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Stitched(Rylee Adamson #8.5)(14) by Shannon Mayer

When it was half way full I pulled it off her fang and capped it. “Thanks. You go on now, be a good little spider.”

Blaz grunted. Perhaps you should get on my back before I let her go.

“I hadn’t planned on racing her around the beach to see who was faster.” I glared at the dragon, who shrugged.

I never know with you.

Peta went ahead of me, leaping onto Blaz’s back, and I climbed up behind her. Looking down on the black writhing legs, the idea of her coming after me and finding my daughter did something to me that I’d never experienced before.

A cold anger started in my gut and spread outward, a knowledge that I would do anything to keep my kid safe. All those years of rescuing other people’s children, and the anger I’d felt on their part, was nothing to the ice forming in me now. “Spider, do not make the mistake of coming after me. Be glad I only took your eyes, seeing as we both know they will heal.”

“They won’t, you bitch,” Spider snarled and scrambled away from Blaz as he let her go. “They won’t heal.” A sob ripped out of her, and I wondered if she was just making it up, baiting us.

“Blaz.” I gripped the leather strapping in front of me.

We’re gone. He pushed off the sand, wings coming down in a swoop that sent up a mini dust storm. Spider didn’t turn around, just scuttled back into the jungle, knocking into trees, bouncing off the trunks. Maybe she wouldn’t heal. I looked deep inside me and realized I didn’t feel bad, not one tiny bit of guilt ate at me. There was too much at stake and she hadn’t cooperated.

Peta sat behind me and dropped a paw on one shoulder. I turned to face her. She had a worried look in her eye. “I’m fine.”

She shook her head and tipped her chin up, motioning back toward Spider.

“No, I don’t feel bad, and don’t intend to.” Okay, maybe I did feel bad, but what the hell was I supposed to do about it now?

That worried look didn’t leave Peta’s eyes; instead, it seemed to grow. I refused to feel bad. Spider was damn hard to kill, and maybe she wouldn’t be so inclined to jab her fangs into people now that she couldn’t see.

Where to? We need a vampire. Blaz’s voice was soft as though he were not really listening for my answer.

“What is Peta worried about?”

That you’re going to get too cold, that you will lose the part of you that makes up the best parts of you.

I sagged a little. “That won’t happen. I’m just . . . I can’t keep losing pieces of my heart and not have it suffer. Spider threatened not only me, but my baby.” The word stuck in my throat a little and I stumbled over it.

Peta’s eyes softened and she nodded, accepting my explanation. Why the hell I needed to explain myself to a cat . . . that was a new one on me. “Find a place we can land, somewhere away from everything. We’ll wait for night and I’ll call Faris.”

You’re kidding me, right? Why in the seven hells would you call on Faris of all the vampires you could choose from?

I closed my eyes and let him see the conversation I’d had with Berget, where I’d stopped her from killing herself and she’d said to get Faris to help me with the whole blood business. I sent out a thread, Tracking the vampire. Shock rippled through me as I realized how close he was. Berget had been right.

“Go, he’s close and he’ll help us.”

And if he refuses?

I gave a smile I didn’t truly feel. “Well, why do you think I brought you two along? We’ll make him. One way or another, Faris will bleed for me.”

Chapter 7

With a grunt, Blaz banked to the right, taking us farther over the ocean. Through the Tracking threads I held, Blaz would find Faris and I could rest. I closed my eyes and leaned against Peta, who started to purr. The soft rumble and the warmth of her fur¸ thick and wintery, once more relaxed me. The silver flask was cool against my skin, and I clung to it. One more ingredient and then we were off to the fucking races. Reality was setting in. Whether I was ready or not, I was going to be a mother. And if this went as planned, it would be very soon.

I bit back a whimper that bubbled up my chest. Nope, not letting that happen. I was done crying. No more looking back. It was no longer a matter of having time or not for grief; it was the numbing the emotion had on me. I couldn’t function and that was not the place I needed to be.

The world, my child, my loved ones: they needed me at my best, sharpest, most decisive. I couldn’t be that if I was mired in my sorrow and loss. That revelation freed something in me, a weight I’d been carrying since Giselle died months ago. Losing those I loved, those I thought I couldn’t live without had shown me something.

I was a hell of a lot stronger than I realized—emotionally more than physically. When I’d trained with Giselle, my physicality had served me well, but so often my temper got the better of me. Or the pain of the past and the shame that went with it derailed what I could do. I’d carried it all for so long, I almost didn’t know how to function without it. Yet, that tiny flicker of a flame inside me that burned away the past showed me I could do more than I knew. That I could survive without my loved ones, no matter the pain. And survive I would.

My stomach growled, yanking me out of my thoughts. “I need to eat.”

Blaz didn’t answer, just tucked his wings in tight to his body and dove. Peta snarled and Blaz let out an answering snarl. I glanced back to see Peta clinging to Blaz, her claws digging into his scales, her fur standing as the wind rushed around us. She looked like a cartoon cat, and a pissed off one at that.

A laugh escaped me and she glared my way, though there was a distinctive twinkle in the green depths. Blaz was not laughing.

Peta! Not so much claw!

“I don’t think she can let go,” I said, laughing between the words, the wind sweeping it all away. Blaz seemed to think I was encouraging him. He spiraled as he dove and Peta let out a roar, her muscles bunching as she dug in deep to hang on. Her face was fucking priceless, her eyes squinted shut and her fur spun out in every direction, her lips jiggled around her bared fangs, and I couldn’t stop laughing. I knew Blaz would catch her if she came off, but it was like watching someone on a roller coaster and they didn’t realize it was safe, no matter how scary a ride it was.

Ten seconds of the crazy, spinning ride and I’d had enough, my innards feeling as if they were climbing up my throat. “Blaz, stop!” I slapped a hand over my mouth as he leveled out, then landed.