Kiss of Snow Page 31

“Ready to play?” the wolf asked.

Her heart kicked against her ribs, the memory of the wild bite, of his taste entangling with the blatant masculinity of his scent—but just like with his previous visit, his phone beeped before she could respond to the invitation.

“This better be important,” he barked into the receiver, clearly as frustrated.

A pause and then he snapped upright. Reading his expression, she went for her work boots, tugging them on with hard, fast motions. He glanced over but didn’t say anything.

“Where?” he asked, his tone so calm and controlled she knew something bad had happened. “No, you’re right. Do what you can. I’m on my way with Lara.”

Sienna jerked up her head at the name of the SnowDancer healer. Pulling her unbound hair into a rough ponytail, she pushed past him into the corridor. “I’ll alert Lara,” she mouthed as he asked the person on the other end for further details.

Eyes very much that of the alpha, not the sensual predatory changeling male who’d come to her door, he broke from the phone conversation to say, “Bring her to the lower garage. She’ll need extra supplies—more than one injured. Don’t bother Judd. He needs to recover from some teleportation he did earlier.”

Leaving the instant he gave another nod, she ran to the healer’s apartment, which happened to be right next to the infirmary. No answer. But when she looked in the infirmary itself, she found Lara at her desk, reading some kind of medical journal. Giving the healer a concise summary of everything she knew, she helped gather the supplies.

“You did level-two medic training, yes?” Lara asked, moving fast and efficient.

Sienna acted the pack mule as Lara loaded her up with gear. “I completed the level-three class while I was with the leopards.” All soldiers were required to have a secondary proficiency—a tech course would’ve been far less demanding for Sienna, given the way her mind worked, but being able to help people on any level was a gift beyond price for her, a tiny way to balance the violence of the X-marker.

“That’s right. I got the competency notice.” The healer nodded, as if making a decision. “Lucy did a double shift, so I’m not waking her up,” she said, naming the young SnowDancer who’d just finished nursing school to take up a full-time position as Lara’s assistant. “You’re drafted.” Her phone beeped at that moment. A quick conversation later, she said, “That was Hawke. We’re going to need more help.”

“Judd isn’t wiped out.” Sienna didn’t know where her uncle had been teleporting, but she’d seen him at dinner with the children, was able to gauge his energy levels. “I don’t think he’ll be able to teleport us down,” she said, aware Lara had been briefed on his Tk, including his ability to heal using telekinesis on the cell level, “but he can help with the injured.”

“Get him,” Lara said, then rubbed her forehead. “I’m going to have to wake poor Lucy up after all.”

Five frantic minutes later, Lara and Sienna reached the garage with a couple of packmates who’d pitched in to carry the gear, to discover that Judd had beaten them there. “Hawke’s already gone,” he told them, strapping the supplies onto the bed of the truck. “I’ll drive you two down. Another team will follow in a bigger truck with stretchers to help ferry the wounded back to the den.”

“Lucy’s coming as well.” Lara turned to look over her shoulder at the entrance to the garage. “She should be—There she is.”

A rumpled, red-eyed Lucy scrambled into the backseat beside Sienna. “What’re we dealing with?”

“Multiple gunshot wounds,” Lara said, “laser burns.”

“Any critical injuries?” Judd pulled out and onto a narrow forest track. “I may be able to get you down there faster, but it’ll wipe me out.”

“It’ll be better if you’re able to help with the healing. Hawke will hold everyone until we get there.”

Judd glanced at the healer, verbalizing the question Sienna had been about to ask. “I realize Hawke can push his strength into those with whom he has a blood bond, but is he able to reach others in the pack as well?”

“Yes.” Lara was checking her phone for updates as she spoke, in touch with the person who had made the original call for help. “It’s not as easy or as effective as the blood bond with the lieutenants, or the bond he has with me, but he can hold them there with the power of his presence.”

“Hierarchy,” Sienna said, realizing the true depth of the foundation that underpinned the pack for the first time. “Wolves will obey their alpha, even in that extremity.”


Sienna turned to Lucy when the nurse reached back to plait her sleepmussed hair. “I can do that if you like.”


“Are you going to be okay with so little sleep?” Lucy reminded Sienna of Riley, though they had no physical similarities. It was, she thought, the calm stability of their natures. From everything she’d heard so far, that solid calm would be much needed tonight.

Lucy nodded. “Got used to it when I did some work for CTX during my breaks from nursing school—the news sleeps for no one.” Her stomach growled on the heels of that statement. “Damn, forgot to grab something to eat. Crashed without dinner.”

“Here.” Judd threw a granola bar over the seat. “Had it in my jacket pocket.”

“I avow my love for you here and now,” Lucy said as she tore open the wrapper.

Sienna wondered if Judd had really had the bar, or if he’d executed a deft telekinetic “fetch.” Having witnessed the price it demanded from him, she knew telekinesis wasn’t an easy ability in any sense of the word, but it was one she wouldn’t have minded in place of the fire and pain that was the X designation.

It was that kind of violence, however, that awaited them on a border section of den territory that backed onto DarkRiver land, an area thick with firs that pierced the glittering beauty of the night sky. Two of the cats were there, one of them performing first aid. The other, she realized, as her vision adapted to the glow of the field lamps stuck into the ground, had been shot through the arm—and yet he was attempting to do what he could for the others, all of whom were more badly injured.

“Oh, God,” Lucy whispered, grabbing a medical kit from the truck. “Riordan must’ve come down early for the shift change.”

Sienna followed the nurse’s gaze to see that the big, playful wolf was bleeding heavily from a wound in his abdomen as he sat propped up against a tree. “He’s hurt bad.” So was Elias. The senior soldier appeared to have been hit with a laser along one side, his burnt flesh no doubt causing him horrible pain, though he’d gritted his teeth against the screams. “Where’s Hawke?”

They both realized the answer at the same instant. Simran, Elias’s partner on watch and the woman whose place on the border Riordan would’ve taken, was down, blood seeping from a wound in her neck. Sienna knew it was a fatal injury—or should’ve been. Hawke knelt beside Simran, his hand clamped over the bloody gash, such intense focus in those wolf-pale eyes that she knew he was holding the sentry to life with his will alone.

It was only when she saw the light gleam over his naked back that she understood he’d run here, his speed outstripping any vehicle when it came to this place of mountain and forest, rivers and lakes. But to have reached Simran before the sentry slipped away . . . It was unimaginable, the sheer fury of his speed.

“Judd’s got Riordan,” she said to Lucy, compartmentalizing because if she allowed herself to think about the people who lay bleeding on the cold earth, it would paralyze her. “You take Eli and I’ll check out the leopards.”

Barker didn’t protest when she sat him down against the rough bark of an ancient pine, having lost enough blood that he’d started to waver on his feet. “Through and through,” she said after inspecting the wound. “I don’t think the bullet caused any major damage, but it needs to be looked at by someone better qualified.” Slotting an antibiotic magazine into the pressure injector, she placed it against his skin.

The medicine punched through to his system an instant later. She followed it up with a painkiller before he could tell her he didn’t need it. “I’m guessing you want Tamsyn to look at this?” she said, referring to the DarkRiver healer.

It was Barker’s partner, Rina, who answered, having returned to his side. “As long as you think he can wait another hour or so? Tammy’s on her way.”

Sienna checked Barker’s vital signs using a scanner. “He’s stable for now.” Glancing up at a slight sound, she realized the clearing was ringed by wild wolves, their bodies sleek shadows in the dark.

“They arrived with Hawke,” Rina said, shaking her head in disbelief. “I think they’re standing guard.”

“Yes.” Sienna began to disinfect the mangled flesh—to Barker’s withheld hiss. “How did you end up in the middle of this?” As to what this was, that would come later, after the injured were safe.

“Our watch overlaps with Elias and Simran’s,” Rina said as Sienna nodded for the voluptuous blonde soldier to press sterile pads over both sides of the wound so she could bandage it up for the time being. “We sometimes stop for a couple of minutes, shoot the breeze. We’d barely gotten here tonight when those Psy bastards came out of nowhere.” A pause, a wince. “No offense.”

“None taken.” Sienna knew who she was, knew too that had things been different, she might have ended up one of the Council’s pet killers. “They teleported in?”

Rina brushed Barker’s rich brown hair back from his sweat-soaked forehead, tucking her body even closer to his in that changeling way. “Rappelled down from a stealthcraft.”

That made sense, because teleport-capable Tks were a limited commodity—though you wouldn’t know it from the way Henry Scott had sacrificed several of his in recent months. “How did they get you all so fast?”

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