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Shadowed Threads(Rylee Adamson #4)(8) by Shannon Mayer

He grinned up at me, and then leaned into the sink to play in the water, drawing designs in it with his oversized claws.

Pamela eyes were shadowed, like she was still worried. Fuck, this was what I’d been worried about when taking her on as my ward. Not only how the hell I was going to keep her safe, but how was I going to allow her to still be a kid when she needed to be?

Unfortunately, I already knew the answer. Her days as a child were done, and even though she was only fourteen, I had to depend on her as the powerful witch she was.

It took everything I had to say the words that came out of my mouth next. “You want to go and check on Doran, make sure he and Jack are all right while I clean up?”

A flare of excitement lifted the shadows from her face. “Are you sure?”

“Yes. Just be careful. If he so much as steps toward you, wrap him up again and holler for me.” She was running back the way we’d come before I’d even finished speaking. Eager to take part, eager to be of help. Eager to be a grown up.

The gods help me, I was going to need her when I went after O’Shea.

Gods help us both.

Chapter 6

DORAN WAS PASSED out when I went back into the library. Still flat on his back, he was snoring, which to me just seemed weird. Where was the grace and the mystery, the fear inducing reputation that was supposed to go along with the blood drinkers?

He snorted and rolled onto his side. Maybe not so much after all.

Jack didn’t look up when he spoke to me. “Between the binding being broken and the high of your blood coursing through him, he’ll be passed out for days.”

“I don’t have days. Milly said there is a team of witches going after O’Shea now. I have to leave.”

“I’ll keep an eye on him. He’s got some interesting parts to play in the future.” Jack’s eyes narrowed as though squinting to see something—maybe that was exactly it. As a Reader, he could pick out what people were going to do, and even what they needed to do, just like Giselle had been able to.

Maybe when I got back with O’Shea, I’d ask Jack how he’d avoided the madness that had stolen Giselle from me long before she died.

I scrubbed my hands over my face. “Listen, Alex has to stay here.”

The werewolf let out a high-pitched whine.

I glared at him, something I didn’t often do, but I needed him to obey me. “You can’t come. O’Shea is dangerous and he might go after you again. I don’t know that his last orders from Milly aren’t still in play. You stay here with Jack and Doran. Got it?”

His lower lip trembled, drooping a good inch. “Gots it.”

Next I turned to Pamela. “Go get your trench coat, the black one, and your tall boots. Dress warm for flying.”

Her lips crept into a smile. “You’re taking me with you?”

“I need you to hold O’Shea for me. Once we find him, you need to hang onto his furry ass until we get back here to Doran.”

She bobbed her head, blonde hair dancing as she ran from the room.

“You going to be okay here, Jack?”

“I’ve been fine alone for a long f**king time before you bloody well showed up.” He grumbled, and then poked Doran with his cane. “Besides, somebody’s got to keep an eye on the fanged a**hole here.”

“Thanks.” I touched Jack’s shoulder and he reached up and put his hand over mine in an unusual show of affection.

“Be careful. I may not be able to read you, but everyone around you has a lot of shit coming down the pipeline. Very little of it good.”

I swallowed hard, pushed the spurt of fear that curled around my chest. “Got it. Anything else?” Here it was, he could come clean, tell me what he knew about the prophecies. Nope, no such thing.

He waved his cane at me. “Nah. Now f**k off, go find your wolf.”

Walking down the hallway to my room, I mulled over the best course of action. Experimentally, I Tracked O’Shea, something I hadn’t done for some time, not since I’d been home in North Dakota. I’d been too busy dealing with a rogue Necromancer, Milly and Faris. No, that wasn’t entirely fair. O’Shea had gone off on his own and that had hurt. He hadn’t trusted me enough to let me help him. So in turn, I’d ignored him.

I let my abilities work, opened them up to trace O’Shea’s threads. There was nothing, not even a glimmer. The only way I wouldn’t be able to feel him is if there was a large amount of water between us. Shit, had he gone back to America? Son of a bitch—that would not make my life easy. I slipped into my bedroom and shut the door behind me.

“Come on, O’Shea, where the hell did you go?”

While my mind worked over what to do, I dressed for flying with Eve. Leather pants were not my favorite, but they were lined with fleece and were damn warm, which was what I needed. Tank top and long-sleeved shirt were next. November in England was a bitch of cold and wet. I much preferred the dry cold, windy snow of North Dakota. Holding the straps that would keep my two swords attached to my back, I paused. Milly had spelled all my weapons so they would cut deeper, hardening the metal so it wouldn’t break under pressure. She had made so much of what I did possible with her magic. Even now, knowing everything she’d done to hurt those I loved, I struggled in those quiet moments to understand where my friend had gone. Why she had turned against everything we had fought for in our years together with Giselle.

I let those thoughts go, slipping my two swords on. Next was my belt where I hung my bowie knife, whip and a hip holster for arrows. Though I was still gaining proficiency at long distances, the crossbow was a sweet addition to my arsenal. So far it hadn’t jammed up or given me grief in the middle of a fight.

Over top of everything I slid on my leather jacket, fingering the tears and ragged stitch jobs that cris-crossed over it. The thing was almost as patched up as me.

A soft knock on the door that I was sure would be Pamela turned me around. “Come in.”

“Gladly.”

I spun, not recognizing the voice, pulling a sword from my back as I faced the man in the doorway. Average height, average build, brown hair, brown eyes. Nothing that screamed danger. If it hadn’t been for the crescent moon axe he held in his hand, I would have thought he was there for tea and biscuits.

Right.

He swung at me, still smiling, which was more disturbing than if he’d snarled or grimaced. I ducked and rolled while he dealt with the backswing of the larger weapon.

“That’s the bitch with axes.” I swung my sword up, the tip opening a shallow cut from his hip up to his armpit. “Always dealing with the backswing.”

The man stumbled back from me and then threw a spell my way, straight at the floor in front of me. Minor, one I’d seen a thousand times via Milly and even Pamela, but had never had used on me before. A sticky spell, one that would plant my feet to the ground and force me to stay where I was standing.

“Hah, good luck with … .”

Shit. I tried to lift my foot and nothing happened. This was the first time in a long time my Immunity had buckled, damn it all to hell and back. The timing was a bitch.

His grin widened. “Shoes and floor aren’t you, little girl. Immunity doesn’t spread to those bits, do they?”

Fuck, this was bad. He swung at me again and I did a limbo backward, stared at the shimmering blade as it skimmed along the front of my body, caught a glimpse of my wide, green, gold and deep brown eyes in the reflection of the polished steel. There was no time for me to play around, I had to end this fast or I was dead. Using the leverage of my feet glued to the floor, I lunged my body toward him, sword aimed at his throat while he dealt again with the backswing and miss of the heavier weapon.

My blade slid through his neck with ease, the spelled edge beyond razor sharp. His eyes bugged out then closed, the smile forever etched onto his face as the axe slid from his hands. The weapon hit the floor with a thud and my feet unglued, the spell dying with him. Blood poured out of the wound in his neck, spreading across the floor as it first spurted and then just gushed from his body, until there was nothing but a steady trickle of blood coursing out of him.

“What the f**k was that?” I kicked his body as I walked past him to check the hallway. Cocking my head, I listened for the sounds of fighting. The axe man was no ordinary robber, he had magic, and he’d known about my Immunity. He hadn’t been here for the silverware and fine china. Keeping my back to the wall, I made my way to Pamela’s door. I knocked softly.

“Pam, you ready to go?”

A voice that wasn’t hers called out. “Yes, come in, Rylee, you can help me pick out my weapons.”

How stupid did they think I was? I slid out of my leather jacket and pulled the crossbow from my back, loading it as fast as I could, talking to keep the intruder, whoever it was, lulled. “Okay, but I thought we could discuss your use of magic first—”

I kicked the door open, saw the intruder and fired without a second thought. The bolt took her between the eyes, her mouth a perfect ‘o’ of surprise. I barely spared her a glance after that; her death was nothing to me.

Pamela was laid out on the bed, her eyes closed, her body still.

I rushed to her side, a spurt of panic driving me. She couldn’t be dead. I wouldn’t believe it.

“Pam, wake up, come on kid.” I put my fingers to her neck. Her pulse was steady, easing the panic that had gripped me for that split second. Fuck, what the hell was going on here?

I scooped her up in my arms and jogged back to the library. As I drew close, raised voices greeted me. Son of a bitch. The door to my left was a closet. I slid Pamela into it and shut the door; that was the best I could do for now. Loading my crossbow again, I peeked around the edge of the library door.

Other than Jack, Alex—who sat trembling by his side—and Doran—who I could still hear snoring—there were two new visitors. One I recognized, one I didn’t. The one I didn’t recognize was tall, hulking even. He would give Dox a run for his money in both height and width. Black hair curled around his ears, and he wore only a pair of threadbare pants, his upper body na**d. A Celtic knot was tattooed over his heart and his muscles actually rippled with each breath he took, as he stood still in the center of the library. What the hell was he? Because he didn’t feel like someone who carried magic, he was much more primal than that.