Rising Darkness (Rylee Adamson #9) - Page 41

“Alex, stop!” I bent over, unable to get my breath over the laughter spilling out of me. It was the crazy kind of laughter that came from being too tired, stressed, and scared. I didn’t care. I grabbed him around the neck and hugged him as the laughter turned into tears.

He patted my back. “I is here. All is good.”

I drew in a deep breath, the smell of wolf and summer forest filling my nose. “Faris is wrong, you smell pretty damn good.”

He gave me his best, widest wolfy grin. “I smell fine.”

A slow, even breath in and out and I stood on my own. The sun pierced the canopy of the trees, dancing around us. Whatever Faris had done with the big foot family had obviously worked, since we weren’t being pursued. Now it was just a matter of whether or not I’d put my trust in the right person.

“Alex, keep following the others okay, buddy?”

He nodded and stepped out in front of me. “You gots it, Rylee.” The forest came alive with the morning air, birds singing, and small animals waking and going about their business. As if everything was normal and the world wasn’t on the cusp of being eaten alive by a plague and shitload of demons.

I didn’t dare Track Berget and Faris. On the off chance the exchange had faded. Which meant I had to trust those around me, not something I did well on a good day. And this had not been a fucking good day.

“Griffin, you better not screw us over,” I whispered. “Or I will personally turn you into a rug.”

Alex snickered. “Yuppy doody.”



Milly slammed her plate on the table, shattering it. Her green eyes blazed, and I froze where I was. Or at least, that’s what I let her see. My hand under the table spun a spell that would block anything she sent my way. Another of Deanna’s tricks. Gratitude flowed through me for the druid’s teachings,

though I hadn’t appreciated her lessons at the time.

“Damn, the Tracker is avoiding all my attempts to slow her down.” She bit the words out, and I exchanged a quick look with Frank. He shook his head, just a fraction. Not time yet.

Milly stood and strode down the table, her blood red skirts swishing. “Pamela, come with me. I want the brat and I want him now. I am tired of waiting.”

I had no idea what was going on. We’d sat for the evening meal, brought to us by Charlie, who wouldn’t meet my eyes no matter how hard I tried. Milly had stared into her wine, swirling it, and pretty much ignoring me and Frank.

“What are we going to do?” I asked, following her reluctantly.

“We’re going to find my son. And you are going to help me.” Her eyes slid over me and I shivered. I tipped my chin up.

“How? If you could have found him so easily, why didn’t you before?”

She advanced on me, stopping me in my tracks. “I didn’t have a necromancer to call on before. I will have him raise the spirit of the old Tracker.”

My mouth went dry. “I don’t know if Frank can do that. Isn’t the veil closed?”

“He will do it, or I will kill you.” She was on me so fast I barely had time to get my knife out. I swung it around and caught the underside of her arm. She didn’t scream, and didn’t slow. Her hands went around my neck and squeezed. My bladder loosed as the darkness didn’t just drag me under, but smashed into me like a tidal wave.

In the deep nothingness, for just a moment, I was at peace. No one would hurt me here. No one would hurt anyone I loved. I don’t know how long I was out.

Raised voices rose around me, pulling me from my stupor. I blinked and tried to wipe my face. Something held my hands in cold water. Wobbling, I looked around and understood how much trouble we were in.

Milly had stuck

me in a tub of salt water. There was no way I could do any spelling, which meant we were completely at her mercy. A cold sweat broke out along the back of my neck.

“I will not raise Jack for you! He was a vampire in the end, raising their spirits is not safe! And she was right, the veil is closed,” Frank yelled.

“There are spirits on this side of the veil, trapped here even now. One of them will be a Tracker. Don’t help me and I will kill her! She was supposed to help me, to be my next body, but that has changed. Raise Jack, and I will let you both go.” Milly’s voice had gone from fury to cajoling in the space of only a few sentences.

“Don’t do it,” I yelled, squirming on my butt, sliding all over the place. I jerked hard to one side, spilling myself and the water all over the floor, the tub clanging to its side. The pentagram sizzled and hissed and Milly let out a screech. Something hit me hard, but then fizzled. I looked up to see the black residue around her hands. She’d thrown a death spell at me.

I laughed, I couldn’t help it. “You didn’t plan this too well, did you?” The very thing keeping me from throwing my magic protected me from her spells. How had she not realized that?

Her face slowly turned red and then purple. She yanked my knife from her belt. “There is more than one way to skin a witch.”

I scrambled backward as she reached for me. Behind her, a chair seemed to hover and then slammed into the back of her head. She went down in a heap, and I let out a cry.

Frank pulled me to my feet. “We have to hurry.”

We ran to my room and I scooped up the still healing Peta. “Take her, Frank, I’m soaked through. I have to get this salt off, or I can’t fight her.”

“So very true.”