Mercy's face grew black with fury. "Never, ever mention that. You understand me?"
He smirked. "I especially liked you in the polka-dot-Jesus, that hurt." He rubbed the spot on his ribs where her elbow had hit home, grateful for the distraction provided by the stab of pain.
"It's just the start. I plan to kill you in your sleep," Mercy said conversationally. "And stuff that damn polka-dot biki - " She paused, glanced at the door. "Did you - ?"
"I think it's Vaughn." He nodded at her to answer. "I'll cover the Psy."
Mercy gave him an odd look. "She has a name. You should know, given your teensy obsession."
"Preparation, not obsession." Dorian had made it his business to learn the name and address of every powerful Psy in the area. He'd torn Santano Enrique's heart out with his bare hands, but it hadn't been enough, not when he knew the evil that had spawned the Psy serial killer continued to exist and grow. He intended to chop off the head of the beast, and if it grew back, he'd damn well do it again. And again. And again. As many times as it took.
Perhaps then his sister's ghost would stop haunting him.
Kylie's blood had still been warm when he reached her. The cuts that Santano had made... they had destroyed her beauty, turned her from his mischievous, barely grown-up baby sister, to a piece of torn flesh and blood. No matter how many Psy he killed, he couldn't change that, couldn't bring Kylie back from the grave. But he could make damn sure no other brother lost what he had, no mother cried as his had, no father screamed.
His parents had coped by leaning on Pack... and going roaming. Anytime the memories got too bad, they turned leopard and left. Dorian couldn't deny them their escape, but he couldn't follow either. Not only did he lack the ability to go leopard, he was a DarkRiver sentinel and they were at war, even if it was a quiet, stealthy one most people didn't know was happening. Lucas had allowed Dorian's parents their grief. He'd given Dorian his shoulder, but in the end, he expected Dorian to deal.
It was exactly what Dorian expected of himself - any special treatment would've been an insult. More, he needed that responsibility to Pack. Sometimes, it was all that kept him from picking up a rifle and going rogue.
That truth was at the forefront of his mind as he watched Mercy open the door with sentinel cautiousness. Vaughn raised an eyebrow at their guarded expressions. "What, do I smell like wolf now?" He sniffed at his arm. "Nope. I smell like my gorgeous Red." A slow smile as he mentioned his mate and walked in.
Dorian didn't shift from his position by the bed - he'd brook no interference in his dealings where Ashaya was concerned, regardless of how he felt toward her. If Vaughn was here to assume control, blood would spill. "If you'd smelled of wolf," he said, trying to sound as if bloody possessiveness didn't have a chokehold on him, "I'd have had to kill you."
Mercy closed the door and grinned. "It would've been a mercy killing."
"Reduced to making bad puns, Melisande?"
Mercy's eyes narrowed. "Everyone's got a death wish today."
Ducking the punch Mercy threw at him, Vaughn leaned indolently on the wall beside the door. "What happened to her leg?"
Dorian let Mercy give Vaughn the lowdown, viscerally aware of how vulnerable Ashaya was right then. That didn't mean she wasn't a Council spy.
His hands fisted. "So," he said to Vaughn after Mercy finished, "why are we running a taxi service for lost Psy? Hell, how did she even get to the Grove?"
"Aleine's defected," Vaughn said.
The leopard wanted to purr. The man wasn't so easily convinced. "How sure are we?" What better way to infiltrate an enemy citadel than on the back of an innocent child? Everyone knew predatory changelings were savage about protecting cubs, no matter if they wore human or Psy skin. "She was in deep with the Council."
"Anthony confirmed she's got rebel sympathies." Vaughn didn't have to say any more. Not only was Anthony Kyriakus the father of Vaughn's mate, Faith, he was the leader of a quiet revolution against the vicious straitjacket of Silence. "He's the one who arranged the pickup, though Aleine doesn't know about his involvement, so keep it quiet. He's certain she isn't a spy, but the fewer people who know about his activities, the better."
Much as Dorian respected Vaughn, he had no intention of trusting Ashaya until she proved herself. To him. Because this was a personal war. "She hooked up to the Net?"
"Yeah." Vaughn straightened. "So treat her as a possible leak. I think Anthony's solid, but until we're absolutely sure about her, we don't take any chances."
Mercy nodded in agreement. "Even if she really has defected, as long as she's linked to the Net, they might be able to suck information out of her."
Dorian had never been able to think of the PsyNet as anything other than a hive mind, but now he wondered what it would be to know that the very thing you needed for life could also lead death straight to you. "Where are we going to put her?" It was a question he hadn't realized he was going to ask until it was out.
"Why do we have to put her anywhere?" Mercy said, displaying the ruthless practicality that made her a sentinel. "She could be more trouble than she's worth if the Council's after her. She saved Noor and Jon; we repaid the debt by saving her son and stitching her up. Anthony must have people who can take her in now."
Dorian found his beast's lethal attention focused on Mercy. The reaction came from the same place as his irrational possessiveness - the thinking part of him knew Mercy was simply doing her job and watching out for the pack's interests. It was exactly what he should've been doing - instead of standing guard over a woman who might yet stab the knife of treachery straight into DarkRiver's back.