Max nodded, grimacing. “Sorry. I should have worded that better.”
“Yes, you should have, Lion-O.” Emma settled on the sofa next to Hope with a soft sigh. “But I get it.”
“Like you finally belong.” Gabe placed his hand on Hope’s head and ruffled her hair, ignoring the way she tried to get out from under his touch. “You’re definitely ours now. I can feel you.”
“And if things go well with Rick and Belle, you’ll have dual status, becoming a member of both Pride and Pack.” Emma grinned. “We’ll share you like we do Tabby Garwood.”
“It will mean you’ll have a choice of living here, or in the Poconos with the Pack, and have the freedom to move between both.” Max’s smile was gentler than his mate’s, but no less sincere. “Glory is already a part of the Pride, along with Tabby, Alex, Cyn and Julian.”
Glory shivered as the Alpha reaffirmed her place in the Pride. The sensation of belonging somewhere, of being accepted flaws and all, filled her.
She had family again, family that accepted her just because she was Glory Walsh, not because she was Ryan’s mate. And the feeling was heady.
“Oh.” Hope relaxed, giving them a genuine smile for the first time since they’d found her. “I can feel that.”
“I can feel you now, and…” Gabe stuttered to a halt. “What is that?”
“I don’t know.” Max stood, rubbing his chin as he stared down at Hope. “I’ve never felt anything quite like it before.”
“It’s like…sunshine?” Gabe shook his head. “We need Rick and Belle on this.”
Emma appeared intrigued. “You think Hope is an Omega?” Emma looked intrigued.
“I don’t think so. An Omega’s powers only come into play when they meet their Alpha, and Max already has one.” Gabe grimaced. “Maybe Adrian or Sarah can shed some light on this. There could be something I’m missing here.”
“God, I hope so. This is confusing the hell out of me.” Max plopped down into the overstuffed chair that had his scent all over it. She could tell it was his favorite. “When did Rick say he could come?”
“Belle is having some issues with her hip, and without Jamie…” Emma shrugged. “She’s looking for another shifter doctor, so it could be a few days.”
“What about that kid we sent up there, the one who loved coming into the shop?” Tim had seen Cyn partially change when Glory was shot, and had quickly figured out what was going on. To protect themselves and Tim, they’d given him the option of becoming a Bear, a Puma or a Wolf, depending on who he wanted biting him. Tim had chosen to go to the Wolves, and had left Halle about a month ago. The fact that he was pre-med had delighted the Wolves, who had to travel either to New York or Halle to see a doctor. They’d all agreed to allow Tim to continue attending college in Halle once his Wolf emerged, and he’d agreed to work at the Red Wolf Lodge once he earned his doctorate.
The last time she’d seen him he’d been happy as a pig in mud, and had hugged Tabby and called her “sister”. Tabby had been thrilled to have a Pack member so close. As much as she loved the Pumas, having Pack in Halle made her feel even safer and settled in the town. Sometimes Glory felt it was one of the reasons Max and Emma had agreed so readily to having Tim stay in town.
“He’s not a doctor yet, so Rick isn’t allowing him to do much.” Max smiled as Emma joined him on the overstuffed chair, settling on his lap like it was something they did every day. “They’re talking to the Coyotes, making sure that traveling in and out of their territory for the next ten years until Tim graduates is all right with them.”
“The pass-through treaty allows it, but they’ve only recently become friends with the Coyote Alpha, Nathan Consiglione. They don’t want to stress that too far or too soon.” Gabe took Emma’s spot on the sofa with a weary sigh. “Sarah should be here shortly.”
Hope stood up and walked toward the windows, staring out into the darkness with her arms wrapped around her stomach. Glory kept an eye on her, barely paying any attention to what the others were saying.
“Someone is out there.” Barney, who’d barely spoken since they arrived, startled her.
Ryan’s head swiveled toward the window. Toward Hope. “What do you mean?
Barney shrugged. “I mean, someone is out there. Watching us.”
Hope reached out and touched the glass. “Who is that?”
Glory tried to join her sister at the window, but found herself held back by Ryan. The man’s eyes were speckled with brown. “Rye. I don’t think he’ll hurt me.”
“I don’t want to take that chance.”
He was being unreasonable, but the slight tremble in his arms forced her to forgive him. He was still dealing with the scare of her kidnapping, just as she was. “It’s okay, Ryan.” She leaned against him, needing his nearness, his strength, just as badly as he seemed to need to give it to her. “Besides, if he was going to hurt me he would have done it after he killed Salazar.”
“Why would Jamie be outside?” Max stood, headed toward the front door.
“I think he’s Hope’s mate.” Glory kept her voice down, but Hope’s indrawn breath indicated her sister heard her anyway. Damn it. She hadn’t wanted to scare her sister, but the way Hope trembled in front of the window left her in no doubt her sister was terrified.
“I think it is.” Barney was also staring out the window, but his expression was bemused rather than concerned. “Wolves sometimes have more than one mate.”
“Oh, shit.” Emma paled. “You mean, Hope, Jamie and Marie would have been mates together?”
Max closed his eyes and cursed viciously. “Does he know?”
“I think so. It makes sense. It could be why he’s been sneaking away from his parents’ house. He sensed Hope, her pain and her fear, and his Puma forced him to go to her.”
“And it’s doing the same thing now.” Barney edged closer to Hope, keeping his motions slow, unthreatening. “He lost his first mate. His Puma won’t allow him to lose his second.”