“We’re stronger than we were before.” They rarely spoke of the dark years when Hawke had been only a child, but those years had shaped so much of what SnowDancer was today. “And we’re no longer alone.”
Hawke didn’t say anything.
Her energy levels back to full strength after the snack, she walked over to pat him affectionately on the cheek. “You and Riley, no wonder you’re best buds. You both hold things too tight, too close.”
He didn’t shake off her touch, their friendship old enough, deep enough, that such skin privileges were an accepted part of their relationship. “Look who’s talking,” he pointed out, tapping her on the nose.
Shrugging, she dropped her hand but didn’t move away. “Takes one to know one.”
“You going to tell me what’s happening between you and Drew?”
“No.” It was too new, too private, to expose to the light of day.
Hawke raised an eyebrow. “Word of advice—Drew and Riley are more similar than people realize.”
Indigo thought of the way Drew pushed at her, the way he tried to steamroll in his own charming fashion. “You could’ve warned me earlier.” It was a disgruntled statement.
“And miss all the fun?” A tug at a curling strand of her hair. “Now why would I do that?”
Scowling, she comforted herself with the thought that his time would come. Boy, would it come. “I better go put on some proper clothes for the drive.” Borrowing a pair of his sweats—way too large for her frame—for the short walk to her quarters, she quickly shimmied into jeans and a longsleeved sweatshirt for the drive back.
Even with that detour, she was the first person at the vehicle, Dorian and Brenna having stopped to assess and grab the necessary gear from SnowDancer’s tech lab. After placing the cases in the back, Dorian took the front passenger seat while Brenna ducked into the back where she could fiddle with one of the scanners.
“Older model,” she muttered. “It switched on okay, but I want to check that it’s fully functional. Haven’t had cause to use it for a while.”
The drive passed by in a flow of technical dialogue between Dorian and Brenna, and they were soon stepping out for the final part of the journey—with only the essential gear. “Bren,” Indigo said, picking up the sandwich she’d made from the dash, “can you stow this in your bag?”
Leading them to where she and Drew had left their packs, she stopped just long enough to pick out a sky blue T-shirt and jeans. Going commando, she thought with a hint of amusement, wouldn’t be a problem for Drew. He was the least self-conscious male she knew, and that was saying something in a pack of wolves. “Alright. Let’s go.”
When they arrived, Drew padded out of the trees to greet them—it was clear from his relaxed state that the Psy hadn’t returned.
Her wolf wanted to nuzzle at him, but she kept her tone professional. “Clothes,” she said, placing them behind a tree.
As she returned to join the others, Drew brushed past her close enough that her fingertips stroked over his fur. Fighting the urge to follow him, to stroke him a little more, she came down on her haunches beside Bren and Dorian. “Any idea what it might be?”
Brenna tapped something on the little computer connected wirelessly to a device Dorian was running over the ground. “Nothing unusual about the metallic compound,” she muttered. “Device is computronic without a doubt, and functional.”
“It has to have a power source,” Dorian said, putting down the scanner. “Battery of some kind.”
Brenna brushed her bangs out of her eyes. “Time to dig, I think.”
Indigo helped, and it took only a minute to unearth the metal ball. Instead of lifting it out, Brenna and Dorian put their heads together and muttered more technospeak. Having felt Drew come to stand at her shoulder, Indigo retrieved the sandwich from Brenna’s bag and got to her feet. “Eat,” she said, knowing he wouldn’t have left the device unattended in order to hunt.
He ran his knuckles over her cheek. “Thanks.”
As he took a big bite, she realized she’d forgotten to pick up his drink bottle. “Is there water nearby?”
“Yep, but it’ll be faster to run down to the packs.” He’d already demolished half the sandwich. “Be back soon.”
Aware Brenna and Dorian had matters in hand, she walked to the edges of the clearing after Drew left and began to do a detailed quadrant-by-quadrant search, just in case the Psy had left something else behind. Nothing in the immediate area. And more nothing in a radius of several meters from the site of the device. She was about to turn back when she caught Drew’s scent on the breeze.
He found her a few seconds later. “Hey, Lieutenant.” His mouth was on hers before she could do more than part her lips to respond.
She should’ve been used to the way he had of doing that, but she staggered back a little, gripping at his waist to keep herself upright. Not that it was necessary; his arms were already locked tight around her, his mouth exploring hers with a lazy sensuality that made her want to purr like a damn cat.
“This,” she said on a breath, “is hardly the time.”
Another kiss, one big hand moving down to shape her bu**ocks. “I’m behaving,” he told her, all innocence. “I didn’t do it in front of Dorian and Bren, did I?”
Her wolf laughing, she wiggled her arms out from around him and reached up to cup his face. Then she kissed the hell out of Andrew Liam Kincaid.