The panic was easier to soothe than he’d thought it would be. She’d begun to calm the moment he took her in his arms.

“I knew you’d come. I waited for you.” The trembling increased as Glory clung to him so tightly he was surprised he could still breathe.

“Good.” He sighed as she snuggled up against him. “Good.” He eased her racing heart, damped down the surge of adrenaline. She relaxed, already easier in his embrace.

She pressed her face harder against his chest. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Barney checking on Hope while Gabe studied Salazar. “He saved us.”

“How?” Ryan refused to let his mate go, even when Gabe gestured for him to come and check on the dead body. And it was obvious that Salazar was dead. The gray color of his skin alone would have marked him. The knowledge that his mate was safe, healed, and the offender was beyond his reach finally eased the Bear’s rage and the man’s fears. Ryan relaxed, closed his eyes and buried his face in his mate’s curls.

“He followed us, injected Salazar with something when the Wolf shifted and attacked him.”

Shit. “Did he hurt you?” Jamie might have been a friend once, but Ryan had no trouble hurting the Puma if he’d laid one claw on Glory. His mate had been hurt enough to last a lifetime.

“No. He didn’t speak to us, didn’t do anything. Just…assassinated Salazar and left.”

Ryan took a deep breath and let it out as relief flooded through him. “Thank fuck.” He was dizzy from relief, ready to lie down on the blacktop and just hold his mate until the shakes passed.

“He kept staring at Hope. I think she’s the reason he saved us.”

“And then he left you both here alone.” Ryan wasn’t certain what to make of that. If, as he suspected, Hope was Jamie’s second mate, why had the man left them here alone? Ryan would never have been able to walk away from his wounded mate, and it was obvious from Hope’s unconscious state that’s exactly what Jamie had done. He could sense Barney attempting to heal her, felt the touch of his mate on her twin’s wounds. Hope’s condition was worse than Glory’s had been, but it looked like Glory had done everything she could for her sister. Hope was speaking quietly to Barney, possibly telling him everything Glory had just told Ryan.

“He scared the hell out of me at first, but when Salazar was dead, he seemed…calmer, somehow. If that makes any sense whatsoever.” Glory shivered. “I think he’s still cold, still grieving Marie, but maybe he’s finally starting to snap out of it.”

Either that, or the fact that someone had taken his mate from him again had broken him out of his grief-fueled rage. Ryan wouldn’t be sure until he saw the two of them together, but how would he go about bringing Hope, scared of her own shadow, to the psychotic doctor who’d sworn to kill Julian if he ever saw him again? Was Jamie finally starting to heal, or was something more sinister going on?

Ryan sighed. At least their life was never boring.

“I have one more thing to tell you. Something I promised myself I would if I lived long enough.”

“What’s that?” God, she killed him. Just the thought of never seeing her again…

He could understand now why Jamie had broken. If he lived through losing Glory, he’d be a basket case too.

He stilled, frozen as her muffled words filled him, quieted the fear that had driven him ever since he found she’d been taken from him. Her reluctant, aggravated tone amused the hell out of him. “I love you too, SG.”

She snorted against his shirt, but for once she didn’t argue with him about the nickname. “Good. Now take me home.”

He chuckled as he looked down at his mate. She was smiling up at him, a trembling one, sure, but that cocky, confident grin was peeking out of the fear, dazzling him. “Yes, dear.”

She shook her finger up at him, nearly poking his nose. “Remember those words, Rye. You’ll be saying them a lot.”

She laughed, and the sun came out from behind the clouds once more.

They were back in Halle, seated on Max and Emma Cannon’s comfy leather sofa, and clutching each other while Ryan, Barney and Gabe filled the Alpha pair in on what had happened. “I want to call Temp and Faith, let them know you’re safe.”

“Dad isn’t in their lives anymore.” At least she hoped so. If that proved to be wrong, if Temp and Faith had fooled her…

No. No, she knew Temp. Her brother would never betray them that way. He’d tried to intervene, to accept the beatings for her. He wouldn’t turn on her, she was sure of it.

Hope took a deep breath. “We have to tell them about us.”

Glory nodded. Ryan had already told her he’d sensed Temp was present when she changed for the first time. Telling Temp about her shifter status, and what it meant for both her and Hope, was the next step. Odds were good the local shifters would insist on changing Temp and Faith as well, for security reasons. She didn’t envy them that. “I know.”

“I want you there when I tell them what happened to me.” Hope took a deep breath. “They really looked for me?”

Hope nodded, her expression turning incredibly fierce. “Then they deserve to know.”

The determination in her twin’s tone was almost scary. “You’re going to be fine. Ryan and I, we’re going to build a house and we want you to live with us.”

“No.” Hope winced. “I can’t. I don’t want to be around—”

“Shifters?” Glory could understand that, even if it hurt.

“Men.” Hope’s tone was so soft, Glory could barely hear her. “I don’t want to be around men.”

“That could be…problematic.” Max Cannon smiled softly at Hope. “Since the Poconos Pack Alpha is male, and so am I.” He took her hand, ignoring when Hope visibly tried to remove it. “But I give you my word, you’ll be safe here. You’re ours now.”

Hope sucked in a breath and shivered hard, but Glory understood what Max was saying. “He means you’re Pride now.”