**And now onto episode 7 for Lane! Emotions are still high. Enjoy!**
Walker didn’t say a word as I broke about seven traffic laws to get us to headquarters as quickly as possible. Oscar was in his arms, though, and Walker seemingly mindlessly rubbed the cat’s ears while Oscar purred as loudly as possible. I’d have to remember to give my familiar extra treats for trying to calm the worried wolf.
I parked—badly, but I didn’t care—and raced around the front of the vehicle in time to catch Walker before he strode off. He still had Oscar firmly in his hold, and since Oscar didn’t seem to care, I didn’t mind. Instead, I led Walker to the front doors and right to the reception desk. Then staunchly ignored the strange looks John shot me as he signed Walker in and passed over a visitor badge. I had every right to be in the building, and since Sharon had requested I bring Walker in, I even had the right to bypass protocol and take him straight to the tenth floor and her office. No one tried to stop me.
Until I hit the hallway leading to the conference room and Chad Toddington stepped in my way.
The agent was a no neck bull shifter with a chip on his shoulder who very much liked to throw his weight around. He was broad enough to take up at least half the hallway, and he planted himself firmly in our path, his gaze fixed firmly on me.
“You can’t be here. I’ll take this one.”
Walker’s hand shot out lightning fast to grab my wrist, and that was all that stopped me from exploding. I was done with the bullshit, and my usual even temper was at its end. But Walker’s touch soothed me, gave me a second to think, and instead, I was able to pull in a breath.
“AIC Wright requested that—”
“I don’t give a fuck,” he snarled, and I swear, if he’d been able, smoke would have curled out of his nose.
“He stays with me.” Walker’s voice wasn’t loud, but it was firm. I snapped my gaze to Walker, but he was staring down Chad. “I need him.”
Chad was going to refute that. Red crept along his neck, snaking up his face, and his gaze narrowed. But before he could speak, Sharon stepped into the hall.
“Willis.” It was all she had to say.
I gently broke the hold Walker had on my wrist, only to then wrap my fingers around his. Walker took a breath, and when I stepped around Chad, Walker moved with me. We hurried down the hall and into Sharon’s office.
“Your son is all right,” Sharon said quickly and without preamble. “He’s just finishing up with medical now, and he still needs to be debriefed, but you can see him in just a few minutes. You can be with him throughout questioning, and I’m sorry to say that we need to do that quickly. I just want to fill you in, give you what we know so you can be prepared before we start. So bear with me for just a few minutes and we’ll bring your son to you. All right?”
“But Archer’s okay?” Walker’s voice was high and tight, his eyes a little wild. I intertwined our fingers—because Walker hadn’t let go of my hand—and Oscar pushed his face against Walker’s neck. Walker took a breath, but it had little effect.
“He is. I promise. Fortunately, he was only held for a few hours.” Sharon gestured toward the chairs on the public side of the desk and took her own seat. I had to coax Walker down, and even then, he was still rigid with tension. “He is not unscathed, and your son is a fighter. Which is both good and bad in this situation. He held his own, but he did suffer from bruising and lesions. Medical assures me it’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a shift or two.”
Walker nodded jerkily. “He’s a tough kid. Sweet as hell, but he doesn’t back down from bullies. He’s okay?”
I slid my chair closer. Walker wouldn’t believe his son was okay until he saw the kid for himself. I got that. But it would still be a few minutes, and until then, I was the only support he had. I was happy to provide it.
“Mr. Hemming, I know this is hard to hear. But your son was taken, along with several others, were marked for sacrifice to an old god. We’re still gathering evidence, so we don’t have all the details.” Sharon took a breath. “The symbol was carved into Archer’s chest.”
Walker let out a high-pitched whine that sounded more wolf than human. Oscar echoed the sound. I pulled them both close, since Walker was still holding Oscar in one arm, and Walker pushed his nose right against my neck. He was breathing too fast, and I gripped the back of his neck tightly, letting out a little magic filled with calm to help him get himself under control. It took a moment. But when he was able to breathe without hyperventilating, he turned his head to look at Sharon without pulling away.
Her smile was full of understanding. “He’s going to need therapy after this, someone to talk to. And my guess is he’ll want to spend time as a wolf?”
“Yeah. The pack has a counselor.”
“That’s good.” She looked up, and that drew my attention to the door, where another agent had appeared. The agent said nothing, but Sharon nodded. “If you’ll follow Agent Collins here, she’ll take you to your son.”
For just a split second, Walker looked torn and by the way he gripped me, I knew he wanted me to come. But I needed to debrief with Sharon first, tell her all that I had seen. I dipped my head so I could speak directly in his ear.
“Take Oscar with you.” I gave my familiar a quick scritch on the ruff. “He’ll stay close by and I’ll come find you in a few minutes, after I speak with AIC Wright.”
Walker nodded, took another deep breath, and I sweat I felt the barest hint of his lips on my skin before he pulled away completely. When he stood, Oscar crawled up onto his shoulders and settled in. I shot Oscar a quickly looking, hoping the cat didn’t claw Walker as he sometimes did me, and that my familiar knew I wouldn’t be far behind. Normally, Oscar didn’t like being out of my sight, or rather me being out if his, but the implacable stare I got back told me it would be find.
I watched until Walker disappeared with Collins, then turned my attention back to Sharon. Her mouth was turned down, her eyes squinting a little as she stared at me.
“What’s with you and the wolf?”
I waved that away, because I didn’t have an answer. I just knew that from the moment I laid eyes on him, despite his panic, I’d wanted him. But the fact that Walker seemed not only comfortable in my presence but sought out my touch, warmed my insides. And I was pissed I hadn’t been the one that had ridden in on a white horse and rescued his son.
I wasn’t sure what that said about me.
Sharon let the subject drop, and for that, I was grateful. She pinched the bridge of her nose, breathed deeply, and then focused all her attention on me.
“Tell me what you know.”
Without hesitation, and as quickly and succinctly as possible, I did. I needed to get back to my wolf.