Indigo felt her claws prick the insides of her skin just as Hawke put two fingers to his mouth and whistled. “Time to go hunting. I want everyone in wolf form.”
Good, Indigo thought, because she was in the mood for blood. Preferably of the “sweet young thang” kind.
Andrew wanted to kill Hawke—slowly and with great pleasure. Of all the women to bring up here . . . “Why?” he muttered to his alpha when Maria detached herself at long last to go stash her pack, her h*ps swaying in invitation as she blew him a kiss over her shoulder.
Hawke’s gaze was so innocent, Andrew knew it was pure bullshit. “I asked for a volunteer—she raised her hand.”
“Uh-huh.” Shoving his fingers through his hair, Andrew glared at the man he fully intended to strangle at the first opportunity.
“Maria’s sweet, she’s sexy, and she wants to bang your brains out.” Hawke’s grin was pure, amused wolf. “I don’t see a problem here—especially since you obviously need to get banged.”
His alpha knew exactly which buttons to press, but then so did Andrew. “Projecting, Hawke?”
Ice blue flared with something hotter, more brilliant, but Hawke didn’t rise to the bait. “Smart-ass. Tell me about the problem last night.”
Andrew laid it out, momentarily pushing aside the complication caused by Maria’s entrance into his courtship of Indigo. “I went out and had another look this morning before you arrived. Nothing.”
Frowning, Hawke stared out at the winter green of the forest. “We’ll keep an eye on the situation, see what develops. Judd’s heard nothing from his contacts that implies a Council operation, but we’ll stay on alert.”
“I left a message for Lucas,” he said, naming the leopard alpha. “Riaz and Elias are running things at the den today, so they’ll contact us if the cats discover anything.” Looking around, he took a deep breath of the chill morning air. “Let’s enjoy this day—not often we get a chance like this.” Reaching back to his nape, he pulled up his T-shirt, stripping it off as Andrew got rid of his own.
They’d both changed into wolf form by the time the kids ambled back. Maria, too, had shifted. She was a frisky little wolf, pretty and dainty, even in her animal form. Andrew thought she was sweet enough, but she wasn’t the woman he wanted. That woman was an elegant, long-legged wolf with fur of a rich dark gray, and a distinctly haughty look in her golden eyes when she strolled up to stand beside Hawke.
He wanted to bite her.
Maria nipped his flank instead.
I am so going to kill Hawke for this.
The juveniles were exhausted that night, crawling into their sleeping bags as soon as darkness fell, but they’d dragged those bags outside, so they could sit and listen to the older members of the pack talk. A few had chosen to remain in wolf form, sitting curled up close to the laz-fire, a portable heating device that gave an excellent approximation of flames but with zero chance of creating a forest fire.
As Andrew watched from his spot on a log opposite Hawke and Indigo, his lieutenant—and yeah, he was discovering quick-fast that he was a possessive bastard—showed their alpha the little metal ball Silvia had discovered. Hawke played the object over his hand after sniffing at it to see if the wolf’s nose could tell him anything. “We’ll see what Bren and the other techs can do with this,” he said. “I don’t like anyone putting their shit on our land—Council or conglomerate.”
Maria nudged Andrew with her elbow when Hawke and Indigo fell to discussing what adjustments they’d have to make to the watch patrols to free up soldiers for this area.
“Are you off shift next weekend?” she whispered, her breast soft and warm against his upper arm as she snuggled closer. “I have tickets to a new show. It’s got really great reviews.”
Andrew kept his arms hanging over his knees, his fingers loosely intertwined. “I thought you were seeing Kieran.” He’d noticed—and been grateful—that she’d stopped throwing lures his way after hooking up with the boy.
A sniff, firelight glinting off the soft ebony of her curls as she ducked her head. “Yesterday’s news.”
Andrew’s wolf stilled at the deep hurt he sensed beneath the blazing heat of her sensuality. “Come for a walk,” he said, knowing she’d never open up within earshot of the others.
She agreed with alacrity. He wondered if Indigo even noticed their departure, she was so deep in conversation with Hawke—and that was one hell of a punch to the ego. But he kept that to himself as he led Maria away from the campsite and toward a more private spot, because if security was part of Indigo’s mandate in the pack, this was part of his—looking after those who might not trust their pain to anyone else.
Maria slid her hand over his abdomen as soon as they hit the darkness of the trees, her goal the waistband of his jeans. “Soooooo . . .”
Fully in control, he gripped her wrist, squeezed. “Hush.” Then, fingers locked around her wrist, he continued to lead them through the winter green firs.
Maria didn’t resist either his hold or his order, and that was a clear indication that his hunch was right. Young predatory changeling females weren’t at all shy about going after what they wanted, and Andrew had never before been able to discourage her so quickly. Bringing them to a flat glacial rock, he took a seat, tugging her up to sit beside him. “So, he broke your heart, huh?”
“Who?” She wrenched away her hand. “I thought you were bringing me out here to do something interesting, not talk about old rubbish.”