15. A Small Shadow

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„This is as far as I go," Germaine said.

Jess waited until her nausea subsided, being 'poofed' was not easy on the body, and looked around. She smiled at the Jeep, parked hazardous between a few stones. One tire didn't touch the ground while the opposite one had to carry most of the two ton vehicle. Nick had been in a hurry from the looks of it.

"Do me a favor and—"

Germaine raised a brow at her, smirking. "More favors? I'm listening."

Jess snorted. "Right, forget it. I'll just call Aileen and tell her where we are."

A grunt next to Germaine had her looking over. Max was hunched over, his huge frame crooked and his face a little green. "I already told Daph," he heaved out.

The jinn grinned broadly. "That's my queue. Don't do anything I would do." He winked and gave a small wave. "Ta children, have fun." A puff of pink smoke later he was gone.

"Right." Jess looked over her weapons and pulled a pair of thin gloves from her back pocket. After donning them she flexed her fingers and nodded with approval. "You should turn, Max. Otherwise you'll freeze to death in that flimsy shirt."

The beast-shifter grunted again.

The fey tilted her head to the side and studied Max. "You never told me what your other two animals are." As a best-shifter Max was able to shift into three animals and his preferred one was a bear; but Jess had never seen him in another form.

"Stag and wolf," he muttered.

Jess shrugged. "Either would work. But I doubt a bear could keep up with me. So choose."

Max nodded and got up, he began stripping out of his clothes, throwing them at Jess an item at a time. The fey stuffed his belongings into her backpack and looked up again once she heard the cracking of bones and a swishing sound. Before her stood a huge, brown wolf. The animal shook its head and took an unsure step in her direction. Max obviously had a hard time recovering from the whole 'poofing' business. 

"You need a minute?" she ground out, itching to get going. 

The wolf shook his head again, then his whole body, until his fur was ruffled and stood up straight. He sniffed the air and trotted past her, his nose glued to the ground. Jess smirked and gave chase. 

The two of them made good time, they had found a rhythm, comfortable for both, after a while. And to be honest, Nick had kinda mowed herself a path up the mountain. No caring to hide her footsteps between the rocks, or slinking around a bush instead of going through. Goddess, Jess missed her friend. Knowing Nick was in trouble had tied a knot in her lower stomach that refused to loosen. That demon was not good with being in this sort of trouble. Her mouth was too big, her ever longing for freedom too strong. She was basically a huge middle finger for a culture like the shadows. And that did not bode well for her. Jess needed to find the Keepers and Rayne. She rolled her eyes. Nick's sister being here was going to be a problem. There was no telling how Nick would take her presence.

Jess frowned as she scaled a wall of stone, she did not want to think back on that night, it had started a shitty time. A real shitty time. A time in which Nick, the strongest person Jess had ever known, had crumbled. It had been nearly unbearable to watch her friend wallow like that. 

Not that the whole deal hadn't started a lot earlier. The moment Nick had met that piece of garbage to be exact. Marcus. That stupid ex of hers. 

Nick had been so happy to have finally found someone who wanted to be with her. And not just to use her for sex. Someone she thought loved her for who she was. Jess snorted, that had not worked out. She had been there. She had been there every time Nick had fumed about someone trying to force her into something because of what she was. People just assumed they could take advantage of her because she was a demon. A slave. Someone who had no say in how, or by whom, she was used. The people trying had paid for their stupidity, big time. 

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