“Bit Glory?” Gabe snarled, the sound pure cat. “When did that happen?”
Shit. What with Ryan claiming Glory and Temp and Faith arriving, they’d forgotten to call Gabe. “Glory went out front to clean the windows and got jumped by a Wolf. The same damn Wolf that just tried to hit a home run with my skull.”
“Where were you when she got attacked?”
Ryan sighed. “Taking out the trash. I thought, hell we all thought, she’d be safe in front of the store in broad fucking daylight.”
“We’ve got ourselves someone who’s not afraid of the consequences.” Barney’s hat was so low on his forehead Ryan couldn’t see his eyes. “Something’s changed for him. All of a sudden he’s attacking both you and Glory. Why?”
“He used a changing bite on her, but he couldn’t claim her because—”
“She’s not his mate.” Gabe sighed. “This is so fucked up.”
“Pfft. He needs to learn to take care of himself in the field or he’s never gonna make it.” Barney pushed back his hat, crossed his arms over his chest and attempted to stare down Gabe.
Gabe snarled, but before the two Hunters could truly get into a pissing match, a very welcome figure spoke from behind Barney with an authority Ryan had only heard once before, when he’d nearly gone feral in a dance club full of humans. “Move, Boo-Boo. I’ve got this.”
Julian stepped into the alley and knelt next to Ryan, his black hair turning pure silver, his deep brown eyes going gray. “Hey, Rye. Glory’s going to be pissed when she sees you’ve dropped her coffee.”
Ryan sighed in relief as Julian’s power washed over him, dulling the pain. “I’ll get her another.” Warmth washed over him in gentle waves, his bones realigning, the damage healed to a degree Ryan could not have done on his own. He shuddered as the pain finally ceased completely. “Thanks.”
Julian’s eyes opened, the silver fading once more to brown. Only a single silver line remained to mar his long dark hair. “You’re welcome. What happened?”
“Got jumped by a dude with a baseball bat and a grudge.”
“Or the good Reverend Walsh.” Ryan wasn’t taking bets yet. As far as he was concerned, it was still fifty-fifty. For all he knew Glory’s parent was a shifter. Her inability to scent it wouldn’t be a surprise, and if the man had been changed after his children were born it would explain why they were all human.
Julian helped Ryan to his feet, rotating Ryan’s arm and grunting in satisfaction. “It healed well.”
Ryan tested his arm and his face with his own healing powers. They were nowhere near as strong as Julian’s, but he could still heal in the same manner.
But where Ryan could seamlessly heal a paper cut or a small wound, Julian could take a brutal beating and make it almost disappear. Ryan couldn’t detect anything had ever happened to him beyond the long-healed break in his arm from childhood. “You’re good.”
“I am.” Julian buffed his nails on his shirt. “Make sure you point that out to my mate.”
“Unless Reverend Walsh is a shifter, I doubt he’s the man who attacked both you and Glory.” Gabe sniffed deeply. “It’s faint, but it’s there, and most definitely Wolf.”
Ryan exchanged a glance with Julian. “We have to call Alpha Lowell.” A rogue Wolf was in the area. The Poconos Pack Alpha, Richard Lowell, would definitely want to know about it.
“Um, excuse me?” Barney tapped Ryan on the shoulder, his gaze still glued to Julian. “Why did I just obey your friend?”
Barney grunted. “Okay. Anyone want to explain that to me?”
Gabe laughed. “Man, I love the fact that I know something you don’t.”
“Asshole.” Barney blocked the entrance to the alleyway. “Someone explain this to me. Now.”
Barney moved, his eyes wide and startled. But damn if the Hunter didn’t make sure Julian and Ryan had plenty of room to get past him.
Ryan nodded his agreement. For someone who seemed so laid back, James Barnwell was wound really tight. “Or a good, hard—”
Just as Ryan made the very explicit gesture Barney caught up to them. “Wait!” Barney stared at Julian intently as he walked beside them. “Seriously. How the fuck did you do that?”
“One of the reasons Kermode stay separate from all of you is our ability to get other shifters to obey us.” Julian eyed Barney. “Doesn’t your Senate teach you anything?”
Barney shrugged. “Apparently not.” He adjusted his hat. “So it’s like an Alpha voice or something?”
“Not quite.” Julian made a face. “Alphas, I’ve found, can usually shrug it off.”
“So you don’t have the same powers as the Leo.” Barney seemed strangely relieved.
“No, thank fuck.” Julian shivered. “Could you imagine?” He turned toward the coffee shop instead of Cynful Tattoos. “I feel the need for caffeine.”
“You know, that’s something to think about.” Ryan frowned, trying to chase the elusive thought that had just occurred to him.
“Coffee?” Barney seemed to be getting more and more confused.
“No.” God, this guy was slow. “The Leo is a white Lion. Kermode are white Black Bears.”
“And rare as fuck. There aren’t many of us left.”
“There aren’t many Polar Bear shifters that I’m aware of either. And they’re as elusive as the Kermode.” Barney shook his head. “Three hunters and a Kermode all in the same town. Something is about to go down. I just wish I knew what.”
Ryan bit his tongue. The Hunter did not need to know there was one other white shifter in the area, one who didn’t seem to have any strange powers at all. At least, none she’d discovered yet. Chloe’s secret would remain just that until Ryan knew more about why she’d gone from a red Fox to a white one. “I hope it waits its damn turn. We have enough shit going down right now. We don’t need some mysterious whatever turning up to fuck things up further.”