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Blind Salvage(Rylee Adamson #5)(9) by Shannon Mayer

“Good afternoon, Rylee.” Louisa stood hunched over in the backseat of the truck and stared down at me.

I took a shallow breath, noting that the pain had lessened to the point where I could at least breathe without wincing. “I don’t know about the good part.”

She smiled and put her hand above my ribs. “Any day you wake up on this side of the veil is a good day, Tracker. We were able to put you back together, and your ribs are already healing.”

“Point taken.” I itched to sit up, but when I tried to move she tsked at me.

“Give yourself a few hours before you attempt anything even remotely strenuous. I’m going to send you home with Dox. You can recuperate there. Before heading home to Bismarck.”

I didn’t bother to argue with her, what was the point? As a Shaman, she was used to being listened to. But I did have questions, and I needed them answered. Even if I was half-baked on herbs.

My words came out in a slurry jumble. “Louisa, how did you know we were coming through? How did Dox know when we would bust across? Was it you who opened up the block on the veil?”

She tapped her finger against her lips several times before answering me. “Both Dox and I received a phone call, an hour before you came through, that you would need help and that you would be gravely injured. I don’t know who it was, but there was truth in the words I could feel through my bones. So I listened and prepared for your injuries. If I’d have known that they were as bad as they turned out to be, I would have had Crystal come sooner. And yes, I opened the block on the entrance to the veil, but that was some time ago.”

I frowned. This didn’t make any sense. Who could have known? The only person who might have had an inkling that injuries would be involved would be someone who’d known that the giant and the red caps were there. Like someone who’d set the whole damn fiasco up. But that would be ridiculous. Unless whoever set it up had a henchman who wasn’t kosher with the plan to take us out. “Was it a man or a woman?”

“While they tried to disguise their voice, I do believe it was a woman. Now, rest, for whomever it was that made the call surely saved your life.”

Well, shit. To owe someone your life was one thing, but to not even know who it was? That was just damn weird.

I thanked Crystal, who blushed and stammered while she covered my upper body with a blanket and then backed out of the truck. The youngest of the Shamans in the area, she had a lot to learn about keeping her emotions off her face. Pamela wobbled down the porch and pulled herself into the truck, but she wouldn’t make eye contact with me. In her arms, she held clothes that were far too large for her.

Dox followed her out and slid into the driver’s seat. “Alright, ladies. Let’s go. The wolf boys will meet us back at my place.”

Pamela was silent on the drive to Dox’s, though he made every effort to engage her. Finally, I’d had enough of her quiet brooding, the itching feeling in my belly having nothing to do with the fast healing stitches there.

“Pamela, what happened, why are you being so quiet?”

I watched with amusement as her spine stiffened, and her shoulders tightened up. She was so easy to read, not unlike Crystal; Pamela had yet to learn how to hide her emotions.

“What are you talking about?”

Dox cleared his throat. “I can answer that for you. Liam wanted to rush out and help Louisa with you. I couldn’t let him, so we got in a little tangle, nothing I couldn’t handle mind you.”

Pamela let out soft breath. “And I wrapped him up in a spell so they wouldn’t fight.”

I groaned and closed my eyes. Shit, the last thing we needed was Liam to get worked up about Pamela. His time with Milly had not left him particularly forgiving when it came to witches. To say the least.

“Unless he’s going to kill you, you don’t touch him with a spell. Got it?”

She stared straight ahead. “Yes, ma’am.”

A few minutes later, we were pulling into ‘The Landing Pad,’ Dox’s bar and hotel. I sat up, slowly, to see that Liam and Alex were already there. Alex was panting hard, his overly long tongue hanging out, and as soon as the truck door opened, I could hear him complaining.

“Too fast, Boss. Feets hurt like hell.” He shoved one of his paws under Liam’s nose, as if to make his point, and Liam bit him. Not hard, but enough to make Alex back down. The submissive werewolf slunk over to the truck, his eyebrows drawn sharply over his golden eyes. “Damn bossy Boss.”

Dox opened the doors and held his hand out to me. “Louisa said you were ok to walk once we got here, just nothing else.”

Good, at least I had that going for me. I put my hand in his and he helped me down out of the truck. Nothing hurt yet, but that didn’t mean it wouldn’t soon enough. I clutched one arm around my middle, to brace my ribs.

Sure, I would heal fast, probably be a hundred percent in two or three days. That didn’t mean during that time things wouldn’t hurt, or that I couldn’t re-injure myself.

Dox helped me into one of the spare motel rooms set off the side of the Landing Pad, and Liam slipped inside, still in wolf form.

“Dox, would you look after Pamela and Alex for a bit?” I lowered myself onto the bed and kicked off my boots.

“No problem. They get in my hair and I’ll just feed them some ogre beer.” He winked at me, and then closed the door behind him as he left. Thank the gods for loyal friends I could trust.

Liam shifted as soon as the door was shut. Closing in on midday, and all I wanted to do was sleep, but first I had to hear his side of the story.

“What happened at the castle?” I peered up at him as he slid my jeans down over my hips. My shirt was cut up the middle so that was easy enough for him to slide off, and in any other circumstance, my blood would have been pounding at the care he was taking with me, his fingers brushing lightly against my skin here and there. As it was, I was just grateful to have someone looking out for me for once.

“The red caps surrounded us, and Pamela said she was right behind me. I got you down the stairs, realized she wasn’t with us, and went back for her.”

He pulled back the covers and helped me into bed, then crawled in with me, pressing his body along the length of mine, laying his arm across my hip to avoid my ribs. Heat from his body wrapped around me, burrowing under my skin, and with it came a sense of calm.

He tucked his mouth close to my ear. “She had killed all but two of them, and they had her pinned down, unconscious. I killed them, then brought her down to you.”

I breathed in his smell, fought the drowsiness that pulled at me. “And at Louisa’s place?”

A rumbling growl escaped him. Maybe Pamela and Crystal weren’t the only ones who needed to learn some control. This was not good; I needed them to be able to work together.

“She wrapped me up so I couldn’t move.”

I waited for him to say more, and when he didn’t, I didn’t dig. There was no point. If he could move past the incident at the house, it wouldn’t matter what had happened. We were a family, and I had to believe that above all else, Liam and Pamela would hold to that.

Now if I could just figure out who had wanted to keep us in London, and who had saved our asses on this side of the veil. Then I could relax. Or at least know whose ass to kick, and whose to—no, not kiss. Thank, who to thank.

Liam’s breathing evened out in a matter of minutes, a tactic I’d never really learned. As drowsy as I was, there was too much going on inside of my head, and too many questions left unanswered for me to just ignore them.

Of course, when Giselle materialized on the rickety chair across from me, I suspected I was asleep, but I wasn’t a hundred percent sure.

“Rylee, you are sinking fast. You know that, don’t you?” She leaned back in the chair, looking as solid as if she were really there. There were subtle differences though. Her hair was no longer white, but had darkened to the dirty blonde I remembered from pictures long before I’d met her. More than that, her eyes were clear of the madness she’d suffered from for so long. She laced her fingers, tucking them under her chin. “You cannot run from what you are.”

“Are you a ghost, or am I sleeping?” I asked softly, not wanting to wake Liam.

Giselle smiled. “You are awake. I heard your call for me, when your heart broke. But I couldn’t cross the water. It is a barrier to much of the supernatural.”

I wanted to get up, to reach out to her, but I knew that as a ghost, she would be immaterial. A tear slipped from my eye, and I scrubbed it away. Probably just a result of the herbs Louisa stuffed into me. “I thought you’d abandoned me.”

Her smile faded at the edges. “I will do my best to stay with you, as long as I can. But each time I come to you, I am pulled a little further through the veil. I have a duty on my side of the veil. One that I cannot ignore.”

“Then you thought I needed something, that it was worth it to let me see you?”

She nodded. “I am forbidden from telling you all I’ve learned since I crossed over. But I can tell you that what your eyes see, and your ears hear, they can be deceived. Those that you love, they can always be saved.” Giselle grimaced and clucked her tongue. “I cannot say more than that.”

“Do you know who saved us? Or who set us up?”

Leaning forward, she locked her eyes onto mine. “They are the same person.”

Well I’ll be screwed sideways into next week.

Her eyes softened with sorrow. “I must go now, Rylee. Do not fight your destiny so hard. You are meant to stand between our world and the darkness that would swallow it. This moment, these dark days are what I trained you for, though the madness carried much of my understanding of the prophecies away. Believe in yourself, you are strong enough to carry this burden. And when the time comes, I will be there.” Her voice faded along with her body, but I continued to stare at the spot where she’d sat.

Dead, she was more lucid than she’d ever been in life. Yet, her words still swirled like a deadly, mind-numbing fog in my head. She’d trained me to stand between the world and the darkness? Had she known the prophecies all along? Had I been just a tool to her? No, I couldn’t believe that. But why hadn’t she told me? Chills swept through my body, and I rolled so that I could bury my face against Liam’s chest. At least with Liam I knew he loved me for nothing more than who I was; he didn’t want to use me, or make me face demons, he didn’t want to put me in the line of fire.