Home > Blackwing Defender (Kane's Mountains #1)(13)

Blackwing Defender (Kane's Mountains #1)(13)
Author: T.S. Joyce

Emma watched her lips, so Winter made a mental note to enunciate things clearly when talking to her.

“That’s not really fair, but okay,” Dustin muttered as he slapped a twenty onto her palm. “I want change back.”

Winter scoffed and shoved the bill into her back pocket. “You ordered all the food, Dustin. There won’t be any change.”

“Small towns cost less money,” he called after her as she made her way toward the gravel road. “Aren’t you going to wish me luck on my interview?”

“Knock ’em dead,” she called with a wave over her shoulder. “Tell more poop jokes. I’m sure they’ll let you right in.”

She’d avoided contact with Logan on purpose and would just get him the same thing Dustin ordered. She would even play super nice and order a meal for Beast, and maybe Kane and Rowan as well, even though she was a little miffed that Rowan had told Logan she’d recommended him for the crew. The interview stuff should’ve been private.


Dammit. Winter had eavesdropped, so she had no right to be mad at Rowan.

“I’ll drive,” Logan said from right beside her. Winter yelped and clutched her chest. How had he snuck up on her like that? He was huge, and bears had a tendency to lumber. Not him, though. He walked beside her with a smooth gait that didn’t dislodge a single gravel pebble under his boots. Logan was scary. And sexy. But definitely scary first.

The thought of being trapped in a small space with him had her animal on edge, so Winter dragged her feet and looked back toward Kane’s house. Toward the others, where it felt safer in large numbers.

Emma was cleaning up the discarded applications fluttering across the ground, and Dustin was watching the petit human with an unfathomable expression, his head cocked like a dog. Up on the porch, Beast was standing at the top step, so tall he easily gripped the edge of the roof in his hands and looked the epitome of a relaxed man. Except for his face. He was staring at Winter, warning in his eyes, and slowly shaking his head no.

Winter ran into a wall of muscle. Logan steadied her, strong grip on her upper arms. An ember of heat cracked between them, right where their skin met, and they both flinched away hard from each other.

“What did you do?” he demanded.

Her chest fluttered with the remnants of that shock. “I didn’t do anything. M-maybe we should take different cars.”

Logan had been stoic-faced since she’d met him, but for a moment, she swore she watched hurt flash across his face before it turned to stone again. “You’re scared of me.”

“I’m not.”

“You are. I can smell it.” He snarled up his face for an instant in an expression that was terrifying, but then it was gone, too, just like the hurt. “You’re in no danger from me. Everyone else…maybe. But not you.”

“That doesn’t make me feel much better.”

“You heard.” He wouldn’t meet her eyes anymore, and now he was leaning back against a white pick-up truck with black-out rims and huge mud tires. It was shiny and expensive looking.

“Does mercenary work pay well?” she asked, careful to keep the bitterness out of her voice.

Logan huffed a disgusted sound and stared off into the woods. And when at last he gave her his gaze again, his eyes churned light silver. “You stole from me.”

“I’m no thief.”

“You are. You listened in on something I didn’t want to share. Absorbed it without my consent, and you didn’t share anything back. Thief enough.”

Winter narrowed her eyes and yanked the passenger side door of his truck open. “Get in,” she growled.

Logan’s lips turned up in a slightly wild smile as though he liked her sass.

The truck had that new car smell and was pristine. The Silverado was detailed down to the cup-holders with light gray interior, and even the floor mats were dirt-free. She clutched her purse in her lap like a shield as Logan gracefully climbed in behind the wheel. And as soon as he turned on the truck, before she could change her mind, she pulled the V-neck of her shirt to the side and closed her eyes tightly so she wouldn’t see his reaction to the claiming mark on her shoulder. Her greatest shame.

She didn’t have to see him to know his reaction. She could hear it in the snarl that rattled his chest and filled every molecule of air in the cab.

“You’re claimed.” It wasn’t a question, and when Winter opened her eyes, he was gripping the steering wheel in a white-knuckled stranglehold.

“I thought I was. He chose another.”

Logan frowned and released the wheel. “You didn’t claim him back?”

“Oh, I did. I had it all. Perfect life. Perfect mate. Perfect future. He married my best friend two days ago. Ex best friend,” she corrected. “They’re going to have a little panther cub in a few months. Lynn will be covering the claiming mark I gave him with one of her own.”

“You separated from your mate?” he asked, looking utterly baffled.

“No,” she said, choking on the word. “He got Lynn pregnant while we were together. While I thought we were happy, he was breaking our bond and giving one to her.”

“But that’s not how it works. You don’t just choose another. You claimed each other, so how the fuck did he even see another woman?” Logan shook his head and looked enraged. The air was too heavy to breathe comfortably, so she rolled down her window for some relief.

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