Kiss of Snow Page 18

“No, because he gives the same back.” Loved her with all the untamed power and fierce devotion of the panther’s heart. “He gives more.”

“I don’t know if I can have that kind of a relationship with Hawke,” Sienna murmured, “even if I manage to make him listen, make him see.” Not discouragement, more a contemplative statement. “He’s not like Lucas.”

Sascha waited.

“I understand Lucas could and would kill me with a single blow if he considered me a threat to you or the rest of the pack,” Sienna said, “but he smiles and laughs and plays.”

“Hawke’s done more than his share of teasing.” Sascha couldn’t count the number of times the wolf had flirted with her in order to annoy Lucas.

Sienna pushed the chocolate slice around her plate. “He never plays with me.”

“Wolves have a strange sense of play according to my mate.” Sascha shook her head. “He lets you drive him crazy, doesn’t he?”

“He punished me.”

Sascha laughed at the disgruntled statement. “You probably deserved it.”

“Yes, I did.” A scowl that Sascha guessed was self-directed. “But he’s given me the green light to ignore the hierarchy while we’re alone together.”

Sascha sat up, her amazement so huge that the baby kicked, wanting in on the secret. Smoothing her hand over her belly at the same time that she soothed their child’s active mind, she used her other hand to touch Sienna’s. “In that case,” she said, hope a brilliant spark inside of her, “ambush him if you have to, but get him alone.”

Chapter 13

ALMOST READY FOR her date, Lara smoothed the dress over her hips. It was a bright sunshine yellow, an impulse buy she’d been certain would spend a short life languishing in her closet before she gave it away. But Drew of all people had convinced her to give it a go, and what do you know, it looked stunning against the natural dark tan of her skin.

The design itself wasn’t fancy. The dress had a simple square neck and thick straps, the bodice fitted down to her waist, where it flared out in a gentle swirl. A feminine dress reminiscent of the 1950s, she thought, putting on earrings she’d bought from a street stall during a trip to New York. The tiny fall of sunflowers glinted cheerfully through the corkscrew curls of her black hair.

After slipping on a thin gold bracelet, she pulled on the strappy sandals she’d bought on the same frustration-and-nervous-anticipation-fueled shopping trip that had resulted in the yellow dress. A wrap to ward off the evening air and a sweet little vintage purse beaded with vibrant color finished off the look. Maybe she’d never win any modeling awards, she thought with determined confidence, but she looked pretty.

The knock came a second later.

Opening the door, she said, “You’re right on time,” to the man on the other side.

Kieran flashed that trademark playful smile of his, a deep dimple creasing one cheek. “Wouldn’t want to be late when I finally got the prettiest woman in the den to agree to go on a date.”

With his skin a lighter shade of brown than her own and hypnotic gray-green eyes courtesy of his Tajik father, Kieran was an unashamed flirt. He was also several years younger than her and had broken more hearts in the den than most of the other men combined . . . but Kieran also knew how to make a woman feel beautiful, desired.

Tonight, after not having been out with a man for six months—since the first night Walker had stopped by for a late-night coffee—Lara needed to feel exactly that. “Where are you taking me?”

“I thought that Italian restaurant by Wild. I know you love their gelato.”

“You did your homework.” She slid her arm into his, appreciating him though he didn’t make her wolf freeze in quiet, panicked anticipation when he was near, didn’t make her heart skip a beat.

Kieran responded as they rounded the corner, but his words were lost in the crash of white noise inside her head. She saw Walker coming down the corridor, the faded blue of his jeans a contrast to the deep navy of his shirt. Masculine and confident, he walked with the stride of a man at ease with his body . . . a body that was all lean muscle and strength.

She hadn’t seen him since their conversation in the forest, though she knew he’d come looking for her the other night. It was pure luck she hadn’t been in—but even if she had been, she would’ve handled it. The time for avoiding Walker was over, and while she couldn’t see them resuming their friendship, there was no reason they couldn’t maintain a cordial relationship. “Hi,” she said when he stopped.

Those light green eyes skimmed over her and to Kieran, before returning to her. “The temperature’s dropped,” he said. “You should take a coat.”

Kieran laughed, slid his arm around her. “Hey, man, if she has a coat, how am I supposed to use the cold to get her to cuddle close?”

Walker left with a curt nod.

It was only after he was gone that Lara realized she’d stopped breathing.

HAWKE had meant to stay the hell away from Sienna after he returned from visiting Theresa. So he had no idea why he was waiting for her at the car ninety minutes after having dropped her off, anticipation a slow burn in every cell of his body.

It was no surprise to see Lucas walking toward him. “Did you get my message?” the leopard alpha asked as he got closer.

“Yeah. Revised evac plan looks good to me.” On one point he and Lucas were in glorious agreement—it was damn fine to have a sentinel-lieutenant mating. Not that Riley and Mercy particularly enjoyed their glee. “It’ll get everyone out faster.”

Lucas shoved a hand through his shoulder-length hair. “We shouldn’t need to consider an evacuation from our own land, but the bastards have been getting smarter and more focused with each attempt. Learning more about us.”

“So have we. If it does come down to war, it’s going to be a level playing field.” That wasn’t false confidence—Hawke had made certain SnowDancer would never again be a defenseless target. He’d been fifteen when he’d taken control of the pack, but he’d understood the grim reality of Psy power better than anyone, his childhood having ended in a spray of blood and betrayal caused by the cold psychic race.

Then, he’d hated them all. Now he knew it was only the Council and its flunkies that were the enemy. “I was thinking I should go say hello to Sascha darling.” In truth, his mind was on another woman, one with hair of ruby red and a mouth that had a way of saying things that both amused and incensed his wolf.

“Go for it.” Unruffled words, eyes gleaming cat-green.

Hawke smiled, his wolf finding the idea of poking at the leopard alpha an amusing distraction from his compulsion to run a certain Psy to ground. “What if she invites me? I should call out, let her know I’d like to see her.”

A languid shrug. “If you want your teeth in your gullet, go ahead.”

“You sure you want to make Sascha mad?” The wolf laughed husky and low at Lucas’s battle-ready stance. “I am one of her favorite people, after all.”

Instead of snarling, the other alpha started to smile a very feline kind of a smile. “You know, I think maybe I should invite Kit over. He’d love to see Sienna again.”

Hawke growled before he could stop himself. The damn leopard grinned.

“Funny,” Hawke muttered.

“From my perspective, it was hilarious.” Lucas unfolded his arms, sliding his hands into the pockets of the black cargo pants he wore with a T-shirt of a shade that matched his eyes. Hawke knew without asking that Sascha had bought that T-shirt.

“They’re not dating, but he’s very protective of her,” Lucas said as Hawke was about to rib him on his sartorial elegance in retaliation for the other man’s quip, “just so you know.”

Hawke didn’t bother to respond to that—he’d eat the baby cat alpha for breakfast. “What did José say when you talked to him?”

“Guess.” Lucas shook his head. “Come over for a beer tomorrow afternoon. Sascha will be at Tammy’s. We’ll talk.”

It was strange, that he’d become almost-friends with this alpha who’d once been an adversary. “I’ll see if I can swing it. Might have a comm-meeting.”

Lucas nodded the instant before Hawke caught the first hint of an exquisitely familiar scent on the breeze. Autumn leaves and spice and strength. His wolf stretched out at the intoxication of it. Maybe she wasn’t his mate, but the animal wasn’t bothered. It still wanted the man to take her, to claim her. To bite her.


“Did you two have a good visit?” Lucas asked, walking over to touch the back of his hand to Sienna’s cheek in a gentle caress.

The only reason Hawke’s wolf didn’t eviscerate the other male was because Lucas’s mate was walking with Sienna. And Sascha could get even a demon to behave. Mostly. “Hello, Sascha darling,” he murmured, dropping his voice into bedroom territory. “Miss me?”

“Terrible man,” Sascha said, trying to get around her mate. Lucas refused to let her pass. “Both of you.” But she allowed Luc to wrap her in his arms, press his lips to her temple.

“Did I ever tell you I knew another empath once?” Hawke said, buying himself time to temper his response to Sienna. “She was part of SnowDancer when I was a child, mated to a wolf long before Silence.” Zia had been near to a hundred and thirty, a low-Gradient E, but one of the first to notice that something was wrong in the pack. If only people had listened.

Sascha’s eyes went huge. “No, you didn’t! Why don’t—”

Lucas squeezed her. “He’s trying to lure you with his stories. Go away, wolf.”


Sienna was smiling as she looked at the couple, but that smile faded when she met his gaze.

It made him wonder what she saw. “Let’s go.”

She got into the SUV without a word, and they headed off after waving good-bye to Lucas and Sascha. Uncomfortable as his relationship was with Sienna, Hawke liked being around her—a fact he was positive would surprise her. But when she wasn’t fighting with him, she was smart, with a wit the wolf found endlessly amusing. “Want to go for a run?” he asked as they hit the edge of den territory. “I promise not to chase you.”

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