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

With a grunt, Liam flicked his hand, beckoning the wolves. They slithered on their bellies toward him. Not submissive like Alex, but not such strong alphas that they could take on Beauty for leadership of the pack.

He scrubbed a hand through his hair as Beauty stepped up beside him, pressing her naked body against his, her shift in tactics not surprising him at all. “You are the one I’ve been waiting for. I will share my pack with you … amongst other things.” Her hands slid down his back to his ass, massaging him hard.

Liam stared at her, let her see the wolf in him. “You aren’t sharing anything with me, Beauty. I am taking this pack. Defy me again and I will let the ogres have you.”

Beauty paled and her eyes glittered with fury. Well, at least he knew she was no longer interested in him; she just wanted to kill him now.

Wrong again. She puckered her full lips and blew him a kiss, then slid her tongue along the edge of her mouth.

Irritation flared in his gut. “Go. Wait for me there.” He pointed at Doran’s house and the pack moved off as a unit, Beauty snarling, but doing as he said.

Raw thumped his pike into the ground. “That was relatively well-handled. For a wolf. Will you stay and eat with us?”

“No, I want to check on Nikko, make sure none of the wolves got through to them.” Last thing he wanted was to remind Raw about the fact that Nikko’s daughter was the only young unicorn—the only one born in the last fifty years and a potential tool to bring Orion across the veil. He wanted to avoid that almost as much as he wanted to avoid putting himself alone in the middle of a nest of demons.

“They are fine, we are watching over them,” Raw said, his eyes glittering, his pupils dilating and then elongating horizontally. His hand gripped his pike, knuckles turning a faint pink. This was not good.

“Rylee’s instructions. I don’t disobey her. You know how she gets.” He held up his hands like he had no choice and started to walk deeper into the camp. Hell, they should have known something was up when they saw how the ogres had gladly offered to be the outer ring of protection for everyone.

Yet, if they couldn’t trust their allies, who could they trust?

Raw’s eyes followed him; he could feel the anger from the ogre burning into his shoulder blades. It took everything he had to not to spin around and challenge him right there. Erik was right, though, there were too many. A very loud part of him, the suspicious FBI agent who he would always carry around, wondered why the ogres had waited. Raw didn’t make him wait long on that count.

“When will the harpies be here?” Raw called out after him and Liam knew in a flash of understanding why they hadn’t attacked.

They were waiting to take all of them by surprise, to wipe out every ally Rylee had.

“Not sure. Eve thought a day or two at most.” He lied, knowing the harpies were supposed to be showing up in the morning. They were so screwed if they couldn’t get everyone out before then. He picked up his pace, putting some distance between himself and the perimeter where Raw stood guard. As he stepped around a tent set up by the ogres there was a whimper from inside. He stopped in his tracks and took a breath.

It was Mer, the green ogre that had been sharing Raw’s bed. He glanced around, gritted his teeth and made a quick decision. Shit, he was getting more and more like Rylee with each passing day. Without fully thinking it through, he scratched on the tent with one finger and called softly, “Mer?”

The whimpering eased and the tent flap slid open. Her eyes were dark and heavy lidded, and not just from tears. One eye was swollen shut, the other right behind in that department, her lip was split in three spots, the piercing in her cheek had been torn out, and the few fingers he could see were bent at the wrong angle.

“What?” she managed to mumble and still sound a bit snotty. It was her temperament, but that didn’t bother him. He took a long breath, the scent of the ocean and hot sand filling his nose. No scent of demon.

He crooked his finger at her, taking a chance. “Come with me.” With great care, she emerged from the tent, the rest of her body not looking any better than her face.

“He will beat me for leaving the tent.”

“Not if you’re with me.” Liam had to fight to keep the snarl from his voice. Even though there was no scent of demon curling around her, he would still have Rylee Track her when they got back to Doran’s, to be on the safe side. “We are checking in with Nikko, then you’ll stay with us.”

Her lip trembled and that broke open the cuts making them drip down her green skin. “Why?”

“Because that isn’t how anyone should live.”

They said nothing more as they carefully made their way to the unicorns. The unicorn crush was smack in the middle of the ogre camp. They were sleeping standing up, heads hanging low, except for a few on the perimeter who watched the darkness.

Nikko saw them coming and trotted out to meet them, Calliope at his side. His young daughter pranced lightly, tossing her head, her black mane blending with the night as much as her snow white body stood out like a sparkling gem. She was young, only seven months old, but already she had a strong place in the unicorn crush as the future leader.

Wolf, has the council already come to a decision? Nikko’s voice rang in Liam’s head. He lifted a hand to the stallion. How was he going to warn them without setting the ogres off? He didn’t want to take the chance they would be overheard, even this close to the unicorns. So he played it safe and couched his words, hoping Nikko would understand.

“Rylee wants to set up a perimeter on the other side of Doran’s house. Would you be willing to move your crush?”

Nikko bobbed his head. Of course. When?

“Right now.”

Mer started, her eyes narrowing. “The ogres are capable.”

Again, Liam lifted his hand. “I know. But this is what Rylee wants, and she’s running the show.”

Nikko’s eyes met Liam’s and he wished he could send thoughts like with Blaz. Instead, he held the stallion’s gaze, flicking his eyes once toward the ogres who stood twenty feet away. He could only hope it would be enough.

The stallion didn’t question him, but instead gave a soft nicker that floated in the air, his eyes never leaving Liam’s. Almost as a unit, the herd woke, heads and horns lifting into the air. Liam did a quick count. There were less than thirty unicorns, and that was including Calliope in the mix.