Home > Echoes at Dawn (KGI #5)(11)

Echoes at Dawn (KGI #5)(11)
Author: Maya Banks


“We’ll rendezvous with my men but it’s going to take us longer than it will them because we’ll be moving so much slower. They’re going to have to cover more ground than us and do it double time so they can provide cover for us as soon as possible.”

She had a thousand questions but she knew the only thing that mattered was that they get as far away from here as possible. So she bit her lip and began preparing herself mentally for the ordeal ahead.

First she took stock of her most recent injuries. Breathing was easier even if still painful. Her arm was bruised, tender and still swollen, but it felt stronger, as if the break was already mending.

She knew it would take longer because she was so weakened, but she was gratified that even the few hours of rest had begun the healing process. If only her mind worked like her body.

She forced the weariness from her clouded mind and carefully pushed herself upward. Rio didn’t help her, and perhaps he wanted to see how she would do on her own. Or perhaps he just wanted to prepare her for how difficult the upcoming task was going to be.

While he eradicated all signs of their presence from the campsite, she pulled herself to her feet and sucked in deep breaths of the crisp air.

Her legs trembled and the weakness in her pissed her off. She curled her unbound hand into a tight fist and planted her feet firmly, refusing to allow her knees to buckle.

She could do this. She would do this.


His voice was low and husky next to her ear. She turned to see that he’d secured his pack to his back and stood a foot away from her, studying her as if judging her ability to make it.

“I’m ready.”

He reached for her hand and pressed the stock of a pistol into her palm. “It’s loaded. Here’s the safety. If worse comes to worst, just point, fire and keep on firing.”

Her hand shook as she pulled the gun back. She looked down, not having any clue where to put it. Rio gently took it from her, turned around and slipped it into a leather holster attached to his pants a mere inch from where he’d instructed her to slide her finger through his belt loop. Then he moved in front of her.

She slid two fingers through the loop and took a step forward, wanting to be as close as possible without hindering his forward progress. There were no words for how much she didn’t want to be doing this.

Her body screamed at her for mercy. She needed rest. She was at her limit—beyond her limit. She had been for some time. But she couldn’t stop now. She had no choice. It was do or die, and she didn’t want to die no matter that she’d come so close to giving in.

“ th1em">I can do this, Rio,” she said in a

low voice.

He surprised her by reaching back, closing his hand briefly over hers in a gesture of support. “I know.”


RIO’S goal was to get them to the plateau. His men would do their jobs and have transport there waiting. Rio’s job was to avoid engaging the enemy and get Grace safely under their radar.

It was a painstaking journey, one that Rio himself could make in a tenth of the time it was taking him to traverse the terrain with Grace slowly at his back. But she didn’t offer complaint and she hadn’t gone down even once. For that alone, she earned his respect.

He halted in his tracks when Grace yanked on his belt loop to stop him. She pressed in close to his back, her body flush against his as she strained upward so her mouth was close to his ear.

“There’s someone out there,” she whispered. “I know you probably think I’m crazy, but I can hear him. Just ahead. He’s cold and angry and he’s thinking that he’d just like to kill the little bitch and be done with it.”

Rio stiffened. He didn’t think she was crazy. He wasn’t sure what her abilities were. From what he’d gathered, Shea’s were random and not controlled by her at all. Her telepathy wasn’t something she could aim or even use at will. But was Grace more stable? How the hell was she picking up on someone in the distance?

“How do you know?” he asked. It wasn’t that he doubted her, but he needed all the information at his disposal.

She leaned her forehead tiredly against his back. “I can’t pick up on everyone, but this particular guy is broadcasting loudly. He’s an open book. No shields. No natural barriers. He’s pissed off, and the angrier he becomes, the more I pick up on his brain waves.”

“What else? I need to know how many are with him. If he’s armed. I need to know exactly what you see.”

She went quiet, resting against him. One hand curled against his shoulder and she seemed to be concentrating hard.

“He’s on post,” she said quietly. “He’s pissed because it’s just him and one other guy who he thinks is inferior. They were told to take position. Their goal is to form a triangle and pin us in. I don’t know how many, but there must be enough to stagger men over a wide area.”

“That’s good,” Rio said approvingly. He reached behind him to squeeze the hand that had dropped down his back. “That’s information we can use. I can take two out before they ever know what hit them. We punch a hole in their line and slip through.”

He felt her sudden surge of excitement. She straightened against him, her hand squeezing his. It was as if his matter-of-fact way of laying out his plan had infused her with confidence and renewed hope.

“I’m ready.”

The quiet tone was far different from the defeat he’d heard earlier in her voice. This time there was fierce determination.

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