“We’ll be in those woods in about twenty minutes. Get there as fast as you can.”
Julian hung up the phone and placed it on her console.
She blinked. “That’s it? Alex is our only reinforcement?”
Julian smiled, one of those enigmatic expressions she was beginning to realize meant he knew more than he was willing to share. “Everyone else will come when needed. I know that much.”
“Okay.” She wasn’t certain a few well-placed phone calls wouldn’t be better, but she had to trust that Julian knew what he was doing.
“No.” Ryan’s eyes hadn’t left Glory once. They’d remained a deep chocolate brown the entire time. “You go. I need to stay and protect my mate.”
Bunny agreed. “She’s right. Julian had a vision. He and Tabby are headed into the woods, and I think they’re going after Gary. They need us. Glory doesn’t.”
Glory’s eyes narrowed. “And you are not leaving me behind while my friend is in danger.”
She opened her mouth to answer and saw the smirk on Ryan’s face. “I want to go with you. Asshole.”
He threw his head back and laughed. “You aren’t going anywhere.”
“Says me. Gary might have more friends we don’t know about. I’m not leaving you unprotected.”
Glory’s pixie face turned grim. “Your cousin’s mate is in danger. You could solve your problem by putting me on the back of your bike and taking me with you, thus protecting both of us. You’ll know where I am even while you fight.” She suddenly glared up at him. “And if you think you can keep me locked up in here while Tabby’s in trouble, you’re sorely mistaken. I will figure out a way out of here and when I do I will make your life a living hell.” She reached up and yanked on his shirt, bringing the much larger man down to her. Bunny knew Ryan allowed it, if he’d wanted she’d have a better chance of lifting herself off the floor that way than dragging him down. “Do we understand one another?”
Ryan pretended to think about it. “Define living hell.”
She snarled at him. “Have you ever had Icy Hot smeared inside your jock strap?”
His expression blanked. “Um. Yes. That would be a version of hell.”
They didn’t have time for this. “We have to go now, people.”
Ryan sighed. “You stay where I put you, Glory.” When she went to argue, he covered her mouth with his hand, a hand that took up almost half her face. “I mean it. You aren’t in any way ready to get into a shifter battle. I can’t fight and protect you at the same time. Got it?”
“Get the keys to the shop and start locking up.”
She ran into the back room.
“You always meant to take her.” Bunny was sure of it. His stubborn cousin had given in way too easily.
Ryan shrugged. “I need her to start trusting me. If giving her this helps, then fine.
But understand, she’s my first priority. Any sign she’s in trouble or distress and I’m done.”
Bunny nodded. He understood. He felt the same way about Tabby.
“Let’s go.” Glory somehow managed to both stomp and drift out of the room. It was amazing. Bunny figured it had something to do with the wispy, gypsy-like clothes she favored.
“You heard the woman. Let’s go.” Ryan followed Glory out the door, Bunny leading the way.
He hoped the Pumas understood how badly he wanted to end this thing with Gary. If the Wolf laid one paw on Tabby, he was going to wind up a rug.
Tabby got out of the Jeep and began undressing. You couldn’t change in clothes; you’d get tangled up in them. Rumor had it that Emma’s first change had happened that way, although the details were sketchy and she tended to yowl whenever her mate brought it up. She folded her clothes neatly and laid them on the passenger seat.
She turned to take Julian’s clothing and faced him naked for the first time.
Dayum. The boy was fine . She eyed him up and down, wolf-whistling at him.
Smooth skin glided over defined muscle. Well-defined pecs without a trace of hair drifted down to a washboard stomach and a cock that, even with her limited experience (and his limited interest), still managed to look impressive. His legs were long and lean. Hell, even the man’s feet were sexy. Julian had the build of a runner, strong and sleek. Alex was built more like a body builder or wrestler. She could very easily see Cyn totally losing it when she finally got Julian naked.
He waggled his eyebrows, a cheeky grin crossing his face. “You’re not bad yourself.”
She eyed him appreciatively. “Cyn is in a hell of a lot of trouble.”
Some of the amusement left his face. “Yeah. If I get out of this.”
She could sense his nerves and his determination. Whatever was going to go down was inevitable now. She would do everything she could to see that Julian came out of this alive. “Let’s change.”
He nodded, and began to shift.
Watching another person shift shape was incredible. There was no blinding flash of light and bam, you had a bear. Nor was there the sound of crunching, grinding bones and sizzling agony seen in horror films. It was more like watching water flow through the person, moving them, bending them, blending them with their animal in a liquid haze of a dream until the man was gone and only Bear remained. She knew if she’d touched him during his shift all she would have felt was warmth, the comforting presence of man and beast flowing through her fingers. Anyone looking on from the outside would assume the feeling would be wet or slimy, but it wasn’t. It was airy and tingled in her palms. It was sensual and innocent in a way a non-shifter could never understand.
When Julian was done shifting, she got her first good look at a Kermode Bear. He was almost pure white, with a smattering of light gold fur at his shoulders and along his back. He had a thick, stubby tail and a long snout with a black nose.
He had the general shape of a black bear with his rounded ears and sleek body, unlike Alex’s more blunted face, heavy ruff and humped, muscled back. He was easily a few feet shorter than Alex’s Bear. Make his fur black instead of white and he’d look right at home in these woods.