Indigo rolled her eyes. “When was the last time you lost an argument?”
He pretended to think about it. Then, leaning down, he whispered in her ear, “A few hours ago when you refused to stop the car and crawl into the backseat with me.”
Not long afterward, Andrew stared at his alpha as they stood looking down over a beautiful green valley. “Huh.”
Hawke raised an eyebrow. “Not quite the reaction I was hoping for.”
“Just a little unexpected, that’s all.” He took a moment to think about the proposal. “Why me?”
“Adam likes you,” Hawke said, naming the leader of the WindHaven falcons as he leaned against a large fir, his hair almost pure silver in this light. But it wasn’t a silver that shouted of age—no, it was the silver of precious metals, unique and startling. Especially given the other man’s wolf-pale eyes. “You okay with taking it on?”
Looking away from his alpha, Andrew paced to the edge of the cliff. “Sure. I mean, I’ve got no problem acting as liaison with the falcons, but won’t Adam be talking to you directly on most matters?”
“The big things, yes,” Hawke said. “But, as with DarkRiver, there are going to be matters that don’t need an alpha’s attention, but do need to be looked at by someone senior.”
Andrew nodded. As alpha, Hawke had a thousand things on his plate. Delegation of some responsibility was key not only to his own sanity, but to ensuring the health of his pack; that many strong wolves with nothing to do would be a recipe for disaster. “Why not ask one of the lieutenants?”
“They’ve all got heavy responsibilities already . . . and we both know you could be a lieutenant if you wanted to be.”
Andrew shook his head. “I couldn’t do what I do if I was.” He needed to be seen as approachable by even their weakest and least confident, not someone who was automatically identified as part of the pack’s power structure.
“It would make your relationship with Indigo easier,” Hawke said, and Andrew knew it was a question.
“No, it wouldn’t. The basic issues would remain.” His age, the fact of her higher dominance. “Out of curiosity—when did I hit your radar as a possible lieutenant?”
“I always knew you had it in you,” Hawke said, surprising him. “That’s why I originally had you stationed as the sector leader in San Diego, and you more than delivered. Your work over the past ten months has only been the icing on the cake. But I’m ruthless when it comes to the pack. You were useful to me exactly where you were.”
“You, ruthless?” Andrew put a hand on his chest, feigning a heart attack.
Hawke’s grin was sharp. “Adam says the liaison on their side will be Jacques.”
“I met him. He’s okay.” A little quiet, but after growing up with Riley, Andrew could deal with that fine. You just had to poke at the quiet ones until they spoke up. “Who’re the cats using as their liaison?” Because Andrew would have to work with him or her.
“Nathan,” Hawke said, naming the most senior of DarkRiver’s sentinels.
“We should probably set up a meeting to nut out some basics.” Pushing his hands into the pockets of his jeans, he rocked back on his heels. “I’ll try and hook us all up for a quick comm-conference when I get back to the den.”
Hawke nodded and pushed off the tree. “I’m going to run up to the northern edge, see how things are going.”
“Any further indications of Psy interference?”
“No. And the techs have found no other buried objects of any kind.” Deep grooves appeared on either side of Hawke’s mouth. “But Judd called with some information last night. He’s heard whispers that suggest Henry Scott wanted—still wants—our land to use as a staging post for an armed take-over of the entire city.”
“Wouldn’t they be too far, physically speaking?” Andrew asked.
“Yes, but evidence indicates they have several teleport-capable telekinetics in their group.”
Andrew thought about it. “Yeah, that could have worked.” SnowDancer land was remote enough that any invading army wouldn’t be immediately noted from the city. “Especially if they’re considering surgical strikes, rather than a full assault.”
“You really need to start sitting in on the lieutenant meetings,” Hawke said. “Since intel is your job.”
Andrew nodded. When he’d first taken on this position, it had only been about keeping a finger on the pulse of the pack, but the network he’d constructed now meant information of all kinds flowed through to him. “I’ll have Indy give me a heads-up before the next one.”
“Good.” Hawke reached down to pet a wild wolf that appeared out of the trees. “Judd found something else, too—looks like Pure Psy has commandeered a remote mountain village to use as its gathering place for arms and supplies, and as a training ground.”
“What’s he recommend?”
“Leaving the operation in place. He says he can keep an eye on them—and it’s better to know where the vipers are hiding.” Hawke’s face was without mercy when he looked up. “That way, we can hit them hard if the Scotts do move to strike against the city, disabling a large part of their strength at a critical time.”
Dismissing the group of her people that she’d brought outside for a meeting on how best to cover—in the long term—the wider patrol area necessitated by the Psy incursions, Indigo picked up a bracelet that had slipped off someone’s wrist and was about to head back up to the den herself when she caught an unexpected—but not unknown—scent on the wind. Her wolf was already crouching to leap in welcome when Matthias walked into the clearing. Giving a whoop, she flew into his arms, wrapping her legs around his hips.