Rylee Epilogues 04:Lynchpin

By: Shannon Mayer

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS




Thank you to the readers who wouldn’t let Alex go . . . who refused to believe that Rylee and her crazy pack’s story was over. Thank you for believing in me, and all the worlds I’ve created.

As always I couldn’t have pulled this off without my amazing team of editors, ARC readers, proofreaders, cover artist, assistant and of course my own crazy pack.

So much love and gratitude to you all for helping me continue to push through to the next level with my writing, my characters, and my own belief in myself.



**Lifts a glass**



Here’s to another book on the shelf.





“I am not going to die.

I'm going home like a shooting star.”



- Sojourner Truth





AT THE END OF “PAMELA” . . .





I stared at the scene in front of me. Heroes of the realm, the Veil split open, Pamela, Rylee and Liam waiting on me. Okay, not exactly waiting, but I’ll call it that for now.

But I didn’t think it would be as easy as just walking out of the Veil. No . . . this was going to have ramifications.

“You can’t go, Alex.” Giselle put a hand on my arm, stopping me as I stepped forward. “You are holding the Veil together and if you go . . .”

“That doesn’t make any sense.” I glanced at her, but my eyes were drawn back to the scene in the realm of the living. It was as if something had slowed things down. Rylee and Pamela were still exactly as I’d seen them only a moment before. Faces frozen, bodies unmoving. Liam and the large cat that could have been a tiger if there had been black stripes, were locked in combat. Liam had his mouth on the tiger’s throat. But his teeth hadn’t sunk through yet.

Giselle sighed. “There was much wrong with the Veil when the demons came through. Did you not wonder why they could break through in the first place? Why any of them could get out? The Veil itself is weakening, the levels are beginning to blend, and if you go . . . you must go through all the levels to escape.”

“And why is that bad?” The pull on me was sudden and hard to deny, the draw to Pamela as she called my name. Giselle kept her hand on me.

“Because with each step you take, the Veil will grow weaker yet. Dragging yourself through is the surest step to bring it to its breaking point because you are not supposed to leave. It is worse than calling a demon through the levels of the Veil.”

I didn’t doubt her, but there was something else. I could see it in Pamela’s eyes. We were so far apart and yet I felt as if I stood right in front of her. Fear, determination, and sorrow so heavy, I knew she wouldn’t have done this, wouldn’t have called me home unless she had to. This wasn’t just Pamela reaching out for me. Her words echoed in my ears. Come home.

This was Pamela doing what she believed was right.

I swallowed hard and nodded at Giselle as I brushed her hand off my arm. “I don’t understand why I’ve been called back, and maybe you are right and it will break the Veil. But maybe that, too, has to happen. I trust Pamela.”

Giselle sucked in a sharp breath.

I stepped away from her and toward the place I’d left willingly to save those I loved.

Now, it was time to go home.

No matter the cost.





CHAPTER 1





STANDING IN THE sixth level of the Veil, the place where heroes went after they died, I stood among my friends, and those I called family. I had no reason to be afraid, but there was a niggling fear that despite where I was, things were about to go sideways. At least for me. Because Pamela was calling me through the Veil, and for me that was motive enough to leave and demolish the Veil as I went along.

I looked up at the sky above us and the scene playing out in slow motion. It felt like we were at the bottom of a deep well and Pamela and the others were peering down at us.

Giselle touched my arm again, pausing me. The worry in her eyes was clear, but there was no condemnation with it. “If you must go . . .” She paused as if trying to see the future. She was, after all, a Reader. She shook her head. “If you must go through with this, then take these. I doubt the journey is going to be one of butterflies and sweet tea.”

From the leather straps over her hips she pulled two large, curved blades. My eyes widened at the exotic look of the weapons. They were mid-sized—maybe eighteen inches total in length for the blades themselves, and they were bowed in the middle at a sharp angle, almost as if they were being folded in half.

The handles were made of an off-white material that made me think of Blaz for some reason. Giselle smiled at me as she twisted them in her hands, cutting through the air. “The handles are dragon tooth. Getting them to mold to the blades was done with great effort, and no small magic. But these blades are as strong as those Rylee carries and should protect you as well as hers do.”

She gave me one, then the other.

“Are you sure?” I took them gingerly. “I’ve not used many weapons. I’ve not trained like Rylee.”

Giselle didn’t slow her movements as she spoke, removing the leather straps from around her waist. “That pair of blades are good, strong weapons, made by a Guardian of the realms. You not having trained won’t matter to them. You are a fighter, whether you want to be or not. The blades will sing for you; I’m sure of it.”

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