Just as well, he thought, teeth gritted. Putting his rope on the ground, he was coiling Lara’s when Hawke returned. “Jesus Christ, Drew,” his alpha muttered, gathering up the other abandoned gear. “I thought you were good with women.”
Andrew dumped the rope and turned on the other wolf. “I was right. She wasn’t using resources properly.”
Hawke didn’t growl back, simply raised an eyebrow. “That’s not what I said.”
Blowing out a breath, Andrew turned to stare out over the jagged mountainous vista. So f**king beautiful—and so incredibly lethal when the mood took it. The description, he thought, fit his lieutenant to a T. “Then what?”
“You’re telling me you’re still pissed at Indigo?”
Swiveling on his heel, he scowled at his alpha. “Of course I am.”
Hawke shook his head, sleek strands of silver-gold whipping across his face in a sudden wind. Pushing them back, he said, “Then maybe you need to go cool off so your brain can function.”
Andrew bent down and restarted coiling the second rope, his arms scratched and dirty. But he had no patience for the task. Throwing the whole lot onto the ground, he stood up again. “She was taking too long to come to a decision.”
“From what I can tell, it took her maybe fifteen seconds, and it’s her job to weigh up the risks and consider all options in any given situation,” Hawke said, continuing to stack the gear. “If she didn’t think with that kind of calm, you wouldn’t have headed out here with every piece of equipment you needed.”
Andrew stared at his alpha’s back, knowing he was missing something. “What aren’t you saying?”
Hawke shrugged. “You could’ve gotten exactly what you wanted with no problems if you’d gone about it the right way.”
“I’m not going to dance with her on things like this.” Everything else, but not this. “I’ve told her she needs to learn to treat me as what I am.”
“Yeah, because you’re doing such a good job of doing the same with her.” The sarcasm was a razor across his face.
“I—” He paused, felt a chill creep up his spine. “Shit, shit, shit!”
Hawke didn’t say a word until Andrew had gotten himself back under control.
“I overrode her in front of the others.” The reality of what he’d done slammed into him like a body blow. “I forced you to pull rank on her in front of subordinates.” And her pride, Jesus, her pride.
Hawke nodded, lines carved around his mouth. “You should’ve taken her aside, discussed your climbing skill and medical training. Hell, she acted reasonably even after you let your c**k control your brain.”
“But I kept pushing until she almost lost control.” Control was everything to Indigo, an essential part of how she saw herself. “Fuck.” Shoving his hands through his hair, he picked up one of the ropes Hawke had coiled, and put it over his arm as Hawke took the other.
“I’ll send Tai back for the rest of the stuff,” his alpha said as they began to walk. “She’s not going to forgive you easily for this. To be quite blunt, I don’t blame her. Anyone tried that with me, we’d be wiping up blood now.”
Andrew remembered how much it had hurt Indigo to witness her aunt’s poisonous relationship, knew exactly the courage it had taken for her to trust in this relationship with him. And still he’d f**ked up. “I blew it.” Maybe she’d been having trouble lowering her final barriers, but she’d taken a thousand small steps toward it. This mess was all on him.
Hawke snorted. “Forget about blowing it. You nuked it.”
Silvia safely in Lara’s hands—and thankfully stable—Indigo sat on the edge of her bed. Her hair was damp from her shower, her palms bearing the slightest of rope burns. But she didn’t feel any of that. All she felt was a crushing sense of humiliation . . . and hurt. Drew had pushed her, challenging her in front of less dominant members of the pack, until her wolf lashed out, going against every rule she lived by.
God, Hawke had rebuked her in public.
Red fire flamed across her cheeks, but while the embarrassment burned, it wasn’t as important in the scheme of things. Everyone lost their temper sometimes. Sing-Liu, Tai, Lara, hell, even Hawke, none of them would think less of her.
It was Drew who’d stabbed a knife right into her heart. It was one thing for them to tangle with each other in private, but . . . “Enough.” Picking up a comb, she began to run it through her hair. What was done was done. She’d apologize to Hawke for letting her temper get the better of her, pick up her duties, and carry on.
As for Drew . . . Her heart twisted. Professional, she told herself, she’d be professional. That was the only way to deal with this. Anything else and it would hurt too—
Her head snapped toward her door as she caught the whisper of a very familiar scent. The knock came several seconds later. For a moment, she debated answering it, but then her wolf raised its head in steely pride and nudged her on. Glancing down, she checked that the belt of her knee-length terry-cloth robe was secure and padded to the door.
“Yes?” she said to the man on the other side, having pasted an expression of professional disinterest on her face, though the hand hidden behind the folds of her robe was fisted so tight she was cutting half-moon circles in her palm.
Drew took one look at her and muttered something harsh under his breath. “What do I do?”
He looked so lost, so vulnerable that she blinked, taken aback, but only for an instant. “There’s nothing to do. Hawke sorted us out on-site—and for what it’s worth, I apologize for bringing my temper into the situation.” The words were sincere, though her heart was a cold rock in her chest. “That was neither the time nor the place.”