“Hope is dead.” Glory scowled and hoped that for once someone would believe her. No one else except Cyn ever had. Most had told her that, at best, it was wishful thinking, and, at worst, she was trying to hurt her parents. “See, that was always something that bothered me. You know twins have a bond, right?” Gabe nodded and Ryan squeezed her hand. “I’ve always believed Hope was alive. It was one of the reasons my father beat me so hard.” Ryan’s snarl interrupted her, and this time she was the one to squeeze his hand, comforting him. “I never once sensed she was dead.”
“And now? Do you sense anything at all?”
Glory shook her head, relieved. She should have known Gabe would believe her, considering his mate’s special abilities. “I still don’t think she’s dead. It’s…strange. At one time I would have said she was alive and well. Now, the bond is weak but it’s still there. Maybe she’s in a hospital or in a coma or something?”
“If she is, we’ll find her.” Ryan kissed her cheek. “Do you have a picture of her when she was younger? If we send it to local hospitals we might find something.”
Glory smiled at Ryan, her heart pounding. She hadn’t been this happy since Tabby met Bunny. “You believe me?”
Glory kissed his cheek, the faint hint of whiskers tickling her lips. “Thank you, Ryan.”
He lifted her hand and kissed it. “Nothing to thank me for. You’re my mate.”
She was slowly starting to understand what that meant. For the first time in a very long time, Glory felt like someone had her back.
The fact that her someone was a Grizzly who’d proven he was willing to kill for her only made her feel safer.
Glory blew out a breath. “My father kicked me out with the clothes on my back and the money in my wallet. I had nothing when I moved in with Cyn and her mother, not even a photo of my family.” She bit her lip. “But I can find a wig in my natural hair color. If I do that, we can take a picture of me and put it out there. I haven’t changed that much.”
Glory rolled her eyes at him. “Do you have the program? It’s expensive, and unless you know what you’re doing with it you wind up with something crappy.”
“Our police artist still sketches on paper so we haven’t bothered to invest in it. But doing a picture is a good idea. It should show how Hope has aged, unless…” Gabe grimaced.
“Unless something horrific happened and disfigured her.” Ryan tugged Glory close. “I want to find this fucker and end him before he hurts Glory.”
“He’s a shifter. You’d be within shifter law to kill him if he threatens your mate. But let me try to find him first. This might not be the first time he’s done this.” Gabe leaned back in his chair, the squeak startling her. “I’ve put in a call to Barney. He should be joining us within the week.”
Next to her Ryan relaxed. Even the brown left his eyes. “You trust him?”
Gabe nodded. “He’s an asshole, but he’s an effective one. With his help we’ll have this wrapped up in no time.” Gabe grinned. “I should warn you, though. Barney is…unusual.”
“I’ll let you figure it out when you meet him.” Gabe stood and held out his hand. “If you two think of anything else, give me a call. And Glory, once you have that photo, email it to me. I’ll get it out as quickly as I can.”
“Thanks, Gabe.” Instead of shaking his hand she moved around his desk to give him a hug. Surprisingly, her aggressive Bear didn’t growl. “Tell Sarah I said hi.”
“I will.” Gabe hugged her back. “She says she’s thinking of getting a tattoo.”
“I can have Heather draw her up something. That girl has mad skills.”
Gabe let her go, and Ryan nudged her aside so he could do his own bro-hug with Gabe. “Thanks, man.”
“You’re welcome.” Gabe pointed toward the door. “Now, go get me that picture while I prepare for Barney’s arrival.”
Ryan put his arm around her waist. “I’ll take her to work and talk to Cyn and the others. Hell, I’ll call in the whole fucking clan for this. Glory will never be alone if we can help it.”
“And your crazy family might just keep her stalker from winning.”
Glory groaned. It looked like the Bunsun-Williams clan would be converging on her en masse.
And secretly, part of her loved the thought. Ryan’s family was a blast. An annoying, poking-in-your-life, loud-and-proud blast. And some of the few people who didn’t make Glory feel like a freak of nature.
But instead of letting Ryan know that she actually adored his family, she sniffed. “I guess if we have to.”
Ryan hugged her tighter to his side. “We have to.”
Glory sighed. It was going to be a fun couple of weeks.
Ryan escorted his mate into Cynful Tattoos, his senses on high alert. He very much doubted her stalker was sitting in Frank’s Diner eating pancakes and eggs. He was willing to bet his right arm the son of a bitch was watching them as they entered Glory’s place of business. He sniffed the air, hoping to catch that elusive scent Gabe had pointed out to him on Glory’s gifts.
Nothing. Not a single scent was out of place. Ryan gritted his teeth. He wanted to know who the son of a bitch was so he could make sure the shifter knew Ryan’s mate was protected. But images tumbled through his mind, each one more horrific than the last. What if he’d gotten close to the girls? If he was hiding in plain sight, it would be easy to figure out Glory’s likes and dislikes. He could be the mailman, the guy who’d installed the security system, even the pizza delivery guy.
Worse, what if he was a client? What if Glory had pierced him, laying her soft hands on his skin? Ryan could understand why one touch from his mate would make someone obsessed. Ryan was dying to feel her caress him, to direct all her passion on him. It would be amazing to feel that focus taking him over.
Ryan’s Bear was beginning to push harder than ever. They needed to claim their mate, make her one with them.
First he had to figure out how to get her to agree to the mating bite, and soon. But the thought of frightening her was abhorrent. He couldn’t force the bite on her, no matter how badly he wanted to. He needed her to accept what was going to happen between them or it would be a violation of everything he believed a mating should be.