He also didn’t want Ivy to worry that he’d gotten hurt. Shifters healed fast, but if she’d seen the dried blood and the torn shirt, it would have upset her. Poor woman had enough to deal with after nearly being poisoned to death.
Those damn Jenkins brothers should be counting their blessings she hadn’t died. It was the only reason they were still breathing.
He glanced out toward the street. The sun was about an hour from setting. Maybe they’d sit on the back deck and have their beer out there. It would be nice to unwind with someone like that every day. Especially someone like Ivy. He smiled. Thinking about her did that to him. Thinking about life with her made it impossible not to smile.
Ivy stormed down the steps, her saddlebags over her shoulder. His smile vanished at the anger dancing in her eyes.
She didn’t stop moving. “I have to go.”
“What?” He stopped leaning and stood up straight. “Where?”
“I have to get Charlie. He just called me crying. I don’t know what my father’s done, but I’m not leaving my son there a second longer.” She bit the words out, her emotions visible in her face and stiff movements.
“It’s almost a seven-hour drive.”
“I’m not asking you to go.” She headed for the garage.
“Hold on a second, will you?”
She paused, her hand on the door handle. “Why? My father is terrorizing my son. I’m not waiting another second. I’ve already waited long enough.”
“Because I might have a better solution.” He pulled his phone out and dialed.
Her mouth opened, but she said nothing and closed it firmly, popping her jaw to the side. Visible tension held her ramrod straight as her lips thinned to a hard line. She was trembling the slightest bit. Hank guessed that was rage.
Hugh Ellingham answered on the third ring. “Sheriff Merrow, what can I do for you this fine evening?”
“I need a favor.”
“I need the Ellingham plane.”
Less than two hours later, they’d landed at McKellar-Sipes Regional Airport. Ivy had thanked Hank profusely before they’d left, but had gone quiet on the flight, pulling into herself. Introspective, but never without losing the fire in her eyes. He’d seen that in soldiers about to go into the field.
He understood and left her alone.
She was preparing to go to war.
He just hoped she understood she wasn’t going alone. He wasn’t about to let his fiancée face Clemens Kincaid by herself, even if the man was her father. Especially since the man was her father. Ivy didn’t seem to have much love for the man, and Hank had a pretty good idea of why that was, based on what Ivy had told him and what Hank had inferred.
Clemens ruled his pack and his family with an iron fist and an outdated sense of place. None of that made too much difference, except for how it affected Ivy and Charlie. And if the man had hurt Charlie, Hank was going to kick his ass. Alpha or not, consequences be damned, Hank was not going to let the man harm the child who was about to be Hank’s son. No way in hell.
The poor kid must miss his mother beyond words.
Hank had only known Ivy a few days and already couldn’t imagine being away from her. How much worse was it for a little boy with Clemens looking after him?
As soon as they deplaned, Hank rented a car from the lone rental agent and got them on the road.
“It’s a little tricky in the dark. Country roads aren’t well marked either.” Ivy plugged the address into the GPS and went quiet again.
Occasionally, she’d glance at her engagement ring, then frown and stare out the window for long uninterrupted periods. Mostly she seemed lost in thought, her mouth bent in a permanent frown.
Whatever was going on in her head made him hurt for her. He glanced over, wishing there was something he could do to help. To fix things. “You all right?”
“No. But I will be.”
“Once we get Charlie.”
She nodded and rubbed at her eyes.
“You want to give me some recon? What are we walking into here?
“My father is a mean SOB who believes his word is law.”
“Is he armed?”
She glanced at Hank. “It’s Tennessee.”
She stared through the windshield. “He prefers his fists.”
Hank could handle a little hand to hand. He nodded. “It’s going to be okay.”
She barked out a harsh laugh. “I wish I could believe that, but I know better. I’m a Kincaid. I know how these things play out.”
“Except this time, you’re not on your own.”
Ivy put her hand on the door handle and turned to face him. “Hank, if I don’t get another chance to tell you this, I just want you to say that you’re the best man I’ve ever known. Thank you for everything.”
That sounded like goodbye. Hank stared at her. “What do you mean if you don’t get another chance—?”
“Hank, my father is a conniving, manipulative man. In place of his soul there’s an empty, black pit.” She was shaking. “There is nothing good in him, and there never will be. I only left Charlie with him because he forced me to.”
“Just like he forced you into this marriage. I get it. But I did a tour in Iraq and a tour in Afghanistan. It takes a lot more than an alpha werewolf with an overblown sense of importance to scare me.”