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Wounded(Rylee Adamson #8)(15) by Shannon Mayer

I waited, wondering if she was going to tell us where. Nope, she leaned forward and whispered to Eve.

“We’re going to a place called Bismarck,” Marco said.

“You could hear that?”

“Easily. But I do understand the caution. No need to go shouting it to the sky and let all those who seek us know where we will roost for the day.”

Eve led the way, and while I was afraid for Rylee, I was glad this time we weren’t separated.

I directed Eve to head for a little motel on the outskirts of Bismarck. We all needed a few hours sleep and a chance to decompress from the battle. The wind was icy cold and though Erik did his best to keep me warm, he didn’t run hot like Liam. Thinking of him, I found myself reaching out to Liam through the bond between us, rather than Tracking him. He slept and his heart was steady, if a bit on the slow side. I could live with that, as long as he made it.

“That vampire, how sure of him are you?” Erik asked as we drew close to the motel.

“Faris? Fuck, he can be trusted one day, and not the next. I trust Doran, though. And he deals with Faris.”

“Doran will be pissed with him for shutting the veil.”

I let out a sigh. I didn’t want to say I understood what Faris had done, but I did. He was protecting Doran, the vamp king; that was his job. Even if that meant leaving us behind. Stupid fucking asshat.

“Yeah, he will. But there is nothing any of them can do now.” Shit, that wasn’t true. Alex had a tie to Faris; we used it in the past. I explained quickly to Erik and he nodded, though his hazel and green eyes were troubled.

“I hope you’re right. It would redeem him somewhat.”

The rest of our flight passed in relative silence, other than the instructions I gave Eve. Late in the day found us over the motel and the harpies landed on the roof. The flight had given me time to heal, though I hadn’t been able to rest, or even nap. I’d been hoping to maybe get a chance to contact Berget, let her know we’d made it out.

Erik, Pamela, Alex, and I shimmied down a fire escape to the back of the motel. We made our way around to the front office. Shit, I hadn’t been here in months. I hoped John and his wife were still here. They were old enough that it was a valid concern. I pushed the door open and peeked inside. John snoozed in his regular chair, cowboy boots up on the front desk and hat pulled down over his eyes.

I couldn’t help but smile. “John. Sleeping on the job, really?”

He snorted and sat up, grabbed his hat and blinked at me. “Ry! What the hell, girl, you’ve been a long time between visits. Find any kids lately?”

My smile faltered. “Not enough. Big stuff coming, though.”

“Yeah?” He waited for me to say something out-of-the-world goofy. Typical human would think I was fooling him.

“Well, thought I’d try to save the world from demons. Then maybe take an honest-to-God vacation before anymore hunting for kids.”

He slammed his hat back on his head as he laughed. “You’ve got the imagination for telling stories, girl. You need one room or two?”

I knew he still had my credit card on file. Which was good since I had no money on me.

“Just one. For a few hours to get some sleep.”

“On the house. Just don’t bust up any doors this time.” John tossed me a key I caught with ease.

I thanked him and we headed out.

“He didn’t say anything about Alex,” Pamela noted.

“She has a point. You sure he thinks you are just a human?”

I shrugged. “Don’t know. Doesn’t matter. He’s known me for years.” I looked down at the key John had given me.

Lucky number 13.

The room was fixed up, no reminder other than a few scratches here and there of Alex’s last visit to the place. That had been when we’d gone hunting for India.

On a whim, I Tracked her, fully expecting her to be back on the east coast where her parents were. She was fucking terrified and I fought back the bile rising in my throat. I Tracked her parents, barely able to recall their names, but I managed.

My jaw dropped and I sank onto the bed. They were both dead.

Erik crouched in front of me. “What is it?”

“Someone took a kid I salvaged months ago. Killed her parents,” I whispered, as I struggled to put it together. Why would someone take her? She was a spirit seeker, someone who called spirits to her whether she wanted to or not. Giselle had even spoken through her to get a message to me after she died.

“Could someone be going after your people? Friends and the like?” Erik didn’t have to say who the ‘someone’ might be.

I hung onto India’s threads. Who else could be taken and used against me? Only one person I could think of. I Tracked Kyle, my personal hacker, who was barely an adult himself.

Shit, he was with India. That was not a good sign. Who else could they have? I wracked my brain, but came up blank. Not that it really mattered … wait. I pulled the picture out of my pocket that Faris had given me of Simon, the young Tracker.

I Tracked him while hanging onto the two other threads, hoping I was wrong. Nope, I wasn’t. Kyle, Simon, and India were all together. What the fuck was going on?

“Someone is baiting a trap for me with at least three kids I know,” I said. Again, the ‘someone’ we knew was not Orion, but who he was using to make this happen was anyone’s guess.

“So are you going to call on Faris, or are you going after the kids?”

Something in Erik’s voice brought my eyes up to his. “You know the answer, don’t you?”

He smiled and leaned forward, putting his elbows on his knees. He stared at the floor while he spoke to me. “You and your mom are the same in this. Heart of a lion, you’d take on anything to protect a child, even more so for one you know and care for. So yes, I do know what you’re going to do.”

I put my hands over the back of my head and stretched. “It’s a trap, and more likely than not, a bad one.”

Erik reached over and put a finger under my chin. “Your life as a Tracker, and now a Slayer-in-training, have brought you to this. What does your heart say?”

I let out a slow breath. My heart said what it always did. Protect and save those who couldn’t save themselves. Yet there was a bigger picture now, one I couldn’t ignore. “How will this help stop Orion, though?”