That knowledge made Liam’s hands ball into tight fists. His skin pulled taut as his inner wolf instinctively primed for battle. The sharp scent of his own restrained rage was the only thing that allowed him to get his wolf under control. The time would come when that unknown bastard would feel his pack’s wrath.

Connor’s voice cut through his thoughts, completely silencing his beast. “For the time being we’re going to watch and listen for any threats. We’re going to keep our guard up and quietly ferret out as much information as we can. However, we won’t be blindly attacking APL members.” He glanced around the room.

Liam nodded even though his brother already knew he’d follow him into hell. If Connor didn’t want them taking any physical action against the APL, he’d abide by that. For now. Aiden and Noah also nodded.

As they did, Connor continued. “I just got off the phone with Jayce about an hour ago and he has new intel. There’s been a report of someone possibly dealing vamp blood to humans. The APL included.”

Liam straightened against the mantel. “Where?”

“Out of Winston-Salem.”

A little over two hours from where they lived. “How good is this intel?”

Connor shook his head, his expression grim and weighted down with all the responsibility of his pack. “Don’t know yet. Jayce said he wanted to follow up on a lead once he got here, but if APL members are taking the stuff, it changes the playing field.”

His brother didn’t say what they all already knew. Humans who ingested vampire blood gained superstrength. The effects didn’t last forever, but it gave them a shot of adrenaline and pleasure no manufactured drug ever could. It also dulled them to pain in a way that could become very dangerous. If APL members were taking the stuff, it put beta shifters—those weakest in the pack structure—at a much higher risk. It also put all shifters at a risk to underestimate their opponents. Liam had no doubt he could take on a handful of humans hopped up on vamp blood, but if there was a gang of them against one shifter, even a powerful one, the odds of survival slimmed. “Shit,” he muttered.

The others in the room silently nodded in agreement. If humans were taking vamp blood, Liam was damn sure vampires weren’t selling it to them. Which likely meant someone had captured a vampire and was siphoning the blood. Holding a vamp hostage was hard to do, but vampires weren’t pack oriented like shifters. If one had gone missing, it was possible no one even noticed.

And this only created a new set of problems for shifters and all paranormal beings everywhere. As silence descended on the room, something icy settled in his chest, spreading slowly to all his nerve endings. Being newly bonded with a baby on the way ratcheted up his protective nature in a way he’d never thought possible.

That need to protect would never go away. It was so deeply ingrained in him it was part of who he was. Despite the fact that there was now one person—and soon two—in the world he couldn’t live without, it was worth being tied to December in a way he’d never have with anyone else. Bonding with her made him feel intrinsically whole. He hadn’t even known something had been missing until she’d filled that gap inside him. Whatever the future held, as long as she was by his side and he got to wake up to her face every morning, he knew there wasn’t much they couldn’t handle.

Almost as if she’d sensed his mood, December’s soft voice cut through his thoughts using their bondmate link. I love you, Liam.

As his brother continued talking about their plans to follow and watch known APL members and keep an ear to the ground about vamp blood usage, Liam had to bite back a smile as he communicated with his mate. Right back at you, Red.