*Lane episode 4! I feel like this one is going to last a while, because we all know romance is the end goal but things are happening. Enjoy!**
I stepped outside to make the call. Oscar followed me, rubbed against my ankles, and then stood on his hind legs to put his front paws on my knee. I scooped him up so he could settle around my shoulders, his preferred place to be, and tapped at my phone before raising it to my ear. Sharon answered on the second ring.
“Delaney.” Her voice was as no nonsense as always but it held affection and a bit of regret. “I’m glad you called. Listen, what the director is doing to you is bullshit.”
“Thanks.” I swallowed hard, but I really didn’t want to talk about that. I couldn’t not acknowledge it thought, but I was quick to move on. “I need a favor.”
There was a hum from the other side of the line. For a long moment, she didn’t say anything at all. But I knew better than to push. Eight years older than me, she’d been my mentor when I first joined the MBI, and we’d maintained a good relationship throughout the years even as she’d been promoted and assigned her own department. Thankfully we did have that relationship, because she was singularly placed to help in this situation.
“On the record or off?” There was no judgement in her tone.
“A little of both. I don’t want you to catch heat, but I’m gonna need some of your weight here.”
Sharon let out a sigh. “Brief me.”
I quickly ran down the details and then added, “This pack is not one for overacting, and I believe the dad. We need to move quickly.”
“We do.” Sharon’s voice shifted, her tone sharpening. “I’m sending an agent immediately. I can’t give you details because of…I’m sorry, Delaney. But Agent Jasper O’Neil will be there in thirty. If you overhear details, well…” She let that hang. Her voice dropped to a near whisper when she added, “You can trust him. He’ll keep me updated, but if you need me, you have my personal cell.”
The last was said with a deliberate tone. I immediately understood what she was saying. And as much as I wanted to push for more detail, I knew I couldn’t. She was walking a fine line as it was, and I didn’t want to put her in a bad spot. Sharon had always been one to bend the rules, but never break them.
I’d learned from the best after all.
But I understood that this was bigger than just Archer going missing. My heart gave a painful thump that this pack had been caught up in it. Worse when I thought of Walker and his pretty eyes, scared for his child. I needed to get back in there.
“Talk to you soon.” She hung up on me and I shoved my phone back into my pocket and slipped back into the house.
Gareth and Aeron were still setting up in the living room, but they were almost done. I almost offered to help, because while I wasn’t as strong as either of them magically, I could still boost their power. But I kept that to myself for the moment, ready to step in and help if it looked like they needed me. They were used to working together, and as brothers, their magic was intrinsically similar. The resonances were genetically linked, and that went farther than anything I could do to boost them.
Instead, I focused on Walker, beelining right to him and once again pushing down the jealousy that threatened to overwhelm me from how he was leaning against Marco.
“Agent Willis?” Walker’s voice shook.
“Just Lane. Please.” I took a breath and reminded myself that even though the director had stripped me of my position, I was still an Agent. More than that, I was a field agent despite not having that job anymore. It was who I was and nothing could change that. “I need you to listen to me, okay?”
Walker nodded but there was no missing the fear in his eyes.
“Another agent is on his way, and he’ll get here as fast as he can. My…contact couldn’t give me details, but she let enough slip that tells me this is bigger than Archer. Something else is going on.” At my words, Walker’s knees buckled, and for once, I was faster than a shifter. I caught him and pulled him in tight, holding him up. The moment he was in my arms, something zinged up my spine. He fit perfectly against me, and he smelled so good. Like citrus and fresh linen.
Instinctually, I grasped the back of his neck and squeezed. I needed to comfort this man. At my touch, he melted against me, clinging a little, and I let him. Dipping my head, I spoke in his ear.
“We will find your son. We will do everything in our power to get him back. I don’t know what’s going on yet, but I’m going to help you navigate this. I’m not going anywhere. I promise.” The instant the words were out of my mouth, I realized how intense it sounded. It was too much too fast, and it didn’t make sense. My scrambled, my mind racing, trying to figure out how to backtrack and make it sound more professional. Better.
But before I did, some of the tension left Walker’s shoulders. He took a deep breath, his nose pressed against my neck, and then jolted. After another second, he pulled back, his big, dark, pretty eyes staring up at me.
It was so heartfelt, so sincere, that all I could do was offer a shaky smile and take his hand in mine. I squeezed tightly, trying to let him know I was there without words. I was too scared to open my mouth again, afraid I would say something completely inappropriate or too far again.
Oscar took the opportunity to jump from my shoulder to Walker’s, leaning in and pressing his little nose against Walker’s cheek. At that, Walker managed the tiniest of smiles, and he reached up to scratch Oscar’s ears.
What the heck was going on? I was never like this, and certainly not in the middle of a case. Even if it wasn’t mine, and I’d been demoted. What was it about Walker that called to me so? None of this made any sense.
I didn’t have time to devote any brain power to figuring it out right now. Maybe later I could give it some thought.
Marco was staring at me, and his gaze pierced into me. I turned just my head to see him, and he squinted at me. I was sure he was going to say something. His lips parted. But then Gareth’s voice rang out.