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Tracker(Rylee Adamson #6)(18) by Shannon Mayer

Her mouth dropped open and he lunged forward, tackling her to the ground. The gun went off with a pop, and the bullet ripped through his guts, the wound healing as fast as it opened. She opened her mouth to scream and he slammed his hand over it. Her teeth started to close over the flesh of his palm.

“I wouldn’t bite, or you might end up needing to sha Ceeder it. Hve a hell of a lot more.” He grinned down at her. Yes, Rylee’s bad behavior was definitely rubbing off on him.

From the front of the department a scream erupted at the same time a shot rang out. He dragged Ingers up with him, and took the gun from her with ease. He tucked it into the waistband of his jeans then spun her around, cranking her arms behind her back hard and fast, feeling her wrists creak under his fingers. She gasped—whether with the speed of his actions or the pain, he didn’t know or care.

“You better hope my friends are okay, Ingers.” Pushing her ahead of him, he worked his way through the department until they were at the front desk. Diana was strung upside down by her heels and Pamela clutched her own arm, Milly holding Pamela tight against her chest.

“What happened?” He barked, twisting Ingers’s arms a fraction more, just because she had shot him.

Milly pointed at Diana, but kept one arm around Pamela. “She shot Pamela, for no reason; we were just sitting here.”

Diana screamed again and from deeper in the office he heard the start of running feet. Shit.

“Stick her to the wall, Pam.”

“Gladly.” She flicked her hand on her uninjured arm and Diana slammed against the far wall, upside and squawking. “You want that one stuck too?”

He nodded and she took Ingers off his hands, tossing her against the wall.

Ingers glared at him, but she didn’t panic. Her eyes glittered with a hate he’d rarely seen, not even on Berget, which was saying something. “O’Shea, you are going to die. You and all your fucking freak friends. You have no idea who you are dealing with.”

Milly and Pamela stepped out the door, but he paused on the threshold, the truth burning though him like a hot branding iron.

“I know exactly who I’m dealing with.” He stared hard at her. “And for the record, we all die, Ingers. It’s just a matter of where and when.”

Chapter 8

Doran’s home was the same as always, hidden behind a fold in the veil, his fountain spewed water that steamed the surface of the catch pond below. I couldn’t resist letting my fingers trace the surface of the water as I walked by. Bathtub warm, the water housed fancy Koi that swam lazily around the circular pond, one even coming up to nibble at my fingers.

“Don’t tease my fish, Rylee,” Doran said without looking back at me. He pushed our prisoner ahead of him, controlling her with ease.

“You teased my Harpy. I think I can play with your fish if I want to.”

He grunted but said nothing more. I tapped the top of the water for good measure and watched as all the fish raced to the surface for food. Alex, watching me carefully, stuck both paws into the water, pinioning a fish between his paws.

With a strangled squawk, I smacked his paws. “Let it go.” It was one thing to tease the fish, another to kill them.

Alex stuck out his bottom lip and let go with an exaggerated flip of his feet. “Fine.”

Damn, he’d picked up the sullen teenager act from Pamela.

“Don’ Feeder”

He rolled his eyes before answering. “Fiiiiiiiiiiine.”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or smack him. I went with neither, snapping my fingers to the side of my leg. That, at least, he listened to. We followed Doran inside.

Doran took us into his house, to be clear, into a room I’d never been in. The kitchen’s thick adobe walls held the heat from an open fireplace snugged into the far wall. Knives hung from a rack above a monstrous butcher’s block that was big enough for Liam to lay on with room to spare.

I pointed at the well-used block. “Carving up bison sides?”

“Nah, just prisoners.” He gave me a wink, but Berget’s servant stiffened and a low moan slipped out of her. If she was that easily scared, this was going to be as simple as—

She lashed out with her foot, catching Doran in the shin, knocking him off balance long enough to get out of his hands. She grabbed one of the hanging knives and bolted out of the room while he hopped and cursed in what sounded like Russian.

“Damn it, Doran!” I ran after her deeper into the house.

A part of me wondered how Doran could let her get away; the other part wondered if he’d done it on purpose, if he was somehow still working for Berget. I slid around a corner and pure instinct saved me from losing my head. A flash of metal and I dropped to my knees as a cleaver buried itself into the wall where my neck had been.

“Sneaky bitch,” I snarled, pulling my sword free and driving it upwards, catching her in the hip. The tip of the blade drove between the ball and socket, the feel of it in my hands telling me exactly the damage I was doing. A scream erupted out of her mouth as she jerked away from me, fighting for every step she took. I had to give her credit, she was a tough one.

That didn’t mean I wouldn’t take her head.

She ended up backing into a bedroom that had no exit, no windows. A dead end.

“Well, you about done with the fucking theatrics?” I leaned on my sword as she hobbled around the room, feeling for a way out. “Listen, I know a coffin when I see one.” Hell, I’d been in one similar enough to this recently; I knew what I was talking about.

A sob hitched in her throat and she put one hand to her mouth, the other clinging to the bloodstain on her hip. “You have no idea what you’re about, what’s happening. You aren’t vampires, you don’t have any right to interfere.” She took a deep, gulping breath. “The Empress will kill you for this.”

I didn’t try to suppress the laugh that rippled out of me. Alex crept up to my side and mimicked me, laughing with his head thrown back. “Ah, no. You see, the Empress, as you call her, is a callous bitch with no love for anyone or anything except her own power. Your death will mean nothing to her. You aren’t even a vampire, you dumb fuck.”

Not nice, not nice at all. But I spoke the truth and the woman stood, her lip trembling, her eyes hard with a hatred I wasn’t sure was entirely directed at me.

“I don’t want to die.”