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Tracker(Rylee Adamson #6)(5) by Shannon Mayer

“Yet you do it,” Pamela pointed out, both verbally and with a finger jabbed at Milly in condemnation.

“Yes, I do,” Milly said. “But I wish I had never learned.” She paused, and I saw her debating whether or not to continue before she said, “It’s like an addiction. There’s a rush to it, despite the cost. And like any addiction, you need more r, u need and more. The only ones who do not face that are the necromancers, as they are … no, that’s all I’ll say. I’ll never teach anyone to jump the veil; I hope the knowledge dies out.”

I rolled my eyes. “Dramatics, with you it’s all about the big scene.” I pushed to my feet and bobbed my head to Pamela. She frowned slightly, but nodded back. I wanted to speak with Liam before we talked to the whole group.

Pamela would stay behind to watch Milly.

Pretty bad when you had to have a teen watch over an adult, but then again, it was Milly we were talking about.

Chapter 3

Liam and I headed upstairs, Alex trailing at our heels. We said nothing, the stairs creaking under our feet. Inside my room, I walked to the window that looked onto the street at the front of the house. I pulled the sash up. No movement in all this snow, nothing at all.

I turned away from the window and walked to the bed, sitting on the end of the mattress.

Alex let out a yip and leapt up beside me, burrowing his nose into the thick covers, and rolling onto his back. From there, he juggled several pillows above his head, tongue hanging out the side of his mouth. But even his antics couldn’t draw a laugh from me, not today. Too much had happened and my emotions were wrung out.

Liam shut the door behind us, the door clicking closed and giving us some semblance of privacy. “So, what is the vampire’s game?”

Atta boy, right to the heart of it. “Fuck me if I know.” I walked across the room to peer out the window again, as if I could find the answers in the freshly fallen snow.

Liam slid his arms around me, curling my ass tight against him as he placed his chin on my shoulder. “Already done.”

I swatted his hip, but let the smile on my lips linger for a moment. “O’Shea, smarten the fuck up.”

He let out a growl, most likely from me using O’Shea instead of Liam. “Fine. But Faris is playing a game, and if you don’t know the rules, you are going to get killed.”

Hands on the windowsill, I leaned forward. My breath fogged the old glass and I drew a circle in it, and then drew a slash through the circle. “It’s always a game with the bloodsuckers. Shit, look at Doran. It’s fun for him to yank your strings and he does it every chance he gets.”

Again, Liam growled, but said nothing. I took a deep breath, my body held tight by his muscular arms.

“Faris doesn’t really want to piss me off.” The words slipped out of me, a whisper now. “He needs my help, but I wouldn’t help him before, not even when he asked.”

Liam’s voice was as soft as mine. “Because of Berget.” No point in answering, we both knew that was the truth. Liam turned me around to face him. “War is coming, Rylee. Is there any doubt in your mind?”

“No.”

“And you need allies.” He paused and his words sank in.

My eyes widened and I stared up at him. “You agree with Charlie. You think I should help Faris.”

Fuck me sideways, was he serious? Despite what I said downstairs, I never expected Liam t18"]o agree. Yet, it made sense. Hell, what Charlie said made sense no matter how much I wanted it to be otherwise. One thing held me back.

“I don’t want to kill her, Liam. I don’t think I could do it.”

Always, it came back to Berget. I’d sworn an oath, the strongest oath I could, that I would kill the Child Empress. Of course, that had been before I’d known who the Child Empress was.

“We’ll find a way around it.”

“And until then?” I put my head against his chest, his heart thumping underneath my ear. “I can’t take anyone with me when Faris shows up. Just because Charlie made it doesn’t mean Faris won’t kill someone else. He might not have known Charlie’s tricks …”

“Really?” The dry tone in Liam’s voice was not lost on me. I slid out of his arms a few inches so I could look up at him.

“Okay, so he probably knew Charlie’s abilities. But again, it’s a part of the game. Like chess. You do realize I suck at chess?”

He laughed. “Yeah, you’re more of a checkers girl, aren’t you?”

I lifted an eyebrow. “You mean smashing my opponents as I leap over them?”

“Something like that.”

He held me and my mind worked over the issues. Only one question was left.

“I know what I have to do, Liam. Are you going to let me do it?” I stepped away from him and started to pace, stopping in the center of the room to face him.

His jaw was tight, and eyes steely. “You are always leaving me behind, Rylee. Always. As much I hate it, I—” He shook his head and then gathered himself.

I waited for him to say it. Even though I knew it was coming, I needed to hear it.

“I trust you. If the prophecies hold true, you are going to be at the center of this shit for a long time. No matter what I do, or how close and tight I hold you, the danger and darkness will always come for you. Always. If I don’t trust you, I’m going to get us both killed.” He reached out and slid his hands up my arms, smoothing the goose bumps that rippled along my skin with his near-prophetic words. “And I will always be here, waiting on you, fighting for you when I can, healing the wounds when I must.”

“Even if it means me going with Faris, without you? Only taking Alex?” I whispered, hardly believing he wouldn’t fight me on this. Even if it was what we had to do. Fuck, I so hated Faris. Even if he hadn’t killed Charlie.

He tugged me against his chest, arms banding around me. “Don’t fucking well remind me you’ll be with that bastard. And don’t let him know you know about Charlie. Whatever game he has, play along. Let him believe he’s in control. As for Alex—” We both looked down to the submissive werewolf passed out on the bed, ass in the air, face jammed in the pillows. Liam snorted. “He’s more loyal to you than anyone else, and even though he is submissive, it’s changing. I sense it in him; he’s coming into his own and will protect you with everything he’s got. You know that. If I can’t be there, Alex is the next best thing.”