“But that doesn’t mean that he can’t fight.” Tabby patted Hope’s hand. “If Salazar comes in here looking for you, he’s gonna face an overprotective Grizzly chock-full of pent-up aggression.”
“Can you take on a Hunter?” Hope still didn’t seem convinced that she was safe here, and Glory wasn’t sure how to go about doing that.
Alex nodded slowly, reluctantly. “I’ve never lost a fight, and I don’t plan on starting now.”
All of them turned as the bell over the door jangled, startling them. In sauntered the last person Glory expected to see, his hat pulled low over his eyes. “What the hell are you doing here?”
Barney winked at her and quietly made his way to the back room.
She followed Barney into the back room, leaving Tabby to finish dusting the hair off of Hope. What the hell was the Hunter was up to? Wasn’t he supposed to be showing Ryan what to do? Shouldn’t he be out there, with Ryan, keeping her mate safe? How was Ryan supposed to learn what he needed to do if Barney was back here, stealing her cherry cola? “What do you think you’re doing?”
Barney opened her soda and chugged half of it before answering. “Didn’t you know? I’m a fugitive on the run. So where is the last place he would look for me?”
“Back at the beginning?” Glory smirked. “You really think this is gonna work?”
“Of course it will. It always works. Baby Hunters always think they know more than I do.” Barney leaned back against the mini fridge, practically sitting on it. “Gabe was one of the few who knew what I did. The bad guy almost always goes back to where he feels safe. He’ll run to his mama or his girlfriend and beg them to take him in, or give him money. The successful ones are the ones that cut off all ties with their past, creating new identities in different cities.”
Barney’s upper lip lifted in a silent snarl. “Salazar is an ex-Hunter. He knows better than anyone what to do and how to hide.” Barney huffed, the sound remarkably Bearish. “I should know. I didn’t want to tell your sister, but I trained the fucker.”
That explained why Barney was taking this so seriously. “Do you think he’s taken people other than Hope?” Just the thought of it sent shivers down her spine.
“No. I think he was obsessed with your sister. He had the one he wanted, but when Hope got away, he focused on her identical twin. I think if he was going to go after a type instead of a specific person he would’ve tried to snag someone closer to home.” Barney shook his head. “No, it’s definitely your sister that he wants, and he’ll use whatever means necessary to get her back, including you.” Barney grimaced. “I think he knew your likes and dislikes from Hope. He probably talked to her about you, or got her talking about you. Maybe at one time he thought to have you both. I’m not sure, but I’m inclined to think he was hoping taking you would make Hope come back to him.”
“That makes me feel so much better.” Glory rubbed her hands up and down her arms. “Do you think—”
Barney’s eyes went wide as he was yanked off of the mini fridge and thrown to the ground. His arms were pulled up behind his back as Ryan straddled him with a saucy grin.
“You’re under arrest. You have the right to remain stupid. Anything you say can and will be used to mercilessly taunt you. Do you understand your idiocy as I have described it to you?”
Ryan laughed and helped Barney to his feet.
“How did you find me so fast?” Barney wiggled his shoulders. He didn’t sound nearly as cocky as Ryan dusted him off.
Ryan shrugged. “I used to play hide and seek with my cousins. Some of us took the game pretty seriously.” He pounded Barney on the shoulder, ignoring the other man’s pained wince. “Besides, it wasn’t like you tried all that hard to hide.”
Barney mumbled something under his breath and finished the rest of the cherry cola. “The next test will be harder.”
“I’m sure it will be.”
Barney shot Ryan an evil look. Glory had the feeling that Ryan’s smugness had just earned him a test that was ten times harder than it was originally going to be.
Glory heard the muted sound of the bell out front. She didn’t think anything of it until Alex started growling. Dashing through the curtains, she was surprised to find Jim Woods standing there, staring at Alex with a frightened expression. “Look, I just want to talk to your cousin.”
“Don’t you think you’ve hurt her enough?”
Jim ignored Alex’s growl, returning Alex’s scowl with one of his own. “You don’t know everything that happened, and you have no idea what I’ve been through.”
“What you’ve been through? What about what my sister has been through?” Ryan stomped over to Alex and stood next to his cousin, shoulder to shoulder. “Where were you when she was in the hospital, crying for you?”
Jim sighed wearily, and ran his hand through his hair. He really did look tired, bags under his eyes and his shoulders slumped. “My mother is—”
“Shit.” Barney raced past and out the front door. “Ryan, Gabe, get your asses in gear. I smell Salazar.”
The two men quickly followed Barney out the door, their expressions grim.
“Sugar.” Tabby cupped her mate’s face between her hands. “Go keep your cousin safe.”
“No.” But Alex was clearly torn, the need to protect Ryan almost as strong as his desire to keep Tabby safe.
“Trust me. I can take on one Wolf.” Tabby turned her mate toward the door. “Go on, now.”
“Alex.” They stared at one another, a titanic showdown that Alex lost the moment Tabby lifted one dark brow at him. “Trust me, sugar. Glory’s changed now, and Hope and I are both Wolves. If this guy comes after us, he’s supper.”
Alex’s shoulders sagged for just a moment before he pulled his mate into a quick, hard kiss. “Stay put, baby.”
Tabby nodded, her expression fierce, and Alex raced out the door after the Hunters. Barney and Ryan wouldn’t be thrilled that the Grizzly had followed them, but if it came down to a fight Alex would be one hell of an asset.