“Well…” Faith shot a glance at her brother, who nodded. “There was this strange man who was following Hope.”
Glory frowned. “Hope never mentioned anything about a stranger to me.” But Hope had become strangely quiet during those last couple of months. Had she been hiding something from Glory?
Temp nodded. “She didn’t want to tell anyone about it. She thought it was just a guy who came and went to the library the same way we all did.”
“But Hope said she got creepy feelings off him, so she told Dad about it. Temp overheard it, but I didn’t find out about it until recently.”
“Dad told her there was nothing to worry about, that it was probably her imagination, so she let it go. You remember how he indulged her. She probably trusted his word that everything would be all right.” Temp growled. “The way he would look at her… Sometimes I wonder, but I like to think my father wasn’t a fucking pedophile.”
Faith put her hand on his leg. “Dad never touched me in…that way.”
“Good.” Ryan settled on the arm of her chair, his hand on her shoulder once more. “If your father had touched you I’d be forced to hunt him down and rip off his arms.”
Glory blinked. “Down, baby bear. Daddy Dearest has a lot to answer for, but not that.”
“I’m not so sure.” Temp exchanged a glance with Ryan that sent chills down her spine. “The way he acted around Hope? Tell me it never crossed your mind that he finally snapped and did something to her, then killed her to cover it up.”
“I think…” Glory shook her head. If she was wrong, she was giving her siblings false hope. But, if she was right… “I think Hope is alive. There’s something inside, where we were connected, that tells me she’s still somewhere on this earth. When I tried to tell Dad I could still feel her, he beat me pretty badly.”
Ryan growled, but coughed it back when Temp and Faith shot him curious glances.
“Then why didn’t she come home?” Temp leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees and clasping his hands together. “You think she’s being held captive? That maybe Dad didn’t do anything to her?”
Glory didn’t want to give what they’d learned away. She doubted either of her siblings knew anything about shifters, and for now that’s how it needed to stay. “It’s possible. We won’t know for sure until we find some clues.” She’d have to figure out a way to keep them out of the loop until the rogue Wolf was found and dealt with. She’d talk to Ryan about it later, once Temp and Faith were gone.
Temp studied them all for a moment, his gaze lingering longest on Ryan. “Whatever you need, sis. Whatever you need, you just ask.”
“What I need is my sister back, one way or the other. What I’m going to get is a caramel macchiato once I send Ryan to the coffee shop.” Glory grinned up at Ryan, aware it was a pale imitation of her usual expression.
Ryan laughed, even as her siblings looked utterly confused. “Of course. Would you have anything else?”
She sighed and kissed his cheek, more grateful to him than he could ever know. “Nope.”
Ryan hadn’t felt entirely comfortable leaving Glory with Cyn, but one look at the Kodiak and he’d known she’d defend Glory to the death. She couldn’t be in better hands, unless they were his own.
Still, he found himself hurrying back. It just seemed way too convenient to him, Temp and Faith showing up just as they began searching for Hope. He couldn’t help but wonder how much of their tale was true, and how much made up. He very much doubted that Reverend Walsh had let his last two children go without a fight.
If their father had sent them, then Ryan wasn’t sure what he’d do. Glory would be crushed to discover her siblings were working against her, but Ryan couldn’t allow even a hint of a threat to his mate. It was bad enough she’d been attacked when he’d been right there with her.
He’d have to see if the apples were as rotten as the tree they’d fallen from.
Maybe he could get Gabe to look into their backgrounds, especially Temp. As the oldest, he was the one who had the best chance of getting Faith away from an abusive parent, yet he’d chosen to stay in a toxic environment. Why? Why hadn’t he brought proof to the authorities that Reverend Walsh was an unfit father? As abusive as the good reverend was, Ryan had no doubt he’d abused either Temp or Faith, or both. With two of his daughters and his wife gone, he would have needed a direction for his rage, and Faith was both female and, young as she’d been, highly vulnerable.
Could Temp have taken part in the abuse?
Ryan shook his head and ordered the coffees. No. Glory seemed to think Temp had tried to protect them from their father. She truly believed he’d only gone with Reverend Walsh to take care of their youngest sister. She’d had no problem filling Ryan in on the abuse her father had heaped on her. He doubted she would have held back if her brother was the same.
No, she would have told him. And Temp would have died the moment he stepped foot inside Glory’s shop.
Ryan paid for the coffees and headed for the door. He was still planning on looking into Temp’s background. It was possible Glory was wrong about her brother, and if so it was Ryan’s duty to discover the truth and keep Glory safe.
Ryan turned the corner from the coffee shop to Cynful, when something hit him so hard in the back he stumbled and fell to his knees, the crack of metal on flesh shocking in the midst of the small-town shops. It reminded him of the aluminum bats he used to play baseball with when he was a kid.
Shit. Someone’s trying to kill me. Ryan rolled to the side, trying to get to his feet before the fucker hit him again.
The bat cracked down on his shoulder, numbing his hand. Ryan cried out at the pain, aware something had just broken inside him. His Bear roared in fury, ready to bust out of Ryan’s skin and kill the son of a bitch before he could take Ryan down.
Snarling, he pushed himself up with his good hand, ready to castrate whoever it was who’d decided to play ball with his head. Ryan got a glimpse of bright blue eyes behind a dark ski mask before the bat swung again, catching him in the cheek. He fell onto his back, dazed, his face hurting almost as much as his shoulder.