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

Liam gave a low grunt. “He’s not the submissive he once was.”

No, he wasn’t. But he was still stuck between shapes, half man, half wolf. Maybe it was too late for him to shift. Not that it mattered at this point. Alex was who he was, no matter what shape he was in, and an integral part of our group. According to Giselle, he’d be the lynch pin when it came to the final battle.

Milly, Pamela, and Frank took a seat at the kitchen table. Liam stood near the doorway, and Erik leaned against the sink. Blaz listened in, his presence a steady thrum just under my skin. I went over what we found at the castle, the broken doorways, the one doorway left untouched, and then the red caps and the demons.

Pamela shot to her feet, her blue eyes bright with excitement. “With Milly, I could go in and clean out the nest of them; those red caps aren’t so tough.”

I shook my head. “What would be the point? There are no doors now. And we don’t need to bring another battle to our front step. Not until we have to.”

“Are you driving to Portland, then?” Milly asked, but I saw she already knew the answer.

“No, Blaz will take me and Liam.”

Erik cleared his throat, his eyes darting to mine. “I’d like to go with you.”

Uncle or not, I didn’t know him. My eyes slid to Milly; if Orion could turn her, who was to say the bastard couldn’t turn an uncle I’d never met? The worst betrayers of my trust had always been the people I considered family. Perhaps he read the answer on my face, because before I said anything Erik shrugged. “Then again, I could always have Ophelia come, that way Blaz would not have to carry me and you would not be able to tell me I cannot fly with you.”

We will take you, Slayer. Just do not call your bitch on me, not yet.

Erik laughed and I noticed a missing tooth on the right side. Like it had been knocked out and he hadn’t bothered to replace it.

“Good. Are we off then?” He clapped his hands, rubbing them briskly.

Frank cleared his throat and pushed his glasses further up his nose, though there was no further for them to go. “I think before you go, you should see what is on the news.” I nodded and he jogging up the rickety stairs and was back in a matter of thirty seconds. His hands held an old computer screen. Using bits and pieces of the spelled weapons and metal we scavenged from the warehouse, he rigged a computer that would run with us all in one room. Not that I’d thought anything of it when I’d first seen it—who cared if we could play solitaire or join Twitter? My only concern was at some point it would have to go. This technology was the last evidence of those fucking guns. Still, the kid was isolated enough; for now I’d let him keep this one connection to the outside world.

Frank flicked on the screen and pulled up videos. He clicked the first one, a shot of a heavily cobbled road, small cars jam packed on both sides. The videographer panned the street; people running one way, staring over their shoulders, mouths wide.

“Where’s the sound?” Pamela asked as Erik said, “That’s in Spain, I’ve seen the area.”

Frank tapped the mouse. “No sound on this one, and yes, it’s Spain.”

We didn’t need the sound, the terrified people were enough to get the picture. And then came a flood of water. What the humans saw, I had no doubt, was just water, a lot of it, but nothing else. Within the flow were silvery flashes of movement. Maybe they’d put it off as fish, but I saw the truth.

Liam leaned forward, a crease in his brow, as on the screen a hand shot out of the water and pulled a human into the death wave. “Mermaids?”

Frank nodded. “Yes. There’s more.”

The next clip was a tornado, banshees controlling the winds as they tore across the open plains. Then a clip of a field of eviscerated animals, blood and gore strewn across the dull grasses of winter, hooves and horns broken in half. In all the clips devastation reigned and the causes were creatures of the supernatural. Mermaids, banshees, trolls, and others I’d never before faced, only read about.

Erik leaned forward and pushed the power button. “This shouldn’t be a surprise to any of you. You are aware a battle is coming? This is the start; someone has opened the veil and pulling demons through. Most likely simple tears. They will possess the supernatural creatures first, the easy ones, and use their powers to cause terror.”

Digging my fingers into my belt, I held my breath for a moment, thinking. “What is the point?”

Milly leaned back in her chair, her eyes fluttering as if in pain. She ran a hand over her bulging belly. “Orion needs the terror, the chaos, if he is to come as a ‘savior’ to the humans. He will stop all this and then be seen as their chosen one. And they will give him the world on a silver platter.” I lifted an eyebrow. That seemed like a pretty detailed ‘guess.’

“How much of that is guess and how much do you know?” I didn’t take my eyes off her. She continued to rub her belly in slow circles.

“He talked about it in front of me, one time. I was very young and to be honest, I’d forgotten this particular plan of his; he had a lot of them, you know. Always a contingency plan for this or that.” Her eyes held no guile as she spoke, but with Milly I would never truly be sure again. “Orion had plans on plans on plans. Some of them I think he had to confuse those around him; he doesn’t trust his minions, nor the demons sworn to serve him. In this particular scheme he thought to use the human’s beliefs against them, twist their faiths and make it seem he was the answer to their prayers.”

She fell silent and I tipped my head back to stare at the ceiling, as if my own answers would be written for me to discover there.

Erik rapped his knuckles on the table, snapping my eyes to his.

“I think your witch friend is right, and it fits with the prophecies. This will be his first step; the next will be to crack the veil open wide so he can physically come through, along with his stronger demons,” he scrubbed a hand over his chin, “unless the veil and the guardians of it have already weakened. It is possible we are seeing a merging of the two problems.”

Milly nodded. “Yes, that would seem a likely ploy of Orion’s, to work two possible paths at the same time. Like I said, a contingency plan.”

I fought not to rub my arms because it wasn’t truly that cold in the house, despite the goose bumps running along my skin. “And the hoarfrost demons, will we see more of them?” Shit that was the last thing we needed, adding a new ice age to our list of problems.