I winced. “He’s the next in line to his coven in upstate New York. He knows all the other coven leaders. They have meetings over winter solstice. He can get me in for sure.”
“No. No. Just no,” he said the word fiercely. “I don’t like you spending any time with him. At all.”
I wasn’t sure if he was jealous or just plain didn’t like Matt. I was probably imagining the former, but he did seem a little jealous. “Me neither, but I don’t have a lot of options.”
Lucas grabbed my hand before starting back down the path. He didn’t say anything the whole hike back, but he never once let go of my hand. Not until after he’d helped me into the van.
When we got in and started back toward Cusco, he finally broke the silence. “Fine. You go with that asshole to the see the brujos, but I’ll be watching you. I’ll get as close as I can without setting off their wards. If something goes wrong—if you feel for one second like they’re trying something on you—you shout. I’ll be there in minutes. You just hang in there for me. You got it?”
I nodded. He seemed too upset for me to answer in actual words.
“I need verbal confirmation that you understand.”
I raised a brow at him. Verbal confirmation? “I understand. I’ll yell if I get into any trouble.” I wasn’t sure why he was getting so agitated. “Don’t worry so much. Matt isn’t going to let anything happen to me. I’m too valuable to him.”
“He’s not the only one you’re valuable to.”
I shifted in my seat so that I could see him better, but he didn’t say anything. Just stared at the road as he drove. He gripped the steering wheel tightly, twisting his hands every few seconds.
For the longest time, I’d been protecting everyone else. No one thought about me. Not until this moment. It felt really good. Like I might actually be safe here. Even when I go on the evil brujos’ land, I’d be okay as long as I had Lucas watching out for me.
I was sure I could handle them myself. No matter how evil the sect was, they didn’t have a family member of mine to hold hostage. I was free to defend myself however I wanted.
But still, it was nice that someone cared.
After a few minutes, I sat straight in my seat. “I’ll be okay. Promise. No need to worry about me.”
He grunted, and I had no idea what that meant.
Just when I thought I understood Lucas, he went and changed the game.
From the way Lucas white-knuckled the steering wheel the whole drive back, it was easy to assume he was pissed. He didn’t like my plan. It was too dangerous and I’d be with “that asshole.” The problem was that I didn’t see any other way around it. Those brujos held my one clue. The only thing that could save my brother.
So, I had to do this. Pretend to go along with whatever Matt said so that he’d take me where I needed to go.
Still, Lucas’ reaction was freaking me out. It was like I was missing something. It took me a bit, but I finally worked up the courage to ask. “Why are you so upset? You don’t even know me. Not really.”
“That’s not true. You told me all about your life. I think I know a lot about you, especially now.”
No. I wasn’t buying that. He was upset. And then all the touching. And the way he’d acted when I first met him. Something was up, but I didn’t want to assume anything that wasn’t right. I wanted to know that I wasn’t imagining things.
“That could be right, but you’re not telling me what’s really bothering you. Why not?”
When he turned his head, I saw the glow in his eyes. His wolf was close. I knew enough to know that that was dangerous. “You don’t want me to answer that. Not yet. You’re not ready.”
If I didn’t want the answer, I wouldn’t have asked the question. “Ready for what?”
He gave me a small smile that had a hint of sadness. It wasn’t his big one that made my heart stop. This one made it ache instead. “Me.”
I licked my lips as I searched for what to say. Honestly, I was feeling so many things—fear, longing, hope, to name a few—that I wasn’t sure how to articulate anything. “I… I…”
“Don’t worry about it, princess. I know you’re not ready. We’ll get you through this, and then we’ll deal with what’s next.”
I swallowed, suddenly feeling short of breath in a way that had nothing to do with the altitude. “Okay.”