"You can leave the Net." She damn well was going to leave it, even if he had to drag her out kicking and screaming. "There's a way."
Her eyes locked into his. "No, there isn't. I need to stay." A resolute answer, but the need in her eyes was a wild, angry thing. "Amara will spin completely out of control if I don't."
His eyes narrowed, but her stubbornness wasn't something they could deal with right then. He spent the next few minutes with Nate and Tammy, making arrangements for Keenan to be taken up to the SnowDancer den, the most logical hiding place. Not only was it almost impossible to find if you didn't already know where it was, but Judd and his brother, Walker, would be able to keep a psychic eye on Keenan. "I'll drive him up - " he began, knowing Ashaya would be safe under Nate's watch. And since the other man was already mated, Dorian's leopard didn't snarl at the idea.
"No," Tammy interrupted. "Sascha needs to go up with Keenan. I've already called her and Lucas - we need to monitor if the Web is elastic enough to cover him at that distance, despite the fact that he's connected directly to you."
"I promised him I'd take care of him." And Dorian kept his promises.
Nate scowled. "He's Pack now. You don't think we have rights over him?"
Man and leopard both calmed at the mention of the solid strength of Pack. "Yeah, you do." He thrust a hand through his hair. "Kid's got a grip on my heart, Nate."
"They have a way of doing that." The other sentinel slapped him on the back. "You'll get over it sometime in the next hundred years or so."
Strangely, that made him feel better. Because there was no way he was letting his mate, and the boy he already considered his own, go.
Lucas and Sascha arrived less than an hour later, and Dorian ran upstairs to fetch Keenan - he'd reawakened on his own twenty minutes earlier, stomach rumbling. It had given Dorian the opportunity to make sure Ashaya ate as well before she headed up to prepare Keenan for the change in location.
"Keep your mind quiet," she was saying now as she zipped up Keenan's insulated jacket. "Don't listen to her."
"I won't." Keenan shifted from foot to foot. "It's getting fuzzy anyway. Her voice."
"That's good. Don't be scared, baby. This is only for a little while."
Keenan threw his arms around Ashaya. "I'm not scared, Mommy. I can feel you inside my head. If I need you, I'll call. I know you'll come."
Ashaya's face was a study in wonder as she hugged her son. "Yes, I will."
Walking over, Dorian picked up the little knapsack she'd packed for Keenan. "We'll keep him safe, Shaya. I give you my word."
She glanced up, a silent trust in her eyes that the leopard accepted as its due. Nodding, she kissed Keenan and rose. "Come on, little man. You're going for a ride."
Instead of following her, Keenan turned and pulled on Dorian's pant leg with a confidence that clearly startled Ashaya. What appeared to startle her even more was that Dorian simply bent down and picked the boy up. "Go on, Shaya. I need to chat with Keenan."
Her forehead wrinkled. "He's - "
Dorian shook his head slightly, gratified when she left the room. "You have to trust me with your mom," he said to the boy in his arms.
"She's mean." A ferocious protectiveness filled that small face. "She wants to hurt my mommy."
"I know. But I'm pretty mean myself." He let Keenan see the lethal edge in his eyes, something most children wouldn't have understood. But Keenan Aleine was no more a child than Dorian had been at his age. "No one will get close to her."
A small nod. "Dorian?"
"I want my mommy in our web."
Dorian's heart kicked in his chest. "She will be." It was the one thing he wouldn't compromise on. And if that made him animal in his possessiveness, so be it.
After Keenan left, Ashaya went back upstairs and began to pack her stuff. "I have to move as well. Nate and Tammy's cubs returned tonight, didn't they?"
"Yeah." He'd already made the same decision, but the leopard was proud of her instinctive need to protect the pack's young. "We definitely need to get out of here if Amara's hunting."
Ashaya halted in the act of closing up her bag. "You're angry."
Angry didn't even come close. "Tell me about Amara being Keenan's mother."
"I don't know if I want to with you growling at me."
His hands clenched. "Sugar, I'm this close to tearing off your clothes and teaching you exactly how badly I take you keeping secrets from me. Your choice. Talk or get naked."
Ashaya felt her throat dry up. "You won't hurt me."
"No. But I bet I can make you whimper."
Her thighs pressed together and she knew he was right. Part of her, the part that had been fascinated with Dorian since the moment she first heard his voice, was tempted to taunt him until he made good on his promise. However, right now she needed to keep her wits about her. "Amara is Keenan's biological mother. Both the level of his intelligence and his lack of a fail-safe switch come from her. But I'm his mother in every way that counts."
"I'm not arguing." His tone had smoothed out a little, but the growl was still there, under the surface. "What I don't get is - you were both in the Council substructure. How could anyone not know which one of you was pregnant?"
"We're so identical that people - and even Psy are prone to this failing - often mixed us up. Not only that, but we worked in the same lab, on the same projects. We made the decision early, and it wasn't hard to imitate one another once the pregnancy began showing. Those months, I allowed Amara to shadow my mind and vice versa." It had been worth every painful second. "We did get lucky once - when they tied my tubes. Since physical injury wasn't the point, the medics used noninvasive keyhole surgery." If they had opened Ashaya up, there was a good chance her body would've given her away.