The beast wasn't convinced by the logical argument. It wanted Sascha. Now. It was taking too much of Lucas's will to fight the possessiveness of the panther. He didn't even trust the sentinels at this stage. It was part of the price he paid for being a leopard, an alpha, and a Hunter.
Nobody spoke until Sascha walked back into the room followed by Tamsyn, with Dorian shadowing their backs. Tammy didn't need to be here, to be vulnerable. Protecting one of their women was going to put enough pressure on the sentinels. Nate was clearly furious at his mate, his eyes narrowed in anger. Already, her presence was affecting their ability to defend.
"Tamsyn," Lucas said, walking over to pull Sascha to his side. "You need to leave." He rarely gave Tammy orders, knew he was too easy with her. He even knew why.
It wasn't because his mother had been a healer as many people thought. No, it was because he'd seen the condition she'd been in after trying to save his father's life. She'd almost killed herself, given everything she'd had in that slender seventeen-year-old body. And when they'd found him, Lucas, she'd tried desperately to squeeze impossibly more from her worn - out soul.
However, right now, he couldn't afford to have her fight against him, couldn't afford to show any weakness. If she spoke up, he'd have to get very harsh and he didn't want to do that to Tammy. To his shock, Sascha was the one who spoke. "She needs to be here."
The SnowDancers raised their brows, but there was a kind of shadowed respect in their eyes. The rules were different for the mates of Pack alphas. No one wanted their alpha mated to a weak female.
"Why would that be?" Hawke turned to face them, his back to the mantel.
Lucas moved until Sascha and Tamsyn were both half-hidden by his body. "None of your business, wolf. You came to see Sascha. Here she is."
Sascha pushed at his back until he shifted enough that she could meet the wolf's gaze. It was as far as he was going to go.
"I know you don't trust me," she said. "I even know that you hate the Psy on a level that's so deep, it has no end."
Hawke's mouth tightened, his eyes going glacial.
"But you don't have to trust me in this - you have to trust Lucas."
Hawke snorted. "He's your mate. He's hardly likely to be unbiased."
Lucas waited for Sascha to dispute their mating, unable to do anything to warn her.
Her hand slipped around to lie against his stomach. The panther wanted to purr. "Do you really think he'd mate to someone who'd endanger his pack?"
"Yeah, wolf." Relief at her acceptance ran through Lucas like fire. "Just how much do you trust me?"
"How do you know she hasn't f**ked with your mind?" It was a harsh question.
"Because you know as well as I do that the Psy can't hold on to our minds for longer than a few minutes." Lucas tracked Hawke's every movement, leaving Indigo and Riley to the sentinels. He had a feeling Riley was the more dangerous of the pair - like Dorian, he'd lost a sister to this killer. "She would've had to manipulate not only my mind but those of the sentinels as well."
"Psy never work alone." Hawke watched them both without blinking.
Sascha's hand clenched on Lucas's abdomen. "Psy also don't feel emotion." Stretching, she kissed the hard angle of Lucas's jaw from behind his shoulder. "Yet I feel so much, it's threatening to destroy me."
There was no arguing with her statement. She was sensually, beautifully female, her body's hunger for Lucas a siren song. The unmated males could no more ignore that than they could stop breathing.
Every instinct in him quivered, wanting to take her, right here, right now, and show everyone that she belonged to him. Fighting the animalistic urge merely served to heighten the craving, until the panther's fur rasped along the inside of his skin.
"Then those eyes of yours mean nothing." Hawke crossed his arms across his chest. "You're weaker than the ones we're fighting."
"You're calling emotion a weakness?" Tamsyn was trying to get past Dorian without success. Nate stared at her from across the room, obviously willing her to be silent, but the healer had never been good at following orders. "Emotion is what makes us strong!"
"She's not one of us," Hawke said. "Her strength comes from feeling nothing. If she feels, it means she's damaged goods. We can't trust Brenna's life to a defective Psy who could crumble at any minute."
Lucas felt the panther's claws cut through his skin. "Be very careful what you say about my mate, Hawke. I'd hate to have to kill you." The warning lingered on the air.
Both of Sascha's arms wrapped around his middle. "Lucas, he's right. If I were weak, I'd be of no use."
"You're not weak." He held her hands flat against him, luxuriating in the public gesture of belonging. This Psy was his and he wasn't going to let her escape. Ever.
"No," she said, "I'm not. I'm a cardinal E-Psy."
Hawke's gaze reflected a bright flash of shock so deep, it couldn't be hidden.
"What do you know, wolf?" Lucas wondered what Sascha had learned that had enabled her to make that statement so confidently, but he wasn't going to ask her to explain in front of the SnowDancers.
"I want to see her face," the wolf demanded.
Lucas felt his muscles lock. Sascha's hand smoothed over his body as she drew back. "Let me, Lucas. This is my time to fight."
The anguish in her tone got through to him, cutting past the possessive beast to the man within. He let her move until she stood slightly in front of him, where he could quickly haul her behind his body. "You or your lieutenants even blink wrong and I'll slash you wide open." It wasn't a threat, just simple fact.