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Veiled Threat(Rylee Adamson #7)(5) by Shannon Mayer

Dark green pants and army boots and a heavy cloak edged with fur partially hid the sword at his side and no doubt more weapons than I could see. But it was the tattoos I focused on.

Reading the black skinned demon book, I recognized them for what they were.

My blade sang as I pulled it out. “Demon marked, I don’t think we’re going to be friends after all.”

Liam let out a low growl, but Erik didn’t seem concerned, though his eyes gave a flicker of unease. “No more demon marked than you are; it is the way of a Slayer, to carry the marks of the demons. It keeps us safe from them.”

He opened the throat of his shirt and there, lower down than mine, and closer to his stomach was a perfect black snowflake, identical to the one on my own chest. He turned away from me and finally answered Blaz’s terrified query.

“Blaz, you can avoid her for only so long, she is your mate.” Erik lifted his hands. “But I did not tell her where I was going, only that I needed to go ahead of her to suss things out.”

Blaz swallowed hard, his throat visibly bobbing and I couldn’t help the laugh that escaped me. “Seriously, are you afraid of your own … wife?”

We were paired as children; I have no say in it. And she is not my wife. He snaked his head toward me his eyes glittering with anger, and more than a little fear. I patted him on the snout, felt the heat of his belly fires rumbling up through his skin and promptly went to ignoring him. We had bigger issues than a dragon’s love life. Though I wasn’t wholly convinced that Erik was harmless, or even here to actually help, I had Blaz and Liam with me and there was no doubt who would win in a throw down if he proved himself untrustworthy.

“Come on, let’s get out of here.”

Why are you not in Portland with the ogres?

Liam boosted me up on Blaz’s back first, and then he followed. “Change of plans. We’ll discuss it when we get back to the farmhouse.”

Erik stood waiting, the late January wind curling around his cloak. “Well, Blaz, are you going to let me fly with you or should I call Ophelia now to carry me?”

You can fly with me, Slayer. For now. With ease, Erik climbed on board, using the rigging we’d made for Blaz as if it were the most natural thing in the world, like he’d done it hundreds of times. And maybe he had if he had a dragon who carried him.

Made with thick leather, the rigging went around Blaz’s broad chest, over his shoulders and tucked in behind his wings. Three spots were wound in to sit and strap your legs. It wasn’t much different from the rigging we used for Eve, only scaled for the dragon.

Hell of a lot easier than trying to hang on every time he rolled mid air, just for the sake of the winter wind snapping along his scales.

Erik settled in behind Liam, and Blaz leapt into the air, the dusting of snow on the ground puffing up around us, then lazily dropping as we soared high above the mine shaft in a matter of seconds.

Liam and Erik were silent as we flew, but Blaz was a constant presence inside my head. I’d learned to tell when it was just him and me conversing and when he was projecting to all within range. His voice softened when it was him and me, as if all his confidence fell away. Then again, we could look inside one another’s head. Hard to be full of bravado when your rider knows you’re terrified shitless. Like your mate.

She is not my mate. Not yet. I’d hoped Erik would keep her busy longer. You may laugh now, but when you meet her, if you meet her, you will understand. They don’t call her the red bitch for nothing.

It should not have been a surprise that even Blaz had a fear that kept him awake at night. The dragon let out a long low snort, whether in agreement with me or not, it didn’t matter. I didn’t speak my thoughts and questions out loud; no need to air his dirty laundry. But I did wonder if Blaz had known Erik was my uncle.

Of course I did. All the Slayers ride dragons. Or they used to. I forget you know none of this, that your childhood was not filled with training and learning the history of your family. Each Slayer rides with a dragon. That is how I knew you, when you showed up on my doorstep. It is imprinted in your skin that you would be my rider, the way you walk and talk. As much or more than being a Tracker, the ability to slay demons runs in your veins, hot like the blood that keeps you alive. He quieted for a moment. You don’t trust him?

I wasn’t sure about Erik, and I didn’t like the niggling of doubt that bit at me.

I cannot think of a way he could be anyone but who he says he is, not and keep Ophelia in the dark. I cannot read his mind though, so you are right, we don’t know for sure. We will keep an eye on him, but I think you are being over cautious. Blaz was taking my concern seriously, which I appreciated. I snorted at the over cautious comment. That was not a trait attributed to me.

With my chin tucked to my chest and my arms wrapped tightly around my upper body to keep in what warmth I had, a question formed in my mind—two questions actually.

First of all, you didn’t ask, which is why I never mentioned him. And you melt down like a fucking volcano when I pry inside your head to see what you’re thinking.

I gave a slow nod. That was true. He tried it last month and I very nearly sent him to his home in France. Liam calmed me, gotten me to see that I was over reacting, yet it still burned in my gut. I didn’t like people in my head, didn’t like the feel of someone knowing my thoughts more completely than I did.

As to your second question, yes, I’d planned on asking your help in dealing with Ophelia. I hoped to find her a mate and continue on as I have been. Alone.

Brows dipping low over my eyes, I clamped my mouth together to keep from asking why out loud.

Another deep rumbling sigh slid through Blaz as he banked his large body. The highway was to our left and though we were only a hundred or so feet above it, no one saw us. The beauty of belief in the human world was our side never existed. And what a human does not believe, they refuse to see. Or they deny. Either works in our favor.

You have only been reading the prophecies within the Black book, so you know what the demons believe. But what they believe isn’t necessarily what is coming for you. You and I are bound together, for good or ill, and … he shook his head, scales catching the falling lights as the sun sank to the horizon’s edge of the badlands.

He didn’t finish his thought, didn’t have to. I saw his image as clearly as if it were in front of my eyes. A slate rock covered in blood and dragon scales, a burst of light, demons lapping at the blood. I closed my eyes but the image stayed.