Ryan nodded. “Bear, like all the other animal spirits, chose his people and offered them a gift.”
“Wait. You mean there really are werewolves out there?”
“Yeah.” This was the part Ryan dreaded. “Look, man. It turns out Hope was held by one.”
“Was? You found her?” Temp’s expression was so relieved Ryan began to believe Glory might be right about him. “How is she? Is she safe? Where is she?”
Ryan held up his hands. “The Wolf who took her is dead, she’s alive, but she’s…traumatized, deeply.” Ryan grimaced. “He…did things to her. Turned her into one of us against her will. Temp, she’s broken.”
Temp sat, stunned for a moment before he closed his eyes with a pained expression. When he opened them, Ryan caught sight of tears. “Fuck.”
“Yeah.” Ryan ran his fingers through his hair.
Temp had picked up on that quickly. “He managed to get his hands on both Glory and Hope. One of the Pumas chased them down and killed him before he could get too far with them.”
“Good.” Temp sounded fierce, as fierce as Ryan ever had. “I hope the fucker burns in Hell.” Temp sighed and lifted his head. “She’s going to need us to get through this.”
“Shit balls. You couldn’t lie to me and tell me I’m stuck in some padded room having hallucinations, could you? You just had to tell me the truth.”
Temp blew out a breath. “Both my sisters are shifters?”
“Glory is, yeah. Hope, not so much, but she will be.”
Temp fiddled with his can nervously. “Are you going to change me too? Because I’d guess it’s either that, or…” He drew his thumb across his throat.
Ryan smiled. Temp was turning out to be okay. The man was smart, he’d give him that. “That’s up to you.”
“You know about us. Usually, humans who discover what we are do so because they’re mated to one of us. It’s how Glory wound up changing.”
Ryan snarled. “The son of a bitch changed her against her will. He had some weird delusion that she was his mate, but she wasn’t.”
“God damn it.” Temp wiped his eyes with the back of his hand, and Ryan pretended not to see the moisture still gathering there.
“We’re going to do everything we can to make her feel safe and heal her wounds, inside and out. But you’re going to have to help us.”
“Let me or one of my family change you, or choose one of the local species to do it.” There was no way Temp wasn’t going to wind up changed.
“So I’d be a Bear like you and Glory.”
“Or a Fox, if one of my cousins changes you, yeah.”
Temp blinked at that, but didn’t say anything about Foxes and Bears. “You said each spirit gave each species gifts. What are they?”
“Bears have the ability to heal, but it drains our energy, makes us tired. Foxes can hide their scent, enabling them to hide from other shifters remarkably well, but when they want to be found it can be…difficult.” They’d been lucky that Bunny had stumbled across Heather and her tormentors all those years ago.
“No.” Temp looked startled at the fierceness of Ryan’s reply. “You want to be sober when you make this decision. Whatever you decide will tie you to the shifter group you choose to belong to. If you pick a Wolf, you will need a Pack. Same if you pick a Puma. Bears and Foxes live in family groups, and because I’m mated to your sister you would belong to mine.” Ryan leaned forward.
The wistful expression on Temp’s face disappeared almost as quickly as it came. “I can’t leave Faith behind.”
Ryan had figured as much. “We can change her too, if you like.” Pretty little Faith would make an excellent Fox. The ability to hide in plain sight would soothe her brother’s need to protect her.
“That’s up to her. I won’t take her choices from her. It’s bad enough Hope didn’t get that choice. I won’t do that to Faith.”
“It won’t be up to her if we tell her about all of this.” He held up his hands when Temp rounded on him. “For the safety of your sisters, and all of the shifters in this town and beyond, you’ll need to decide if Faith becomes one of us or not.”
Temp nodded. “This is a lot of information, Ryan.” Temp blew out a breath. He glanced toward Ryan’s apartment, his expression wistful. “Glory really is all right?”
Ryan nodded. “Exhausted, scared and ready to kill a man who’s already dead, but yeah. She’ll be fine.”
They sat in silence, listening to the sounds of the night. “Ryan?”
“I can’t let this happen again.” His expression was tormented. “I failed them both.” His gaze, when he turned it on Ryan, was determined. Ryan knew that look. He’d seen it with Bunny, and in his own mirror. Temp might not have a mate to protect, but his sisters really did mean the world to him. The last of his suspicions about Temperance Walsh fell away. “I need to be able to protect my family.”
Ryan smiled. He’d thought Temp would pick this option. It seemed Glory’s opinion of her brother was spot-on. “I know how you feel.”
“The changing bite will, since you won’t be getting marked by your mate. A mating bite feels…different.” And that was all he was willing to say to his mate’s big brother. There were just some things a man couldn’t share with his mate’s family.