Tangle of Need

By: Nalini Singh

I’d almost think J had imagined his conversation with her, except he’s not the imagining type.

I’m making sure her limbs are exercised and that she’s getting the nutrients she needs. Otherwise, I’m at a loss.

Let me know if any of you have had a breakthrough.

FROM: Ashaya<[email protected]>

TO: Lara<[email protected]>

CC: Sascha<[email protected]>;

Tammy<[email protected]>;

Amara<[email protected]>

DATE: Aug 26, 2081 at 1.00 p.m.

SUBJECT: re: Patient A

Amara and I are continuing to work on the chemical traces discovered in her blood. We hope to find clues as to an antidote that’ll work better than our emergency formulation, but some of the chemicals appear to be unknown.

FROM: Amara<[email protected]>

TO: Ashaya<[email protected]>

DATE: Aug 26, 2081 at 1.02 p.m.

SUBJECT: re: re: Patient A

Not unknown. Simply uncategorized. You and I both now know about them.

FROM: Sascha<[email protected]>

TO: Lara<[email protected]>

CC: Tammy<[email protected]>;

Amara<[email protected]>;

Ashaya<[email protected]>

DATE: Aug 26, 2081 at 4.45 p.m.

SUBJECT: re: re: Patient A

I’d like to see her. My empathic senses have been in a heightened state since the birth and there’s a higher chance I may sense something, especially since she did wake up once. One thing I know for certain: there is someone within her body. We just have to find a way to set her free.

Chapter 5

ADRIA DIDN’T KNOW how she’d survived the rest of the trip up to the hydro station; the silence in the SUV had been excruciating. The journey down, the mountains bathed in the gentle afternoon sunlight, was better—she chose to ride in Mack’s vehicle, having been able to fix the problem that had stalled it. Her excuse about needing to be with him in case the truck broke down again was accepted without question. Mack’s trainee rode with Riaz, and Mack, with his silver-threaded curls and skin of warm brown marked by quiet laugh lines, was a man comfortable with silences.

Back in the den, she didn’t stop until she was in her quarters with the door safely shut. Only then did she collapse on the bed. “Christ, Adria.” Shaking from the impact of a day that had spiraled out of control from the instant she’d run into Riaz, she just sat there, trying to get a grip on her emotions.

The knock on the door was familiar, but she ignored it. Her visitor persisted, having obviously scented her presence, until she muttered, “It’s open.”

Indigo, dressed in jeans paired with a plain white tee that flattered the curves of her tall body, closed the door and leaned back on it. “Hurts me to say this, Ri, but you look worse than you did after you caught the plague when you were seventeen.”

The “plague” had been a nasty case of food poisoning. “Thanks for the pick-me-up.” She scowled at the woman who had been her friend most of her life. “Now go away.”

Rolling her eyes, Indigo strode across the room to sit beside her instead. “Martin’s not been hassling you, has he?”

“No. I made it clear we were done.” He hadn’t taken the news with any grace, all traces of the funny, gentle man she’d fallen for corroded to nothingness by years of slow bitterness. But Martin wasn’t the male on her mind right then. “You had a thing with Riaz, right?”

Indigo blinked at the blunt question. “Yes, but years ago, well before he left for Europe. We were friends.”

It wasn’t such a strange thing to hear from a changeling. Sharing intimate skin privileges was an integral part of their nature, and there was nothing wrong with being with a friend who cared enough about you to ensure your pleasure. It didn’t matter if the lovers knew their friendship would never lead to a relationship—friendship was a precious thing to a wolf, to be cherished on its own merits.

Indigo nudged at her when she didn’t continue, her namesake eyes perceptive. “Riaz?”

“Yeah.” Knowing no further explanation was needed, she shoved her hands through her hair, messing up her braid. “It’s weird. You’re my niece.”

Indigo made a distinctly inelegant sound. “Please. We grew up as sisters.”

“Even worse.”

“Would you cut that out?” A sharp elbow to the ribs. “Everything else aside, we happen to be two dominant women in one pack with a bare few years between us—the only surprise is that we didn’t cross paths with the same man before now.”

In spite of the fact she was the one who’d brought it up, Adria’s wolf was sanguine about a past long gone. The human part of her, too, knew that Indigo and Riaz’s old relationship had no bearing on the present situation, not given the time that had passed and their complete lack of interest in one another now. It would’ve just made it easier to hide from the turbulence of her own emotions if it had been an issue.

“I don’t know what I’m doing, Indigo.” No man had ever incited her to behave as she had today. “I almost attacked him.” She’d wanted to rip his clothes off, shove him to the ground, taste every inch of his bronzed skin with her lips. “I drew blood.” The taste of iron, metallic and distinctive, had been hot, strong … exhilarating.