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Tracker(Rylee Adamson #6)(16) by Shannon Mayer

He let out a long trumpeting fart as if to deliberately contradict my thoughts. He even had the audacity to throw me a big wink. As if he knew what I was thinking. I rolled the window down and said nothing.

Doran glanced at me, his green eyes curious. “Why did you come back so quickly?”

“I left the black-skinned demon book in Dox’s safe.”

“And where the hell is the big ox? I’d planned on heading to his place for a drink tonight.”

“Dead. Him and a bunch of his friends.” I closed my eyes, swallowed hard, the words like chunks of glass in my throat. Doran’s hand slid over mine.

“I’m sorry. I know he was your friend.”

“And he wasn’t yours?” I jerked my hand away.

Doran’s lips tightened. “No. I drank his liquor, and we lived in the same territory, but we were not ‘friends.’ Daywalkers do not have friends any more than shamans do.” His eyes wouldn’t meet mine, he stared straight ahead, the teasing Doran I knew gone as his voice hardened. “Shamans bargain for their services. Daywalkers bargain for the pleasure they can bring. I get hit up on both counts. But not as a friend.”

I stared hard at him wondering if he liked not having friends. For years, I’d thought I could do it on my own, thought I was strong enough to face the world one on one. It had taken friends and love to show me I was stronger with them than without.

I couldn’t help challenging him. “You think pretty highly of yourself to think everyone wants you.”

His eyes darted to mine, then back to the road. “That’s why I like you, Rylee. No games with you. You say what you mean, no filters involved. I don’t get that with anyone else.”

Something in his tone told me it was time to change the subject. “Aside from that shit, we have a rather large problem.”

I quickly went over the guns and the phone I’d found, though I didn’t say who it belonged to.

“You think the humans are manufacturing technology that works around us?” Doran didn’t look at me, kept his eyes on the road.

“Yes. They know about us, or at least a portion of the FBI does, and it would make sense they are trying to find a way to protect themselves from us. It’s the same old shit with them—whatever they don’t understand, whatever frightens them, they want to annihilate.”

Doran blew out a soft whistle and shook his head. “All right, I assume there is more to this visit than all that.”

I took a deep breath and a chance, voicing the thoughts that had been spinning through my head since I had the dream about Berget. “I think we can still save my sister.”

He hit the brakes, the car skidding sideways to a stop in the middle of the road. My seatbelt jerked tightly and the thump from the trunk told me our passenger got the short end of the stick.

“What did you say?” Doran’s cool demeanor was gone; instead he sounded almost panicked. “I thought you were going to kill her. In fact, I would agree with Faris that killing her would be the smartest choice. She’s been inside my head, Rylee. She’s controlled me. I know her better than anyone else.”

I undid my seatbelt and faced him. I had been thinking long and hard on this, and there was a chance I had found a loophole in Fari Cphotify"s’s stupid oath. Or at least, part of it.

“You know her when she is controlled by her dead parents, who happen to be fucking loony tunes. We were able to stop Giselle’s madness for a little while and the same stone worked on the necromancer I fought in London. You said it yourself, Berget is mad with the power that comes from her parents. Berget is not the one who has been doing these fucking awful things. I know I swore to kill her, but I swore to kill the Child Empress. If I can bring Berget back from the brink, she isn’t the empress anymore, is she? She won’t want to be the empress.” I could only hope I was right.

The words hovered between us and he opened his mouth, blinked a couple of times, and then snapped it shut. “Shit, you might be right.”

Hope, bright and pure, flared in me. He thought I might be right.

And that meant that maybe, just maybe, we had a chance at saving Berget.

The Jeep, much to his surprise and dismay, started with barely a cough. Worse, it had started when Milly sat in the driver’s seat and him in the back.

“Head to the old library on 10th Street.” He leaned back, tried not to breathe too deeply. To him, Milly stank. Her rose perfume and use of magic created a heavy fog that irritated his nose, even with the holes in the windows from the bullets bringing in fresh air. Yet Pamela didn’t smell like that, and it made him wonder if the smell had more to do with the nature of the person, or the kind of magic they used, rather than what perfume they wore.

“What’s at the library?” Of course, the question came from Pam; when did she not have a question?

“That’s the Arcane Arts division of the FBI for the central region. Best place to start asking questions.”

“And you think they can really help us?” The young witch twisted in her seat, one hand gripping her seatbelt so she could look at him.

He thought for a moment before answering. “They should have some idea of what’s going on, and if they don’t then they need to know. This is the sort of problem they are trained to deal with.”

Telling Agent Valley he would periodically give the AA division information had been a hard choice. Now, though, that co-operation should serve them well. Didn’t matter he hadn’t brought any information to Valley yet; he was now.

Milly slowed the Jeep for a stop sign. “And if they want more from you, from us, in exchange for their help?”

Liam narrowed his eyes. “What do you mean, more?”

“They already have you on their list of informants, do they not?”

If she knew that, what else did she know? “Witch, you are already so far down the shit list you may never see the light of day again. So make sure you consider that when I ask you this—how do you know?”

She took the corner, checking several times for traffic. “Agent Valley has reached out to anyone who has a connection with the supernatural. That includes me. He doesn’t understand I am your least favorite person.”

That didn’t make sense. “What about the fiasco in London?”

She smiled, but it didn’t reach her eyes. “A misunderstanding. He is desperate for help, which makes him very dangerous. He will take help from anyone, even those he should be avoiding. Cbe HeThere are rumors that he was reaching out to a certain vampire.”