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Veiled Threat(Rylee Adamson #7)(18) by Shannon Mayer

“They shouldn’t have been able to kill him.” I lifted my eyes to Liam’s, fear clenching my gut tight. We’d been acting like Liam was invincible, that he was immune to any kind of trauma except decapitation.

Looked like we were wrong. And at the worst possible time.

Alex slipped closer, his nose quivering, but he said nothing. He just watched, his golden eyes taking it all in.

“Rylee, I don’t hear any fighting,” Erik called from the front of the house. “If there are no demons, I suggest you get your ass out here and we continue to train.”

“Doesn’t know you too well, does he?” Liam squatted beside me, his eyes sorrowful. I doubted it had to do with just Eagle’s untimely death.

“Talk to me, Liam. You know what this is; you spent time with Peter talking about guardians and werewolves. You know what’s going on, don’t you?”

His eyes slid closed and he slowly shook his head. “Maybe, I don’t know.”

Well, that was an improvement. When we’d been in Europe, he and Peter had gone off on their own for days at a time. He hadn’t spoken to me about what he’d learned, and I wasn’t sure he ever would. More and more, he was keeping things from me, and it killed me to know he didn’t fully trust me.

More likely that he can’t tell you, Rylee. Blaz whispered to me. Every species has its secrets they are not supposed to share. He will be no different.

Ignoring Blaz, I let the subject drop between me and Liam, stood and strode to my bedroom. Even in there, the demons had done their job of marking territory, shredding my bed, shitting on the pillows. There was nothing to be saved. Beside the bed was my mother’s journal, the only thing I had connecting me to her and my father. Shredded into pieces, I was glad I’d read it through once. I thought about what my mother had written about Erik, about how bold he was, about his willingness to jump into danger. He sure changed a lot since his younger years if his standing outside and waiting for me to do the dirty work was any evidence. A long coiled pile of feces sat on the front cover of the journal; I pushed the book with my toe.

“Nasty shit heads,” Alex muttered, rubbing at his nose.

“Yeah, that they are.” I backed out of the room.

I only hoped the demons hadn’t gone into the root cellar, that somehow they’d missed it. I headed out of the house, Alex trotting beside me.

“Boss is sad. Rylee is sad. Everyone is sad.” He shook his head, the silver tips of his fur catching the scattered moonlight.

“You aren’t sad, Alex?”

He shook his head. “Nope. Alex has Rylee. Has Boss. Has Evie and Pamie. Alex has love.”

My feet stilled and I dropped a hand to his head. “You are pretty damn smart, you know that?”

He snickered and sat in a patch of snow. “Nope. Alex just loves back.”

Such a simple truth. Just love back. I wished it could be that easy when it came to facing demons.

Behind us, Liam’s footsteps on the porch reached my ears. “Did they take the book?”

He didn’t have to say what book; there was only one book the demons would have been after. The black-skinned book of prophecies.

Around the side of the house I went, my heart sinking to my boots when I saw the busted open door of the root cellar.

“We are so fucked,” I whispered as I carefully made my way down the broken and slippery stairs. The weapons, remarkably, were left untouched for the most part, and there was no marking going on. But the lock box I kept the book in was missing.

Not surprised, I headed back out.

Liam took one look at me. “Gone?”

I gave him a sharp nod. “Help me get the weapons out.”

With everyone helping, it didn’t take long to empty the root cellar and put all the weapons into the barn.

Once that was done, the house no longer had a purpose.

“Blaz, burn it down.”

Frank sucked in a sharp breath. “Why would you do that?”

“You can’t salvage it, kid,” Liam said. “The house has been destroyed and anything of value taken.”

Are you sure, Rylee?

“Yes. Do it.”

He lifted his head and inhaled, his body expanding, belly rumbling with fire, burning hot. I gave him a nod and he exhaled a brilliant shot of flame that sparkled and danced in the air.

Eve stepped over a half frozen mud puddle to my side as snow began to fall. Shit, I had to tell her that her mentor was dead. I glanced at Liam and he shook his head. I let out a slow, disheartened breath.

“Eve, someone died in there. Someone you know better than anyone else. He was very important to you.”

Her beak clacked together, and her eyes filled with fear and grief. “Please, don’t say his name. I know, I felt him die.”

I clamped my lips shut and put a hand on her trembling wing. “I’m sorry, Eve. I don’t know how they did it, but the demons know how to kill guardians.” A sudden thought flashed through my mind. “Will you take this news to his shaman and warn the others?”

Sure, I could have phoned them, but Eve needed something to do with her grief. Something constructive or I was afraid she would resort to her natural inclination of Harpy destruction and terror.

“I’ll go with you, if you want,” Frank said, looking from Eve to me. “I’m not much use here anyway.”

In a way he was right. He was young and inexperienced both in life and as a necromancer. But if he could get a little training he could jump the veil easier than anyone else. I Tracked necromancers as a species, and felt a hit in the deep south.

“Go to Louisa and the other shamans, then see if you can convince them to help you pinpoint another necromancer. I’m getting pings off one in the deep south, feels like Louisiana.”

Frank nodded, but Eve didn’t react.

The fire behind us warmed the air and sent shadows dancing across her body. She stared into the flames, tears trickling down her feathers. I wished I could spare her this kind of pain; grief was something I knew all too well.

“Eve, can you do this, can you help Frank find the necromancer?”

A deep breath escaped her in a long exhalation. “It will help stop the demons?”

Best to keep it simple. “Yes.”

“You aren’t sending me away? To keep me and Frank safe?”

“Eve,” I tugged on one of her long, tawny pinion feathers. “Look at me.”