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Stitched(Rylee Adamson #8.5)(11) by Shannon Mayer

Her head lowered and her shoulders shook. “It’s so hard to fight them, every day, every second. They batter at me now. There is no rest, no respite.”

I shook her—hard enough to snap her head back. “Listen to me. We all have to fight. You aren’t any different than the rest of us. This is the price we pay for being who we are.”

Her eyes blazed and I put my nose to hers. “And you two asshats who are doing this to her, you realize you’re pushing her to the brink? If she dies, you die, dumb fucks.”

Blue eyes faded to a deep brown and she blinked up at me. “You don’t think she will really end her life, do you? She is our child, we love her.”

I found it interesting they would ask me. As if I knew my sister better than they did. Which, of course, was the case.

“Well, you've got a fucking stupid way of showing it.” I tightened my grip on her arms, squeezing until I could feel the tendons sliding under my fingers. “If you love her, let her be. Let her use what you know to live. Fade in her, let her live her life. Because you are going to kill all three of you if you keep this up. Even now it may be too late.”

The brown eyes fluttered closed and when they opened again, they were blue. Startled and wide, blue like a summer sky. “What did you say to them?” Berget whispered, leaning into me.

“Why?” I held her gently now, no longer gripping her tightly.

“They . . . they’ve gone quiet. For the first time since we put the opal in.” She tipped her head up so she could look me in the face. “How long do you think they’ll give me?”

She was so damn young despite the knowledge she held. “I think maybe they’re going to give you as much as you want.” I stroked her hair and kissed her on the forehead.

I pulled back from her, feeling the tug of Spider’s threads on me in the waking world. “I have to go. The others, they’re still in England, you should go there. If anywhere is safe, it will be with them.”

“They will think I’m there to kill them.”

“Even Doran?” My mention of the vampire ruler brought a flush to her pale cheeks. So, she still had a crush on him. There were far worse she could moon after.

“I don’t know.”

“Try. Berget, try. For me. Please.”

Around us, the dream was fading and the sun was nearly above the horizon. Berget saw it, turned and ran from the dock, her final words singing across the water me. “If you need vampire blood, take it from Faris, he is close by. He will help you.”

“Faris!” I gasped his name. “You’re shitting me.”

She looked over her shoulder, and something in her eyes, a certainty that she was right filled them. Damn.

Chapter 6

I startled awake, Peta lying across my lap, and Blaz’s wings a steady beat in my ears. The air was heavy with salt and I realized how very warm I was, sweating through my layers of clothes. Spider’s thread pulsed with a life of its own under my skin, calling to me. She was relaxed, just waking, and very hungry. Which made her happy. Weird. But then, she was a spider after all, who the hell knew why she felt happy when she was hungry. “We’re close.”

Yes. I’m dropping right now. And if I were to guess, she’s happy because she’s about to drain the life out of something in order to sate her hunger.

That was what I’d been thinking too. She was not a nice guardian, not at all.

Blaz tucked his wings and dove straight through several banks of clouds, the moisture slapping me in the face, and I struggled to keep my eyes open. The sound of a jet engine brought my head around. We passed a plane, a flash of silver, a few faces peeking out of tiny square windows, and then it was gone. But not before I saw a single child pointing at us, his mouth a perfect ”o.” I smiled to myself, everyone would chalk up what he saw to his imagination.

Moments later, ears popping, Blaz landed on an open, sandy beach. His body sunk into the soft sand with a thud.

Oh, take as long as you like here. He stretched out on the hot sand and let out a long groan. This is bloody lovely.

I slid off his back and landed lightly. Peta leapt off and trotted in front of me, her heavy coat looking out of place in the tropical climate. As I watched her, she shook and her coat slicked back, going from a winter coat to a thin summer version of spots.

“Nice trick, cat.”

She gave a grunt and tipped her head toward the heavy jungle in front of us. Yeah, that’s where I was going. “Blaz, you coming?”

Please, Mom, just five more minutes. His eyes were at half-mast as he rolled in the sand.

“Come on, Peta. He’ll catch up.”

I shed my heavy layers until I was wearing nothing but jeans, a white tank top and boots. Re-attaching my back sheaths, I tightened the straps. Damn, the belly strap wasn’t fitting the same as it had even a week past. Too tight now.

Ignoring the groans of my dragon, I headed into the thick jungle, Peta on my left side and a blade in my right hand. I slashed through the undergrowth, following the thread I’d attached to Spider. She was about two miles ahead of us, which under normal circumstances wasn’t a big deal, but in the heavy jungle was a serious pain in the ass.

Peta clawed at one of the larger trees, digging deep into the bark, then getting the grip she was apparently looking for, powered herself up the tree. Tucking my blade into its sheath, I climbed the trunk, using the notches her claws dug out, to stand beside her.

“Son of a bitch.” The trees weaved themselves into a roadway that covered the entire island. The branches overlapped, touching here and there, but making a perfect pathway for us. Peta grunted and started forward.

“Wait, is this something to do with your elemental?”

Blaz filled in for me. Her elemental taught her tricks she wasn’t supposed to. How to call on the plants and earth to do her bidding.

She bobbed her head and kept moving. I pulled a blade again and started after her. I was going to have to make a serious effort to meet this elemental of Peta’s. Under my feet, the trees shuddered and shifted. I looked down to see how far up we were. At least thirty feet. Crap, falling was not a good idea at any time, and I’d survive it if happened, but I wasn’t sure what would happen to the baby. Fuck. Sweat popped out along the edge of my hairline.

Rylee, you got a plan? Blaz called to me from the beach, his words still easily heard despite the distance.