Shadowed Threads(Rylee Adamson #4)(9) by Shannon Mayer
Actually, he reminded me of the tribal Guardians I’d met the last time I’d been in New Mexico. His eyes flickered around the room and I caught a glimpse of silver. Shit, he was a Guardian of some sort, which meant I couldn’t kill him. Fuck me, this was turning out to be a bad day.
The one I recognized, I could kill her and not lose a moment of sleep over it. Dr. Daniels, my own personal nemesis from my first day in London, stood with her back to me, facing out the window.
“You see, Mr. Feen, Rylee is standing in the way of progress. The world of the supernaturals is on the brink of coming into our own, of taking our rightful place as leaders, as gods amongst the humans. Rylee has sided with Faris, and so she is against this progress.”
My mouth curled up in a sneer. What a bitch, I wanted to just shoot her and be done with it, but I also needed to hear where this was going. Not to mention I knew from experience that the Guardian with her would be impossible for me to kill. I really didn’t want to get on his bad side if I could avoid it.
Jack gave a grunt and his hand tightened on Alex. “She hasn’t sided with anyone. Whatever information you’ve got, it’s f**king wrong, you dumb bitch.”
I silently cheered Jack on. Alex lifted his nose, his head turning my way. Fuck, not now, Alex!
Big gold eyes blinked at me, then one gave me a slow wink and he turned his face back to Dr. Daniels and the Guardian with her. For once, Alex seemed to get the severity of the situation and rolled with it. Thank the gods he was learning.
“No, no. My information is very clear. Killing Rylee will be best for all involved. If my people don’t manage it, then my Beast here will. But fear not, you have my oath—you and the others in your home will not be harmed. That is not the Druid way.” She turned to face Jack, giving me a full view of her gloating smile.
The Beast, as she’d named him, nodded his head. “I am yours to command, Mistress.”
Not good, not good at all.
Dr. Daniel’s advanced on Jack. “You are pitiful, dying, and even Deanna’s little bag of herbs won’t save you. You know that, don’t you?”
He flipped her off. “Fuck yourself. Seriously, you think I care … .” He was lifted into the air, his face going red as he struggled for air.
“I may not kill you, I may not harm you, but I will not take that kind of language in my presence.” She spoke to him as if she were a Queen and he her misbehaving servant.
That was enough. Time for me to make my entrance.
I stepped around the corner and fired, as she stepped to the sideways and my bolt missed her heart, instead slamming into her arm. She screamed, and Jack fell to the floor with a gasp as he yelled at me.
“Run, Rylee. They aren’t after us, just you. Run!”
“Not really my style, Jack,” I said as I dropped the crossbow and slid the two swords from my back. The Beast cricked his head sideways, silver eyes taking me in with a single sweeping glance, and then shifted into his animal form. His shift was like watching liquid bend and slosh in a cup as his body slid from human to cat in the space of half a heartbeat. It didn’t look real, nor did I think it was how regular shifters made the change. The faint shadows of rosettes under his black coat and the shape of his body were all panther. The shape of his head, the thickness of his body spoke of dark jungles and thick foliage where the cats of his ancestors still lurked. But the size of the Guardian was most definitely not panther. He was easily a thousand pounds, the size of a freaking horse, not a goddamned cat.
Daniels smiled at me, though smiled would imply mirth, and she was all but baring her teeth. “Beast, take her.”
The Beast roared, the scent of fresh meat on his breath spreading through the room. The sound reverberated through the house. My skin went cold; this was going to be bad.
He lunged at me, paws that were at least five times the size of Alex’s slashed through the air above my head as I dove deeper into the library. Dr. Daniel’s screeched at the top of her lungs. Maybe she had a right to it, after all, it wasn’t the first time I’d hurt her without her being able to defend herself.
I ran to her, slid an arm around her neck and pulled her tight to me, my other hand holding my sword so the tip pressed under her chin.
“Call your kitty cat off,” I growled, squeezing her body tight to the point where I knew she would struggle to take a breath.
“You will pay for this,” she choked out.
I snorted. “Jack, do the bad guys ever come up with new lines, or is it always the same old shit?”
“Same old shit, doesn’t matter how many idiots you face,” he coughed out, rubbing his throat. Alex trembled where he stood, peeing on the floor. Fuck, I wasn’t far behind him. The Beast crouched in the library doorway, tail lashing through the air.
“Call your pet off.” I pushed on my sword, popping through the first layers of skin.
I had to give her credit, she had balls.
But I had no time to make a move. Something hard, a book from the feel of it, hit me from behind. I gripped Dr. Daniels harder, but she used that momentary distraction to escape my grasp.
Spinning to face me, a sneer curled her lips. “Rumors run fast in the supernatural world. Everyone knows you’re an Immune now. That little ace up your sleeve is long gone.”
Well, that was going to make my life difficult. Fuck me, life was just doing its best to sink me lately.
She lifted her hand and pointed a finger at me. “Kill her, pull her heart from her body and let her bleed out on the ground.”
Yeah, me and Daniels, we were going to have it out. Just not today.
The Beast leaped and I spun, running toward the windows, my blades still gripped in my hands. We burst through the glass together, the swirl of red curtains and black panther blending into the sheets of blowing rain.
I rolled across the grass to my feet, slammed my blades into their sheaths, and was running before I truly knew which way I was going.
The sound of heavy breathing and the thump of huge padded feet hitting the ground behind me spurred me on. Legs and arms pumping hard, I bolted, zigzagging to keep the Beast from snatching me. At least that was what I was going for.
“EVE!” I hoped she could hear me. Fuck, I was going to die as a freaking gods-be-damned kitty toy.
Feeling the Beast move up, I dove to the right, narrowly missing the swipe intended to knock me flat. The Beast roared and I didn’t wait to see how close he was.
The pond was to my right, close enough that I might be able to reach it before becoming the Beast’s next meal. I knew the cat would be able to swim, but maybe I could swim faster? I wasn’t seeing many other options to help me out. Blades wouldn’t work, Pamela was out cold, and I was running out of possibilities that would keep my skin intact.
I bolted for the pond and the ten foot dock that the tiny wooden row boat was tethered to. The Beast pounded down the dock after me, the sound of wood and pilings splintering under his weight. He roared, his breath hot on my neck, as if he were right on me, his wicked teeth inches from my bare skin.
I didn’t look back, just pushed harder, reached the end of the dock and leapt, eyes focused on the other side of the pond.
I never hit the water.
“I’ve got you, Rylee!” Eve crowed as her talons wrapped around me, gripping me tight. My feet just missed the water before she swept us upward, her wingtips skimming along the top of the pond, a rush of air circling around us. The roar of the Beast below us echoed through the rain.
“What was that?” Eve spun on a current in order to look back at the oversized black kitty that paced below us, his silver eyes never leaving me.
“He’s a Guardian. But he belongs to that f**ker, Daniels, and she’s just set him on me.”
I stared down at him, a pit opening up in my guts.
“Why do I get the feeling I’ve just acquired a stalker?” I grumbled outwardly, but inwardly I was trying not to panic. A Guardian coming after me? Shit, I was never going to be on Faris’ team, not if this was what I got when people just thought I was working with him. Mother f**ker, the next time I saw him, and I had no doubt there would be a next time, I was going to … to what? He was damn vampire, what the hell did I think I was going to do to him?
“Rylee, where do you want to go?”
I thought about Dr. Daniels and her Beast; there was only one person who would know what the hell was going on.
“Into London. We need to speak to Deanna.”
EVE HELD ME easily in her talons all the way to London. Not that it was all that far, nor was it all that uncomfortable. But feeling like a Harpy’s next meal was not a great addition to how the day had gone so far.
“Do you think the others will be all right?” Eve asked the question I’d been asking myself.
“I think so. I think the Beast is just after me. And while Dr. Daniels is a total bitch, I don’t think she’s a killer. They didn’t hurt Pamela; just knocked her out to keep her from helping me. Besides, the stupid Druid said she swore not to harm anyone in the house.” Though she had choked Jack right after saying that. I would call the house as soon as we landed, make sure they were okay. Because regardless of the consequences, if they were being hurt, I had to go back.
At least I’d had the sense to stuff Pamela in the closest, because I had no doubt Daniels still wanted the kid for her own. Hopefully, the Druid left before Pamela woke up.
So much, there was so much swirling around me. But my priority now was O’Shea. O’Shea and staying out of the Guardian’s very sharp claws and mouth. Both were rather critical.
Eve made a lazy circle over the roof of the police station we’d worked out of for our last case. Just thinking about why I’d been brought to London made my emotions climb up through me and grief swell up in my heart. So much death, there was so much death in my world. And while I wasn’t so stupid as to think everyone could survive, some hurt more than others.
Like losing Giselle.
Eve let me drop to the roof when we were a few feet up still. I took a couple of steps, getting out of her way, and then she landed with a flutter of her wings beside me. The rain was no longer pounding down, but it was chilly and I was feeling the cold, feeling the sharp tang of winter try to get a hold on me.