Veiled Threat(Rylee Adamson #7)(6) by Shannon Mayer
I do not understand the whole of it, Rylee. When it comes, the battle will rage and there will be far more death than life. How can I bind myself to another when I know I will not survive?
“Noble.” I whispered, the wind taking the word from me. I was not sure I would be so noble. I would not give up Liam, not even if I knew I would die and break his heart in my last breath. No, I was not so noble.
Blaz’s voice stilled inside my head and that was for the best. We had larger problems than whether or not I was noble, or what Blaz would do if Ophelia showed up to claim him. I glanced over my shoulder to Erik. He stared off, his lips moving softly and I had no doubt he spoke with his dragon. His eyes flickered and then met mine. He gave me a slow nod and then a sheepish half grin. Like secrets he held, ones he couldn’t wait to see me react to. A chill swept through me. I didn’t trust him.
Shit, what if the old bastard was my uncle after all?
Yeah, I wasn’t expecting this to be pleasant.
The farmhouse stood in the last ray of sunlight as we touched down, which highlighted the fact the entire place needed repairs and maintenance in a rather desperate way.
Milly and Pamela stood in the yard, mud splattered up their boots to their knees as they practiced across from one another. Milly was nearing on six months pregnant—according to the doctor she’d been further along than she’d realized—and her movements were awkward and unbalanced. She often clutched at her belly and waddled like a diva, even though she wasn’t that big. Drama queen, even now she loved the drama and attention. But I didn’t care. She came back to us, turned away from Orion, even though he held a death threat over her.
Frank, our pack’s newbie, sat raising the dead. The only dead I’d let him raise.
“Stop with the fucking bugs, Frank.” I yelled as I slid off Blaz. “We have enough inside. We don’t need any freak show zombie cockroaches impossible to kill.”
His glasses lay half-way down his nose, and he looked up sharply, surprised. I shared a glance with Liam. “He didn’t notice a dragon landing in the yard; he’ll get his ass handed to him if anyone shows up for more than tea and cookies.”
Liam nodded. “I’ll talk to him. See what I can do.”
The sound of Erik’s boots hitting ground stilled both Pamela and Milly, who turned in unison to face him. Pamela put hands on her hips a split second before Milly made the same stance.
I bit my lower lip to keep from laughing. Pamela tended to take on the traits of whomever she worked with, something I only saw now that she was training with more than just me.
I half turned to him, and then waved him forward with my right hand. “This is Erik. He says he’s my uncle.”
Pamela nodded and accepted that fact like it was nothing. Milly, on the other hand, not so much.
“Your what?” Her green eyes were wide with disbelief and I saw her subtly prep a spell.
“Milly, knock it off. Blaz will vouch for him.” I stepped between her and Erik, even though secretly I was glad she had prepped a spell. Just in case.
That I will, witch. He hasn’t changed much over the last few years. His voice was loud and echoed clearly through our heads. Frank’s face paled and he clenched his bent knees until his knuckles were white. The kid was so green to the supernatural that it hurt my brain. Where Pamela had taken to it like a duck to water, Frank seemed to be in a perpetual state of shock and awe.
Milly strode forward through the mud, slipping and sliding, clutching her belly, wobbling with each step. When she drew close, Liam put out a hand to steady her. His wolf still didn’t like her much, but she was a part of this rag tag bunch, despite her past. Maybe that’s why she had become more fierce in her defense of those she deemed ‘us’ against those she saw as ‘other.’ Then again, maybe the pregnancy was making her a tad psycho.
“You don’t really mean to let him stay here, do you?”
Erik stepped around me and gave her a low mocking bow, speaking to her slowly and deliberately. “Rylee needs help, help no one else can give but myself. Unless you know how to fight multitudes of demons she’ll soon be facing and win?”
She drew herself up, her eyes flashing with ire. “I do know how to fight demons. I’m a witch.”
He grinned at her, all white teeth and mirth. “Then tell me, where does a hoarfrost demon stand on the scale of danger to you?”
She arched an eyebrow at him. “Middling to high.”
Erik slowly shook his head. “They are forerunners. Nothing more than pawns in the demon world. If you believe they are middling to high, either you are stupid—which I do not think Rylee would tolerate—or you have been deceived.”
Milly glared at him, her anger two high pink spots on her cheeks. “We don’t know if we can trust you.” She turned toward us. “Liam, you haven’t said anything; do you trust him?”
Liam frowned and I realized she was waiting for his word on the subject. Like she trusted him, even over me. Then again, they’d been through a lot together, most of it shitty.
“For now, he can stay. I’ll kill him myself if he proves a liar,” Liam said, not looking at Erik, but Milly.
Her mouth twitched and she lowered her hands, but the spell she’d prepped did not dissipate. “For now then, as you say.”
The wind suddenly howled, and the sun dropped behind the Earth, the dark curling close.
I pointed to the farmhouse, feeling the weight of the day heavy on my shoulders. “Everyone, inside. There’s a lot of talking to do and I’m not doing it while we slowly freeze our asses off.”
Everyone trooped inside except Blaz, of course. I glanced at the barn and Pamela gave me a small smile. “Eve is out flying, practicing the things Eagle taught her.”
That was good; we all needed to be at our best. And that was as far as I would let my mind wander in that direction. “And Alex?”
We stepped into the kitchen and she pointed to the living room area. Splayed out in front of the woodstove was the werewolf. He might have been a rug he was so thin, sprawled on his belly with only a slow breath now and then to show he was a living creature and not a taxidermist’s prize.
“He was doing laps around the whole property until just before you came back,” Pamela said. “I think he was marking the territory.”