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Stitched(Rylee Adamson #8.5)(9) by Shannon Mayer

Well, shit. “How’d you get so smart?”

He snorted, a curl of smoke trickling out of his nose. You would have figured it out if you were at your best. And you aren’t, you know that, right? You know you will not be making good decisions, right now?

I hunched my shoulders, but I couldn’t truly argue with him. I wasn’t at my best and it tore at a piece of me that I was somehow letting down those I loved. That nothing in my life had prepared me for this pain, this uncertainty and this ridiculous feeling of disconnection. It hit me then that I felt as though I were back in the courtroom, facing the judge, being accused of killing my little sister. There was no control, nothing I could do but hope to hell I could get through. Just like my past.

No, I wouldn’t allow that to happen again, couldn’t allow it. I stood, fingers clenching the paper. “No, that’s not true.” The words were for myself, but of course Blaz heard me.

What will you do then?

“I’m going to get the Guardian venom first.” Just saying it out loud, I knew I was right. I needed to focus on something other than my pain. Other than Liam.

“Where is Coyote?”

In the eating hall. Again.

I made my way to the dining area, surprised that Coyote was there by himself. He sat in the middle of the table, legs crossed and eyes wide open, unblinking.

Stopping a few feet from him, I reached over and touched the curve of his knee closest to me. “Coyote, are you okay?”

“Somewhat.” His voice was slurred, and I looked to see if there were any empty decanters of wine. No decanters, but there was a heavy scent of herbs floating in the air.

“Trances are tricky,” He said, his voice wavering. “I’ve been trying to see how things go outside the walls here.”

“Any luck?”

“None.”

Damn, I’d hoped that maybe he could see how those we had left behind were doing. Alex, and Pam. Doran and Eve.

Keep your eyes on the prize, Adamson. I could almost hear Liam’s voice, and for a moment I forgot he was gone.

I tapped Coyote’s leg again, to keep his attention on me.

“I need the venom of a Guardian. The water dragon, does she carry venom?” Please, please, please let that be the case.

“No. There is only one Guardian who has venom.” His eyes turned slowly my way. “She’s rather bitchy too, though in the sack, she’s amazing.”

I swallowed a laugh and held up my hand as he opened his mouth. “I don’t want the details. I assume you mean Spider?” I had to be sure, even though I’d been positive she was the only one even before I asked Coyote.

He nodded. “Yes. Spider is the only Guardian with venom.”

Then it was time to go. “Thanks.”

He didn’t look at me, didn’t shift his position once as I left the room.

Within minutes I was dressed in my warm clothes and on Blaz’s back. Sliding my blades into their sheaths had never felt so good, like I’d reattached a piece of my body that had been missing. Crossbow and whip followed. Just in case.

Do we wait for Erik?

I struggled with that, and then finally shook my head. “No, no, I don’t want him with us. You good with that?”

Blaz let out a long chuckle. Yes, I can look after you. It is my calling, after all.

His muscles bunched and in the split second before he launched into the air, a blur of white and gray leapt for his back. Blaz let out a snarl, swinging his head around to face the snow leopard now digging her claws into his back.

Peta! Get off my back, you aren’t coming!

I heard Blaz clearly, and obviously he could hear her thoughts. She dug her claws into the leather rigging and flattened herself on his back. I spun in my seat in time to see Erik step into the garden.

“Blaz, go!”

He didn’t argue, just leapt into the air, as Erik ran toward us, yelling and hollering.

“Damn it, Rylee!”

Yeah, I knew he wouldn’t be happy. But I was hardly an invalid. Emotionally crippled, yes, I could acknowledge that. But physically, I could take care of myself. And maybe a little mayhem and fighting was what I needed to get through this. Because it was obvious that hiding in a monastery wasn’t doing me any good. I waved at him. “We won’t be long!”

His waving turned into cursing, and even at the distance we were, I knew what he was saying, could read his lips. “Uncle, if I didn’t know better, I’d think you were a Tracker with that mouth.”

Blaz relayed my words to my uncle who promptly shut his mouth and folded his arms over his chest.

He’s worried you are going off to die.

“Tell him even I’m not that selfish. And tell Ophelia not to help him follow us.”

Erik didn’t shift his position as we flew away, so I had no idea if Blaz actually relayed for me. Not that it mattered now. I was doing what I had to do.

High above the mountain peak, I sent out a thread, Tracking the one Guardian who carried venom.

Spider was one of the few female Guardians, and she’d nearly killed Doran when we accidentally opened a door into her part of the world. Lucky for us, my blood was enough to bring Doran through. Not so lucky, I didn’t think she was going to be happy to see me since I’d cut off one of her legs. Didn’t matter that it would grow back, an aspect of being a Guardian. And of course, I was banking on the fact she was somewhere in Europe or Asia. If she was across the water, we were in for a long haul. No, I wouldn’t think like that. I would find her, and we would make this happen. More than anything, I wanted time with my daughter, as much as I could gain for myself.

I would not be the mother who gave up on her child.

I gritted my teeth and for the first time, put effort into Tracking. Instead of letting it just happen, I forced it, flooded it with my intention, gave it my energy. Like a bolt of lightning, it arced out of me and I gasped. Nothing had ever felt like that when I’d Tracked before. I kept pushing, kept demanding more, and for a moment I thought I was screwed, my vision blurring with the effort. But then a light ping came back to me. Way far away and I knew without knowing how, that Spider was across water.

And I’d just found her.

“Blaz, you feel that?”

Being as connected as we were, he could sense when I was Tracking, and when I got a hit on someone. Bonus for me.

Yep, heading that way. Wait . . . how did you do that? I thought you couldn’t Track across water?