Tracker(Rylee Adamson #6)(3) by Shannon Mayer
Pamela propped the side door open until Milly came around and held it for us. “What’s going to happen next?”
The two of them asked the question at the same time, but it was Liam who answered as he stepped from the shadows inside the house to take things from me.
“We’ll talk about it inside.”
Pamela didn’t argue, just slipped into the house, throwing a quick glance back at me. I gave a nod. Milly hesitated, and I realized Liam had moved to block her from coming in.
“Rylee.” His voice curled around me; the anger and undercurrent of fear in it obvious to me, though I doubted anyone else would hear it. “Are you sure about her?”
I couldn’t lie to him. “No, I’m not. But we’re at a crossroads, not a lot of options left, you know, and we can use all the help we can get.”
“Not if the help is a traitor waiting to kill us in our sleep.” Not once had he made eye contact with me, his entire being focused on the one person who dared to chain and force him to attack those he cared about.
I laid down what was left of my gear and moved between them. Liam was an Alpha, of that there was no doubt. But so was I, and I still ran the show.
“Let her in, Liam.”
He stepped aside and swept his arm across his body. “After you, Millicent.”
She tipped her chin up and arched an eyebrow at him, but said nothing. There wasn’t a lot she could say; her history with us put her on the bottom rung of the pack, regardless of how strong she was.
Her footsteps disappeared into the house, but Liam and I stood there, a snake of cold air wrapping around us. He leaned over and pulled the door, closing it softly, which placed him squarely in front of me.
“My wolf is not handling her being here very well.” His voice was controlled, but I felt the edginess, the wolf scrabbling to get out.
I put a hand on his bicep, his skin hot under mine. “We need her help. If we’re going to war—”
“I know.” He jerked from under my hand, eyes narrowing. “Logically, I get it. But my wolf only knows she proved herself an enemy once, which makes her an enemy now. It’s going to take a fucking miracle to change that perception.”
I tightened my jaw, irritation flaring. I pushed past him and scooped up my gear. “Deal with it. If I have to be some sort of hero, you can damn well get along with a woman you hate.”
He growled something behind me, but I didn’t stop to listen; I made my way into the room and up the dark stairs. They creaked and groaned under my feet, but I barely heard them. I was too busy being angry to notice anything.
I knew Liam would have a hard time dealing with Milly, and I understood why. But what was I supposed to do? Pushing her away would put all that power out there to be snatched back by Orion, or maybe some other faction. At least with Milly close, I could keep an eye on her. That’s what I told myself, anyway.
My old room was lit from the moon on the snow and I dropped the sash to block the view. I didn’t need anyone noticing movement in the old house. I spread out my gear, checking for damage. Swords, short blades, crossbow, spears, arrows, and a myriad of other deadly weapons. These were my back ups; my two favorite blades were almost always with me, as was my whip now. My crossbow—I ran my fingers over it … Will gave me this in London. I liked it, and it was a sweet weapon to deal with asshats at a distance, but it was bulky and hard to run with. Yeah, running always had to be an o>
I might be immune to magic and most poisons, but that wasn’t a power wielding anything other than protection, defense. And my ability to Track was the same. Super handy, but no offense either. There was one reason I’d survived everything I’d faced: the simple fact I had friends a hell of a lot stronger than me in the magic department.
I stood and took a slow turn in my old room, hearing the creak of footsteps on the stairs. As I faced the door, Liam stepped in and shut it behind him.
No words, just walked to me and pulled me into his arms, burying his nose behind my ear. I slid my arms around him, felt the horror of the day seep in around the edges of my brain. A short whimper escaped me as I bit back the grief.
Dox had been one of my closest friends and had seen me through so much, stitched me up more than once, and never questioned my choice of life. His laughter and quiet strength had been a part of my world; I’d not realized how much I leaned on just knowing he’d been there. Liam’s arms tightened around me. “Rylee, I have to tell you something.”
He tipped my head up with a finger under my chin, a smile teasing at his lips. “You need to shower. You stink like Milly.”
My jaw dropped open and he ducked the reactive swing of my fist. “Jerk.” But he brought me out of the grief sucking at me. Smart man—far smarter than he let on to most people.
“Come on.” He was still smiling. “I’ll help get you un-stunk.”
The hot water—and Liam’s hands—did the trick, soothed everything away, even if just temporarily. The dark moments we’d faced, the darkness we knew was coming, the fears and uncertainties. It had been too long since he and I had a moment like this, quiet and relaxed. Moments that felt normal and helped me, at least for a moment, re-center myself.
Clean and in fresh clothes, we headed downstairs. Liam grabbed me halfway down and kissed me, fierce and hot, a reminder of the shower. I kissed him back, knowing we would fight again. Of course we would. We weren’t exactly Barbie and Ken living in the pink dream house. No, more like Morticia and Gomez running with monsters, and with moments of passion that burned us both to the core. He let me go, his hands lingering on me as we started down the stairs. Stepping into the living room, I stumbled to a stop, my brain unable to process what my eyes saw: the impossible. He was a ghost; he had to be.
Charlie sat on the beaten up old couch, grinning widely at me. “Hello, Rylee. Didn’t think to see mes again, did yas?”
“Charlie, holy shit!” I ran and scooped him up, noticing some slight charring on his wooden leg, but otherwise he was in one piece. I squeezed him hard, unable to believe he wasn’t dead. He patted my back with both hands.
“It’s okay, lassie. It’s okay.” I didn’t fight the tears, because this time, for the first time in a long time, they weren’t grief. Charlie was right; for once in my life it was okay. I had one of my friends literally back from the dead.