Hank stared at the man as his opinion of the Kincaids and their tactics worsened. “It didn’t.”
Sam sat back. “You like her.”
“You sound shocked. You shouldn’t be. Your sister is a good person. But maybe that’s a rare breed of Kincaid.”
Sam started to say something, but Hank interrupted. “Let’s get back to why you said you were too late. What do you know?”
Sam sighed. “The night the truce was announced, word of the marriage leaked. It wasn’t supposed to get out, but you know how packs talk.”
“Not really. Go on.”
Irritation edged Sam’s voice. “I overheard two of our pack members talking in the meeting hall parking lot. The Jenkins brothers. They’re distant relatives. They’ve always felt like they deserved more respect in the pack. A higher ranking. A bigger share of the stipend.”
“That only the men get.”
Sam made a face but continued. “They weren’t happy about the truce. They said as much in the meeting, but they disagree with ninety percent of the things my father does or the way he does them. Based on their conversation in the parking lot, they were steamed.”
He shrugged. “I didn’t think they’d do anything about it. They’re big talkers. But when my father called another meeting to confirm the marriage rumor, they didn’t show. They never miss a meeting. Or their chance to be heard.”
“So you thought what?”
Sam sighed. “That they’d come here. To make trouble. To disrupt the truce.”
“They stand to gain from that?”
“Maybe. If the truce falls through, my father will bear the shame of that since he initiated it. One of the brothers could challenge him. They’re younger and stronger.”
“Pack leadership has changed over lesser issues than failed agreements.” Though, not in the Georgia pack. A Merrow had been alpha for the last century. But, then, Merrows didn’t rule the way Kincaids did, in that all or nothing style. Merrows allowed some compromise. And treated all pack members equally.
“I may not agree with everything my sister’s done in her life, but she’s still my sister, and I don’t want to see her hurt. I’d like to stay and help you keep an eye out for the Jenkins boys.”
It was saying something that a Kincaid was asking permission to be in Nocturne Falls, but these were extenuating circumstances. Hank could keep an eye on Sam that way, too, because even if he was Ivy’s brother, he was still a Kincaid and Hank didn’t trust him. “I don’t plan on keeping an eye out for them.”
Sam’s brow wrinkled. “You don’t?”
“I plan on hunting them down. Starting tonight.” Hank slid a notebook toward Sam. “Full names and descriptions.”
“I can do better than that.” Sam reached into his jacket and pulled out a sheet of folded paper. “Here are their pack registrations.”
Hank unfolded it and looked at the photos on the registrations, memorizing the faces of the men who’d most probably hurt Ivy. It was unlikely they’d registered at any hotel under their real names, but it was a start.
Sam jotted a number on a piece of scrap paper, then stood. “I’ll visit Ivy in the morning, but after that I’ll come straight here. Call me if you find them before that.”
“Will do.” Hank pushed to his feet. “I’ll let my deputies know you’re allowed into her room. You can see her, but you can’t be alone with her.”
Sam grunted. “I don’t like it, but I get it. You don’t trust me.”
“No, I don’t. You could be pushing blame on the Jenkinses to hide your own guilt.”
“I would never hurt Ivy.”
“You were raised by a man who didn’t have a problem with it. Why should I think you’re any different?”
Sam frowned. “Point taken. I’d do the same thing if the situation was reversed. So while I still don’t like it, I understand. Trust is earned.”
Hank walked the man to the door. “I couldn’t agree more.”
Ivy woke up feeling like a slice of crap between two pieces of crap bread. Sun streamed through the hospital window, digging into her brain and making her cringe. She turned away from it to face the door and was greeted with a familiar silhouette.
“Sam?” He wasn’t the last person she expected to see, but it was still a shock. Albeit a pleasant one. One of Hank’s deputies moved from the hall to stand inside the door.
“Hey there.” Sam came over to the bed. The deputy stayed put. “How are you doing?”
“Achy, but not bad, considering. How did you get here so fast?”
“I was already here. Got your text when I was on the road. I had no idea what had happened to you until I called and Hank answered your phone.”
“You met him, huh?”
Sam nodded. “Seems like a good guy. Although he might not be all there.”
She frowned. “Why do you say that?”
Sam’s eyes were full of mischief. “He’s marrying you, isn’t he?”
“Says the man who can’t find a wife.” She turned onto her side, trying to find a comfortable position. Her whole body ached, and her muscles were as sore as if she’d been beaten.
“I’ll settle down when I’m good and ready.” He brushed a piece of hair off her forehead, a rare gesture since they’d grown more distant. “You look like crap, by the way.”