She gave him a startled look. "I suppose that's one way of looking at it. Can I ask you . . . ?" A hesitant question.
"About your childhood?"
His hands clenched on the steering wheel. "What do you want to know?" It came out sounding like gravel.
She was quiet for almost a minute. "You don't want to talk about it."
"Not today." Not ever, if he was being honest.
"Is there someone else you - no." She shook her head. "I'm asking for your weaknesses."
"Was the question yours?"
Her eyes were hollow when she glanced at him. "That's just it. I don't know."
Even as Dev and Katya drove ever deeper into the barren wilderness of Alaska, Sascha sat beside Lucas as he drove them to Cruz.
"I do know how to drive," she pointed out, simply to see his reaction.
He shot her a narrow-eyed glance. "Why are you purposefully jerking my chain?"
"Because I can." She smiled. "Seriously, Mr. Alpha Cat, pregnancy doesn't make me an invalid."
"Am I treating you like an invalid?"
She had to concede the point. "No." In fact, with Lucas busy overseeing a major construction deal, she'd actually been handling more Pack business. "But you're running yourself ragged - I could've driven myself to Cruz, taken a sentinel as escort. Then you'd have had the morning free to read the revised contracts."
"I can read the contracts while you're working with the boy." Reaching across, he closed his hand over hers. "You know you're not going to change my mind."
She brought his hand to hers, kissed the knuckles. "I know. But I have to try."
"Why? Because it makes me crazy?"
"Because I know I have to train you before our baby arrives." He'd always been overprotective of those under his care. "A baby leopard won't take well to constant supervision."
He blew out a breath. "I'm alpha. Do you think I don't know that?"
She wrapped him in her love on the psychic plane, an invisible kiss.
His cheek creased with a smile she wouldn't tire of if she lived to be a thousand. "I know I'm being a pain in the ass, Sascha darling, but humor me. I'm working on letting go - I promise our kid will be a wild savage exactly like Roman and Julian."
Laughing at the thought of some of the stunts the two cubs pulled, she blew him a kiss this time. "They wouldn't talk to me when I went to visit yesterday."
"Rome and Jules?" Pure surprise. "I don't believe it - if they were bigger, they'd fight me to claim you."
"Tammy" - the twins' mom - "said they were sulking because they'd figured out I was going to have a baby."
"Ah. Brats are jealous."
Lips curving at the thought of the two little boys who'd brought joy into her life from the instant she'd met them, she nodded. "I cuddled them and told them I'd still be their Aunt Sascha. But I don't think they were convinced until I told them they'd be bigger than the baby - so they could look after it."
"Sneaky." A sharp grin. "Jules, I think, is going to grow up a dominant. Looking after people is an irresistible lure."
"What about Roman? He was just as, or even more, excited by the idea."
"It's hard to say for sure, but I think Rome is going to follow in Tammy's footsteps. And healers love taking care of people."
Sascha's eyes widened at the realization that Lucas was right. Roman had the same calm energy as his mother, though his was overlayered with a vibrant childish joy. "Does that happen often? Healers coming from the same family?"
Lucas gave a small nod. "Tammy's family tree has supplied a healer at least every second generation. My mom's side of the family is more sporadic, but we do have a relatively high rate. There are still a few that turn up out of the blue."
"You know," Sascha said slowly, "it could be that healers come from the same genetic tree as M-Psy. I don't know about Tammy's, but your family definitely had Psy members."
"Could be." Sliding into the exit lane, he glanced over at her. "What about this kid, Cruz? He doing okay?"
"Better than okay." Sascha couldn't hide her pride. "He's so smart, Lucas. I teach him something once, and it's like this." She snapped her fingers. "He's a natural."
"Good, the faster he learns to protect himself, the better."
"You're worried about the Council?"
Lucas gave a small nod. "Dev thinks Shine's managed to keep the true strength of some of their people under the radar, but he wants us to be extra careful."
"I don't blame him," Sascha said, a wave of anger building beneath the surface of her skin. "After what they did to Jon and Noor."
"We're almost there, kitten." A brush of his knuckles over her cheek. "You said Cruz needs absolute stability."
Nodding, she took a deep breath and began to settle her emotions step by slow step. But one thing continued to worry her. "I felt Katya that first time we went to see Cruz." She tried not to intrude, but her ability was so much a part of her, she invariably picked up emotional resonances - especially when those emotions were so viciously strong. "She's keeping so much inside - it must physically hurt."
Lucas took almost a minute to reply. "She's strong," he finally answered. "There's a granite will in there."
"Dev is strong, too."
A swift glance from panther green eyes. "You picked that up, too?"
"Hard to miss the intensity between them. But . . ."