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Wounded(Rylee Adamson #8)(6) by Shannon Mayer

Erik paused and looked over at me. “Up to you. Personally, I’d just as soon dice him up.”

“Fuck, why not, Tracking will take me two seconds,” I grumbled.

I send out a thread to Track demons as a whole, paired with a thread for evil spirits, just to satisfy—

Holy. Fucking. Hell.

I swayed on my feet and went to one knee, the overwhelming wash of pings I got back seriously making me re-think getting out of bed the day before.

We were surrounded by Orion’s minions.

Hundreds of them.

Chapter 3

LIAM HELPED ME to stand. “We have a problem,” I whispered, as I turned to look up at him.

“How bad is it?”

“Hundreds of very big, very bad uglies.”

Faris’s eyes searched the darkness around us. “I don’t sense anything out of the ordinary. Wolf, what are you picking up with that nose of yours?”

“Ogres, unicorns, only what we already have here.”

Bert whimpered. “I told you I wasn’t fooling you.”

I didn’t look at him, just clung to the threads as a horrible, horrible idea bloomed. Carefully, as if they would be able to tell, I Tracked Raw, hoping I was wrong. His threads lit up inside my head, overlapping one of the pings from the demons.

“It’s the ogres; they’re possessed.” Oh, we were in shit. There was close to a hundred ogres out there, pretty much surrounding Doran’s home. And we’d invited them.

Unclenching my jaw, I strode forward. “We have to move on them, before they know we know. Otherwise, there is no way we can take them all out.”

You would discount me?

“No.” I shook my head. Blaz had a point.

Liam burst that bubble. “If you go after them, how are you going to get the unicorns out without Blaz frying them? They are in the middle of the ogre camp; they’ll be slaughtered before we can even get to them.” His silver golden eyes searched the darkness. “I think I can get some local wolves to help buffer us. But you’re right, Rylee. We have to get the hell out of here.”

Hanging onto the threads of the demons and evil spirits around us (I couldn’t call them ogres any more), I knew we were about to be in serious trouble. “Faris, go tell Doran what’s going on, jump the veil, get Thomas or Frank to help, whatever you can do. Get everyone out.”

He didn’t argue with me. “Where are we meeting?”

There was only one logical place. “Jack’s. It’s far enough away.” And maybe we could get Will and Deanna to finally help.”

Faris gave me a tight smile and then strode into the house. For the moment, I could trust him.

“Erik.”

My uncle turned his head to me. His eyes narrowed. “There are too many. Even if we extract the unicorns, there are too many to deal with. Between the ogres natural strengths and abilities, and the drive of demons and dark spirits in them, they will be powerhouses. Our best option is to get the hell out of here before they are on to us.”

That was not what I wanted to hear. “We have to get Nikko and his crush out. I can’t leave them.”

Liam put a hand out. “Let me try something.” He closed his eyes, let out a slow breath. The world around us stilled and then suddenly, from the outside perimeter of Doran’s home and land, the eerie howl of a wolf broke the clear night air.

“What are you doing?” I grabbed at Liam’s arm. “We don’t want them to know we’re on to them!”

He gave me a grin and shifted right there, his clothes going with him for the first time. Shit, he’d finally managed it. That surprise stuck with me long enough for him to lope off into the darkness, leaving me standing there, slack-jawed.

I took two steps and Erik stopped me. He stood with his back to me, his arm barring my way. “This is not a rush job, Rylee. Let your man do what he can to get the unicorns to safety.”

“I’m not rushing in,” I snapped. Liam was going into a fight without me, and I was just standing there. Doing nothing. It ate at my insides.

“No, you rush in because you don’t know any better.” His expression changed, looking almost sad. “I wish I’d known you’d lived, Rylee. I would have raised you myself. Taught you some patience.”

His eyes met mine and behind them I saw he was telling the truth. But it was a bitter gall and I spit out the one thing that had been bothering me about Erik since I’d met him.

“I read my mother’s journal. She said you were always causing trouble with her and my father. Why would you want to raise me?” I asked the question, but I was listening hard for another howl, another sound from whatever was going on out there. I’d read my mom’s journal while Liam and I were in Europe, at Jack’s actually, and it had answered a lot of questions about my past. Mind you, it had also left a bunch of new questions rolling through my head.

Erik gave me a small smile, his eyes crinkling. “Because I loved them both. One was my older brother; the other was the one who got away.”

I stared at him, my eyes popping wide. “Wait, you and my mom were an item? That was not in her journal.”

“It wouldn’t be. It wasn’t her style to kiss and tell. And it’s not a story I’m going to share with you in detail, either, but yes, I loved her.” Erik’s smile faded. “I saw her first and I was angry when she chose my brother over me. The things I said and did… lashing out at them both. I’m not proud of it. Worse, I never got to say goodbye, to either of them.” He shook his head and I found myself totally mesmerized by his words. And it was in that moment I realized he’d done it on purpose. He’d totally distracted me from the fight going on outside.

“You sneaky son of a bitch. You knew you’d be able to—”

“Keep you from the fight? Yes.” He grinned at me again, totally unrepentant. “Because you, my niece, need to learn when to hold back. And this is one of those times. Let Liam do his job, let him protect you.”

With my teeth gritted, I stared into the darkness where Liam had disappeared. Fuck, I hoped Erik was right.

He bolted toward the sounds of howling and wondered just how long it would take before Rylee was right behind him. But there was no sound of her heartbeat or even the steady pound of her footsteps, shocking him. At the same time, he was pleased. Maybe she would finally let him do what he had to do to protect her.