“Are you sure he was shot and not just—” Wick cringed as Cali glared at him. “Er.”
“I know what I saw, just like Jacob knows what he saw.” Cali tipped his chin toward Anya. “You were watching us talk to Shiva.”
“Yes, and, well, I had talked to her earlier too.” And Anya surprised the crap out of Cali by blushing. “She seemed honorable to me. It’s…disappointing to hear that she lied, but I believe you and Jacob. I just wish I knew why she lied.”
“Maybe she’s one of them,” Finn muttered. “Maybe they all are, and we’ve let the devils in our door.”
Jacob shook his head. “They aren’t.” Then he frowned and bit his bottom lip. “At least, none of the ones I’ve met are.”
“What does that mean?” Dion asked, turning away from the window he’d been staring out.
Tally scratched his chin. “Yeah, what doesthat mean?”
“What if the ones that slaughtered my former pack are connected to Morris and his team, are even a part of it, but have remained out of sight?” Jacob’s frown deepened. “But why?”
“Former pack?” It was bad timing, but the two words escaped Cali unbidden.
“You’re my pack now,” Jacob whispered, his eyes luminous as he faced Cali. “All of you.”
“I’m not your alpha. I mean that for everyone, in case I haven’t been clear.” He couldn’t look away from Jacob. “We are equals. I want us to discuss options and plans, hopes and dreams. I don’t want to dictate them.”
Anya cleared her throat, and Cali managed to drag his gaze to her.
“But sometimes, someone willneed to take charge,” she said. “Things happen. Important decisions might need to be made on the spot, without time for discussion.”
“And in such circumstances, we should, always, be aware of what’s best for us as a whole, not as an individual. I want that unity,” Cali added. “I’ve always longed for it. If any of you think that’s not going to work for you, speak up now and we’ll try to find a compromise.”
“Sounds like nirvana to me.” Tally nudged Wick. “Doesn’t it?”
“Yeah,” Wick agreed.
“I’m good,” Dion chimed in.
Finn nodded. “Someone needs to check with Ashton, but I’m pretty sure he’s happy here.”
“I’ll—” Cali stopped when he heard the front door open. He cocked his head, listening for footsteps. They weren’t quite rhythmic, as if whoever was approaching was injured. “Ah.”
Someone knocked on the door. Cali didn’t need to check monitors or scents. It was no surprise at all when, after he called out, “Come in,” Morris entered the room.
He looked rough, paler than usual, with deeper lines trenched around his eyes and mouth. Morris swayed when he closed the door, and he leaned against it, his lips pressed into a thin line.
Through the white t-shirt he wore, it was easy to see the thick padding of bandaging on his chest and over his shoulder.
Not a graze, and not trying to hide that fact.
Cali waited for Morris to speak. The man obviously had something he wanted to say.
After a long moment of uncomfortable silence, his gaze locked with Cali’s, Morris sagged against the door. “You can’t…you can’t terminate our contract. We’re too close.”
“Explain that.” Cali was not settling for anything but the truth, all of it.
Morris held the door knob with one hand, as if maybe that knob was all that was keeping him upright. “These men you saw, we’ve been trying to find them for years. I can’t…can’t let them get away, and they won’t leave until everyone here’s dead.”
“How do you know that?” Cali’s heart began racing as he slid his hand in Jacob’s. “Who are they? Who are you?”
Morris sighed. “Can I sit before I fall down?”
Cali felt like an ass, even though he was suspicious of Morris. “Of course. Do you need help?” The man was hurting.
“No, I—” Morris pushed away from the door, stumbled, but kept upright. He collapsed into the nearest chair. “It wasn’t a graze. You know that.”
“I do.” The fact that Morris wasn’t asking to speak to Cali in private meant something, he just wasn’t sure what.
Morris leaned his head back, swallowed, then raised it again. “I’d have bled out if I wasn’t a shifter.”
And there it was, the suspicion Cali’d had, confirmed. Or was it?
“A shifter? Really?” Anya didn’t sound anything but skeptical. “What are you talking about? What do you shift?”
“Yeah, a shifter of what? Words? Alliances?” Finn pointed at him. “We don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Morris’s nostrils flared. “I deserve that. Secrecy is—fuck it.” He shuddered then the air around him shimmered. It took only seconds for him to morph into an animal that looked like a fox but wasn’t. It was too large, almost wolf-like, but not.
“What is he?” Dion asked. “A wolf-fox mix? Is that possible?”
Morris sniffed, then whined and licked at the wound on his shoulder.
“He looks like a maned wolf to me,” Anya said. “He’s neither a fox nor a wolf, despite the name.”
Cali turned to Anya. “How—”
She held up a tablet. “I love this thing. I can find out so much about the world this way. Google is amazing.”
“It does come in handy.” Cali examined the picture Anya had pulled up, read the first few sentences of the creature’s description before facing Morris again. “You’re a shifter. Why hide it from us?”
Morris shifted again. He winced as he grabbed his shirt and draped it over his groin. “Because the less people who know that, the better, wouldn’t you agree?”
“But you know what we are,” Cali pointed out.
Morris canted his head, narrowing his eyes at Cali. “Do you think the men who killed Jacob’s pack are all human?”
Cali went cold all over, and Jacob gasped.
“Because they aren’t, not all of them. They’re shifters working with humans to annihilate us.” Morris picked up the bloody bandage and pressed it to his wound. “And I know this because the lead shifter is my twin brother.”