“People talk to me.” Easy words, but there was an edge to them, his wolf baring its teeth in response to her aggressive tone. “It’s not just the den kids,” he continued. “There are a few out in the wider territory who are struggling in various ways.”
“Get them up here by the weekend,” Hawke said, pale eyes dangerously intent.
Indigo wondered what he saw, but she didn’t ask. Because she wasn’t sure she wanted to know. Drew had changed the status quo last night, changed it in a way that left only confusion and a restless fury in its wake. It wasn’t a feeling she appreciated. “What’re you planning?” she asked Hawke, determined to find her balance again. Other wolves might enjoy chaos, but Indigo, wolf and woman both, preferred order. Hierarchy was the solid core of that order. No wolf pack as strong as SnowDancer could survive without it.
Now Hawke, the man at the top of that chain of command, said, “I want you two to take the affected juveniles up into the mountains for a couple of days, give them some intense one-on-one attention, find out if there are more serious issues below the surface that we need to be handling.” He pushed across a piece of paper. “These are the names Drew gave me last time. Add any others you think might benefit. If we have too many, we can split them into two groups.”
Indigo’s wolf saw the sense in what he was suggesting—bonding was at the heart of a healthy pack. And at present, things were relaxed enough that they could take time out to nurture those in danger of faltering. But the idea of spending that much time alone with the young male sitting to her left rubbed her fur the wrong way. Before last night, she’d have gone with him without a blink, trusting him to do what was necessary—and not act the ass.
However, below all that—the frustrated anger, the inability to understand why he’d done what he had—she was still a SnowDancer lieutenant. “They’ll want to see you, too,” she said to Hawke.
“I’m clearing the decks so I can join you for at least one of the days.” His facial muscles tensed without warning.
A second later, Indigo caught a familiar scent on the air currents. Not long after that, a pretty girl with brown eyes, her hair tamed into a long braid, poked her head around the corner. “Oh, I’ll come ba—” she began at seeing the three of them.
“No. We’re just finishing up.” Drew rose to his feet with a muscular grace Indigo had always known about, having sparred with him more than once. They’d also done any number of climbs together, both of them enjoying the thrill that came with pitting themselves against the peaks of the Sierra Nevada. But she’d never truly seen that grace until this moment.
The sudden awareness of him as a male, and not only that, but as a strong, handsome male, unsettled what balance she’d managed to regain. For the first time, she found herself seriously worried that things would never return to the way they’d once been—that their friendship had died in his room last night. The thought shook her enough that she had to make a conscious effort to catch Drew’s next words.
“We’ll finalize the list today,” he said to Hawke. “We can decide the details, time of departure, et cetera, once we’ve contacted everyone. That work, Indy?”
Her concern was swept away under a surge of annoyance as she wondered if the damn copper-eyed wolf thought he could smooth things over with so little effort. “Fine. You take care of contacting the out-of-towners; I’ll do the juveniles in the den.”
Andrew nodded and headed toward the door, sentient to the rising tension level in the room—and it wasn’t all his and Indigo’s fault. Sienna gave him a small smile as he came close to where she waited in the doorway. Even after all these months, it was strange to see her with those eyes and that brown hair that was nothing close to her spectacular true shade. But no matter the shell she’d had to don to allow her to move safely in the outside world, her personality shone through. Quiet, determined . . . and with a little bit of hellion thrown in for spice.
Leaning down, he cupped her jaw in his hand and kissed her on the cheek. “How are you doing, little sister?” The question wasn’t a simple courtesy. She’d been in trouble, her psychic abilities starting to spiral out of control before she’d moved away from the den to spend time in the care of the DarkRiver leopards.
“That’s all I get after I sent you a whole box of premium chocolate-cherry cookies?” he said, feigning extreme disappointment. “Just ‘good’?”
Furrows appeared between her brows, dark little lines that marred the beauty of her sun-dipped skin. “Drew.”
But when he grinned and took her into his arms, she not only allowed the affection, she slid her own arms around him. It had taken him months of patient care to get her to trust him with her body in that way. “Is that leopard boy . . . what’s his name”—Andrew pretended to think—“that’s right, Kit. Is Kit treating you right?” He murmured the question at a volume Hawke was certain to overhear, knowing full well he was throwing the cat among the pigeons.
“Drew.” Sienna pulled back, fisting a hand on his chest. Her eyes sparked fire at him, and for an instant he could almost see through the dark brown of her contact lenses and to the night-sky eyes beyond. White stars on a spread of black velvet, it was said that the eyes of a cardinal Psy reflected the stark, sprawling beauty of the PsyNet.
Leaning down, he kissed her other cheek and—dropping his voice low enough that it would skate under even his alpha’s acute hearing—said, “Give him hell, sweetheart. Then come tell me about it.” Ruffling her hair, he finally let her pass and exited the office.