She's making the Net stronger.
Of course she was. She's a wolf.
Judd knew they were no longer talking about Brenna. I'm safe. Reaching back, he took his mate's hand in his. Have you seen the other changes in the Net? Faint sparks of color where there had once only been black and white.
I think it represents a formerly suppressed aspect of Toby's abilities. It doesn't fit the parameters of any known designation, but I have my suspicions.
So did Judd. We'll talk later.
Hawke narrowed his eyes as Walker stepped back. "I leave you going blue and thinking I'm going to have to dig a grave, and return to find you...well exercised." A pause that took in the rucked-up snow. Behind Hawke, Lara did a bad job of hiding a grin. "You want to explain that?"
"No." Judd felt Brenna's blush in his mind and knew she'd realized her packmates could smell the scent of their recent explosive union. He liked the idea of her being covered in his scent. "There's nothing to explain."
Hawke grunted, amusement in his eyes. "Right. Let's head back."
"Give me a minute." It was Riley.
Judd met the other man's eyes as everyone else dispersed. Beside him, Brenna went very quiet. Her brother came forward. "You ever make her cry, I'll break every bone in your body, tear you to pieces, and hold a barbeque for the wild wolves."
"Riley!" Brenna sounded shocked.
Judd wasn't - despite Riley's calm exterior, the male was as ferally protective as Andrew. "I think Brenna is more than capable of doing that herself."
Riley's face broke out in an uncharacteristic grin. "Yeah, she is." Reaching out, he kissed his gaping sister's cheek before pulling back and shifting. Then he was gone.
"I can't believe you said that." Brenna was scowling when he turned to her. "I would never hurt you."
He wanted to laugh at her outrage. "I adore you." And now he could truly protect her - what he hadn't told her was that Enrique's alterations had put undue pressure on her brain. Because her brain was changeling, not Psy, it hadn't had any way to vent that pressure. Sooner or later, things would've gone to a critical state.
The reason for her present health was that, even dormant, the bond had somehow leached off enough of the overload - dispersing it through his psychic channels - that she didn't collapse. But now he could consciously regulate the pressure, reducing it and shielding her, until she learned to do it herself. It would be hard but not impossible, not with Brenna's strength of will. "You are the most stubborn, most beautiful woman I know."
"Oh...how am I supposed to stay mad when you say something like that?" She stamped her foot but her lips were curving up into a smile. "You're pretty, too." She grinned at his scowl. "But you're the most infuriating man I've ever met."
"Too bad. You're stuck with me."
Standing on tiptoe, she spoke against his lips. "I like being stuck to you."
He was about to kiss her when she wrenched away. "You want a kiss? Come and get it." A taunt, an invitation, a lovers' game.
Judd had never played much. He had a feeling that was about to change. "You should know never to dare an Arrow."
"You're all talk, Judd Lauren." A blur of movement and she was gone.
Feeling his heartbeat speed up, he pushed off after her. He'd get his kiss. And more. Using the bond, he sent her explicit images detailing the prize he intended to claim.
Not fair, came the breathy response. Now I'm all hot and wet.
He tripped. You did that on purpose.
Nuh-uh. If I'd wanted to mess with you, I'd have told you about this fantasy I have of having you at my mercy.
That intrigued him. What would you do?
Images cascaded into his mind, affectionate, lush, and so incredibly erotic that he found himself fighting his body's desire to descend into pure sensation.
He was used to protecting his back, to never giving anyone control over his body or his mind. I'm yours. It was the final surrender.
Sascha couldn't believe the difference in Brenna when she saw her the next day, having come up to the den to talk to Lara about a different situation. "She's happy, healed," she said to Lucas on the trip home, her ears still full of the sound of the SnowDancer's laughter. "And Judd - I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't felt it with my empathy. He might look unchanged on the surface, but he loves her." So deep and true it almost hurt. Sascha knew - she loved Lucas like that.
"Then why do you sound so sad, kitten?" He threw her a concerned look before returning his attention to the rough mountain road.
"She was betrayed by one of her own," Sascha whispered, shaken. "I thought Pack was safe, was family. If you can't trust Pack, who can you trust?"
Lucas brought the car to a halt in the middle of nowhere and reached over to pull her into his lap. "Pack is safe. Pack is the cornerstone of who we are."
"Then why? How?" She nestled her head under his chin. "Dieter was a SnowDancer soldier, but he's so twisted." Even walking past his cell had made her sick to her stomach. Waves of something rotten, putrid, had emanated from his soul.
Lucas stroked his hand down her back. "Having the animal inside protects us against many sins, but even changelings sometimes spawn evil."
She thought about that for long minutes. "For there to be light, there must be darkness." It was what Faith had said after her escape from the Net. But only now did Sascha truly understand. "If you try for perfection, you become exactly like the Psy." A cold, robotic race without the ability to laugh, love, or cherish.