Shiva joined them as the sun was setting. Cali noticed the tension between her and Anya. Something about the way they held themselves set off an alarm in his head as they entered the den.
Cali nudged Jacob and gave the barest nod toward Anya and Shiva.
Jacob frowned, then a smile curved his lips. He tugged, and Cali tipped his head down so Jacob could whisper in his ear. “Sexual tension.”
Cali almost choked on his spit.
Jacob snickered and patted him on the back. “You okay, Cali?”
“Dandy.” Cali winked then addressed Anya. “How’s Morris?”
“Resting.” Anya hesitated, then walked over to him. “Jenks is staying with him. He’s concerned because of how low Morris’s blood pressure is.”
“He should be healing, at least somewhat,” Shiva added, joining them. “Morris is a powerful shifter. I believe that’s one reason his brother wants him dead, although I could certainly be wrong. He doesn’t talk about Julius on a personal level, but one would assume that Julius and he have had some sort of negative interaction before this murder squad started.”
“You’d think,” Cali murmured, wondering why Morris wouldn’t have shared more details with his team. Shiva seemed to be his stalwart second in command. Then again, it was possible he was wrong. Jenks was the one who was staying with Morris.
Finn held up a hand. “I’d just like to say, I think we should see if Ashton wants to run free again.”
Cali had that one covered. “We talked to him before we came in here. His door is open. He seemed uncertain of what he would do, and there is only so much I can understand when he is in his feline form and yowling. Or purring. Regardless.” He shrugged. Ashton was capable of closing the door again even if he didn’t shift. It opened inward, and he only had to smack it with one of his paws and do the same to the lock on it.
Anya looked worried, fine lines fanning out from the edges of her eyes as she glanced past Cali. “He might prefer to stay isolated.”
“Whatever he decides to do is fine with me. I didn’t set this place up so I could have shifters to command.” Cali suppressed a shudder at the idea. “I want everyone to make up their own mind.”
Anya nodded. “Of course. Ashton will do what he chooses. I don’t know anything more about him than you do, but I could guess that humans have hurt him in some way.”
“It could be that his own kind hurt him,” Shiva added. “Of course, I haven’t met this Ashton, but if he hasn’t told anyone his story, who’s to say where the blame lies, if there is any? Perhaps he is happy the way he is.”
“He never shifts,” Anya informed her. “At least that I know of. He stays in his cat.”
Shiva appeared unphased. “If he’s hurting no one, does that matter?”
“No, it doesn’t,” Cali answered. “He can be what he wants. Why is Morris so ill? Did Jenks not get all the silver out?”
“He did, but as I said, Morris is more sensitive to it than Jacob is.” Shiva shrugged. “There is no way of knowing silver tolerance levels for a shifter until they’ve been exposed to it internally. We knew Morris’s tolerance for it because he told us, although he didn’t explain how he knew. Regardless, he will recover. It’ll just take time.”
“How long?” Cali held up a hand. “Wait. I want to see him.”
Shiva arched one dark eyebrow at him. “Why? Do you think I’m lying?”
Anya snorted, surprising Cali. He hadn’t heard her make such a noise before. “Shiva, he knows I was with you and saw Morris. That’s got nothing to do with his request.”
“Right. I’d like to speak with Jenks and see if Morris is able to talk.”
“May I check with Jenks first?” Shiva asked.
Cali nodded. “Of course.” He looked at the rest of the people in the room. “Anyone have questions? Suggestions?”
Dion bit his bottom lip.
“Dion?” Cali prodded.
He shook his head. “No, I’m…I’m just scared. I’m going to go check on Ashton.” Dion ducked out of the room, almost running to make his escape.
“He’s right to be scared,” Jacob said. “I’ve seen what these bastards do. If they hadn’t wanted to use me, I’d have been slaughtered without a moment’s hesitation. These are the people—shifters and humans combined—that murdered innocents, adults, teens, children, babies, pregnant shifters, and didn’t bat an eye over it. Didn’t matter what for my pack members were in. What kind of person can look at a baby and murder it?”
“One that needs to fucking die,” Finn snarled. “We need weapons. Do we have weapons?”
Shiva held up one finger. “Morris had plans to work with you all on weapons training this afternoon, originally. I checked his notes. Then things went askew.”
Cali’s brain snagged on weird things sometimes, like now, it wanted to point out that Shiva had used ‘askew’ in all seriousness. He ignored that impulse. “Morris had told me as much when I signed the contract with him. He said he would outline a plan and revise it as needed. Weapons…what kind are we talking about?”
Shiva’s grin sent a chill down his spine. “Ones that will leave nothing but a little dust behind if we hit our targets. You haven’t met Maggie, our weapons expert. She and Qadhi have been working on something new, and Mags emailed me earlier to let me know they’d succeeded.”
“What…” Cali was almost afraid to ask. “What did they create?”
Shiva shook her head. “I don’t know the specifics. Mags and Qadhi are very tight about sharing things until they’re perfected. All I know is, some sort of laser is involved. That kind of thing is not my forte. I couldn’t tell you if it’s a laser like one would play with a cat with, or the kind that cuts through things. Neither would surprise me. With your permission, I can have them brought in by helo.”
“I’d like to speak to Jenks and, if possible, Morris, before I give the okay. This…weapon, sounds extremely dangerous. I’m not sure it’s something I want around here if there’s any risk to the people living at the refuge.”
“Mags and Qadhi would never endanger us, but I understand your concern and you don’t know either of them. Let me check in with Jenks.” Shiva took her phone off the clip at her waist and tapped the screen. “Jenks, Cali and Jacob need a word with you and Morris. Any chance he’ll be alert and capable of a conversation?”
She listened for a moment and her entire expression lightened. “That’s great. I knew you’d pull him out of it, Jenks. You’ve got the skills of a true healer.” After another few seconds, she tucked her phone away. Her smile softened the sharp angles of her face, and Cali noticed Anya staring at her with undisguised want.
“Morris is already doing much better. Jenks did some of his medic mojo—I never ask what. He said Morris’s BP is stable and his healing ability has finally kicked into high gear.” Shiva turned then and caught sight of Anya. A blush stained Shiva’s cheeks. “Um, if you’ll follow me?”