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Wounded(Rylee Adamson #8)(18) by Shannon Mayer

They had surrounded Rylee, making a solid ring of bodies between her and Erik. He was yelling at her and she was screaming at the demons.

One of the demons reached out and grabbed her from behind, pinning her arms to her side. I lurched to my feet, my short sword in my hand, grateful for it. I swayed as I tried to run to them, and tears trickled down my cheeks. This couldn’t be the end of things.

Not for my family.

I fell forward with my blade, driving it between the shoulder blades of the demon who held Rylee tight. He let out a howl and dropped her. I had their attention now and they seemed to recall they were trying to take all four of us prisoner.

Two of the demons advanced on me and I stepped back, fighting to grab onto my magic. Like pouring olive oil on my hands, I could feel it, but couldn’t contain it. I took up a fighting stance. “Come on then,” I beckoned and they laughed, high pitched squeaking giggles that made my blood run cold.

Alex lunged in first, hamstringing one of the demons. It went to its knee and I slashed with my blade, the steel sliding through the monster’s neck—at least, most of the way through. Its head hung from a strand of bone and cartilage, flopping and dangling forward. But it didn’t die. It advanced on me, all of its monstrous hands outstretched.

Biting back the scream that swam up my throat, I slashed forward, taking off one of the hands, forgetting about the other demon.

The one I backed right into.

Its arms circled around me the same way it had done to Rylee. “Now we has you,” it hissed, the sound of its rat tongue flickering beside my ear. It lifted me over its head and I stared at the scene, unable to comprehend.

There was an opening in the veil and a woman stood there with long gray hair that didn’t seem to suit her face, which was very young.

“Talia, don’t do this!” Rylee screamed and my eyes found her. She was held by two demons as they ran toward the opening in the veil.

“NO!” I drove my elbow down, smashing the face of the demon that held me. Stunned, he dropped me, and Alex tackled him. “Alex, get Rylee!”

The werewolf spun and we ran toward the circle of demons protecting the opening in the veil.

“Rylee, let go of the anger,” Erik yelled as he fought and disposed of another demon. It slid to his feet, a child emerging as the demon’s essence dispelled.

I understood then why Rylee couldn’t stop the anger.

Yet, that didn’t help us save her now. I could just see the top edge of the veil as I pushed forward, reaching for my magic, desperate.

And there it was. I didn’t hesitate, just lashed out with my hand and pointed with my short sword. The power ripped out of me, sending the demons sprawling in every direction, clearing our path to where Rylee was.

Where she had been.

The opening to the veil was gone. The woman with the gray hair was gone. Worse than that, Rylee was gone.

I couldn’t stop the cry that clawed out of my throat. Around me, the demons slowly started to get up and I pinned them to the ground, slamming them over and over again, their bodies breaking under my assault. I didn’t care they would look like children once the demons were gone. Didn’t care that Erik was telling me it was done, that he was trying to slow me down. My breath came in ragged gasps as I fought the panic and sorrow overwhelming me. The sorrow was quickly replaced by a rage so dark I couldn’t see, an anger so deep, I felt it all the way through my bones into my very soul.

They’d taken Rylee into the veil, the deep level of the veil.

Orion had her and we would never get her back.

The rat-faced demons dumped me onto the floor in a room that looked like a throne room. They did their squeaky-assed giggling routine as they backed away. Everything in the room was done up in black and white, shades of gray and not much else in the way of color. I knew where they’d taken me.

The deepest level of the veil was not a place I thought I’d be visiting again. I was so royally fucked.

Talia stepped into view. “I’m sorry. I did not want to bring you here. But it was the only way.”

I got to my feet, didn’t bother to put my sword away. “Yet you did.”

“Rylee, Talia is right. She had no choice. It is the way of the binding Orion has on her.”

I turned to see Milly walk toward us. Her hair was bound back in a tight braid and her eyes looked haggard, as if she hadn’t slept in days. A blood red, floor-dragging gown hung from her body, the empire waistline accentuating the fact she was hugely pregnant. One hand cupped her belly, which had grown by leaps and bounds even in the short few days since I’d seen her last. She glanced down. “Orion has found a way to speed up the growth of my baby.” Her green eyes slowly lifted to mine. Despair echoed the horror I knew was in mine.

“You can’t stop him?”

She shook her head. “No.”

I glanced at Talia. “Why did you bring me here; what does he want with me?”

Yeah, I know the obvious would be he wanted to kill me, but he had an opportunity on the other side of the veil. I wouldn’t have been able to stop the rat pack from tearing me apart. Yet they’d waited on Talia to open the veil and bring me through.

“Come on, we don’t have much time,” Milly said, striding past me. “Orion didn’t expect us to bring you in so quickly. If we make haste, you can be gone before he even knows you are here.”

I had no choice but to follow her since there was no one else I could trust. “What are you saying?”

Milly let out a sigh. “You didn’t read the papers I gave you, did you?”

To be fair, I’d kept meaning to. Only I’d never found the time. “No. Why?”

“If you’d read them, you would have known what was coming.” She started off again, her dress dragging through the skim of dust and dirt on the floor. Like the queen of a hovel.

“What did it say?” I jogged to catch up, swayed and ended up leaning against the wall.

Milly’s hands were on me in an instant, a flood of healing washing through me. “Rylee, how have you survived without daily healings?” Her voice held a thread of laughter and I couldn’t help but smile up at her.

“Well, I’m getting better at letting people help me.”

She snorted and rolled her eyes. “Come, we are almost there.”

I felt refreshed like I hadn’t been in a long time, the cuts and bruises from too many fights evaporating as if they’d never been. I jogged to her side, and Talia followed at a slight distance.