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Veiled Threat(Rylee Adamson #7)(12) by Shannon Mayer

I gritted my teeth against the flood of heat climbing into my face as I slid off Blaz’s back. Embarrassment wasn’t something I was used to and it irritated me. Which made me angry, a much more familiar emotion. Liam hopped off behind me and we stepped out in front to meet Sas head on.

“Not on purpose,” I said.

Erik snorted and crossed his arms over his chest. “Rarely is with someone like you.”

Damn, he was pissing me off. Screw it, I would ignore him, get him to show me what I needed and then send him on his merry fucking way. I Tracked Sas and felt her moving toward us. To say she was not happy was an understatement. A self-righteous fury slipped along her threads into me. Yeah, this was going to get interesting real fast. At least we wouldn’t have to look for her.

Liam lifted his face to the breeze rolling down Mt. Hood. “The whole mountain is quiet now. Almost like it never tried to kill us.”

“I wouldn’t worry about the things that aren’t ogre shaped and carrying weapons right now,” I said, shifting my stance to face the oncoming ogress, and of course, she happened to be headed our way through the only clump of trees and bush left standing. Even if it was all dead. I saw her in the distance, her violet skin catching the light here and there. Or maybe that was a weapon the light danced off. That was more likely. Behind Sas was a veritable army of ogres, the colors of the different gangs’ skin catching the light as they drew closer.

And it wasn’t just Sas who was angry; the whole of the group was geared up for a fight. Suddenly I was very glad Ophelia had come along. Two dragons were a hell of a lot more intimidating than one.

Blaz glared at me.

I’m not intimidating enough for you?

“The more the merrier and all that shit.” I pulled my sword from my back and uncoiled my whip with the other hand. A little bit of distance wasn’t a bad thing with angry ogres.

Thirty seconds passed while we waited, weapons out and tension high.

Thirty one and a half seconds, and Sas raged in front of us, battle axe raised high above her head, fury lighting her features. I didn’t move, didn’t even change my breathing, though my heart was pounding like an oversized jackhammer.

I tipped my chin up a fraction of an inch. “Hello, Sas.”

“I can’t believe you’d dare come here. You are stupid.” She slowed her steps, her eyes only on me. Fortunately, the gang of ogres behind her wasn’t quite as single-minded; they formed a long line, their eyes glued to the two dragons.

Hell yes for back up. I would never complain again about Blaz coming along.

About damn time.

I ignored him and struggled to find the right words, words I’d been working over for the last month. “Sla gave me his oath that the ogres would stand with me when the time comes. Does that still hold or are you as honorless as the rest of the supernaturals think?”

She let out a long, low hiss. “Sla is dead, and I lead the gangs now. All of them.”

The ogres behind her, men and a few women, clanged their weapons, sending a bevy of birds into flight.

Ophelia snaked her neck out and grabbed two birds mid air, gulping them down. The ogres went silent again—well, maybe that wasn’t quite right. Still, except for a tremor here and there, their eyes darting to one another and then to the dragons. No shit, there wasn’t a chance in hell I’d want to face down a dragon either.

Yet you already did, little idiot. Blaz’s tone was full of humor; Erik and Ophelia let out a snicker as if it were some big joke.

Again, I did my best to ignore him. “And you won’t stand by Sla’s decree?”

“Fuck you, Tracker. You killed my men, led them into a trap. They were my mates, I felt their deaths and they were not good deaths. Slow and tortured, they broke at the end, screaming my name as they died.” Tears slid down her cheeks but they did not soften the fury lighting her face.

The bile in my stomach jumped halfway up my throat and tears stung at my own eyes. I knew the boys had been skinned alive, knew it had been bad. But feeling their death, that was not something I could imagine. I didn’t know ogres had that connection once mated.

I knew if I felt Liam die a horrid death, there would be no stemming my rage, especially if I thought someone I knew had done it, someone I trusted. I cleared my throat and pushed down my emotions as best I could.

“And you think I did it?” My voice was husky, filled with emotions I couldn’t contain no matter how I tried.

With each word she stepped closer until we were nose to nose, her breath hot on my face. “Your stupidity did it. You thought you were all powerful, that you could change the world but you can’t. You aren’t the one the prophecies speak of. You are nothing but an interloper, a fucking twat filled with the idea of ruling the supernatural world like her ancestors did.”

The pain of losing Dox was not done healing, but that didn’t mean I would take this shit. The sympathy I had for her fled.

“You’re a moron, Sas. That’s what you are. I’m not here for power or prestige. You think I want to face down strongest demon this world has ever seen, and all that comes with him? You think I want to put the lives of those I love on the line to keep this piece of shit world safe?” I shoved her hard, tucking a foot behind her feet so she ended up on her ass in front of me. “You stay here on your bare ass mountain and cower as the demons over run this world, and know that maybe your help would have tipped the scales and kept us safe.”

She snarled and leapt to her feet, battle axe raised. “I am not the fool that the boys were. I see you for what you are, and I will not let my people be slaughtered and turned into petty pawns for your dreams of power.”

The ogres behind her let out a low murmur, but I saw doubt on some faces.

“And you all agree with her? You think I’m here to rule you?”

I shook my head. “Dox was my friend, one of the few I had. He was shunned by his own because of his gentle nature, he was cast aside. And yet he fought at my side against Orion because he believed it was the right thing to do. He was a hero; he didn’t shy away from danger, or the possibility of death. He knew, as did the triplets and Sla, this is war. Not a game, not a silly play. And they were willing to lay down their lives to try and stop the demons. The same as I am. The same as we are.” I swept my hand back to encompass the dragons, Liam, Erik and Alex. “Perhaps I was wrong thinking the ogres were strong enough to face the darkest hours this world will ever know.”