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Blood of the Lost(Rylee Adamson #10)(7) by Shannon Mayer

I scrubbed a hand over my face, then back around to my neck, rubbing at a bump that had risen there. The men who tackled me at Giselle’s place had smashed me good and bruises sprouted all over my back and shoulders. But the piercing stab in the back of my neck really freaked me out. If Blaz hadn’t knocked the men off, I would’ve had my head cut from my shoulders.

I didn’t want to speak out loud like normal with Blaz, not with Lark behind me. We might have been cousins, but that didn’t mean I was totally comfortable with how easily she read me.

Slowly I formulated my thoughts for Blaz. The enormous loss of supernaturals due to the pox circulating the world, the deaths of Milly and Frank, the way Liam had to bind himself to Faris so he wouldn’t leave me again. And above all those things, the fact that Tian Shan was compromised and my daughter was no longer safe.

My heart clenched. That was the crux of it. I couldn’t get past the fact she wasn’t safe, that she was somewhere in the world and Orion was looking for her. A full body shudder rippled through me. My sweet little girl, hunted by demons.

When Lark put her hand on my shoulder a second time, I didn’t shove it off. “Rylee. She is safe with your uncle. He’s a demon slayer; he can protect her better than anyone else right now.”

“Blaz, you bastard.” I hiccupped. He’d ratted me out to her; there was no other way she could have known my thoughts.

You need all of us, and we need you to be open. Let her help you.

“I can’t help her, dragon,” Lark said. “This is a pain I don’t know, and can only guess at. But it can drive you, Rylee, or it can drag you down. You know that. Why don’t you Track her?”

I swallowed hard. “Because Orion was tracing me when I Tracked. What if he could somehow walk the process backward and find her?”

Lark sucked in a sharp breath. “Clever girl. I’d bet that’s exactly what he’s set you up for. So let’s throw him off kilter. Track Jonathan. Bring the demons to us and let’s take them on my turf.” Her voice hardened as she spoke.

I glanced over my shoulder at her. “Your people will be right in the middle then.”

“Where they should have been all along,” she said. “It’s about time they woke up and realized they are a part of this world whether or not they want to be.”

Somewhat reluctantly, I sent out a thread, Tracking Jonathan. I knew his name, I remembered what he looked like when he was ten. Freaky little boy he was then, I assumed he’d be the same.

He had dirty blond hair, with a narrow face gaunt with malnourishment, and his eyes wandered in opposite directions. I got a solid ping from him, and in the distance I could feel the weight of eyes on me.

Red eyes flickering like firelight flashed in my mind and then gone. I shuddered and scrubbed at my arms.

“I’m sure Orion is watching,” I found myself whispering.

“Good. He’ll send one of his generals, I think.”

“Good?” I snorted. “Your idea of good is very different than mine. Don’t you think it would be better to go in, snag Jonathan, and head back to where the battle is going to happen?”

Lark snorted right back at me. “Wouldn’t you rather kill a couple of Orion’s generals first? Weed down his supporters and give us a chance to take him out?”

Damn, she had a very good point. I rubbed the back of my neck again, fighting the feelings of despair festering in me.

“Besides, the more attention we keep on us, the safer your daughter will be.”

A sudden thought hit me. “Lark, if I die, who will stop Orion? Marcella isn’t a Tracker like me.” That had been confirmed when she’d been born. My daughter would follow in her father’s steps as a Guardian.

“You aren’t going to like my answer, Rylee. How about we just focus on you taking Orion out?”

Blaz tipped his head so I could see one eye. An unanswered question and Rylee go together like oil and water. You might as well tell her, Elemental, or you will have no peace.

She let out a sigh. “Bear with me, this explanation will not be quick.”

I nodded and she went on. “Nature abhors imbalance, Rylee. If your sister had never been taken, your Tracker abilities would never have come on line. You would have been ‘human’ for all intents and purposes.

“Only when Orion opened the Veil and sent his demons through, would your Tracker abilities have come on line. But you would have had no one to train you. No one to help you, and you would be here, right now, likely without a single supernatural friend to stand with you against the demons.”

“Fucking hell,” I whispered, seeing my life in a different light. “All the shit that happened to me, all the people I met . . . if Berget hadn’t been taken, none of that would have happened.”

Marco swung closer and Berget stared at me with eyes that were not her own. The vampire Empress spoke through her. “You’re welcome, Tracker.”

“You knew?” I choked out.

Berget’s head nodded. “Everything we did, we did knowing it would push you, that it would force your abilities to open.”

Holy fucking hell in a handbasket. My mind reeled as I looked back at the events of my life, seeing the hands of the two master vampires moving things around as if they were chess pieces. “So you were manipulating this from the beginning? This is all you?”

She tipped her head to the side and shrugged. “As much as I was able. I knew you would need a push to become a Tracker. What better way than to take the sister you loved so dearly?”