“Glory’s also been getting presents left on her doorstep.”
“I didn’t scent anything around, but we know some shifters are good at masking their scents.”
“Or another shifter who’s learned how to hunt.”
This time it was Ryan who was shocked. “Your Hunter instincts are going off.”
Gabe nodded. “Which is one of the reasons why I’m not fighting you on this. Something isn’t right. There have been too many attacks on the girls, and the whole Gary thing still isn’t completely resolved.”
“Still?” Tabby’s stalker had almost raped her in the woods. Twice. He was lucky to still be alive. Hell, if it had been Ryan, he wouldn’t be. But the Alpha had ordered Bunny to stand down, to allow the shifter Senate to dispense justice to Gary. “He still hasn’t told you who his Alpha is?”
“No. He’s kept his mouth shut and his head down. He’ll do time for what he tried to do to Tabby, but that’s it.”
“Add in Hope’s disappearance and the presents on Glory’s doorstep and I’m worried.”
Ryan’s skin crawled. “You think Hope was attacked by a shifter?”
Ryan took a deep, calming breath. His Grizzly was pacing under his skin, restless to confront the danger to his mate and eliminate it. “Talk to me, Gabe. Tell me what you’re thinking.”
Gabe waited until the waitress finished pouring their coffee, ordering one of the breakfast specials when she was done. Ryan, not one to pass up a meal, also ordered. “I don’t have any concrete evidence, but my Hunter senses are tingling. Gary still hasn’t told us who he was working for, and his friends aren’t talking either. Then there was the attack on Cyn, where Tabby scented an unknown cat who wasn’t a Puma. I’ve also heard rumors that there’s a group of shifters that are attacking cross-breeds like your sister.”
“How does this tie in to Hope’s disappearance? The Walsh family knew nothing of shifters before Tabby appeared on the scene.” And how was Chloe involved in all of this? She’d been jumped back before Bunny claimed Tabby and almost died from her wounds.
“I know. So I have to wonder. Does this tie in to Tabby or Glory?”
Ryan didn’t understand. “Tabby was kicked out of her Pack when she was fifteen.”
“And Hope disappeared when she was sixteen.”
“You think Tabby’s old Alpha was somehow involved? Could her attacker have been a member of his Pack?”
“I…” Gabe growled. “I just don’t know. I don’t have enough to go on. Something just isn’t right about all of this, and I can’t figure it out, damn it.” He ran his fingers through his hair. “I’m thinking of calling in back-up.”
“Who?” Hunters didn’t work a territory alone. There had to be at least two other Hunters in the area, but Ryan had no clue who they might be.
“James Barnwell, aka Barney. The man who trained me. He’s a pain in the ass and nearly lost me my mate, but he’s the best Hunter I know. Maybe he can help me figure this shit out.”
“Anything that helps keep my mate safe is fine by me.”
“I’d rather we did this on our own. If I call in Barney he’ll try and take over. He won’t think twice about separating you from Glory if he thinks it will protect her.”
“That will never happen. Glory has issues with abandonment. If I walk away, even for her own good, I’ll lose her forever. I won’t let that happen.”
Gabe grinned. “Good. Fight him on that. I should have, and I’ll regret that I didn’t for the rest of my life.”
Their breakfasts arrived, and both men were quiet as they dug into their meal. After a few moments of nothing but shoveling food into their faces, Ryan broke the silence. “What do you need me to do?”
“For now, do what you’ve been doing. Stay as close as you can to Glory and, if possible, claim her as quickly as you can. Being a Grizzly, she’ll be better able to protect herself if my instincts are right and this is a rogue shifter.”
Pfft. Like Ryan needed to be told to stick close to his mate. “I planned on doing that anyway.”
“I’m going to dig into the case a bit more. The notes the cop took on the case are sketchy at best. I need to have a long talk with him, see if he noticed anything odd when he was questioning Pastor Walsh.”
“We should try and find Pastor Walsh as well. Maybe get a hold of Glory’s siblings, Temp and Faith. Maybe they know something.”
“Good idea. I’ll also need the presents that were left for Glory. Maybe there will be a scent or a clue we can follow up on.”
“I’ll talk to her, have her send them to you.”
“The fewer people who touch them the better. Maybe I can have Sarah take a look at them as well, see if she can sense anything. If the presents are innocent, like Alex believes, then that will be one worry off our shoulders.”
Ryan relaxed. Sarah’s powers were scary-strong. If there was any evil intention behind the presents, the Halle Puma Omega would sense it. “Thanks, Gabe. You have no idea how much I appreciate this.”
“Anything to keep our mates safe.”
“Agreed.” And the two men finished their breakfast in perfect accord.
The day after her meeting with Gabe, Glory opened her front door to find another gift lying on her doorstep. But this one was different from the others.
This one scared her to death.
Glory bent down and picked up the single dead rose, careful of the vicious thorns still on the stem. The note tied around it was written on yellowed paper. Only one word was written on the note.
Glory shuddered, glancing around involuntarily. What if he was watching her right now? Whoever he was, he must have seen her going on her date with Ryan. Why else would he have written that kind of note?
Glory carried the rose inside and put it in a box with the rest of the gifts. She was heading to the police station to see Gabe. Maybe the sheriff could find something useful on the—
Glory jumped as the doorbell rang. Her heart pounding, she tiptoed to the front door and peeked out the peephole.