“I don’t recall using those words.”
Eyes of beaten gold met hers full-on for a single instant before she returned her gaze to the road, and he moved his hand to the back of her neck, massaging gently. It was a familiar and intimate touch. Unlike with Drew, her wolf allowed this one. Because Riaz had earned the wolf’s trust on that level, been given that right. He hadn’t simply tried to claim it the way Drew had—as if a few kisses gave him the prerogative to demand everything. Her hands clenched on the manual steering wheel.
“I’m not attached, Indigo,” Riaz said with a solemnity that struck her as somehow “wrong,” though she couldn’t put her finger on why. “So if you’re thinking you need someone with whom to work off the tension, I’m more than happy to oblige.”
Shoving away the memory of Drew’s kisses, the infuriating arrogance of his attempt to use her touch-hunger against her, she nodded slowly. “I’m thinking about it.”
It gutted Andrew, f**king eviscerated him, to see Indigo laughing with another man, a man who had no concept of the true value of the woman beside him. No, that was unfair. Riaz’s remarkable eyes sparked with intelligence, with respect, when he looked at Indigo. The male lieutenant understood exactly who she was.
Staying in his shadowed spot—in the back of the room where all the senior members of the pack had gathered to throw Riaz an impromptu welcome-home party—Andrew sucked on his beer and forced his attention off the couple on the other side—to something, anything, else.
He saw Hawke speaking with Elias and Yuki, glimpsed Sing-Liu playfully grabbing her mate’s ass, and—He blinked. Walker Lauren was here. That wasn’t a huge surprise, because though quiet, the Psy male had turned out to be a genius when it came to dealing with young hotheads, to the extent that Hawke had assigned him as the go-to man for the ten-to-thirteen-year-old crowd.
What held Andrew’s attention was the fact that Walker was standing very close to Lara, and from the expression on the healer’s fine-boned face, the way she was all but poking the much taller man in the chest, she was well and truly pissed. Walker’s own expression was more difficult to read, but—
Low female laughter. Intimate. Painfully familiar.
Clenching his jaw, he refused to turn, to watch.
“You look like you’ve been gut-punched.” Quiet words from a man who’d once been the shadow in the dark, the assassin you’d never see, never know about, until it was far too late.
Andrew glanced at his sister’s mate as Judd came to stand against the wall beside him. “I feel worse.”
Judd’s eyes were on the other side of the room—on the curious tableau presented by his older brother and Lara—but he spoke to Andrew. “Do you want me to leave you alone?”
And that was why—in spite of the fact that the other male dared get into bed with Andrew’s beloved sister on a regular basis—Andrew liked Judd. “No, but I need to get the f**k out of here.”
Judd didn’t say anything, just put down his own drink and melted away in the direction of the door. Andrew followed, leaving his unfinished beer on a table in the corner as he walked out, refusing to torture himself any further. It had always been bad, seeing her interact with other men in a way she simply didn’t interact with him, but never like this—because he knew just how dangerous Riaz was to his own goals.
His senses told him there was nothing sexual between Indigo and Riaz . . . now. That last word was the operative one. Because the way Riaz looked at Indigo, the way she looked at him—they were considering it on some level. And if Andrew wasn’t careful, proximity alone might push them into making a decision that would rip Andrew’s heart into a thousand pieces.
“This way.” Judd nodded at a corridor that led eventually to one of the less utilized exits. Leaving through it, they walked out past the White Zone—the area closest to the den, where their young were free to play—and into the more densely forested area beyond. Sandwiched between the heavily guarded perimeter and the equally well-guarded entrance to the White Zone, it provided a massive range for adult and juvenile wolves to run in, play in, and come to find solitude.
Silence was something Judd was good at, but after almost ten minutes of it, the Psy male glanced at Andrew. “If it was me,” he said, “I’d understand the need to walk alone. But you’re a social individual, one of the most popular people in SnowDancer.”
The unspoken question hung in the air between them.
Andrew hadn’t spoken of his attraction to Indigo to anyone, ever. Because though he loved his pack with every breath in him, he didn’t want them peering over his shoulder while he fought for his right to court her. “God, if Riley could see me now.” He’d hassled his brother endlessly about Mercy.
Judd continued to walk, his stride elegant even along the soaked earth. It was an explicable grace, given that the man most thought a telepath was actually also a viciously powerful telekinetic. Judd had already been in the pack for well over a year before any of them discovered that truth. So Andrew had no doubts about the fact the man could keep secrets—at least from the pack. “You’ll tell Brenna, won’t you?”
The Psy lieutenant turned and simply looked at him.
“Yeah.” Andrew blew out a breath. “Not like that’s a question.” Neither was it reason enough to keep his silence—his sister was loyal to the bone. She might mess with him in private, but she’d keep it close to her chest if he asked.