“You have no idea.” He watched as she fed through the second, cross-supporting strut. “Riley was already all manly, and I couldn’t even see over the tops of my shoes.” A mournful expression.
Laughing, she finished her task and opened the flaps so he could throw their packs inside. “Ah, well, we both grew into our bodies.”
“In my case, I grew out of it,” Drew corrected. “Shot up like a pine tree the summer between my fourteenth and fifteenth year. Unfortunately, I continued to lack any manliness whatsoever.”
Reaching out, Indigo squeezed his upper arm, the skin of her fingertips a little rough from all the work she did combat training their young dominants. “Well, you bloomed nicely.”
It took every ounce of control Andrew had to keep his tone light when all he wanted to do was to strip himself na**d and have her stroke those capable hands over every straining inch of his body. Thank God his T-shirt covered the hard ridge of his c**k as he took a seat beside her, his arms braced loosely on raised knees. “Thanks,” he said when she looked to him for a response. “That’s what Meadow Sanderson said when she divested me of my virginity.”
“Meadow . . . hmm I don’t remember her.”
“Human,” he said, recalling the lushly sensual girl who’d tied him up in knots over the course of a long, hazy summer. “She dumped me for the quarterback after she’d played my body like a banjo. So sad.”
“I’m serious. I was heartbroken.”
“For how long?”
“A whole week.” An eternity in the life of a teenage boy. “Then I realized other girls had noticed my new manliness, too, and the rest, as they say, is history.” Adoring girls had never been hard for him. He liked the way they smelled, the way their bodies curved, the way they laughed. But that blissful year, for the first time in his life, those girls had adored him back. “What about you?”
“I was the hunter, not the hunted,” she said with a slow smile of remembrance. “I finally grew some br**sts in my second-to-last year of high school—and decided I’d waited long enough, thank you very much.”
He could see her in his mind—a tall, lusciously curved girl who’d made his head spin. It had been a general admiration at that stage—he’d thought she was hot, no doubt about it, but he’d been more focused on getting girls his own age to pay attention to him. “Who was the lucky guy?” Jealousy dug sharp little claws into his gut, but he shut that door tight almost before it opened.
Changelings were sensual creatures—touch was the cornerstone of how they related to each other. He would have never wished for Indigo to have spent her adult life without intimacy; it would’ve hurt her on the deepest level. But that was then. If she went to bed with another man now . . .
Andrew’s wolf saw red.
“An Ecuadoran exchange student named Dominic.” Indigo’s voice cut through the haze, pulling him back into the present. “Dark, handsome, and with that accent—and the boy did know what he was doing.” A laugh . . . but that husky tone was just a fraction “off.” “Though I remember him scrambling backward when my claws sliced out.”
Attuned to every tiny aspect of her, he paid close attention. “Was he human, too?”
“Changeling, and dominant, but I don’t think he’d ever been with a female who was as dominant.” A pause. “I don’t think the experience made him want to repeat it.”
“Stupid boy,” Andrew said, too angry to be anything but blunt. “I hope you found someone with more balls for your next time.”
Indigo’s laugh was startled. “So to speak.” Tension leaching from her expression, she nudged him with her shoulder. “Time for you to do your thing, hotshot. Make the tracks hard, but not impossible. It’s all about building up their confidence.”
“Yes ma’am.” Getting up, he pulled off his sweatshirt and tee at the same time, throwing them inside the tent.
“Hey,” Indigo said, looking up with a scowl, “I got the feeling you wanted to help the boys with their romantic interests.”
Andrew followed her gaze . . . to see several pairs of female eyes on him. Teenage female eyes. “Shit.” Ducking inside the tent, he finished stripping and shifted, hoping like hell his wolf would listen to reason when it came to the woman who put her hand on his ruff and whispered in his ear as soon as he stepped outside.
Quivering inside with the urge to tumble her to the earth until she shifted, until she laughed and gave chase, he closed his teeth around her free hand. A gentle bite. “Okay,” she said with a smile that almost shattered the wolf’s control, “no tricks they can’t handle. Go.”
Drew’s fur slid out from under Indigo’s palm, the muscled weight of him fluid as he disappeared into the forest. She watched for him, but he was gone, a whisper in the early evening shadows. Turning back around to face her charges, she curled her fingers into her palm, disturbingly aware of how he’d felt, the heat and wild beauty of him.
“Simple rules,” she told the teenagers once they’d shifted. “First one to find Drew wins. You can work in pairs, or you can go solo, but you have to decide now.” She gave them a couple of minutes to make up their minds before continuing. “No booby traps, no blood. This is about tracking.” Glancing around to make sure they all understood, she raised her arm, then dropped it in a sharp downward strike. “Go!”