Stricken (The War Scrolls Book 1)

By: A.K. Morgen



“N-no.”

“Well,” he huffed, sounding more amused than offended. “Spend your time saving the world from ravaging hordes of infected things and do you even get a thank-you? Of course not. They don’t even know your name.” Another soft huff left his lips. “Bloody rude, if you ask me.”

Aubrey listened to his rant, her eyes wide. A choked laugh bubbled up in her throat, followed by another. She clamped a hand over her mouth to stifle the sound, afraid Dom would think she was laughing at him. Which she was, sort of. He complained about not being famous while her life unraveled around her.

The irony wasn’t lost on her.

Dom chuckled.

The knot in her throat began to loosen.

“Well,” that first man she’d heard—and smacked into—said from somewhere near the gaping front door. He had a beautiful voice. More lyrical than the Southern drawl she heard day in and day out. Kind of lovely, actually. “Now that you’ve gotten that out of your system, perhaps you could ask her what in the hell she’s doing here?”

Okay, so maybe not that lovely. Slightly condescending, really.

She narrowed her eyes in his direction but couldn’t make out anything more than a thick shadow standing right inside the missing front door.

“I could,” Dom said, making no move to step away from her, “but I won’t. I prefer to believe she came to sweep me off of my feet and was rudely interrupted, first by the thing outside and then by you taking up the entire hallway and forcing her to bump into you. She’s working up to confessing her undying love for me as we speak.”

“I am not!” she protested. Did he actually believe the things he said, or did he simply like to hear himself talk? “I was chased here.”

“By the thing outside?” the condescending one asked.

“No, by the one you killed inside,” she muttered, irritated by his antagonistic question. He didn’t have to be so rude.

“The one we…” Dom whistled.

“How do you know we killed it?” The rude one moved closer, his shadow still little more than a heavy mass in the darkness.

Aubrey gulped at the threat in his question. “Lucky guess?” she whispered, her voice shaking. Never need rescuing again, she demanded of herself. It was terrifying and exhausting and pretty much a huge pain all the way around.

“Try again,” he said, softer than before. Oddly, with his voice pitched low like that, he sounded even more dangerous.

Aubrey couldn’t think of a single suitable lie. I’m omniscient would have sounded just as false as I guessed. Both were equally true, which was to say not true at all. And she wasn’t nearly stupid enough to tell the truth with his threat hanging in the air around them. She closed her mouth instead, licking her lips nervously.

“Did either of them bite you?” Dom asked, saving her from trying to come up with an answer she didn’t have.

“What?”

“The wolves,” the rude one snapped. “Did they bite you, drool on any open wounds?”

“Um, no?”

“You’re sure?” he demanded.

“Yes. I’m sure.” One of them had clawed her up a little, but no bites. Luckily. She didn’t want to consider how that might have ended. The leg the animal had clawed hurt enough, thank you very much.

“That’s good,” Dom said.

“How do you know we killed the wolf?” the first asked a second time, apparently not willing to let that question go.

Aubrey said nothing.

“Still waiting,” he reminded her.

“I’m sure this is all very fascinating, but we’ve got to go,” the third man broke in. He didn’t sound as though he found the conversation particularly riveting. He sounded tired. “The entire neighborhood heard her screaming, and the police will be on the way soon if they aren’t already. I’d rather not have to break out of jail.”

“Hell,” the first man swore again.

Did he know any other words?

Who was he?

“Dom, take the girl. Abriel, grab the shifter outside. I’ll get this one.” A faint thud sounded.

“Sure, Killian.” Dom snorted. “Just remember you said that when you decide to try to steal her away.”

“Oh, shut up,” the other two, Killian and Abriel, said simultaneously.

Dom’s laughter echoed around the decrepit house.

Take the girl, my ass. Aubrey pushed away from the wall and squared her shoulders, ready to do battle. “I’m not going with you,” she warned Dom, holding up her hands to ward him off in case he made a grab for her.

“I’m sorry,” he disagreed, “but you have to. You don’t seem the jail type, and since we’re lugging around a couple dead bodies and the police have no clue about infected shifters, that’s exactly where you’ll end up if you stay.” He paused. “Feel free to argue if it makes you feel better, though.”

“Infected shifters?” Her voice trembled, and her thoughts seemed stuck on those words. “Infected shifters?” That was not good. Not good at all.

“Infected shifters,” Dom repeated. “Elioud shapeshifters, the distant human descendants of angels.” He paused. “Are you going to puke?” He sounded more curious than concerned.

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