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Wounded(Rylee Adamson #8)(11) by Shannon Mayer

After being kidnapped not once, but twice, I had learned to be ready for anything. No way was I was letting anyone get their hands on me again. Even though Liam and Rylee had both asked me to restrain myself from killing, I’d had enough. If I had to, I would kill to keep me and my family safe.

I ran back to the courtyard, breathing hard.

“Pamela, what are you doing?” Frank bumped up against me. Like he was fooling me into thinking it was an accident. I tucked a loose strand of hair behind one ear and stepped away from him.

“I want to help.”

Doran looked down from the fountain. “How are you at controlling wind?”

“Better than anyone else here.” Blushing, even though I was being honest, I crawled up the edge of the fountain and took the hand Doran offered me.

“Rylee said we should go,” Frank called after me.

“I’m not leaving without her or Liam. They’re my family.” I didn’t look back at him. It wasn’t that he was a bad guy; he was just needy and naïve.

With a seemingly effortless tug, Doran pulled me up to his perch on the top of the fountain. He wrapped an arm around my waist to steady me, but I couldn’t help the heat in my face. I tried to cover it, but Doran gave me a wink, only making it worse.

I looked out toward the ogre encampment and tried not to think about his arm around me. Focusing on the task at hand helped. I knew I could blast the ogres, even at that distance, but I didn’t know how that would help when we had friends out there. “What do you need me to do?”

“Blow the fog faster. The sooner we can expel the evil spirits, the faster we can get Rylee and Liam back.”

That I could do. I lifted my hands and centered my being like Milly had taught me. Picking through the elements, I touched the third one, wind. Breathing evenly, I pulled the element through me and to my fingertips. Wind was not my strongest ability, but it still listened when I asked it to come forward.

From behind us, the cool night breeze turned into a roaring wind that tugged my hair out from my braid, wrapping it around my face and obscuring my vision. But that didn’t matter; the fog was moving faster now.

“Good job, little witch,” Doran murmured and I looked at him. He wasn’t looking at me, but out where the battle had started. I lowered my hands, feeling like it wasn’t enough. What I could do was never enough.

“Come on, now. We need to go or Rylee will have both of our asses.”

He hopped down and held a hand out to me. I took it, focusing on my footing on the slippery fountain. “Yes, that’s true. But one of us would like that very much.” His green eyes popped wide and I slapped a hand over my mouth mumbling past my fingers. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to say that out loud.”

I should have known, though, that Doran of all people wouldn’t be bothered. He threw his head back, laughing. “Truer words were never spoken, little witch.”

Frank slid in between us, frowning at Doran. “Come on, Faris has a doorway open and there’s nothing you can do now.”

That wasn’t true, and I dug my heels in. “You go ahead, Frank. I’m waiting for Rylee.”

I folded my arms over my chest and did my best imitation of Rylee, even tried to lift an eyebrow, though I’m pretty sure the damn thing didn’t budge.

Doran chuckled still, though whether it was over what I’d said to him, or what I was saying to Frank, I wasn’t sure.

“Frank, go. I’ll look out for her,” Doran said and Frank reluctantly backed away.

Doran put a hand on my shoulder. “Don’t worry, Rylee will come out of this.”

“How do you know? Can you Read her?” I asked, hoping that was the case.

“No, I used up everything she gave to make that fog. But I know her. This will just be a bump in the road.”

I looked out, saw the explosions of magic, heard the cries of the wolves and the ogres and wasn’t so sure. This was a battle and we needed to be in it with them. Not just stand back.

Doran’s hand tightened. “Don’t. It isn’t time for you, not yet, little witch.”

The way he spoke made me turn toward him. “Not my time?”

His lips tightened. “Your time is coming soon, when they will need you to be stronger than both of them. Which means you need to be there. Not diving into a battle here that will get you killed. That much I can see.”

Stronger than both Liam and Rylee? Was that what Doran meant? His eyes never left mine until I nodded. Though in my heart I wondered how I could ever be stronger than Rylee.

He squared off against Raw as the ogres tightened the circle around him. There was no way to run, no way to get out of this.

He’d just have to kill Raw and hope it would give him enough time to make an escape. The red ogre lunged at him, the copper knife swinging out, screaming through the air. Liam shook his head. He had to be hearing things. Nope.

Another swing and the blade screamed again, coming even closer. The muscles in his chest seemed to echo the scream, demanding he lay down and rest.

He snarled and tried to shift back into human form. Nothing happened. Panic clawed at him behind the pain in his body. No, he wasn’t stuck; it had to be something to do with the knife wound.

“Silly wolf, you’re going to die, why not just lie down and be a good doggy for once?” Raw swung a kick at him, grazing his hip. Whatever the copper blade had going for it, it had already slowed his reflexes.

Which meant if he was going to end this, it had to be now.

Liam went to the ground, hoping to draw Raw in close. He let out a whimper and lowered his head, panting. But from the corner of his eye, he watched the ogre approach.

Raw lifted his hands, talking to his minions. “Orion will rule this land, it is said in the book of prophecy that the great wolf would bend knee to a demon, and here it is.” He pointed at Liam with the hand holding the copper knife. Better yet, he looked away from the wolf at his feet.

Liam exploded from the ground, his teeth snapping down over Raw’s wrist, taking the ogre’s hand off. He spit it out without pause, not even giving Raw time to be surprised by what had just happened.

Digging his claws in, he drove himself up Raw’s body until he could get his teeth around the green neck that beckoned him. This demon would go after Rylee, and that alone was reason enough to kill him. One less enemy for her to face once he was no longer able to protect her.