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Veiled Threat(Rylee Adamson #7)(1) by Shannon Mayer

Chapter 1

Rough, broken splinters of wood gaped like an open mouth where a doorway stood not too long ago. Shards lay scattered on the floor at my feet, giant toothpicks. I pushed one with my boot across the thick stone floor.

Liam bent and picked up a piece of the broken doorway; he rolled it between his hands before looking up at me. “This is the fifth one busted to hell.” The light from the torches hanging on the wall caught the color of his eyes, making them more silver than usual.

“Five out of five. Someone’s going for the gold.” I squinted, using my measly skill with my second sight to look around. Nothing was out of the ordinary in the castle. Yet this was a jumping point for those wanting to cross the veil, and someone was destroying our ability to use it. My guts rolled with acid; our time of respite was up.

I loosened my swords, only the second time in the last month that wasn’t for practice. A month of peace, of relative calm, if you didn’t count the constant explosions from Milly teaching Pamela how to hone her magic.

Not to mention Alex “singing” Christmas carols Pamela taught him—at three in the morning—in his sleep, and at the foot of the bed.

Liam and I spent a week in northern Europe with the old wolf, Peter, and his pack. That was the only other time I had to draw a weapon for more than practice. And then, it hadn’t even been my own. My hand went to the teardrop pendant hanging around my neck. A gift from Liam from our time in Europe and one that I treasured above anything else I owned; as much for what it stood for as for what it was.

I shook my head, clearing those memories, focusing on what we faced in the castle.

The hallway echoed our footsteps. We were heading to Portland to see Sas and the ogre gangs, and find out if they stood with us or not. After losing Dox, Sla, and the triplets, I wasn’t so sure the ogres would see us as friends any longer. The communication with the Sas since then had been, at best, lacking.

Not a good sign when looking for allies.

With each doorway we came to, more evidence piled up. Broken, destroyed. No way we’d be using the castle as a means to jump the veil anymore. I let out a slow breath. While this would make life difficult if we had to move fast, it wouldn’t kill us.

I hoped.

“Why wasn’t the doorway to the mine broken up?” Liam asked. The answer was already on the tip of my tongue.

“Trap.”

He let out a low snarl and energy swirled around him.

“Don’t shift.” I held up a hand, though didn’t look back at him. “Let’s see what other doors are busted.”

A snort escaped him. “You think any of them aren’t?”

We’d traveled back from Europe the week before, and I’d checked in with Doran. The doors had been intact at that point. So this destruction, and whoever had done it, was recent. They might still be here.

“If we are being driven toward something, yes. At least one other doorway will be unbroken.”

If I thought his energy had swirled before, it was nothing to what I felt as he moved tight to my side. Power and the scent of wolf wrapped my senses into a nice, tight package that egged me on, urging me to let loose. I drew in several breaths, slowing the adrenaline not yet needed, but drawn to the surface of my skin. Begging to be unleashed.

The wolf in Liam called to my own wildness, the part that wanted nothing more than to turn my back on the world and run free with him to where no one would find us. For the last month the pull had grown stronger, the desire to be away from everything I knew was coming for me. For us.

Especially after our time in Europe.

It had been the two of us, and our connection deepened in that time, if that was possible. Letting him lead, allowing him to truly be an alpha had strengthened our relationship in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

My hand unconsciously went to the gold chain hanging around my neck, touching the pendant through my shirt, reassuring myself it was still there. In a very short time, it had become a touchstone for me.

But I knew running away was a dream. There was no way we could walk out on everything and everyone and ignore our responsibilities, or those who depended on us.

“I wish you were wrong.” He breathed out, his lips close to my ear, though nothing sexual about it.

Okay, maybe a little sexy with the feel of his jaw line against the back of my neck. My body knew his too well not to be affected by his proximity, even when my brain screamed danger to me.

“I wish I was wrong too.”

While the castle always felt deserted, something was different. A definite chill … like a graveyard vandalized and the graves dug open. I had no illusions about this being a place of peace; we’d shed enough blood on these stones to dispel any of those kinds of thoughts. Still, it seemed wrong to brake it down and turn it into nothing more than an ordinary castle.

It took an hour before we found an unbroken doorway besides the one leading to the North Dakota badlands we’d come through on the first level. On the third level, near one of the few windows looking onto the courtyard, was the only door untouched.

A part of me expected something black and charred, a literal entrance to Hell or the deeper parts of the veil I kept hearing about.

This door though was steel, thick and polished to a shine catching light from the window. A heavy, old-school padlock clamped down on a bar that rode across the middle of the doorway. I knew this door; I’d been here with Alex. Fuck, I did not want this to be happening.

I put a hand on the cool steel. “Does it surprise you this doorway is left standing?”

“No, not really,” Liam said, bringing his hand next to mine on the door. He barely touched it and was thrown back, an arc of lightening slamming him into the far wall.

With a groan he sat up, rubbing his head. “Let me guess, the door is spelled?”

I chuckled, knowing it would take a hell of a lot more than a simple bolt of lightning to take him out, and ran my hand over the door, my Immunity to magic protecting me. “I suppose; I didn’t touch it last time.”

Stepping back I shook my head. “Let’s go, there’s nothing we can do about this now.”

Liam brushed himself off as he stood. “What about Sas and the ogres?”

I slid my swords into their sheaths. “Blaz, or maybe Eve can take us. That’ll be faster than driving. We still need them, but not so badly we’d take the long route.”

The clank of steel against steel, soft and quickly silenced, rose through the window. Moving to the side of it, pressing my body against the cool stones, I peered out. Liam did the same on the other side.