As they shot out from around her like streaks of lightning, she followed on human feet. She could easily see—and scent—where Drew had gone, but the kids were moving slower, having seldom had the chance to work with someone of his skill. It made Indigo wonder if she could track him if he didn’t want to be tracked.
Her wolf didn’t like that thought—she was used to being able to run down anyone she chose except Hawke. Their alpha was all kinds of cunning when he didn’t want to be found, but Drew was their tracker, born with an almost preternatural ability to zero in on rogue wolves. Lines marred her forehead as a new thought intruded. Was it possible Drew could locate Hawke even when their alpha preferred to be lost?
Catching a whiff of iron in the air, she changed direction to make sure no one had been injured. She found Silvia—a sharp branch had whipped across her muzzle. The girl was gone before Indigo could tell her that the damage was superficial. Indigo’s wolf approved.
Burying the branch to ensure it wouldn’t inadvertently lead the others this way, she carried on keeping watch over the hunters. True dark was hovering on the horizon when she heard a victorious howl on the cool evening wind.
Nothing like wanting to impress a girl—in this case, Silvia—to nudge a male wolf into gear. Lifting her head, she joined in as the others in the group began to howl in response to Brace’s triumph. The sound was . . . It touched the soul, the music haunting, starkly pure and yet so very earthy.
Home. Pack. Family.
Aware that Drew would herd everyone to camp, she lowered her head on the fading echo of the last note and jogged back herself—to find that Silvia had beaten her there. The girl’s bruise looked worse in human form, but the maternal female wasn’t worried. “I found something,” she said with an almost puppyish eagerness. “Look.” A round metal ball lay in the palm of her hand. It was rusted, and had clearly come off the worse against rocks, but was recognizable as a man-made object.
Indigo frowned. “Where did you find this?” SnowDancer was very strict about garbage. Nothing, but nothing, was allowed to pollute their lands.
Silvia described a location about a five-minute run east from where Indigo had last seen her. “It was stuck between two rocks on the edge of the stream. I think it must’ve been washed down.”
That was Indigo’s thought, too, and, given the network of tributaries that ran down through the mountains, it meant there was no way to trace the object’s origin. “I don’t think even Brenna will be able to figure out what this was meant to be.” Because while she could see the remnants of a few wires inside, the metal orb was mostly hollow.
Silvia’s face fell. Reaching out, Indigo squeezed the girl’s rounded shoulder. “But you did good bringing it to me. Even if it is simply trash, we need to track down the guilty party and tell them to keep their junk off our land.”
The others began to trickle in then, and she turned to put the sphere in the tent. Drew nudged his way inside while she was still packing it away. Shifting in a shower of sparks, he tugged at the clasps of his pack. “I’m going to go take a dip in the stream.”
Indigo realized she was staring at the muscled slope of his back, her fingers uncurling as if in readiness to stroke. “Sure.” Coloring at her own rudeness, she backed out of the tent. Thank God Drew had been too intent on pulling out a change of clothes to notice.
Two hours after the completion of the chase, and an hour after dinner, with their charges having collapsed in their tents, Andrew lay on top of his sleeping bag. He and Indigo had pinned up the flaps of their tent and placed their sleeping bags side by side facing outward. The position would allow them to drink in the night sky and keep watch at the same time.
Now, he waited for Indigo with taut anticipation in his gut.
Alone, they’d finally be alone—and within touching distance.
Indigo had gone down to the stream to bathe, and his wolf itched to prowl after her. She had the most beautiful body—all toned muscle and dangerous curves. He wanted to have the right to stroke those curves as he pleased, as pleased her. He wanted to have the right to watch her as she bathed, to caress her while she was sleek and wet. He just wanted.
Sucking in a breath as his c**k hardened in response to his thoughts, he clenched the hands propped under his head, his gaze skyward. But no matter his teeth-gritting concentration, his body was still under no kind of control when he scented Indigo returning from her bath, all damp and fresh and lushly female. Damn. If she caught even a hint of his arousal, she’d put up that barrier of icy control between them before he could so much as blink.
It’d be almost impossible to get her to lower it a second time.
He flowed to his feet outside the tent, waiting only until she’d caught sight of him before hitching his thumb toward the forest, as if he was going to answer the call of nature. He faded into the solid bulk of the firs before she could do more than nod.
And then he ran.
Lying between the unzipped halves of her sleeping bag—to ensure a fast exit should she need to move—Indigo finally gave up waiting for Drew and closed her eyes in the shallow sleep she’d learned to utilize in her first year on the watch rotation. Drew, she thought with an exasperated smile, had probably been seduced by the cold, clear night into going for a run.
Her wolf pouted, if a wolf could be said to pout. She’d wanted to go running as well, but had forced herself to come back to the campsite . . . though it hadn’t really taken much force, not when she knew Drew was waiting for her. Frowning, she shifted, uncomfortable with the direction of her thoughts, with the low hum of heat in her abdomen.