming into my body from the last time I’d been attacked by a group of witches. Rather unpleasant all around and not something I was keen to repeat.

I pulled my crossbow from my back and slid a bolt into the channel. More and more, this was turning out to be the best addition to my repertoire in a long time. We crept the last two hundred feet until we reached a clearing that sat on the edge of a frozen creek, a huge stone jammed into the middle of the ground. It did look like the nose of a wolf tipped to howl at the moon, the base of the neck buried into the ground. Around the stone stood four witches, and two more lay still on the ground, the snow around them bright crimson instead of white.

A massive black wolf stood with his back to the stone, hackles standing up, pale golden eyes narrowed, and a deep snarl erupting from his mouth in a continuous stream as spit dripped off his canines. Shit, he was intimidating, and I’d been dealing with the Beast for the last few days.

I Tracked O’Shea and felt the faintest of flickers now that we were this close to him. His eyes drifted to mine, and I gave him the slightest of nods. I lifted the crossbow, aimed at the closest witch’s head and pulled the trigger. The witch dropped without a sound, giving me a chance to reload and shoot a second witch in the base of the neck. That one, a woman, gave a gurgled screech and went down to her knees with a thump. The remaining witches, two men, spun toward me. I lowered the crossbow and pulled my swords free.

“You have a choice, you can either leave now and I won’t gut you like the f**kers you are, or you can stay and I’ll feed what’s left of you to my boys.”

Alex hopped around beside me, claws scrabbling on the frozen ground. “Witchy f**kers.”

They said nothing, just raised their hands. The snow from the trees and the ground lifted into a swirling vortex, effectively blinding me.