Kiss of Snow Page 19

A lush burst of feminine arousal had him gritting his teeth to fight his body’s instinctive response. “I’m nowhere near fast as you,” she said at last. “Not like Judd.”

“Don’t have to go fast.” He shrugged, the wolf happy because she hadn’t said no. “Sometimes, it’s just about feeling the wind against your face, the earth under your feet.”

She tugged the sleeves of her checked shirt to her fingertips. “Okay.”

“It’s cold out.” The Sierra Nevada had slipped into the quiet beauty of night, the heat of the sun’s rays long gone. “There should be a sweatshirt in the back you can wear.”

Twisting in her seat, she reached for the sweatshirt . . . and her music player. Shooting him a dirty look, she put the little device in the space on the dash and undid her safety belt long enough to pull on the large gray sweatshirt.

That quickly, she was covered in his scent.

Watching her roll up the sleeves to her wrists, he hid his possessive satisfaction behind a lazy comment. “You’re kinda small, Sienna.” She never seemed that way, her personality that of someone much larger and stronger—he bet if he asked people in the den to describe her, most would give her at least half a foot of extra height, more muscle.

“Maybe you’re too big.” She continued to fold up the sleeves with methodical precision.

Grinning at being so politely insulted, he didn’t say anything until he’d parked the vehicle a little ways from the den. Sienna was more than strong enough to cover the remaining distance on foot. “Ready?”

She was already opening her door. “I don’t recognize this area.”

He wasn’t surprised. Den territory was a vast, sprawling wilderness, most of it inaccessible to vehicles—and unlike the wolves, Sienna couldn’t explore as much area on foot. “I want to show you something.”

She clambered over a fallen tree on the path, and he had to stop himself from reaching over and picking her up, caressing her waist with his hands as he slid her oh-so-slowly to her feet. Her movements were smooth and lithe—Indigo had done a good job with her training, but it was Sienna’s will that had led to her becoming as good as she was. Hawke knew the offensive capability of each and every soldier in the pack, and—putting aside her psychic abilities—Sienna was exceptional for someone who wasn’t changeling.

“A little farther,” he said when they reached a stand of conifers intertwined with a delicate dark green vine.

Picking up a small pinecone off the forest floor, Sienna rubbed her thumb over the rough edges. “Are you doing anything tomorrow night?”

He caught the nervous bite in her scent, caught, too, the determination. His gut clenched. “Sienna.” Hurting her was the last thing he wanted to do, but he wouldn’t lead her on. “I have plans.”

Cardinal eyes slammed into his. “Rosalie?” A single frigid word.

His wolf peeled back its lips. “She’s an adult wolf, who happens to be a friend.”

“As opposed to an immature girl you can’t stand.” A challenge, the gauntlet thrown.

He picked it up. “I need something she can give me.” Rosalie was wolf enough to accept and offer the physical intimacy his own wolf craved without expecting a depth of commitment he simply couldn’t give . . . and much as he valued her friendship, Rosalie didn’t tempt him to brand her with his claim, even knowing it would destroy her in the end.

THE pinecone dug into Sienna’s palm, but she hardly felt it against the pain of the body blow Hawke had just delivered. Why had she asked the question when she’d known the answer? It was nothing a Psy—a true Psy—would’ve ever done. But when it came to this man, she had as little control as the child he called her. “Is it enough?” she asked with a fury that sought to draw blood. “Just the physical act.”

“Don’t try and bring it down to that.” Cold, cold words. “You’ve been in the den long enough to know we don’t use each other.”

No, they didn’t. That made it so much harder to bear. With wolves, sexual contact was warm and joyful and treasured. Rosalie would lie with Hawke with a packmate’s genuine affection, luxuriating in having a partner who could ease her own physical needs so very well—because while Sienna might be inexperienced, she understood that Hawke would never leave a woman unsatisfied. He was too much the dominant male to accept anything but total erotic surrender in bed.

And when he and Rosalie parted, whether it was after a day or after a month, it would be with smiles and laughter. She’d seen the same with other members of the pack, knew that several of her friends were involved in affectionate, sensual relationships that wouldn’t be permanent—but would be respected and cherished.

“I’m sorry,” she forced herself to say, nausea curdling her stomach. “That was uncalled for.” Chest so tight it ached, she said, “Is this the way to the den?” glad that her voice came out calm, betraying none of the hurt that had her curling into a fetal ball inside her mind. Because it didn’t matter how much time alone she had with him if she had to spend her nights knowing those strong hands were stroking over another woman’s skin, another woman’s breasts.

“No”—his voice a slow caress, an unintended taunt—“it’s a small detour.”

“I’d like to go back.” At that moment, the last thing she wanted was to be here, with him, not when she could almost hate him for what he was able to do to her.

“Throwing a tantrum, Sienna?” Ruthless words, that caressing tone suddenly a blade. “I thought you’d retired the spoiled brat act.”

How would you feel if the woman you wanted beyond all others planned to take another man into her bed? She didn’t yell the words, holding on to her tattered pride. Enough. Just . . . enough. Some things, a woman could not accept and live with herself. “Why are we here?” she asked in a voice touched with ice. “Why are we walking under the stars, late at night?”

Wolf-pale eyes gleaming at her in the dark, the gaze of a man used to getting exactly what he wanted. “We’re packmates. It’s a beautiful night. Simple as that.”

“Bullshit.” A harsh renunciation that scraped her throat raw. “You’re giving me just enough to make sure I can’t forget you and not enough to go against your all-important principles. Well, fuck you.” Quiet, quiet words, because she would not scream and yell, would not allow him to see her break. “I don’t want the crumbs from your table.” Turning on her heel, she started heading through the trees in the direction she thought would lead home.


She could not, would not, stop. If she did, he’d see the tears burning at the backs of her eyes, see what he did to her, and her humiliation would be complete.

“Stop right now.”

The words were right against her ear, the wolf having moved with preternatural speed. It was too much. She snapped.

HAWKE was about to close his hand around Sienna’s nape when she twisted to face him, her eyes devoid of stars. Knowing what she could do, he expected an attack, but she took a deep breath, dropped her head . . . and went up in flames.

A violent red licked with streamers of amber, the inferno gave off no heat, and yet he knew without a doubt that it was lethal beyond anything known to man. Fighting the wolf’s frenzied attempts to reach out, to protect, he forced himself to stand in place and look, really look. She was fine inside the blaze. No, not fine. Every muscle in her body was rigid, her hair blowing off her face in a savage psychic breeze, but whatever the fire demanded from her, her skin remained untouched.

Even being able to see her safe, the ten seconds she spent in the heart of flame were the longest of his life. “Do that again,” he growled the instant the fire blinked out, “and I swear I’ll throw you into the lake.”

She raised her head, embers continuing to flicker in her eyes. “I’d like to see you try.”

The wolf wasn’t used to being so flatly challenged. “What the fuck was that?” He’d seen her exercising her ability before, but never like this, until she was consumed by it.

“A simple energy release.” She began to walk away from him again.

His wolf saw red. “Baby, if—”

“Don’t. Call. Me. Baby.” Turning on her heel, she stared at him, her gaze potent with such destructive power, lesser men might’ve trembled.

But he was an alpha wolf, and if Sienna thought she was going to make him back off, she had another thing coming. “I’ll call you anything I damn well please.” He stepped into her personal space, until she had to either step back or have her breasts brush against his chest with every breath.

She held her ground, paradoxically pleasing the wolf. “The only man,” she said, her words wrapped in that cold darkness he hadn’t seen in her since the first few days after her defection, “I’ll allow to use that particular endearment will be my lover. You are no longer in the running for the position.”

The rage that tore through him was a ravaging beast full of claws and teeth. But he bit back the primal demands that wanted to escape. And said the words that would keep her with him a while longer. Yeah, he was a selfish prick, but he’d never argued otherwise. Not when it came to Sienna Lauren. “I’ve never shown anyone else this spot.”

The cold dark retreated to reveal the stars in her eyes. “You’re playing me.” A stark vulnerability in her face, her soul stripped bare.

It didn’t rock him how much he wanted what he saw in her—the need had become an unrelenting ache by now. “Doesn’t make it any less true.” His wolf waited, tense.

When she fell into step beside him again, he clenched his hand to keep from reaching out to fist it in the jewel-dark silk of her hair, to tug her close, close enough that he could rub his face against it . . . close enough that he could pet and cajole her into melting into him. “Do all Xs have hair like yours?” he asked, needing to hear the sound of her voice if he couldn’t have the touch of her skin.

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