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Shadowed Threads(Rylee Adamson #4)(6) by Shannon Mayer

I struggled to find the words. “How far along are you?”

“I’m due in April, right around Easter.”

Jack’s admonition still rung in my head. “I’m not promising you anything.” I slammed the phone back into the cradle before she could beg anymore. Before I could buckle under the weight of my oaths.

The kitchen was still; no one moved. Jack, Pamela, and even Alex stared at me, waiting for me to say something. Saved by the bell, a buzzer sounded through the house announcing someone at the front door. Jack glared at us, and then glared at the general direction of the door. The buzzer went off again. And again. And again.

“Company, who f**king needs it? You three, you need to get the hell out of here so I can bloody well die in peace.” Jack thumped his cane into the floor with each step he took as he left the kitchen, presumably to greet whoever was buzzing us with such glee.

Pamela walked to my side and slipped her arm around my waist. “I can feel it in the air, things are changing, aren’t they?”

I draped an arm across her shoulders, as my mind once more saw the prophecies as if stamped inside my brain. “Yeah … yeah, I think they are.”

Chapter 5

IF YOU’D ASKED me to guess who was at the door and had given me ten tries, I still would have gotten it wrong. I assumed it would be Agent Valley (who still hadn’t given up on me joining his agency), maybe Deanna or even Will.

Nope. None of those.

I think my jaw might have actually unhinged as the punk rocker-esque Daywalker strode into the kitchen. Jack muttered under his breath as he trailed behind his newest houseguest.

Doran strode right up to me and kissed me on the cheek, dark green eyes all lit up with happiness, as if seeing me had just made his f**king day. His white blond hair was still tipped in black, the silver piercings above his eyebrow and in the side of his lip still glinted at me, teasing little winks. All of it was the same. Except that he was here, in London, instead of in New Mexico where he should have been.

“What the f**k are you doing here?” I blurted out, shoving him away from me, wanting space between us. If he was here, something was wrong. And the last thing I needed was more wrong in my life.

With a smooth fluid grace he lifted himself to sit on the counter, right next to the cookies. He took one, broke it in half and then took a bite.

“Oh my gods, these are fantastic. Surely you didn’t make them, did you, Rylee? If you tell me you can bake as well as kick ass with the best of them, I may have to make an exception to my ‘no marrying’ rule.” He smiled around the bite of cookie in his mouth.

“I made them,” Pamela said, her voice coming from the other side of the kitchen where she stood pressed against the industrial fridge. Her blue eyes were narrowed to slits. Her past experience with a fanged supernatural hadn’t gone too well. No, not too well at all. Her hands twitched, no doubt prepping a spell.

Alex climbed up onto the counter to sit awkwardly next to Doran. “Alex sits too.”

“Get off the counter, Alex.” I pointed to the floor. He slid off like a boneless Gumby doll, until he was splayed out on the floor flat on his belly.

“No fairs.”

I had only my bowie knife and my whip on me, stupidly having put my sword back in my bedroom. Not enough if I had to fight Doran. Shit. Of course, that was assuming he was here to cause problems. Again, I had to think he was. To come all this way for tea and cookies? Nope, that just didn’t fit.

“I will ask you only one more time and then things are going to get nasty.” I fingered the whip’s handle. “What are you doing here?”

Doran leaned back, popped the last of the cookie into his mouth and dusted his fingers on his black leather pants. His eyes had an odd glint in them and they flicked quickly around the room. A single bead of sweat budded on the left side of his face. Yeah, something was wrong. Shit, I hated being right.

“May I speak with you in private, Rylee? Somewhere your new witch and the old Tracker won’t hear us?”

I tipped my head toward the door and he slid off the counter, following me. Jack lifted an eyebrow and I pointed at Alex and Pamela. “Keep them with you.”

I would deal with Doran on my own, it was better that way. My skin twitched as I walked; I could feel the Daywalker’s eyes on me, feel the desire he had to pierce my skin with his fangs. Fuck, and I still owed him a kiss. I fought the urge to groan. Had he come all this way for a kiss? Shit, I was good, but I wasn’t that good. No, it had to be something else. Something I wouldn’t want to hear. Or something he wanted from me.

I led him to the library. Seeing as the door was busted, there was no hiding behind it now.

Doran took a step in, turned and shut the doors. “No lock?” He fingered the clean slice of the deadbolt, and then grabbed a chair and slid it under the doorknobs for extra security. Or an extra precaution to keep me in the room with him? What the f**k was going on with him?

“No need for us to be interrupted.” His voice was soft, but carried across the room easily. Shit, something was seriously off with the Daywalker. For all his quirks, and the few times we’d spent together, this was not like him.

Without any hesitation, I pulled the bowie knife out and un-looped the whip from my belt. When Doran turned, his mouth opened and his step toward me stopped in mid-air.

“I’m not here for that kind of a visit, as much as I wouldn’t mind sparring with you. Though I’d prefer we did it na**d.” He gave me a wink, but I didn’t lower my weapons. I was learning that supernaturals with fangs just couldn’t seem to help themselves, no matter what they said, they would always want what they couldn’t have. Blood, sex, power, one or all three of those options, whatever they could get.

“I think I’m good as I stand now.”

“Have I not been helpful to you, Rylee?” He stepped toward the big table, ran his fingers along the top of it.

“Yes, sort of.”

“Have I not sent you gifts that have aided you?”

I thought about the pendant he’d sent for Giselle, how it had helped on the last salvage. “Perhaps.”

He smiled, maybe hearing the hesitation in my voice.

His eyes flicked up to mine. “Have I not drawn a demon’s poison from you? And in doing so, saved your life?”

“You all did that, you and the other Shamans.”

Laughing, he shook his head, the piercings catching the light and flickering against his skin. “I didn’t need them, I could have done it myself.”

“Then why didn’t you?”

“Ah, well, I was under orders. Sorry about that.” Again, he winked, but his eyes were strained, like his mask was finally cracking. I had a feeling that whether I liked it or not, I was about to see another side of Doran.

“Orders?”

He ran a finger along his lips, a second bead of sweat joining the first. “Can’t tell you anything else.”

Fuck, this was getting irritating. “Why the hell are you here, Doran?”

With a hop, he sat on the edge of the table and leaned back, spreading his arms out, fingertips stretched. He let out a heavy sigh.

This was weird behavior, even for him, and my gut told me I needed to move, get out of there. The thing was, if O’Shea was lost to the wolf he carried now, I would need help to bring him back. And Doran was a powerful Shaman.

“I am here because … .” His hands waved loosely in the air above him.

I waited, but never lowered my weapons. He remained silent, so I asked him the question that burned the back of my throat with its intensity.

“O’Shea is lost to the wolf in him. Can you bring him back?”

Doran tipped his head up so he could see me and blinked, as if seeing me for the first time. “Bring him back? Maybe. Perhaps. But it won’t be easy, even if it would work. Worse than what you went through with the Hoarfrost demon, I think. Perhaps. Maybe not. Possibly.”

The knot that had tied itself around my gut when Milly had told me O’Shea was lost loosened. A chance, that was all I asked for, a chance to save him.

Before I could ask another question, Doran sat up and scrubbed a hand through his short hair, grabbing at it as if he would try to yank it out. “Rylee, I’ll tell you why I’m here, but you’re not going to like it. I’ve been compelled to come. However, I thought that once I was here I could keep myself in check, but it’s proving harder than I expected. Perhaps I should have tried harder to stay away.” He was rambling, which was totally unlike him. “I told her I would help you; so I helped in the beginning, because it’s what she wanted. But—”

I cut him off. “Spit it out, Doran.”

He swallowed hard. “I don’t want to hurt you.” He took a big gulping breath, his pain-filled green eyes flicking up to mine. “She wants me to kill your little witch.”

I licked my lips, heart thumping hard with adrenaline. Fuck, I did not want to fight Doran. “Who wants you to hurt me? Who wants to kill Pamela?”

“The Child Empress, the one that would rule the vampire nation. She is a power in her own right and she isn’t even fully fanged yet. Because she carries the memories of her parents, she has all their strengths as well as her own.”

Oh f**k, wasn’t it bad enough that I was already dealing with Faris? Did I really have to deal with this Child Empress too? And what the hell did she have against Pamela?

The thing was, I didn’t know what to do. Killing, or trying to kill, Doran would lose me a powerful ally. And while I might not always trust him, the same could be said for many of my allies. Not to mention that Doran hadn’t gone after Pamela when he had the chance. He could have attacked her there in the kitchen, but he hadn’t, he’d held himself back somehow. Add in the fact that he’d just told me he could possibly help me bring back O’Shea if he was lost to the wolf as Milly said.

“Why would she send you to me, why not one of her vampires who could have cleaned my clock and be-spelled Pamela in a heartbeat?”