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Veiled Threat(Rylee Adamson #7)(15) by Shannon Mayer


The back wall of the shower was no longer the old, yellow tile that was a throwback to the seventies when the house was built. Nope, I had a lovely, deep violet swirling mass that took up the entire wall and seemed to be belching farts. Awesome, just what I wanted for the new year, a bathroom renovation complete with demons sleeping in the tub.

A mass of light brown fur rumbled with a snore as it shifted in the clawfoot tub.

How the hell could something so small, and so obviously stupid, have taken not only Pamela, but Milly too?

The rather non-imposing ball of fur rolled over, its eye sockets empty of any actual eyes, its mouth open and three spiked tongues swirling out toward us.

“Fucking hell!” I was closest to it, and I whipped my swords forward, lopping off the tongues reaching for me.

“Rylee, don’t!”

Too late.

The thing let out a screech that drove all sense from me, and I couldn’t move. My body remained unmoving as the demon rose out of the tub, a vague shape of a hound underneath the muscle and writhing hunks of tongue. Its eyes, or the sockets where its eye were supposed to be, snared mine and I knew I was done in.

“Do you think to stop us, little demon hunter? You have waited too long.” It licked its jaws with its stumps, pulling tufts of fur out of its own face. “We will rule this world, and the humans will bow to us.”

The thing was breathing heavily in my face, so close I could have kissed it if so inclined, why couldn’t I move, why couldn’t I get away? Some demon hunter I was.

Hands grabbed me and pulled me out of the bathroom as the demon made a lunge for my head, and the door slammed shut behind us.

Someone threw me over their shoulder and ran toward the dragons.

Blaz and Ophelia fought to be heard inside my head but there was nothing I could do at that particular moment. Nothing at all. Weirder yet, I wasn’t scared, or even worried, I felt detached, as if I wasn’t really there.

Distantly I heard Eve squawk, Liam said something to her and she was quiet.

Then Erik’s voice argued with Liam and I was handed off and we were airborne and after that nothing made sense. A jumble of voices, and colors, red and blue, and the sound of the demon keening, and even that faded into nothing.

I don’t know how long we flew, or where we were going, or even why.

Best part was, I no longer cared.

Rylee lay limp in his arms, her face pale, but breathing steady; they hadn’t been able to rouse her though and if Erik was right they needed to get her help. Even though there wasn’t a mark on her.

“Blaz, what is going on with her?”

Her soul has been detached. I am holding it tight to her, it is one of my jobs as her dragon to help her face the demons, but I had no idea it would be holding the little idiot together in such a literal way.

“It wasn’t her fault. Erik let us walk in on the demon.”

Ophelia let out a long snort ahead of them but said nothing.

“Will she be all right?”

I think so. Erik and Ophelia both seem confident. I would be more worried if they were having a meltdown. But they aren’t. Keep her warm; I will keep her soul close. That is all we can do until we reach the shamans. They have ways to bring her back to herself.

Liam gritted his teeth and held tighter to her body. Anger and fear warred within him. “I think we need to bring one of the shamans along with us. It seems we’re always needing them to patch her up, or give us a hand anyway.”

You would never convince them to leave their territories. They are not the kind that wander far from their homes. Blaz tipped his head to look back with one eye. But perhaps we could convince a druid to stay close. It is something to consider.

That would mean bringing Deanna, most likely, which would mean Will. And Will wanted to make Rylee his mate. A growl slipped out of him just thinking about the cocky panther shifter, then slowly faded. There would come a day when he wouldn’t be there for her. Will could be the one who looked after her. The thought clutched hard at his gut, digging in with nails of truth he wished he didn’t have to know.

Be easy, she loves no one but you. I do not think her heart has it in it to love anyone but you. She is not like other women I have known. She gives her heart freely to her friends and those she would protect, but you… you hold the keys to her deepest pieces, and she loves you beyond her own life. I do believe she would die for you, without a question, without a thought.

Liam stared down at her face, soft with unconsciousness. She was his world, and she kept coming so close to dying that he knew at some point fate would catch up to her and that would be it.

He could only hope he was there in that moment and could trade his life for hers.

A prayer slipped from his lips. “Let it be done that way, or not at all.”

The flight was smooth, mostly because I recalled none of it. With seemingly no transition, we were on the ground and I was packed into an adobe house I distantly recognized, but I couldn’t remember who owned the house. Someone, I knew the person. Maybe. Did it belong to a Daywalker?

Vampire. He was a vampire now.

Hands hovered over my face. How did I get on my back? Fingers snapped and the fog shrouding me cleared. I jerked up to a sitting position, gasping and choking as if I’d been running a fucking marathon.

“Oh, well, welcome back, Tracker. Nice of you to join us.”

Doran sat across from me, knees apart, elbows resting on them. Berget stood to one side of him, her eyes on me. Louisa was behind them both.

“All your favors are used up, Rylee. There will be no more freebies,” Louisa said and then walked out. No goodbye, no see you later. But then, that was a typical shaman for you.

Doran, on the other hand, was not so typical. In any way. He leaned forward, eyes intense. “How are you feeling?”

I ran a hand over my face, closed my eyes for a brief second. “Fine. I think. What the hell happened?”

Footsteps, the sound of lowered voices, then Erik stepped into the room with a more-than-agitated Liam right on his heels. “I told you she’d be fine, ease down, wolf man.”

“It’s not about her being fine, I never doubted that. You knew going in, and you let her do something stupid without—”

Erik rounded on him. “I did try to stop her, but if you haven’t noticed, she’s faster than a human, faster than she should be even as a Tracker or a demon hunter. I won’t make that mistake again. Trust me on that, there will be no more demon hunts until she’s had at least the rudiments of training.”