Tracker(Rylee Adamson #6)(15) by Shannon Mayer
At the top of the stairs, Alex bumped gently against my legs, stopping me.
“Bad smells. Rotten smells.” He shook his head as if to clear the scent. We could have turned around, pretended whatever was going on had nothing to do with us, but past experience told me that was stupid. Lately, everything seemed to happen to me, or was about the stupid fucking prophecies. I gritted my teeth and started down the dimmed hallway. Ahead, a glimmer of steel caught my eye. I yanked my second sword clear of its sheath and pressed my back against the wall.
Alex mimicked me, his claws scraping against the cold stone. We waited, two heartbeats, three, ten, twenty. Nothing happened.
I inched along the wall while I searched the shadows for a figure, or something.
Nope. False alarm, apparently.
But then why was my heart still pounding with adrenaline? Good fucking question.
At the end of the hallway was a window, sealed shut, but light peering from the moon through the cracks. I strode to it, sure we were alone and flung the window open.
“Wowsers. Big door,” Alex breathed out behind me.
I turned and stared at a door recessed deep into the wall. In front of it was a black veil, like something you’d put over the pictures of someone deceased. Not really thinking, I pulled the veil down. It fluttered to my feet with a soft hush.
The doorway itself had my attention. It stole my thoughts as I stared at it. Thick, I could tell without even touching it, the whole thing was solid steel, shining as if polished. That must have been the glint I’d seen. Three solid, shining steel bands lay across the door, each with a lock the size of a melon hanging off it. Etched into the door were symbols I was unfamiliar with, swirls and designs that drew my eye and made me think I almost understood what they said.
What they meant.
“Big door, no kidding.” I reached up and was unable to touch the top of the frame, not that I really expected to be able to. It had to be at least ten feet high and almost the same width. More of a square than a rectangle. Set deep into the stone as it was, I wondered if the purpose was an attempt to hide the doorway. Where did it lead? I put my hand on the metal, lightly, tracing one of the designs with my finger.
From the other side, something rammed into the steel door, making the doorframe shudder and flex, the solid bands groaning under the impact. But they held.
I stepped back, swallowing hard. Alex let out a whimper.
No, this wasn’t good. But there really wasn’t anything I could do about this, nor was there time. I needed to get to Doran, get what I needed and get my ass back to Liam.
The thing on the other side of the door rammed it again, harder this time. I took a few steps back, and the ramming eased. More steps back and it stopped altogether.
Whatever it was knew when we were close. Which left us with only one option.
“Time to go.”
The thing on the other side of the steel door could stay there. Even I knew when it was time to leave well enough alone.
Liam would be proud. I couldn’t stop the smile that slipped across my lips as I headed back down the stairwell.
We had learned there was a door we would never open, and what lay on the other side of it was awake and less than pleasant. No doubt that was the tension I’d picked up on.
I was glad we could walk away from the door. Because I had a bad feeling one day we would have to find out what was waiting for us on the other side of it.
Yippy fucking skippy.
Once more, we were back in the dungeons, facing the doorway that would take us into New Mexico. Or more accurately, a cave on the outskirts of Roswell. Doran would be waiting for us there. He’d better be. I wasn’t walking all the way into Roswell to find his fanged ass. We stepped through the doorway.
My torch flickered as a gust of wind ripped through cave, blowing it out. A single figure waited at the mouth of the cave. A woman I recognized from the tunnels below Venice. She was one of Berget’s slaves, a human who had taken blood from a vampire but hadn’t been turned. Might not ever be, according to what I understood.
“Hello, Rylee.” Her voice carried well in the cave. I dropped the torch at my feet so I could pull my two blades free.
“Hey, bitch. On a suicide mission?” I stepped toward her and she smartly stepped back.
“No, I am here to give a simple message. The Empress hopes the death of your Harpy was enough to convince you to help her now. She would hate to take the life of any more of your ‘wards.’”
I couldn’t help the laughter that poured out of me. So similar to Faris’s tactics it was unbelievable, yet with Faris it had been a ruse. With Berget, she’d been serious about killing Eve, though Berget couldn’t know Eve had survived. It took me a good ten seconds to pull myself back together. “Oh my, you see that’s how I know it isn’t my little sister in charge of things, but her two psychotic parents. My sister would know better than to try and kill a member of my pack to gain my loyalty.”
She gave a startled twist to her head. “We did not try and kill her. We did kill her.”
I grinned at her as I walked the slight incline that would lead us out. “And my friend brought her back to life. Lucky for you, because now your death will be quick.”
I lunged forward and she stumbled back, surprise flitting across her features before she was snatched out of reach of my blade.
“What the fuck?” I yelled. Doran came out of nowhere. He spared me a glance as he wrestled the woman into submission.
“Rylee, don’t you know it isn’t polite to just kill someone when you haven’t wrung all the information you can out of them?” He stared down at the woman and smiled as he ran a finger along her cheek.
She screamed and tried to pull back from him, her cheek blistering where he’d touched her.
Shit, he was stronger than I thought, in ways I hadn’t imagined. Doran had been holding back on me.
Since we’d used the existing ropes to rappel into the tunnel, Doran used the rope Alex and I brought to tie up the woman. He tossed her over his shoulder like a sack of screaming potatoes for the walk to Doran’s classic ’67 Mustang. He dumped her into the trunk, her head hitting something with a thud and she finally shut up.
Sleek, silver, and chromed to the gills, the Mustang glittered in the weak winter sunlight. Though it was cold as a witch’s third tit, very little snow was on the ground. Whi Ce glls, the ch was a good thing with the girly car. Alex piled into the backseat and lay down, his eyes taking in everything, yet remaining remarkably quiet—but that didn’t last long.