The leopard alpha sounded annoyed when he answered. “He won’t say, but I trust him. The Forgotten hate the Council even more than we do.”
That much was true, and it made him consider Santos’s offer. “What does he want in exchange?” Hawke knew of Shine, knew Santos wielded considerable power. No man kept that many people safe from the Council’s assassins by doing good deeds for free.
“We’re already linked to Shine,” Lucas said. “He wants some kind of relationship with SnowDancer.”
“No alliance.” Hawke didn’t ally with anyone he didn’t know inside out. “But we’ll owe him one if he can deliver.” A favor from SnowDancer was worth a hell of a lot.
Dev Santos agreed to the deal.
It took the Shine director a week of eighteen-hour days—the man located the cameras unerringly even in the blackest darkness and across immense distances—to clear their entire territory.
Hawke decided to up the favor count to Santos’s benefit.
“I occasionally need to ‘disappear’ people when the Council gets too interested in them,” the man said afterward. “Can’t think of any place better than in a pack of wolves. You’re so secretive, I had to sign my name in blood in triplicate before being allowed to set foot on your land.”
“No promises,” Hawke said, “but contact me when you need a disappearance and we’ll talk.” There were hundreds of places across the state controlled by wolves where a man or woman could vanish and not be found. And Dev Santos’s people had Psy genes; as the man himself had shown, those genes could prove very useful.
Devraj Santos held out a hand.
Hawke’s wolf decided they could deal with the man. They shook.
Indigo touched her lips to Drew’s. They were soft, warm, as if he was simply resting. He’d shifted into human form spontaneously earlier that morning, and they were all hoping that meant he was about to break through the comalike sleep that had held him in thrall. She hated seeing him so quiet, so still.
Drew was never quiet. He was energy and life and mischief.
“Indigo?” Lara asked. “You okay?”
“Yes.” No. “What’s this?” she asked, distracting the healer by gesturing at something on Drew’s bedside table.
She held up a small yellow action figure, complete with fangs and claws.
“Ben.” Lara smiled. “He keeps sneaking in here and leaving his soldiers to ‘guard’ Drew.”
“See, Drew,” Indigo said as Lara left to check on Silvia, who was well on the way to recovery, “you have to wake up now. What’s Ben going to play with if he gives you all his soldiers?”
She was brushing Drew’s hair off his face when she caught Riley’s scent. The other lieutenant came in and took his brother’s hand. “How is he?”
Riley always asked her, not Lara. Because he was mated. And he’d almost lost his mate once. “Strong,” Indigo said, “so strong that when I fall asleep, I swear he’s curled up around me.” Sometimes she woke feeling as if she’d been rubbing her face against thick, lustrous fur the shade of silver-birch bark. It comforted her in sleep . . . and caused incredible desolation when she woke.
Meeting her gaze in silent understanding, Riley leaned down to whisper something in Drew’s ear before leaving several minutes later. Brenna had already been by that morning and would likely return again within the hour.
Lara touched Indigo’s shoulder some time afterward. “Come have a cup of coffee.”
Indigo shook her head.
“Fine, then I’m pulling rank,” Lara said in a steely voice. “You will get up right now, sit your ass down at my desk, and eat what I put in front of you.”
Startled, Indigo stared at Lara. “You can only pull rank when a pack member is in danger of harming herself.” In that situation, Lara outranked even Hawke.
Lara poked Indigo in the ribs. “When was the last time you ate?” She didn’t wait for a response. “If you don’t do this voluntarily, I’ll call Hawke and Riaz and have them hog-tie you to a chair. Then I’ll spoon-feed you, and after that, I’ll pump you full of narcotics so that you get at least eight solid hours of rest.”
Indigo’s wolf wanted to snarl, but it loved the pack healer too much. “You play mean, Lara.” Bending down, she pressed her lips to Drew’s. “I’ll be back after I satisfy General Lara.” It was hard to pull herself away, harder still to stuff food down her gullet.
It took her ten minutes—because Lara refused to let her go until she’d finished every bite. “Drew, sweetie, I have some bad news,” Lara said, after Indigo returned to his side. “Your mate’s lost twenty pounds and looks like a fish stick. You’re going to find yourself mated to a skeleton if you don’t open those baby blues.”
Indigo scowled, but her response was lost in a rush of noise as Riley, Brenna, and Judd all returned, along with Hawke and a couple of the teenagers who’d gone up into the mountains with her and Drew. Too many people—but this was how they healed.
By touch. By Pack.
Hawke asked Lara for an update, and the healer began to speak, but Indigo was focused only on Drew . . . and her wolf caught it the instant his breathing changed.
Then she heard the sweetest sound of all.
“Where’s Indy?” It was a groggy question.
A whirl of sounds and scents crashed against Andrew’s senses. He felt Lara’s warm hands on his face, his chest, heard his sister’s cry of welcome, saw Hawke’s distinctive hair glint in the light, but—