“Not yet.” The alpha had enough on his plate with the threat to Sienna—and he’d always trusted his lieutenants to work independently, part of the reason why SnowDancer had such strong men and women in those positions. “Let me see what I can find out first.”
“I’ll put out some feelers, too,” Kenji said, his expression serious in a way that belied the reckless abandon of his chosen hair color.
“Call me on my cell if you hear anything.” Logging off, Riaz decided to grab some coffee from the nearby break room before calling Bowen. He was frowning at the implications of the Human Alliance being involved in the assassination of an entire Psy team when he walked into the break room—to come to a complete halt, the scent of crushed berries in ice wrapping around him, delicate as the most fragile snowflake.
ADRIA LOOKED FROM the counter, her guarded smile familiar. “Hey.” She held up the coffeepot, pouring him a mug when he nodded. “Milk?”
“No, black.” It felt strange to be having this ordinary conversation with her, the undertone faintly awkward, when he’d been buried balls-deep in her only hours ago.
“Here you go.” Passing it over, she began to add sugar to her own mug.
His eyebrows rose after the fourth teaspoon, the awkwardness dissipating into an amused affection that made his wolf prick its ears. “Sure you don’t want some coffee with your sugar?” he asked when she began to stir.
“Everyone has their vices.” A suspiciously bland comment, followed by, “Maybe you’d like me to fetch you a bar of dark chocolate.”
He grinned, wondering how she’d figured out his predilection for the stuff. “I figured you were a strong-black-coffee type of girl.” It intrigued him that he’d been so off base, made him aware of all the things he didn’t know about this woman who’d shared her body with him. Especially when she poured in what looked like half a pot of cream, then took a gulp, shivering with pleasure.
His body hardened. The urge to touch her, to claim skin privileges outside the bedroom was almost overwhelming, but he grit his teeth and fought it. They’d set limits on their relationship, and he needed to respect that, not only for his sake, but for hers.
Adria leaned back against the counter. “You look tense.”
Her color-drenched eyes, they saw too much. It was one of the first things he’d thought at their initial meeting, and regardless of how uncomfortable it made him as a man, her perceptiveness was a skill he could utilize as a lieutenant. “You know much about what went down with the Human Alliance a year ago?”
The Alliance had tried to plant bombs in San Francisco, attempted to kidnap Ashaya Aleine. Bo and his people, rebels from the group at the time, had made the stupid-ass mistake of kidnapping a young male from DarkRiver territory in an effort both to protect him and to gain the packs’ attention. “About Bowen and his group?”
“Yes”—Adria took another sip of her coffee—“all senior soldiers were briefed. I know we’ve been working with the cats to build a functional relationship with them.”
“It’s been rocky,” Riaz acknowledged, “but we knew we had to find some way to make things work.” The Alliance’s business standing had taken a hit immediately after the events in San Francisco, but as Hawke had predicted, it had rebounded even stronger.
Changelings have packs, the alpha had said. The Alliance is the human equivalent—it not only represents humans as a group, it’s powerful enough that people pay attention.
Not a body to disregard, regardless of the fact that humans were so often labeled the weakest part of the triumvirate that was the world.
“Are they breaking their side of their bargain,” Adria asked, “trying something in our territory?”
“No, but they’ve been implicated in a set of assassinations in the Mediterranean.” He pushed off the wall, decision made. “I’m going to call Bowen. Want to sit in?”
Blue-violet eyes streaked with gold widened at the corners. “Yes, I would.”
Coffees drunk and mugs washed, they headed toward the conference room. “Does the Alliance have people with the training to pull off something so clean, and we have to assume, fast?” she asked after he finished summarizing the situation.
“Bo could’ve done it. He worked in covert ops in the military arm of the Alliance before he decided he didn’t like where that arm was heading under the previous leadership.” Into a violence as cold and self-serving as that of the Council. “If it was the Alliance, I’m more interested in the why.”
Adria raised an eyebrow as they entered the conference room.
“Bo,” he explained, “has been very carefully rebuilding the Alliance’s reputation.”
“And this kind of violence, if it got out,” Adria murmured, “would bring up too many ugly memories in the wider population.”
He reached behind her to shut the door. “Grab a seat out of camera range,” he said, allowing her enigma of a scent to seep into his veins. “I want you to act as a second set of ears and eyes—Bo’s very good at only giving away what he wants.”
Choosing a seat that offered an excellent vantage point, Adria watched Riaz put through the call. His back to her, he couldn’t see her, and so she allowed herself the indulgence of a lingering visual examination, her eyes drawn to his left shoulder and the jagged curves and lines of the tattoo hidden by his T-shirt. She loved the way the black ink looked against his skin, as she loved the muscled beauty of his frame, the way he moved when inside her.