As the wind slid lovingly through his hair, he looked at her with such torment. She felt pierced by his gaze, as if he’d stabbed her with the weapon he wielded with such obvious agitation.

Ani ohev otach, tzel, he’d said to her dream self. I love you, shadow. But I cannot have you. You know this. Why do you tempt me? Why do you flaunt what I crave, yet am forbidden to possess?

Her sorrow over his pain had constricted her lungs and created an ache so overwhelming it roused her from a dead sleep. She’d bolted awake to find tears wetting her face and pillow, and the remnants of sympathy and grief twisting in her stomach. He’d been talking to her, as if she was the source of his agony, yet she couldn’t imagine doing anything to elicit that devastated look on his face. She would die before she ever wounded him so deeply.

Spending the rest of the night alone in her suite at the Belladonna had felt nearly as desolate as when she’d talked to Adrian on the phone four days earlier. The urge to call him again was becoming too forceful to resist. She was worried about him and missed him more than she should.

She sucked in a sharp breath, fighting through a rush of greedy desire and feelings of possession she had no right to. She’d lived her entire life struggling to find a place for herself on the outside looking in at the “normal” people, but it had taken only a couple days to get irrevocably used to fitting in somewhere. Forging it alone after that acclimation was damn hard; wondering if Adrian might be feeling equally adrift was even harder.

Lindsay hit the DIAL button on her phone and lifted it to her ear.

He picked up almost instantly. “Lindsay—is everything all right?”

The knot in her stomach loosened at the sound of his warm, confident voice. “I called to ask you the same question.”

“Ask me . . . ?” His voice faded. “I—”

“Adrian? Are you okay?”

“I’m sorry. I’m still getting used to being asked that question. It’s been a rough couple of days, but it’ll soon be over.”

Her heart faltered a beat. He was so collected and smooth, so pulled together and in command of himself and others; she could see how easy it would be to assume he was always all right. Whom did he lean on when his burdens wearied him? With Phineas gone, did he have anyone?

He’d given her an outlet for her private self. If she could return the favor, if he trusted her enough to do so, she’d consider it an honor. “You don’t sound happy about that.”

“Someone I care about is hurting, and I will have to inflict more pain on her before all is said and done.”

Jealousy dug its claws into her, a response so alien and unwelcome it unsettled her deeply. “I’m sorry. I wish there was something I could do.”

“Just hearing your voice and knowing that you’re thinking of me is enough.”

Lindsay felt a fierce rush of pride that she might continue to be a source of comfort for him, despite everything that stood between them. “I dreamt about you last night.”

“Did you?” His voice took on a seductive smoothness. “Will you tell me about it?”

“You asked me to leave you alone. To stop tempting you.” Sighing heavily, she slumped over the table. “And some horrible part of me didn’t care that I was hurting you by making you want me. I was almost giddy over your anguish. It made me feel powerful to have such a hold on you. I wanted you—whatever the cost.”

He exhaled slowly. “The dream disturbed you.”

“Damn straight it did! I hate that I would think that way for even a moment. I don’t feel that way. I won’t.”

“Lindsay.” He paused. “I know you don’t. It was just a dream.”

“Which means that somewhere in my subconscious that thought exists.” She shoved a hand through her curls. “I don’t want to be that person, Adrian. I don’t want to hurt you, but look at me. I can’t even go a few days without calling you, even though I know we need to keep a professional distance between us.”

“You are not that person.” The gruff note of vehemence in his tone took her aback. “Just as I’m not the Adrian you dreamt of. If anything, the roles in your dream were reversed. You’re asking me to let you walk away, and I won’t. I know you want me, and I’ll exploit your desire to the fullest—I want you that badly. With every day that passes, with every conversation we have, I want you more. It burns in me, Lindsay. I ache for you.”

“Adrian—” Her eyes closed on a sigh. “I’m so sorry we met.”

“No, you’re not. You’re only sorry that there are risks involved.”

“I should run while I can.” She’d moved so far away from her dad for the same reason, because she knew it was too dangerous for him to be around her. She would never forgive herself if something happened to him because of her hunting, just as she’d never forgive herself if Adrian paid a price for being with her.

“I’d find you,” he said darkly. “Wherever you’d go, however you’d hide . . . I would find you.”

A knock came to the adjoining door, yanking her rudely back into the here and now. “I should let you go.”

“I’ll see you soon, neshama. Stay out of trouble until then.”

“No worries there. You’re all the trouble I can handle right now.”

She hung up, then called out, “Come in, El.”

Elijah entered. His hair was still damp from a shower and slicked back from his forehead. He was dressed in his usual loose jeans and T-shirt, and his gaze raked the room as it always did whenever he entered one. The man was a warrior through and through.

“Are you hungry?” she asked, even though she knew the answer already. The guy ate like a . . . wolf.


“Can we please not have room service again? I need to get out of this hotel. It can’t be that dangerous to hit up the Denny’s around the corner, can it?”

“Hmm . . .” He glanced out the window at the cloudless, sunny day. “All right. Bring your bag of tricks.”

Lindsay stood. “I know it sucks for you to be stuck with me, but I’m glad you’re here.”

She adored Elijah, despite the fact that he was a constant reminder of Adrian and the life she could have shared with the angel, if only they were friends and not crazy with desire for so much more. After losing her mother, she couldn’t bear to lose anyone else she loved, and with her hunting, her life was too dangerous to pledge to someone else. It wouldn’t be fair to anyone. But Adrian was special. He shared the life she did, and she resented that she couldn’t even try to have a relationship with him. After all the times she’d wished for someone who could know and understand why she hunted, she’d finally found him—only to discover they could never be together. Even the wind seemed to mourn that injustice, howling softly every time she stepped outside.

“This is a good place for me to be,” Elijah said, rolling his shoulders back as if the muscles were too tight.

“You’re bored out of your mind.”

“Yeah, but I need to keep a low profile now.”

She winced. “Because of me? Because I took off?”

“No.” He exhaled audibly. “I used to be a member of the Navajo Lake pack. Then I was sent to Adrian for observation. Right now, the less I’m observed, the more likely it’ll be that they forget I was any trouble at all.”

“I didn’t peg you for the troublemaker type.” He was too stoic, too honorable. He took his commitments seriously, as evidenced by the fact that he’d jumped on a plane to come after her in spite of being terrified of flying.

“I don’t think I am.”

“Hmm . . . Let’s head someplace to eat, and you can tell me about it.”

“I’m up for the food, not for the talking.”

She shot him a wry look. “After nearly a week in my company, you still haven’t figured me out yet?”

Elijah gave a long suffering sigh and gestured toward the door. “It was worth a shot.”

Lindsay managed to let Elijah mow his way through two full stacks of pancakes and six over-easy eggs, before she pressed him for more information. “So why do people think you’re a troublemaker?”

He dropped a pat of butter onto his hash browns. “I said I was being observed, not that I’m a troublemaker.”

“Okay then.” She pushed aside the remnants of her breakfast. “What are you being observed for?”

He shoveled a massive forkful of potatoes into his mouth. After he chewed and swallowed, he said, “There are some who think I show Alpha traits.”

“Alpha. Like top dog? King of the hill? Master of all he surveys?” She nodded. “Totally.”

He paused with another heaping forkful suspended halfway between his plate and his lips. “You’re not helping.”

“What?” She leaned back into the booth. “What’s wrong with that? Better than being a Beta male for sure. I mean, they have their uses and all. But really, women are looking for sexy, hunky Alpha males. We like that take-charge, take-no-shit, bad-boy vibe. It really does a number on us, which I’m sure you’ve noticed in the course of your seventy-some-odd years of living.”

Elijah exhaled in a way that conveyed endless patience. “Women aside,” he said drily, “it’s not good to show Alpha traits when you’re a lycan.”

“Why not?”

He stared at her for a long moment, as if debating what to say or whether he should say it at all. “The Sentinels are supposed to be the only Alphas. The lycans are supposed to look to them for guidance, not to each other.”

The gravity in his voice sobered her. Lindsay waited until their waitress had topped off her coffee and moved on to another table, then asked, “What happens if it’s decided that you’re an Alpha lycan?”

“I’ll be separated from the others and . . . I don’t know. Alphas don’t come around very often, so I don’t know what happens to them. I’ve heard rumors that they’re kept together and used for non–field assignments, like interrogations, but frankly I don’t see how that would work. You can’t put a bunch of Alphas together and expect them to play nice. But maybe that’s the point—make us kill each other, so the Sentinels don’t get their hands dirty.”

“I can’t believe Adrian would condone that.”

“After working with him, I’m not sure he’s fully aware of how the lycan system is run.” He grabbed the top half of an English muffin and eyed the amount of butter already on it. “He’s out there in the trenches, more so than any other Sentinel I’ve seen. He’s always on a hunt. He hadn’t been home in almost two weeks when you saw us in Phoenix. We’d taken out a rogue minion just a few hours before we ran across you.”

“He’s been away from home for days now.”

Elijah opened two jelly packets and scraped the contents onto his muffin. “Yeah. Hunting is what he lives for. It’s his way.”

She blew out her breath. It was her way, too. The only way she knew. “Okay, you’ll think this is crazy, but . . . what about going into business with me? Bounty hunting maybe? Private investigations? You’d still be hunting. Plus, I’ve got a score to settle that I could really use your help with. We both know I need someone to be the level-headed voice of reason.”

He paused in the act of chewing, staring at her, then washed down his food with half a glass of orange juice. “You think I can just quit?”

“Hey, I’d have to quit my job, too.”

“The only way out of working for the Sentinels is death.”

Lindsay’s pulse stuttered. “What are you saying? You’re prisoners? Slaves?”

He resumed eating. After he swallowed, he said, “I think I’m gonna bring another lycan on board.”

“Okay, ignore the big question. I’ll worm it out of you eventually. As for another lycan, do whatever you think is best. I trust you. I don’t suppose it’s a woman . . . ? I’d feel a lot better about you having to babysit me if you had some fun doing it.”

His green eyes sparkled with laughter.

Realizing how that sounded, she groaned. “That came out wrong.”

“No, it’s not a woman. Just someone who could use a little time away, too.”

“Is he an Alpha?”

Elijah shook his head. “He’s not. Thank god.”

More than anything he’d said, it was the relief in his voice that gave Lindsay chills.

Adrian exited Yellowstone into Gardiner, Montana, just after dusk. He’d located Helena and Mark early in the morning, then held Damien and Jason back until nightfall, giving the two lovers one last day together.

It was a concession the Sentinels obeyed without question but couldn’t understand. Love in the mortal sense was unknown to them. They didn’t grasp the desperate desire, the aching longing, or the purity of joy a mortal felt in finding the other half of his or her soul.

Adrian knew those extremes far too well, but this time with Lindsay was novel in many ways. He couldn’t stop thinking about her, couldn’t stop comparing her incarnation to the ones that had come before. He was used to starting from scratch, but there were always certain constants he’d come to expect. Lindsay deviated from the pattern to such a degree that he could find few markers with which to map their interactions. It was all new and uncharted. And he was captivated by the mercurial emotions she roused in him.

“What are you going to do, Captain?” Damien asked as they entered the small town on foot.

“Arrangements have been made for the lycan to join the Hokkaidō pack.”

“I still think you should put him down,” Jason said. “If ever there was a time to make an example out of a lycan, this is it. When this gets out—”