Lucas growled at the wolf alpha’s name.
Laughing, Sascha continued. “According to Hawke, her purpose in life is going to be to make Lucas insane. He’s already bought Lucas a woolen hat—for when he tears his hair out,” she explained at Dorian’s confused look.
Lucas felt his lips tug upward at her gentle teasing. “You know what I can’t wait for? That wolf to get his comeuppance. I’m going to throw a party when he gets mated—then take a front-row seat while his mate makes mincemeat out of him.”
Sascha’s expression softened, and Lucas could guess the direction of her thoughts. Accepted knowledge said the wolf alpha would never mate, but things had shifted in the past year. It was beginning to look as if there might be a chance for the SnowDancer. And no matter how much they antagonized each other, Lucas would never wish anything but good luck to the other male on this one point. Because when it came to mating . . .
His eyes met those of the cardinal Psy who was his mate, his heartbeat. “Stop flirting with Dorian and come over here.”
Taking his hand, she moved to fit herself against his side. “I wouldn’t dare flirt with Dorian. Ashaya would turn me into chopped liver.”
Dorian gave a smug grin. “My mate thinks I’m the most gorgeous leopard she ever saw.”
“Show us the footage before your head explodes,” Lucas muttered, but his own cat was grinning to see Dorian so happy. The sentinel had been latent most of his life, unable to shift into leopard form. Now that he could, he did so at every opportunity. “Have you managed to catch a rabbit yet?”
A single eloquent finger. “Fuck you.”
Lucas snickered. “What about trying for a turtle?”
Dorian lunged out of the chair and went for Lucas’s throat.
Laughing, Sascha watched the two men fall to the floor. Neither had released claws, and it was obvious they weren’t doing anything much more than wrestling. Men, she thought with a fond shake of her head, turning to take Dorian’s chair.
Oooh, that felt so much better.
Though her energy levels had increased over the past week or two, her ankles were persisting in their attempts to turn into miniature logs. A little bump in her stomach, a reminder that it was all worth it. Yes, she thought to her child, you’re worth everything.
A sense of happiness, warmth, belonging.
She stroked her hand over her belly, keeping one eye on the two boys still rolling around on the floor. You’re incredibly loved, my sweet baby. The entire pack was waiting for the birth, as they did for every birth in DarkRiver. Each child was treasured, celebrated.
None would ever be rejected as flawed.
Smiling, she tapped the screen to bring up the correct files. Dorian hadn’t actually listened in on her conversation with Marsha—instead, he’d monitored the tone of her voice with one of his gadgets, ready to break down the door the instant it indicated distress. However, he’d also kept an ear on what went on in the corridor, recording it as a matter of course.
Something thumped behind her as she opened the file. “Dorian?” she said. “Is this audio only?”
“What—umfh!” Another thump. “Yeah. Haven’t had a chance to—”
A loud crash.
Trying to keep a stern face, she turned. “If you mess up this lab, I’ll rat you out to Ria.” Lucas’s administrative assistant had ordered all the hard-to-find equipment Dorian had specified, helped put the place in order to the last rivet and bolt.
Lucas lifted up his face, his hair messy and so gorgeous, she wanted to tumble him to the floor herself. “Aw, come on.”
“Yeah,” Dorian muttered, pushing himself up into a sitting position, his T-shirt rucked up to bare part of his muscled abdomen. “That’s just mean, siccing Ria on us.”
“She’s five feet and zero inches,” Sascha said, noting that between them, Lucas and Dorian probably outweighed and out-muscled Ria four times over. “Why are you all so scared of her?”
“You don’t know ’cause she likes you.” Getting up, Lucas held his hand down to Dorian, who took it and bounced up to his feet.
Neither looked anything but a little rumpled. Cute, she thought, they looked cute. And they’d snarl if she even dared utter the word. “I’d like to listen to this audio now.” Her joy dimmed. “Someone’s trying to hurt my mother.”
Lucas squeezed the back of her neck in silent reassurance, his love a protective shield around her. When Dorian queried her words, Lucas gave him a short précis of events—the sentinel touched his fingers to her cheek before turning to fix something in the audio file. “I was monitoring the live feed the whole time and heard nothing suspicious, but I was only listening out for threats to Sascha. Here we go.”
There was a whole lot of nothing, and more nothing on the tape.
“New plan,” Dorian said after several minutes, “I’m going to skip to any incidents where the noise level went over the baseline.”
There were several noises that made the computer stop, people coming and going. Then, a bare few minutes before Sascha left Marsha’s apartment, the sound of footsteps, a knock, a door being opened.
“I see you received my message,” said a male voice, with a slight French accent. “Come in. The papers are sitting on the coffee table where you left them earlier today.”
“Ah, f**k,” Lucas muttered, thrusting a hand through already tousled hair. “If that’s what I think it is, Max is going to be pissed.”