Even Tabby had her head lowered. “For the most part, they’ve come, respected our boundaries, kept to themselves, and gone home when they graduated.”

“Except now we’ve got a wannabe Wolf Alpha roaming the streets, a Fox in the hospital, a group of Bears on the warpath, and God knows what else on the way.”

Emma sounded more thoughtful than upset. She rested her elbow against her knee and propped her chin in her hand. “Who the hell stood over my cradle and talked about living in interesting times?”

Max turned to his spouse, amused. The mist retreated, his eyes turning back from gold to sky blue. “At least we don’t have any more Senators running through town and co-opting our people.”

“Do you think it was Gary who attacked Chloe?”

Bunny turned to find Sarah, Gabe’s mate, staring up at him. “I have no idea, but I’m not sure why he would. Does he even know she exists?”

They all stared at Tabby, who shrank in on herself. “How the hell would I know? I stay as far away from him as I can.”

The man frowned. “We need to set Puma guards on Chloe, make sure no one can get into her room without authorization.”

Bunny bristled. “My family is there. Trust me, no one will get to Chloe.”

Adrian nodded. “I’ll need to discuss with them a rotation, so that they can get some rest. I have some people I trust to put with her, and I’m sure Gabe can come up with a few names as well.” Gabe nodded. “I’m going to assume you’re researching any possible human involvement, like a work rival or a romantic one?” Gabe nodded again, his eyes rolling. “Okay.” Adrian turned back to Max.

“Everything’s being done on the Chloe side that we can do for now. Without Chloe being Puma, there isn’t any way for me to monitor her physically other than keeping in touch with Jamie Howard.”

“Do that.” Max pointed at both men. “I want regular updates on her condition.

Once she’s awake, we can find out from her what she saw of her attackers. Maybe she’ll be able to identify whether or not it was shifters who did this.”

Max eyed Gabe. “We find out if it was Pumas, specifically my Pumas, who did this. If it wasn’t, whoever it was is all yours. Hell, if it was my Pumas, they’re all yours after I Outcast them.”

Whoever hurt Bunny’s baby cousin was going to pay in a big, big way.

“We still need to deal with the Gary issue,” Emma pointed out. “Whether or not he’s involved in Chloe’s attack we know he did something to Tabby.”

Speaking of which… “Gabe, could I talk to you alone for a moment?” Tabby tried to ignore the questioning look on Alex’s face. If he found out about Gary’s little stunt in the woods last week, he’d blow his top. There was no way she’d risk letting him go off in a rage. He’d get himself killed.

“Sure.” Gabe helped Sarah to her feet and stood, settling his mate back down in the chair they’d been occupying. He kissed her forehead and released her wrists.

Tabby pointed at Alex, who was about to rise and join them. “Sit. Stay. Good Bear.” She followed Gabe out onto Max’s back deck, ignoring the giggles coming from Emma.

Gabe stood in front of her and crossed his arms, his expression concerned.

“Okay, Tabby. What did you want to tell me that you didn’t want Bunny hearing?”

She described what had happened in the woods. Gary and his proto-Pack surrounding her, the look of lust on their faces. The way Gary had tried to punch out her windshield to get to her.

By the time she was done, Gabe’s eyes had gone gold and he was cursing up a blue streak. “Why didn’t you call me immediately?”

“I meant to, I really did. But I kept getting distracted.”

He glared at her.

She winced. Damn it, he knew her so well, and they’d been friends for only six months. “Fine. I was worried that some people would blame me.” She was Outcast, despite Bunny’s unwavering support. There were those who would hear what Gary had done and shrug, thinking it nothing more than she deserved.

Some would actively encourage Gary, hoping to drive her away. It was one of the many reasons she’d stayed Wolf for years rather than try to find a home in the shifter world. Real wolves didn’t care that she’d been Outcast.

It had been lonelier than anything she’d ever been forced to endure. She prayed every night that she’d never have to face living like that again.

“Admit it. You were worried Max would kick you out of Halle.”

“ Tabby. ” Gabe ran his hands through his hair, obviously frustrated. “How many times do I have to tell you? You’re home , okay? No one is going to take that away from you, especially not Max.”

Max could take it away by simply turning his back on her. “You don’t have the authority to say that, and you know it. You aren’t the Alpha.”

“No, but the Alpha listens to me, especially when it comes to Outcasts and rogues. I’m a Hunter, for crying out loud. Hell, his Marshall has vouched for you, his Omega thinks you’re wonderful and wants a fucking tattoo now, thank you very much, and even his Curana is in there fighting for you! And Emma barely knows you! So let it go, Tabby.” He pulled her into a hug. “Whether you believe it or not, you’re home.”

She shuddered, collapsing into the embrace. Gabe was solid warmth, his feline scent tickling her nostrils in a—

“Excuse me. Is this a private party or can anyone join?”

She lifted her head to find the back door open. Alex stood there, leaning against the doorjamb, his hands jammed into his pockets. His fangs had descended. He was eyeing Gabe’s hands at Tabby’s waist.

Gabe’s hands lifted up and stepped away from her. “Mind out of the gutter, Bunny. Tabby’s like a sister to me.”

Gabe groaned. “When will people get over that? We never dated! God, as soon as she wakes up, I’m kicking her ass all over again.”

Alex relaxed and chuckled, his fangs receding. “No kicking girl ass. That’s just wrong.”