A glimpse of color, woman and wolf both stilling in wonder.
“Look up,” she said to Drew, “very, very slowly.”
When he obeyed, she said, “To your left a little. Do you see it?”
A long, slow exhale was her answer. “Beautiful.”
The blue-gray bird sat proud and imperious on a snow-dusted branch, its claws providing a firm grip. “Northern goshawk?”
Drew hummed in agreement. “Has the eyebrow stripe, tail looks to be the right size—would love to see that beauty fly through the trees.”
As they watched, the bird angled its head to tell her and Drew it saw them, but that they were beneath its notice. Laughing softly, she was startled when Drew brought their clasped hands to his mouth, dropped a kiss on her knuckles.
It was an affectionate act, a possessive one, too. Her wolf considered it alongside all else she’d gleaned about his nature. “Don’t think I’m not noticing all your ‘mine’ gestures,” she said to see what he’d do.
His lips were on hers an instant later, his free hand cupping her cheek as he made a thorough exploration of her mouth. “That was one, too.”
Her lips twitched. Jerking up a hand before he could avoid it, she slashed a very careful line on his cheekbone. His wolf flared in his eyes in a blaze of wild copper before the human smiled, touched the small hurt. “It’ll heal before we return to the den.” A complaint.
“No, it won’t.” She almost couldn’t believe she’d done that, marked him so openly—there’d be no end of ribbing from her packmates now. “And if it does, I’m sure all the claw marks on your back will do the job.” Predatory changeling men were terrible exhibitionists when it came to flaunting their claim over a woman.
Satisfied by that, Drew moved back and they continued on their trek. “Look,” he murmured almost half an hour later, pointing out a delicate white blossom where it peeked out from between two rocks.
She was about to draw his attention to a fossilized shell in one of the slabs of rock when he froze to predator stillness. Indigo went quiet with him, tilting up her chin in a silent question mark.
Eyes gone wolf-copper crashed into hers as he mouthed, “Psy.”
Indigo let her own wolf rise to the surface, her senses expanding. A moment later, she caught it, the faintest whisper of scent, borne to them on cool mountain air currents. Touching Drew’s hip, she caught his attention and tugged on the straps of her pack.
He nodded, and they helped each other remove their packs in silence. Stowing them in the hiding spot created by the gnarled roots of an ancient tree, they stripped; their wolves would be quieter, the pads of their feet made for the snow and leaf-strewn terrain of the rocky ground.
Her eye caught by the flexing muscle of Drew’s back as he pulled off his clothing, she gave herself a fleeting second to drink in the sight. He was her lover, she thought, her claws beginning to slide out of her skin as she gave in to the shift—she had the right to watch him. And if there was a little possessiveness mixed in with her visual stroking . . . well, he’d chosen her. Now he’d have to deal.
It was her last thought before the shift took over.
Bone-deep pleasure spliced with electric pain as her body turned into a thousand sparks of light before re-forming into a new shape that was lower to the ground, the wolf’s sense of smell so clear, so crisp, she could almost see the signs of the Psy trespassers as glittering metallic strands in the air.
Coming to her feet, she found that Drew, too, had completed his shift. He was bigger than her, but no less graceful, his ears pricked to catch the slightest sound. Nudging at her with his shoulder, he began to pad toward their prey. They went at a light trot until they were almost on top of the scent, and then, without speaking, they split to circle around the target.
Indigo crept up to the spot on her belly, not wanting to alert the Psy male at the center of the small clearing. She glimpsed Drew’s silver fur appear between the dark trunks on the other side, but knew their target had no idea he’d been flanked. He was intent on whatever it was he was doing to the earth at his feet.
As she watched, he dusted off his hands and rose—as if he was waiting.
Given that SnowDancer security would’ve detected any unauthorized airborne or ground vehicle, that could only mean he’d telepathed for a telekinetic pickup. They had maybe a second or two to take this man down before the Tk arrived . . . but Indigo decided against it.
A little worm of worry wriggled into her mind as she wondered if Drew would follow her lead or go in himself. In any other operation, that wouldn’t have been a question—as the most senior member of the pack in the area, she had automatic authority. But men—even the most intelligent—sometimes had a way of seeing things differently after they slept with a woman.
Even as the thought passed through her head, the Tk appeared in the circle. Thirty seconds after that, both Psy were gone, that grating metallic scent the only sign of their recent presence.
Thirty seconds. She made a mental note to check with Judd, but to her, that indicated the Tk had been one of the less powerful ones. Judd himself only needed to concentrate for a couple of seconds before teleporting, while he’d told her that the most powerful took literally no time at all.
Waiting a full ten minutes to ensure the Psy didn’t intend to return, Indigo glided out of her hiding spot as Drew appeared out of his. He stayed in wolf form as she shifted; he’d be more lethal that way should the Psy reappear without warning. Releasing her claws, Indigo began to scrape away the dirt on top of whatever it was the Psy operative had buried. Her hand touched metal about thirty centimeters down.