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Shadowed Threads(Rylee Adamson #4)(7) by Shannon Mayer

I wanted to move, to pace or prep for a fight, but at the same time, I needed him to keep talking. If I was forced to kill him, then I needed all the information I could get out of him ahead of time. Brutal, cold, but no less the truth for all that.

“You let me right in, didn’t you?” His dark green eyes were full of sorrow, but he couldn’t seem to sit still. His hands jumped and twitched as he talked. “I walked right up, kissed you on the cheek and you didn’t even lift a weapon. The Child Empress knew that. I can get close to you; it’s what she’s wanted all along. But I can’t stop her from commanding me, the binding goes too deep.”

“Fine.” I rolled my shoulders, loosening my muscles. “Then how the f**k do we unbind you from her, stop her from compelling you?”

“We don’t.” He lunged at me, and I barely got the bowie knife up between us. He stopped, his eyes wild, mouth open as he panted for air. His muscles twitched, as he lowered himself to the ground, face down, neck exposed to me.

“Kill me swiftly, that’s all I ask.” His body jerked and jumped as if tied to strings I couldn’t see. Like the puppet he was. Fuck it all to hell and back.

“There has to be a way to unbind you from her.” I held the knife above him, poised on the edge of slicing it into his neck, holding off the inevitable.

“I would have to bind myself to another, someone else. There is not time; I can barely think straight with her in my head—”

His hands snaked out and grabbed me by the ankles, jerking me to the floor. I hit hard, but stayed on my back so I could see him. He crawled up my body, fangs bared, his eyes wide with fear.

“Kill me. You must.”

“I never did like doing things the easy way,” I said, as I flipped us over so I was on top and his back was to the floor. Even though he tried not to fight me, his body struggled to obey his mistress.

“Rylee, you have no ability to bind me. And she is pushing me hard. If you don’t kill me, I will go after Pamela.” He groaned, his body bucking underneath mine.

I balanced my knees on his arms, but I knew that he could throw me off if he wanted to. What the hell was I going to do with him? I couldn’t kill him, not if I was going to bring O’Shea back, but how did I let him live with Pamela’s life on the line?

A tentative knock came on the door, then the sound of a cane rapping against the wood.

“Go away!” I yelled, glancing over my shoulder. Doran threw me off him, pushing me straight up into the air. My head brushed the fifteen-foot ceiling before gravity took over, yanking me back to the floor. I landed in a crouch, eyeing up the Daywalker who had plastered himself against the far wall of books.

“Rylee, I can’t hold on much longer. Send her away, I can smell her on the other side of the door.” He said, sliding to the floor, books falling around him as he went.

From outside the door came a resounding curse and then the wooden panels were blasted open. Jack strode in, a snarl on his lips, eyes flashing with anger.

“This is my f**king house, and I don’t give a shit.” He came to a stop as he rounded the table and Doran came into view for him.

I put myself between Doran and Jack. “Fuck, Jack, this is why I didn’t want you in here, I knew something was wrong.”

Pamela stepped into the room and lifted her hand. With an ease that belied her experience, she pinned Doran down, and his face relaxed. “Should have asked the witch along. Always ask the witch along. That’s advice you need to start taking.”

“Shut up, Doran,” I snapped, knowing he was right. The struggle was using Pamela to help me, but not getting her killed. A fine line in our world. One I didn’t like walking.

Jack made his way to his recliner and slumped into it. “Who has you bound?”

Doran rolled his head toward the old Tracker. “The Child Empress. I know of no way to break the binding; Rylee must kill me or I will attack her, kill Pamela, and make a general mess of things for all of you.”

Jack snorted and leaned back in the chair, putting his feet up. “All these things you know, and yet so bloody f**king much you don’t, Daywalker. And you’ve been around for what, three hundred years?”

Doran gave a grunt. “Close enough.”

I felt my eyes widen, couldn’t stop them. Three hundred years? Seriously?

Jack pointed at me with his cane. “She can break the binding, but are you ready to be free of the Child Empress, to stand with Rylee instead?”

Okay, now I was confused. “I can’t break any binding, Jack. I have no magic.”

“The magic is in your blood. In mine too, but I don’t have any extra to spare.”

Doran and I were talking over each other, but I shushed him with my hand. “Doran has drunk my blood before. So your theory falls short.”

“Straight from the vein, or out of a cup?” Jack tipped his head back, and closed his eyes.

Doran’s eyes met mine and I saw the confusion in him—and the fear.

“From a cup,” I said.

“From any major artery, or from the last of your life, the magic in your blood will act like the catalyst it is. It is a driving force in the most powerful of spells, and will break the bond between him and the Child Empress.” Jack let out a jaw cracking yawn, as if all this were just the every day for him, as if he didn’t really care about the outcome.

Doran shook his head. “I don’t think this is a good idea. If I bite you, she could have a connection to you through me. I’m not sure I won’t rip you open if she commands it of me.”

“I need your help, which means we are doing this.” I walked toward him, rubbed my wrist. This was going to hurt like a son of a bitch.

“Think big artery, Rylee. I’d say neck or inner thigh if you want to be sure it will work,” Jack said, stopping me in my tracks.

Fuck, this was just getting better and better, wasn’t it? Neck it was.

Doran couldn’t move, held as he was by Pamela’s spell. I turned to face her. “You let him go when I tell you to, okay?”

“Are you sure?” Her fingers clutched Alex’s collar, the werewolf having crept in without me noticing. Both of them had eyes the size of silver dollars. Children, I had children for allies. Fuck, I needed Doran to snap out of this binding he was under so I had at least one able-bodied adult backing me up.

I was in front of Doran, our bodies maybe an inch apart. He was still shaking his head. “Rylee, this is a bad, bad idea.”

“So is killing you, so is killing Pamela. There are no good choices here. If this will break the tie, we are doing it. So stop your f**king whining.” I closed the distance between us and did my best to ignore the thundering race of my heart. I closed my eyes and pressed my neck against his closed mouth. “Do it.”

He groaned, his lips brushing against my skin, tongue darting out to taste. I shivered and my heart sped up even more, sweat beading up along my spine. He whispered my name, kissed my neck, and I pulled back to glare at him.

“None of that shit. Just bite me, damn it.”

Doran gave me a smile. “Can’t blame me for trying.”

I leaned back in, pressed my neck hard against his mouth, and this time he wasted no breath. His fangs popped through my skin, and I stiffened at the sharp piercing. He groaned and I lifted a hand. “Let him go, Pamela.”

The second her spell left him, his arms snaked around me, holding me against him as he drew my blood into his mouth. For most people, it would have been a sensual, sexual moment, and by the way Doran’s lower half felt, he was definitely in the mood. But he hadn’t be-spelled me, so his bite wasn’t doing a thing for me. The bite hurt, and his hard-on dug into me with the unpleasantness of a drunken come on. Overall, not an experience I’d want to write home about.

I felt a distant twang on my senses and the Child Empress’s attention focused on me. I could feel her gaze through Doran. Shit, this was a bad idea.

“Jack, how long?” I tried to look to the old Tracker, but one of Doran’s hands snaked up to cup the back of my head.

Jack had the nerve to laugh. “The first drop of blood would have done it, he’s just getting off now.”

I slid two fingers between Doran’s mouth and my neck and popped him off like I would a leech; the connection that had started up between me and the Child Empress cut off. Thank the gods.

The Daywalker reeled back, stumbled across the floor and ended up flat on his back, a trickle of my blood leaking down the edge of his mouth.

“Sweet mother of the dark goddess, Rylee. That is the most amazing blood I’ve ever tasted.” He giggled, sounding drunk. “And the binding is gone. I can’t feel her in my head. You are a goddess, a queen, a sweet aphrodisiac that I will never grow tired of.”

I put a hand to my neck, the bite tender, though I could tell he’d not dug in as he could have. I had a bite on my lower back from a pissed off Daywalker—I knew how bad it could have been if Doran hadn’t been holding back.

“Great. The binding is gone. You can behave now. Pamela” —I strode across to her— “come with me.”

I left Jack and Doran in the library and headed to the nearest bathroom. Digging through the cupboards, it took me several searches to find what I was looking for. The towel was too big, so using my bowie knife I cut it into strips.

“Pamela, run this under the hot water, will you?” I handed her the smallest strip.

She did as I asked, her eyes watching me in the mirror. “Do you think he’s safe now?”

“Safe as he’s going to be.”

“Then why did you take me with you?”

I sat on the edge of the tub and she handed me the strip. Pressing it against the bite I let out a sigh. “Because he’s never going to be safe. Not really. There are very few supernaturals that I would leave you with. Will and Deanna, Jack. Eve. Not Doran.”

Alex slunk into the bathroom. “Leave Pamie with Alex.”

“Yes.” I patted him on the head. “I’d leave Pamie with Alex. You would keep her safe.”