"But if he was coerced, the telepath who programmed him might've left a psychic fingerprint." A pause. "I won't be passing on the info about the survivor to my contact."
"I think that's a good call - DarkRiver's being very close-mouthed about their source." The SnowDancer lieutenant understood their care, but the man didn't like the evidence of the continued separation between the two packs, seeing in it a solid barrier to his pursuit of Mercy.
"Can't blame them - trust is an expensive commodity in the Net."
Riley kicked back a soccer ball that had rolled to his feet. "Your contact, would it be the Ghost?" he said, naming a rebel so notorious, he'd started to become known outside the Net.
"Do you know who he is?"
Judd watched the children play, but his mind was clearly elsewhere. "I have my suspicions, but he's been very, very careful. I'm not even going to speculate until he's ready to blow his cover."
"Fair enough." Riley folded his arms. "But you sure his word is gold?"
"He's dangerous," Judd said. "Brutal at times. He'd do anything to protect the Psy, lie, even kill. But then, if it concerned the pack, so would Hawke."
"Point taken." The SnowDancer alpha had honor, but it came second to defending those under his care. "You think the Council will keep playing meek? We haven't had any real problems with them for months."
"They're up to something. We'll find out about it sooner or later." Judd's eyes narrowed. "It's the Human Alliance that concerns me right now."
Riley nodded. The recent slew of violence spoke of an organization that cared little for its own people, much less those they attacked. "Did you find anything in the surveillance footage from the airport?"
"Bowen's intel was solid - a number of mercenaries got off three different planes from Europe. They're hiding in our city."
Riley didn't ask how Judd had recognized them - the man had been an assassin, after all. "Fuck. That means this isn't over."
Learning that mercenaries had entered the city worried Mercy as much as it did Riley, and she conferenced with Clay to make sure the Rats knew what to look for. The spy network run by Teijan, the Rat alpha, and his people, was extraordinary. But the Alliance people were somehow managing to stay under the radar.
Still, after a SnowDancer-DarkRiver discussion, they decided to increase their visible presence in the city. It would let the mercenaries know they were under surveillance, which might be enough to derail their plans.
Since she didn't have a shift in the surveillance rotation until the next day, Mercy intended to use her time to catch up on her work for CTX, the communications network run by DarkRiver and SnowDancer. She was in the process of upgrading the security protocols for all stations, a vital precaution since CTX was breaking more and more inflammatory stories.
However, first she had to deal with another problem. Tracking Eduardo down to the guest cabin he and Joaquin were using on DarkRiver land, she folded her arms and looked him full in the face. Dark eyes, dark hair, bronze skin, perfect bone structure, sinful smile. "So, you come to me," he said in deliciously accented English.
And, Mercy thought with inward amusement, the arrogant cat knew precisely how he sounded. After having grown up with three gorgeous younger brothers, there was little she didn't know about the male ego. "I came to tell you we have no 'chemistry.' Zero. Zip. Zilch. So go away."
His smile changed into something dangerous, determined. "You haven't given me a chance. Spend some time with me - a mating isn't always obvious."
"Eduardo, you're not an idiot. You have to know I'm with Riley." She still couldn't quite believe she'd agreed to be his lover. Part of her was convinced it wouldn't work - they clashed far too often. But another part of her was exhilarated, ready to take on the wolf on every level and then some.
Eduardo shrugged, tone insouciant when he answered. "You don't wear his scent. You haven't accepted him as a leopard female needs to accept a male. Means the coast is clear."
The way he said that disturbed her enough to agitate the leopard. "I might never wear any man's scent." The leopard liked running wild. To be tied that intrinsically to another, until their scents melded, was something that made it restless, wary. "But even then, we'd have zero chemistry."
He stood from his half-sitting position against the railing and gave her a smile that she figured would've sent most women into orgasm on the spot. "How about a kiss to test that theory?"
"How about you stay right there." It was a command. "I need to get to work - and you should go home."
A very Latin sigh. "You break my heart, Mercy."
"I'm sure you'll find someone to patch it up for you." She'd already had a few inquiries from interested parties as to whether "the sexy one with gorgeous eyes" was off-limits. They continued to be a little wary of the "dangerous bite of beautiful." "I've told the women of the pack that you're free to a good home."
"Such cruelty." But he smiled and it was real this time, stripped of the charm he'd used as a mask till then. Eduardo was as lethal as any of the sentinels in her own pack, his protective nature honed to a fine edge - he'd make as possessive a mate as Riley.
She scowled. All this talk of mating was starting to affect her sanity. Riley would never be her mate. Heat aside, she wasn't what he was looking for, and he was exactly the kind of man who made her cat the most wary . . . in spite of the fact that it was his strength that drew her to him.