Back in the den, she didn’t stop until she was in her quarters with the door safely shut. Only then did she collapse on the bed. “Christ, Adria.” Shaking from the impact of a day that had spiraled out of control from the instant she’d run into Riaz, she just sat there, trying to get a grip on her emotions.
The knock on the door was familiar, but she ignored it. Her visitor persisted, having obviously scented her presence, until she muttered, “It’s open.”
Indigo, dressed in jeans paired with a plain white tee that flattered the curves of her tall body, closed the door and leaned back on it. “Hurts me to say this, Ri, but you look worse than you did after you caught the plague when you were seventeen.”
The “plague” had been a nasty case of food poisoning. “Thanks for the pick-me-up.” She scowled at the woman who had been her friend most of her life. “Now go away.”
Rolling her eyes, Indigo strode across the room to sit beside her instead. “Martin’s not been hassling you, has he?”
“No. I made it clear we were done.” He hadn’t taken the news with any grace, all traces of the funny, gentle man she’d fallen for corroded to nothingness by years of slow bitterness. But Martin wasn’t the male on her mind right then. “You had a thing with Riaz, right?”
Indigo blinked at the blunt question. “Yes, but years ago, well before he left for Europe. We were friends.”
It wasn’t such a strange thing to hear from a changeling. Sharing intimate skin privileges was an integral part of their nature, and there was nothing wrong with being with a friend who cared enough about you to ensure your pleasure. It didn’t matter if the lovers knew their friendship would never lead to a relationship—friendship was a precious thing to a wolf, to be cherished on its own merits.
Indigo nudged at her when she didn’t continue, her namesake eyes perceptive. “Riaz?”
“Yeah.” Knowing no further explanation was needed, she shoved her hands through her hair, messing up her braid. “It’s weird. You’re my niece.”
Indigo made a distinctly inelegant sound. “Please. We grew up as sisters.”
“Would you cut that out?” A sharp elbow to the ribs. “Everything else aside, we happen to be two dominant women in one pack with a bare few years between us—the only surprise is that we didn’t cross paths with the same man before now.”
In spite of the fact she was the one who’d brought it up, Adria’s wolf was sanguine about a past long gone. The human part of her, too, knew that Indigo and Riaz’s old relationship had no bearing on the present situation, not given the time that had passed and their complete lack of interest in one another now. It would’ve just made it easier to hide from the turbulence of her own emotions if it had been an issue.
“I don’t know what I’m doing, Indigo.” No man had ever incited her to behave as she had today. “I almost attacked him.” She’d wanted to rip his clothes off, shove him to the ground, taste every inch of his bronzed skin with her lips. “I drew blood.” The taste of iron, metallic and distinctive, had been hot, strong … exhilarating.
Indigo’s laugh was affectionate. “That’s fairly normal when a female wolf is as on edge as you’ve been.” A playful waggle of her eyebrows. “Long time?”
“A year,” she said and knew exactly when Indigo understood the ramifications of her statement, because she seemed to stop breathing for a second.
“So, when you and Martin came to the dinner to meet Drew…”
“I’d ended it months earlier.” The flash of hurt in Indigo’s eyes had her nudging the other woman’s shoulder in a silent apology. “I wasn’t ready to talk to anyone—needed to get my head on straight.” When Indigo squeezed her hand, she continued. “I’m not proud to admit it, but I used him when I ‘gave in’ to his persistent efforts to win me back and asked him to come along that night.”
It hadn’t taken Martin long to realize the invitation didn’t equal one to her bed or to her life, and he’d been in an ugly temper by the time they’d arrived. Feeling guilty for having consciously misled the man who had once walked by her side, she’d tried to reach out, pacify him.
His response had, for a single painful second, returned her to the ruins of their relationship, before it hardened her resolve. “I thought you were making a horrible mistake.” The realization that Indigo was seeing a man whose dominance didn’t match Indigo’s own, had chilled her blood.
“And you wanted me confronted with the results.”
“I’m so sorry.” It had to be said, because Drew was nothing, nothing like Martin, his adoration of his “Indy’s” strength open.
“I understand.” Indigo’s response was fierce. “You won’t have any of those problems with Riaz. He’s strong enough not to be scared of your hunger, and”—a smile that lit up her eyes—“he’s got enough wildness in him to lead you astray.”
Most lone wolves did. As a young woman, Adria had always steered clear of them, aware that while such a male might make love to her with primal intensity, he was as likely to disappear into the mountains come morning. She’d always known she needed someone more stable, more rooted. But things had changed. She had changed. “You’re not saying something.” Adria knew Indigo too well not to have caught the subtle hesitation.