Bracing himself on his elbow again, Hawke watched her for several more minutes, the eye contact searing. His wolf was far closer to the surface than that of any other male in the pack, and she was one of the few people who probably knew why. Reaching up, she clenched a hand in his hair and tugged him down until their noses almost touched. “I’m not the only one who’s got a problem.”
He growled at her. She let him feel her claws against his face. Ice blue eyes locked with her own. “You know what it is,” he finally said, his voice so deep it was difficult to understand. Rolling away from her, he lay on his back with one arm under his head.
Yeah, Indigo knew what it was. “She’s far older now than she was when she first entered the den.”
Hawke said nothing. He didn’t need to—she could all but feel his thrumming tension.
“No one’s going to stop you if you decide to—”
Hawke was suddenly leaning over her in one of those electric snaps of movement, his wolf very much in charge. “Riley made it clear she was off-limits.”
Indigo knew her fellow lieutenant had issued that warning not simply because Sienna was family and thus his to protect, but because the girl had needed time to come into her own before she had to pit the strength of her personality against Hawke’s.
“Then, she was.” She stroked her fingers through his hair because he needed the touch of Pack. “Now . . . she’s stronger. I’m not saying she’s ready for the full Hawke assault”—her wolf bared its teeth when he growled—“but she can take a little bit.” That said more about Indigo’s judgment of Sienna Lauren than anything else—because there were very few women on the planet who she thought might be able to handle Hawke.
The fact that the top contender was an eighteen-heading-for-nineteen-year-old Psy defector was one hell of a surprise, but that didn’t mean they should just ignore the subject and hope it went away. Especially not when the girl seemed to reach parts of Hawke no one else could even see.
Indigo knew what Hawke had said to Riley when the subject came up last time, waited to see if he would reject the idea out of hand again. As she watched, he flowed to his feet and went to crouch at the edge of the cliff, his back and hair dusted with ice crystals that glittered in the sunlight. “We should get back,” he said after several long minutes, his voice human once more.
Indigo didn’t push. This was a decision Hawke would have to make on his own. Because once made, she knew that decision would be final and absolute. If he decided to pursue Sienna . . . Sucking in a breath, Indigo promised herself she’d warn the girl if and when the time came—because no woman should have to face that kind of a campaign unprepared.
In spite of his determination to keep his distance, Andrew found himself following the compulsion to track down Indigo as soon as he returned to the den—only to be told that she’d gone running with Hawke.
Images of what they might be doing at that moment slammed into him without warning. Indigo was the highest-ranking female in the den. Only two people outranked her. Riley, who was happily mated to Mercy. And Hawke.
Who was very definitely not mated.
Claws digging into his palms, he shut himself inside his room and tried to fight the buzzing in his head, to think. That proved close to impossible. No matter all his plans, all his instructions to himself, he might’ve gone off half-cocked and made a fool of himself if his cell phone hadn’t rung at that moment.
He answered without looking at the caller ID. “Andrew speaking.”
“How’s everything in the den?” came Riley’s familiar voice.
“Relax, big brother.” Andrew tried for a breezy tone. “We’re managing to limp along without you.”
A small pause. “What’s wrong?”
Ah, hell. His oldest sibling knew him better than anyone else—there was no way he’d buy a bullshit answer. “I have a question. Have Indigo and Hawke ever . . .” Acid burned in his gut as he gave voice to a possibility he’d never even considered before.
Another, longer pause. “No. Never.”
Andrew collapsed into a sitting position on the bed. “Now you have to forget I ever asked you that question.”
Other wolves might have teased, but Riley handled it in his own way. “Piece of advice—don’t ever let Indigo catch even a hint that you had that particular thought. The asinine stupidity of it will outweigh any gains you make.”
Andrew winced. “I’m not making many gains right now.”
“When you were a kid,” Riley said, “it was impossible to make you let go of a toy once you’d clamped your teeth on it.”
“Indigo’s hardly a toy.” No, what she was, was a tough, intelligent woman who would fall easily into no man’s arms—least of all one she was determined to think of as off-limits.
“The point,” Riley said dryly, “is that you’re even more stubborn than I am—just takes people a hell of a lot longer to figure it out.”
That suddenly, Andrew’s brain started functioning again. Smiling at the thought of sinking his teeth into Indigo—not to hurt, just to mark a little—he said, “How’s the vacation going?”
“Mercy’s grandparents want cubs or pups to spoil—they’re not fussy which. Tomorrow would be nice, but they’re willing to give us a whole entire year to ‘get down to the business.’” Riley’s tone was deadpan, but Andrew didn’t miss the way his voice softened when he spoke of children.