Kiss of Snow Page 25

“You want to talk to them?”

“I’ll set up a face-to-face today.”

Leaving Jem to handle that, Hawke headed out for a hunt in wolf form with some of his senior soldiers. It was something he did on a regular basis, having no desire to be an alpha who didn’t know the wants and needs of his people. More, it was a need within his wolf, to run side by side with those who were his own.

As a result of the hunt, and the ensuing conversation, he didn’t get back to the den until after four. At which point, he showered, dressed in clean clothes, and took one of the SUVs for a drive down to the city.

TIRED from the physical day and devastatingly conscious that Hawke hadn’t sought her out since walking her to her quarters the night before . . . when he’d been reminded once again of what the Psy had taken from him, Sienna sat cross-legged in bed, planning to work on a physics problem. It would keep her mind busy until exhaustion kicked her into dreamless sleep. That was the hope, anyway.

She’d picked up the datapad and was about to bring up the file when there was a knock on her door. Expecting it to be Evie or one of her other friends, she put aside the device and jumped up to open it without bothering about the fact that she was wearing her favorite soft black pajama pants and a faded gray T-shirt.

But it wasn’t Evie at the door.

“What are you doing here?” It came out husky, near soundless.

Ice blue eyes traced the contours of her face. “I had unfinished business.” He brought out a small wrapped box from behind his back. “Here.”

She took the box without a conscious decision to act, stared.

Hawke leaned his arm against the doorjamb. “Aren’t you going to open it?”

It was hard to think with him so close, his voice a deep murmur that turned her doorway into a private alcove, the moment into a slow, potent seduction. “What’s inside?” Her fingers closed around the box, possessive as any predatory changeling.

“If I told you, what would be the surprise?” The heat of him caressed her as he took over her world. She couldn’t see around him, his shoulders too wide, his presence too compelling. “I am, however”—his voice dropping, that wolf-blue gaze focused on her mouth—“willing to trade kisses for the secret.”

The languid comment had her toes curling. Determined not to let him disconcert her any further, she undid the gauzy white ribbon with care and put it on top of the little shelf that stood against the wall beside the door, before beginning to unwrap the silver paper.

Hawke chuckled. “So neat.”

“It’s the way we were taught in the Net.” Such habits were more necessary for her than most, a reminder to ensure mental discipline. But that was the last thing on her mind at that instant, because she’d finished unwrapping her gift.

Lifting off the top part of the metallic cardboard box, she set it beside the paper and picked out the item wrapped in several layers of tissue. Hawke took the other half of the box and put it on the shelf as she pulled away the tissue to reveal—“Oh.” Wonder unfurled within her at the sight of the tiny penguin formed of shining metal, complete with black tuxedo and gold saxophone.

“Here.” Reaching out as she stood the painstakingly-crafted object on her palm, Hawke turned the key at the back.

The penguin began to “play” the sax with its fin, dipping and raising its head in time to the tinny saxophone music that appeared to emanate from the instrument at its mouth. The song was hauntingly familiar. Frowning, she turned the key when it wound down, listened again . . . and lost any hope of holding out against the wolf at her door even if she’d wanted to. “We danced to this.” Under the moonlight, deep in the forest.

“If you’d forgotten,” Hawke said, his head close to hers, though she couldn’t remember seeing him move, “I’d have had to bite you again.”

Her hand went to her shoulder. “The mark’s gone.”

Reaching out, he tugged at her T-shirt to bare the vulnerable skin, rubbed his thumb over the spot. Wolf-blue gleamed between slitted lids. “Come here.”

The shiver that rocked through her at that low demand almost unseated the whimsical toy on her palm. Shaking her head at the wolf who very definitely wanted to use his teeth on her, she said, “Where did you find this?”

“There’s a little shop in the city—I’ll take you there someday.” His hand slid to the back of her nape. “I asked the owner to use that song.”

It was tempting, so tempting, to lean her head against that wide chest, to stay in this perfect moment and ignore the words spoken in the car last night, but she’d never been a woman to hide from the facts—once, it had been because she’d had no choice, but now it had become part of her very character.

Raising her head, she looked into that wild gaze, that of a human with the heart of a wolf. “Why are you giving this to me?” It was a silent apology, she understood that—but the reason behind his harsh words last night couldn’t remain unsaid. They were a dark shadow over any future relationship.

It was the wolf who answered her. “I just am.”

“Do you have any others?” she asked, changing tack.


It was the most peculiar feeling, having this conversation with Hawke, neither of them trying to draw blood. “May I see them?”

A shrug. “If you’re good.”

Her skin was suddenly too tight over her breasts, even the softness of the T-shirt too abrasive. “How many do you have?” she asked as he stepped impossibly closer, until the muscled strength of his thighs bracketed her own.

“All these questions.” His hand tightening on her nape, his body hard and demanding against the sensitive tips of her breasts. “Maybe I want something in return.”

“I—” she began, not knowing if she was going to surrender or push for the answers she needed when Hawke’s phone beeped.

“Hold on,” he murmured without breaking the searing eye contact, without removing the rough heat of his hand from her nape. “That’s Riley’s code.” He placed the phone to his ear.

And everything changed.

Chapter 17

“KEEP THEM CONTAINED. I’ll find Judd and head down.” Hawke saw Sienna’s eyes sharpen, realized she’d put the pieces together. “No. No communication. If they talk in spite of the order, shoot the men in the legs.”

The woman across from him didn’t appear the least shocked by his instructions. “More intruders,” she said when he ended the call.

Rubbing his thumb over her lips in lieu of the slow, deep kiss he’d intended to coax from her, he dropped his hand and said, “Can you telepath Judd, get him to meet me at the garage?”

“Yes. I’m doing it now.”

Hawke had turned and was on his way before he stopped to think that maybe he should’ve said some sweet words instead of making such an abrupt departure, especially after last night. Even the most mature of women tended to get miffed about things like that. Pulling out his phone as he ran to the garage, he coded in a call.

Sienna picked up at once. “Is there a problem?” No anger, only an incisive intelligence.

That was when he remembered that this woman had been raised in a military context, understood about the need for a rapid response. “How far away is Judd?” he asked instead of the pretty words he’d much rather save to whisper in her ear when she was naked and well pleasured under him. Very well pleasured.

“Almost there.” A pause. “Be careful.” It held the distinct edge of a command.

Surprised but not opposed to the idea of that particular command from this specific woman, his wolf pricked up its ears. “Yes, ma’am.” Hanging up, he entered the garage just as Judd appeared from the opposite corridor.

JUDD stopped in the heavy dark of the trees surrounding the clearing where the SnowDancer unit held four men and a pregnant woman at gunpoint. “Confirmed, Psy,” he said in a subvocal murmur to the man who stood beside him. It had taken him time to learn to speak that low, so low that he couldn’t hear his own voice—but that changelings could discern with unerring accuracy.

“Anything else?” Hawke asked, his attention focused on the intruders.

“No symbols on their shoulders,” he said. “That’s on purpose—those are military uniforms, should have emblems.”

“The woman?”

“She’s not touching her abdomen.” A pregnant woman who cared about her unborn child would have made some protective move that betrayed the disintegration of her conditioning—rather than standing with military stiffness. Still . . . “I can’t say with certainty that her state is meant to manipulate your emotions. Her Silence could simply be too strong.” He melted farther back into the dark as Hawke stepped out to stand beside Riley.

“Gentlemen—and woman,” the wolf alpha said with deceptive calm. “Would you care to explain the reason for this territorial breach?”

The man who replied was tall, with features that placed his ancestry as originating in the Indian subcontinent, most probably on the border with China. “We have defected.” A frigid statement, but that meant nothing. Judd had sounded as cold once upon a time. “We seek sanctuary.”

“What makes you think SnowDancer would offer sanctuary to a bunch of Psy?”

“There are rumors you have done so on at least one previous occasion.” Judd’s blood chilled in his veins. His entire family had disappeared off the grid, was meant to be listed as dead in the Net. “He’s fishing,” he said into the microphone clipped to the collar of his leather-synth jacket, though he knew Hawke was well aware of that fact.

Now, the SnowDancer alpha curved his lips into a grin that was all teeth. “We may have run across the occasional stray,” he said, reaching down to pet one of the wild wolves that had streamed out of the forest in response to his presence.

“Then you indeed offered them sanctuary?”

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