Andrew nodded and was about to leave when Ben said, “Wait! I wanna give Drew something.” Wiggling out of his mother’s arms, he ran to the back of the apartment.
His mom went to say something when there was a cry from somewhere in the living area. “Oh, that’s the baby,” she said. “I better go pick her up.”
Andrew stayed in the doorway as she did so. “How’s Ben with her?”
“He plays with her for hours.” Ava’s cheeks dimpled with maternal pride as she glanced over her shoulder. “Such patience my Benny has, you wouldn’t believe it.”
Ben tumbled out of his room then, running as fast as his little legs would take him. When Andrew crouched in front of him, the boy handed over a tiny object. It was an action figure of a man in a blue jumpsuit sporting improbable muscles. “Thanks.”
“It makes me happy when I play with it.” Ben tapped him on the cheek with one baby-soft palm. “Don’t be sad, Drew.”
Andrew looked into those shining eyes and wondered who Ben was going to grow into. Whoever that man was, Andrew had a feeling the whole pack would be damned proud of him. “Yeah? Okay.”
A smile full of sunshine.
“Come on, Benny,” Ava called. “Let’s get you to bed, my sweet boy.”
Leaving with a wave, Andrew put the little action figure in a side pocket of his pack. Ben had seen. Hawke had seen. Andrew didn’t want anyone else to see. So he made sure he wasn’t stopped again as he headed out and away from this den where Indigo would return on the arm of another man. The rest of what might happen . . . he couldn’t think about it without unleashing the wolf’s tormented rage.
Indigo sat across from Riaz on the open patio of a roof-top restaurant you usually had to book weeks in advance, the glittering lights of the city spread out in shimmering ropes far below. And beyond that, the dark lap of the bay. It was a stunning view, and the man across from her was undeniably handsome, but she couldn’t focus, her entire body tense as if for battle. As for her wolf—it was agitated, unable to sit still.
Riaz stirred across from her. “So?”
It was an effort to smile, to pretend everything was as it should be. “I’m impressed,” she said, turning her gaze from the view to him. “How did you get reservations so fast?”
“I called in a favor. Wouldn’t do to disappoint you.” A slow smile that should’ve made her senses leap. “Did you notice how civilized I’m being?”
It was a reference to their past, when Riaz had been a wild, wild young male and she’d been coming into herself as a dominant female. “I almost don’t recognize you.” She tipped her wineglass toward him in a salute, though part of her missed the wild boy he’d been. He was almost too mature these days.
Riaz’s smile deepened at her comment, but she thought she glimpsed something hidden behind it, a sharp echo of her own confusion. However, when he spoke, his voice was steady. “You ready to order?”
“You do it.”
Riaz raised an eyebrow. “Testing how well I know you?”
“Maybe.” She took a sip of the excellent wine and watched him over the top of her glass.
Amazing dark gold eyes, the eyes of a man who’d seen the world and knew exactly what he wanted. But since his return from Europe, those eyes were more often shuttered and introspective than laughing, and the only time she’d really seen him playful was when they’d done the run. Even when he’d been young, he’d been . . . intense.
Not that it mattered, she told herself. Play was for boys and children. Riaz was a strong male in the prime of his life. Both sides of her nature found him more than acceptable . . . except, the wolf thought wistfully, a little more playfulness would’ve been nice. After all, he was a wolf, too. Play was part of their life. Shouldn’t he want to play with a female who attracted him?
As she listened, he placed their order. All perfect. Until he said, “No dessert. We’ll go for coffee instead.”
Her wolf sniffed. No dessert? Drew would’ve never made that mistake.
She caught that thought as soon as it rose, nipped it before it could take root. Drew wasn’t only too young; he wasn’t dominant enough to be able to handle her wolf, despite what he thought. And as she’d seen up close and personal, such an imbalanced relationship couldn’t work—the emotional devastation would destroy them both, obliterating what friendship remained. There might even come a time when he’d look at her with barely concealed hate.
Shoving aside the painful images evoked by those thoughts, she turned her attention very deliberately to Riaz. “Tell me more about what you did while you were away.”
The other lieutenant began to speak, his voice low, deep, smooth as caramel. As he spoke, she let herself truly look at him. His skin glowed a burnished brown in the light from the candles, his near black hair sparking with auburn highlights. The stunning blonde three tables over was giving him the eye when she thought Indigo wasn’t watching, while the two gorgeous black women one table to the right didn’t even try to hide their admiration.
Meeting Indigo’s gaze, they gave her a discreet thumbs-up. Indigo smiled back at the friendly appreciation, returning her focus to Riaz’s strong jawline, those beautifully shaped lips she’d once felt on her own. They’d been good as lovers, very good. But they’d parted as the best of friends. No broken hearts. No torn souls.
It made her wolf halt in its thoughts, consider.
Changeling wolves mated for life.