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Wounded(Rylee Adamson #8)(10) by Shannon Mayer

As it condensed, wolves slunk toward us through it. Correction, werewolves. They were all easily as big as Liam, their backs bristled with hair that stood on end and their teeth were bared. Shadows of the night, it was a fucking eerie scene, straight out of a horror movie. Their eyes glowed gold in the scattered light around us. The wolf at the front shifted, her body emerging from her wolf shape in a smooth wave as she stood in the fog.

Buck naked, she’d obviously never been taught to shift with her clothes. Straight black hair and porcelain skin accentuated her ballerina body.

Alex was suddenly there, putting himself between me and the woman. “Beauty bad,” he snarled, snapping his teeth, his tail stiff in the air.

She laughed and put a hand to her throat. “Oh my, is this Alex? You escaped us many times.” She sneered. “Impressive. For a submissive.”

From my hip, I took my coiled whip and slowly let it unwind. “Who the fuck are you?”

She flicked her hair back so her body was totally exposed; her nipples didn’t even pucker bad in the cold air. Bitch. Her eyes flashed gold as her wolf rose for a brief second.

Yeah, she really was a bitch.

“You may call me Beauty. I am the leader of this pack.” Her eyes narrowed. “I do believe you have thwarted me in the past, when I tried to kill the submissive.” Her golden eyes flicked to Alex suspiciously, but he didn’t cower, instead stiffening even more as a growl trickled from his lips. “But, he does not seem so submissive now.”

“Aren’t you supposed to be out there, helping Liam?” I was guessing as I pointed with my whip; I’d assumed the howls earlier had been because Liam had called them. Beauty casually looked over her shoulder and then shrugged.

“He sent us to wait for him here. Which means we will wait until he comes.”

Alex didn’t seem convinced of her sincerity. “Bad. She is bad.”

I Tracked demons and evil spirits, just to be safe. The pack was clear—there was nothing coming off them that worried me. But the sudden clatter of hooves steered my mind away from the werewolves.

Nikko came snorting up behind us, his crush strung out in a ‘v’ formation.

What is wrong? The wolf sent us away in a hurry and I sensed there was more than your wish for us to move.

“The ogres are not our friends.” I tried to think of a way to say it so nothing would be given away to Beauty and her pack. “They are friends of Orion.”

Nikko reared up, sending me back a few steps. He came down so hard he cracked the tile at his feet. They meant to take us by surprise? To come down on us as we slept?

“Most likely.”

“Who is this Orion? I have heard his name,” Beauty said, her eyes narrowing.

There was no chance for me to answer. A howl ripped through the night air and there was only one wolf who wasn’t standing in the courtyard.

Liam.

The wolves turned as a pack, bolting into the darkness. I started to follow, knowing there was no way I could keep up to them.

I will carry you; he saved us. Nikko went to one knee and I didn’t think, just leapt on his back. A second unicorn with a coat so red it looked liked fresh spilled blood joined us and Erik leapt astride as though it were nothing.

“Niece, where you go, I go.”

My heart twanged a little, but I had no time to think on it, other than a fleeting thought of, ‘this was what it meant to have blood relatives stand by you’.

“Faris, get people out of here!” I yelled as Nikko leapt forward into the fog Doran created, toward the sounds of ogres roaring. The wolf pack ran at our side, their howls answering Liam’s.

My hands curled tight into Nikko’s mane as he galloped toward the fight. But his steps faltered as we came across a green ogre running toward us, Calliope in her arms.

I Tracked demons and evil spirits again, and got nothing back, and by then I could see who it was. “She’s clean! Mer, get to the house!”

Mer nodded and continued to run.

Be careful, the demons have a cursed knife. Calliope’s voice was soft, but there was no fear in her, only confidence.

Nikko picked up the pace again, catching up with the rear guard of the werewolves, the red unicorn and Erik at our heels. The wolves slammed into the first line of ogres like a wave hitting a rock wall. They were rolled back, their bodies flung by magic and weapons. But that didn’t stop them. Nor did it stop us.

“Run parallel the front line.” The two unicorns moved in tandem.

Nikko spun on his haunches and launched himself to the left. Whatever power I had as a Slayer depended on my heart. I couldn’t destroy a demon when I was afraid or angry. I had to kill them for the right reason.

I had to do this for Liam, because of my love for him.

To protect him.

I snapped my whip out, cracking a gray skinned ogre in the face. He fell back, screaming as though hot acid had been poured onto him. And the result of the whip was more than a little like that. The ogre fell, his skin bubbling and breaking in huge pustules that exploded spraying those around him. A shimmer of darkness oozed from where my whip had cracked him and then the demon was free. For a split second it stared at me, then with a screech, an opening appeared behind it, and the veil seemed to suck the demon back to where it belonged.

All of that happened in two strides of Nikko’s long legs. His horn flashed as he drove it through the thigh of an ogre who stepped in his way. Over and over again, I sent my whip out, desperate to get to Liam. I was afraid to Track him, afraid of what I’d find. I couldn’t see Erik; the red unicorn no longer carried him. The fool had dismounted. Things were going downhill fast and about to get even faster. As my fear for Liam rose, my effectiveness against the demon-possessed ogres fell.

The ogres are circling us.

Sons of bitches. By the time Nikko’s words hit my brain, he was already wrong. They weren’t circling us. We were surrounded.

“Pamela, where are you going?” Frank called to me, but I ignored him.

I wanted to see what was happening. That was the problem with being a kid. No one paid attention to you. No, that wasn’t fair—Rylee never ignored me. She depended on me to help her, and that much I could do. What would she be doing if our places were reversed? I had a feeling we were going to be making a run for it and I knew there were things we needed to take with us. Rylee would want those things, maybe even need them.

I ran into the house, bolting toward Rylee and Liam’s room. Under the mattress were the papers Milly had given Rylee before we’d come back to this side of the veil. I’d seen her stash them there, though I didn’t think Rylee had ever read them. Milly had risked her life to get the papers to Rylee, so I knew they were important. I grabbed them, and stuffed them inside my shirt. Next, I grabbed Rylee’s fire opal Doran had given her and tucked it into my pocket. It wouldn’t activate unless it was right against the skin. I searched around the room, grabbed one of Rylee’s knives and couldn’t think of anything else. I had the short sword Rylee had given me for my birthday, but I didn’t have any other weapons. I hoped I wasn’t forgetting anything.