In contrast, Tamsyn had always been tied to DarkRiver. That didn’t matter to her. She was a woman of home and hearth. It was the way of most healers. They liked to be near their people, their lands. Healers built permanent homes before most others, took in any who needed their help, and cherished those who were their own. The months in New York had almost torn out her heart, she’d been so homesick.
But Nate had roamed. He’d left the pack for years as a juvenile and come back a man, strong, loyal, and with wild horizons in his eyes. What did he see in hers? Home—calm, steady, enduring. But not very exciting. No wonder he didn’t want her!
Tamsyn had worked herself into quite a state, something that would’ve flabbergasted those who knew her, when the comm console chimed. It was the emergency code. She blinked and snapped to attention, the healer in her taking over. “Talk to me.”
Juanita’s face appeared onscreen. “Dorian broke his arm while we were sparring near the Circle. It’s pretty bad.”
“Don’t move him.” Turning off the screen, she got up, changed at the speed of light, grabbed her emergency supplies, and headed out.
The cold air cut across her cheeks as she ran. If Dorian hadn’t been so close by, she’d have taken a vehicle. But at this distance, her changeling speed was faster than the vehicle would have been on the rutted forest roads. The roads had been damaged on purpose. It was another line of defense, meant to bog down the unwary. DarkRiver was never going to be caught off-guard again.
She found Juanita crouched beside Dorian, who was sitting propped up against a tree. Though the woman looked concerned, Dorian’s face betrayed nothing. Barely into double digits, the boy was better at hiding his feelings than most adults. “What were you two doing to break that arm?” she asked, going down beside him.
“Karate. Brown belt. San-kyu,” Juanita answered.
Tamsyn didn’t berate the other woman for using such advanced techniques against a boy. They all knew Dorian was no child. He’d been born latent and had no ability to shift into leopard form. Perhaps it was something that might have been held against him had he not made it his mission to become so dangerous, no one would dare treat him as anything but another cat.
“A single break. Clean,” she told him. “You were lucky.”
Pure blue eyes looked into hers. “How long till I can use it?”
“As long as I say.” She put a pressure injector against his arm before he could object that he didn’t need the anesthetic. Then, using the portable deep-tissue viewer to double-check the conclusions of her healing gift, she set the break and encased it in a lightweight but durable cast. Dorian had normal changeling strength and healing capacity—he’d regain the use of his arm far sooner than a human or Psy would have in the same situation.
“Nita, can you give me a minute with Dorian?” She glanced at the beautiful woman.
Juanita nodded. “I have a perimeter watch to take over.”
“I’ll make sure he gets home.”
Dorian scowled as they talked about him but didn’t say anything until Juanita had disappeared into the trees. “What?”
Shaking her head at that stubborn male expression, Tamsyn moved to sit slightly behind him. Then she threw her arms around his neck and leaned down to press her cheek against his. “San-kyu, that’s the third level, isn’t it?” With the dominant males—or with the young ones who would one day be dominant—you had to tread carefully. Demanding would get her nothing from Dorian.
He softened a little. “Yep. I’m going for black next month.”
“Impressive. When I left for New York, you were still on the first level of brown.”
He let her tug him further into her embrace. Touch was at the heart of a healthy pack. It was what bound them together, what gave them their strength. Smiling, she raised her hand and began to brush her fingers through his incongruously silky blond hair as he lay against her.
“I’m going to be past Juanita’s level soon.” It was a small boast and it was perfectly normal. Whatever had happened to break his arm, it hadn’t bruised his pride too much.
She grinned. “Then who are you going to beat up?”
He actually smiled. “You want I should do Nate for you?”
It seemed the whole pack knew how things were between her and Nathan. “Brat.”
“Yeah, but you like me.”
Laughing, she pressed a kiss to his cheek before rising. He followed, his bones showing the promise of a height that would top hers by several inches at least. “Look after yourself, Dorian. If I see you one more time this year, I’m going to do something nasty like pull healer rank and ground you.”
“Like you wish you could ground Nate—maybe in your bedroom?”
Mischief in his grin, he backed away from her before turning to run off through the trees. She kept her smile hidden until he was gone. Then she bent down and began to gather up her supplies and equipment. She was pleased. Her medical training had come in very handy today. Otherwise she’d have used up healing energy to no useful purpose. What she did came from inside her—she had to conserve her strength for the worst injuries…as had happened with Carlos.
Leaves rustled to her left and she looked up to see Juanita step out. “Did you see my—ah, there it is.” Nita picked a slender black timepiece off the ground. “Took it off while we were sparring. That boy is dangerous when he gets going.”
Nodding, Tamsyn continued to put away her things. Nita was the last person she wanted to chat to, especially after the horrible realization she’d had that morning. Then the other woman went down on her haunches beside Tamsyn.