Immune Page 33

Worse, I’d made the mistake of telling Milly that O’Shea had contracted either bear or wolf-shifting virus, and since then she hadn’t eased her campaign to make me ‘see the light’.

As if thinking about her had rung a summons bell, her footsteps eased into the kitchen.

“Let me guess,” Milly said, coming closer. “You found out your agent man contracted the werewolf virus from Alex.”

I still hadn’t figured out what was going on with her, why she’d changed so drastically, what had happened? When I brought it up, she blew me off, said I was imagining things. Which only made me realize that there was indeed something wrong.

I lifted my head, wondering what had happened to the girl I’d known, the one I’d have called sister if someone asked. She wasn’t the Milly I’d grown up with—that girl was gone. Now she was almost a stranger, someone I couldn’t predict and no longer understood. There were no words in me to answer her, the guilt and blame lay truthfully on my shoulders. Having her rub it in did not help. It only made me angry. It was bad enough to lose O’Shea, but to know she was slipping away from me too only intensified my emotions and made me lash out.

“Go f**k one of your men,” I said, lowering my head again.

She crouched beside me, the swoosh of her skirt and the scent of rose petals washing over me. I had to give her credit, she always did smell good.

“So I was right, whatever. Get rid of him. You can’t keep Alex, not as long as Giselle and I are here. When you were alone it was no big deal. Now, you can see what I was worried about. And don’t worry about the agent man, you’ll find somebody else; I always do.”

I wanted to shove her away from me, scream at her that she was wrong. Alex was my responsibility. But logically I knew she was right; I was the only one immune from his bite, or even his saliva, god damn it! She was wrong about Liam, though. No one could replace him. There was too much history, too much between us to wash it away.

Alex was as much my family now as she and Giselle. I couldn’t choose between them.

“I can’t,” I said.

“Rylee, please, I’m not trying to be a bitch. I just don’t want to turn into a werewolf, like O’Shea. And I don’t want that for Giselle either. Can you imagine a werewolf that was pretty much insane? You’d have to kill her,” she said, tucking her head beside mine, slipping an arm around me.

I pushed her arm off and stood up. She was right. Grabbing my leather jacket I stepped outside into the cold, snow falling heavily in the late afternoon sun. Alex blitzed about like a madman, chasing imaginary prey. What the hell was I going to do?

The barn was empty now with Eve training in New Mexico; that at least was one concern gone for the moment. Even with the Harpy nowhere near, Milly hadn’t let up her tirade from the moment I’d gotten back. My heart was torn, and I stood there for a long time, staring at nothing, wracking my brain. There was the creak of the back door being opened, and then a frail set of arms wound around my waist. Giselle put herself under my one arm and I gave her a half hug.

“Why do you cry, Rylee?”

I thought for a minute, trying to put it all into one nutshell.

“Because life isn’t fair.”

She snorted. “Ah, well, that’s true. But I never said it would be. I said you should follow your heart, didn’t I?”

Giving me a quick squeeze, she left me standing on the back porch, watching Alex romp and play by himself in the snow. Leaping up, he’d bite at the falling flakes, then diving forward, he’d bury himself until only his tail showed. Milly was the sister of my heart, the person I thought I could trust with anything, the one who’d been my friend for years. Alex was, in essence, a child that would die on his own, but also a loyal friend willing to put his life on the line for me. Could I let him go, knowing I was sentencing him to death? I wrapped my arms around myself. Life was changing. I was changing, and it hurt me to think I would be walking away from someone I thought of as family.

For a brief second, I gave in and Tracked O’Shea, needing to feel him close even if it was just his emotions. Rage flooded me, bloodlust and shame following close on its heels. I sucked in a sharp breath, biting back tears and shutting down the connection between us. Please God let him be able to shift form, please don’t let him be trapped as Alex was.

I stood there a few minutes longer, my mind whirling with possibilities, decisions and outcomes. None of which I liked. There was really only one way to do this, no matter how much I hated to.

Stepping back into the kitchen, I looked over at my friend. Milly sat at the table, her hands folded on top, an air of tension thrumming between us.

“Have you made a decision,” she asked, green eyes wide with hope.

“Yes,” I replied, and she smiled, relief on her face.

“I knew you’d do the right thing, Rylee.”

I didn’t smile back at her; this was the only way I could see working for everyone. Taking a long slow breath in, I held it until I was dizzy. Letting the air out, I said the words, knowing they would change everything.

“Alex stays.” I gripped the edge of the table. “And you have to move out.”

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