“No way to know how far they’re spread out,” Indigo reported to Hawke that night. “It’s going to take a long time to sweep the entire compromised section—and while it remains a low-probability target, we should check the snowpack areas, too. I’ve already rejigged our schedules, but we’re going to continue to need the cats’ help.”
White lines bracketed her alpha’s mouth, but his words were calm. “I’ll talk to Lucas.” He met her gaze. “They were watching our sentries, learning our patterns.”
That was Indigo’s take as well. “Judd’s intel was on the money. No one goes to this much trouble unless they’re planning to launch a major offensive.” Though, she’d been thinking . . . “If I were a Councilor who wanted to take SnowDancer, I’d go after you first.” The pack had one weakness and perhaps, just perhaps, Henry Scott had figured it out.
Hawke’s eyes were chips of ice by now. “Riley, you, or Cooper could step into the breach.”
“Yes, but we’d be constantly challenged. It would take us months to fend off the challengers, and it’d leave the pack in disarray.” No one challenged Hawke because he’d proven himself, been bathed in blood for the pack.
“Even if I am a target,” he said, “this kind of planning goes beyond that.”
“Yes. They undeniably want what we hold.”
“They’ll have to kill every last SnowDancer to get it.”
Exhausted by the events of the day, Indigo should’ve gone to her room and crashed in readiness for the next day’s exertions. But Drew was waiting for her when she turned the corner, his eyes solemn but his words light. “Massage and a slice of white chocolate gâteau with fresh cherries?”
Which was how she found herself na**d in his bed not much later.
Head on his chest, she stroked him as they spoke. “I don’t want the pack to go through what we did all those years ago,” she murmured. “I can’t forget the blood, the loss.”
Drew ran his hand down her back. “I was younger, but I remember parts of it. My parents were lost in the first wave of trouble, only a couple of years earlier.”
Hugging him tight, she took a moment to appreciate just how very good it felt to lie with him, to discuss their day. She couldn’t imagine being this comfortable with anyone else. “Drew?”
“Thank you for getting the cats.” For following her orders no matter the possessive drive that had to be pushing him close to insanity these days.
“That’s okay.” He rubbed the back of her neck. “I’ve decided to kill Riaz later, when you’re not watching.”
Sitting up, she looked into his eyes. “I want you to know something.”
“So serious.” He brushed strands of hair off her face. “Tell me.”
“If I am ever talking out of my ass, I fully expect you to call me on it.”
“Don’t worry about that, Lieutenant.” He tapped her bottom. “I’ll never let things slide.” A more sober look. “But any arguing we do on pack issues won’t be in front of others.”
She knew that would be hard on him, predatory changeling male that he was. But the past weeks had shown her the staggering depth of his will. He’d bite his tongue until it bled, but he would never again diminish her in public—and would certainly never fail to back her up when she needed it, like Martin so often did with Adria.
And that, she decided with absolute finality, would be the last time she ever compared her man to her aunt’s. Because Drew was a thousand times the man, the wolf, that Martin was. “I thought there was cake,” she said, tracing his lip with her fingertip.
He nipped at her. “I would never lie to you about cake.”
Nibbling at that pretty mouth, she said, “Yeah?”
He groaned. “In the cooler. But—”
Laughing, she pushed off him. “Let me replenish my energy first. You boy toys are exhausting.”
“Toys?” he growled.
She winked at him as she jumped off the bed. “I, of course, am only interested in my own personal boy toy.”
“That’s better,” he said, stealing a kiss as he got out, too, and walked—gloriously nude—to the cooler.
“Have you no shame?” She tried her best to sound scandalized, difficult when the only thing she wanted to do was lick him all over.
Not as ready to eat naked, she went to Drew’s dresser to pull out a T-shirt. “Since somebody tore mine.” Her glare had no effect on the gorgeous man who was currently chugging down milk straight from the carton.
Wiping his mouth, he put down the milk and crooked a finger. “Come ’ere.”
“I don’t know that I—” Hand on a T-shirt, she frowned. “What’s this?”
Drew was suddenly beside her, trying to shut the drawer. “Don’t worry about it. It’s just—”
But she’d already pulled out the raggedy soft toy. It was a bear, probably once a plush brown but now sadly bedraggled, most of its fur gone, one eye missing, and the ears nibbled half-off. Definitely in rough shape, but not uncared for, she realized, noticing the neat stitches that had mended the tears.
Aware Drew had gone silent beside her, she glanced up. And for the first time in her life, she saw a mask on Drew’s face. It hit her like a punch to the gut.
“I’m sorry,” she said, certain she’d hurt him in some terrible way. “I didn’t mean to—”