Kiss of Snow Page 36

Hawke gave a crisp nod. Wolves didn’t go roaming as often as the cats, but given the Council’s increasing aggression, SnowDancer had made a deliberate policy of stationing people in and around the world’s major cities. Riley rotated their more lone-wolf types until the men and women wanted to come home. The latest to return had been Riaz.

The bulk of their time was spent handling SnowDancer’s international business interests, but they also kept an eye on certain more covert matters, feeding information back to the den. However, every one of those lone wolves was a high-level soldier, more than capable of handling this type of task. “Dubai won’t be an issue either.” There was a SnowDancer within easy flight distance.

Lucas nodded. “That leaves Tatiana.”

“That’s a problem,” Judd said. “She’s bought interests in human companies—we hit any of those, we affect a large number of blameless people.”

Hawke’s cell phone rang at that moment, the code making his wolf come to wild attention. “Hold on,” he said to the others and walked a small distance away. “Talk to me, pretty baby.” Yeah, he was having trouble with the boundaries when it came to Sienna, even when he was the one who’d put them into place.

Brenna’s voice came over the line. “You sweet talker.” The words were tart.

His wolf grinned. “Put her on.”

“Here—she was just double-checking something.”

“Brenna and I were able to pinpoint three incursions made by the Tk team,” Sienna said without any prelude. “Far as we can figure, they were laying charges. Indigo took people to check out the locations, and from the data she sent back, they’re getting smarter. No metal components, hidden deeper to beat your senses, difficult to detect unless you’re right on top of the devices.”

Hawke’s wolf bared its teeth, but his thought process remained icily rational. “Good work, both of you.” Certain Indigo would have the situation under control, he moved to another matter. “Sienna, while you were with Ming, did you ever learn about a property or holding on which Tatiana Rika-Smythe places particular importance?”

“She has a tendency to buy into other companies,” Sienna said, “rather than building herself. But . . . wait a second.”

Brenna came on the line. “Your pretty baby is running a search.”


“I’m casually walking over to where she can’t hear us.”


“To ask you if you’re courting her properly. Really, Hawke, a girl deserves flowers at least.”

“I don’t do flowers.” And right now, the whole courtship thing was in the air. As last night had shown with inescapable clarity, she was nowhere near ready to handle the truth of him. The thought had his hand clenching on the phone.

“It’s not hard,” Brenna muttered. “Call up a florist, buy a bouquet.”

Hawke’s wolf liked her too much to be annoyed. “Let me talk to her, brat. I have to get back to my meeting.”

“In a second. First—how’s my pretty baby?”

Hawke glanced over to see Judd listening to something Vaughn was saying, his head angled toward the ground, a frown on his face. Unusual for the former assassin. “Flirting with a jaguar.”

“You’re not funny, mister,” Brenna said before the phone passed hands and Sienna came back on the line.

“You’ll have to confirm this,” she said, “but it looks like Tatiana is still the sole owner of a sculpture that stands in the middle of a small park in Cambridge, England.”

“A sculpture?”

“Yes, Ming found that odd, too, so he had me research it as part of my training. It was commissioned by a Smythe a hundred years ago, after the deal that led to their fortune. I don’t know if it’s the kind of thing you’re looking for . . .”

“I might even kiss you for it. All over.” Hanging up to her sucked-in breath, he walked back to the others. “I have a target for Tatiana.” As for Sienna, he’d give her a bit more time, but . . . he was a wolf. Who the hell said he had to play it civilized? She was his. She would learn to deal with him.


FROM: Alice <[email protected] /* */ >

TO: Dad <[email protected] /* */ >

DATE: April 14th, 1973 at 10:32pm

SUBJECT: re: re: re: hello

Hi Dad,

Yes, my last e-mail did make no sense. I’m afraid I was giddy from the possible discovery. However, as you know from my phone call to Mother, my theory will be difficult to prove without bringing others into the equation, people who may not have the best interests of the Xs at heart. If only I was in the PsyNet, I could see for myself.



Chapter 24

WALKER WALKED INTO the infirmary the night after the attack to find Lara coming out of Elias’s room. “How is he?”

The deep purple shadows under her eyes when she met his gaze betrayed how little she’d rested since waking from her nap the previous night. “Good. Healing. I have to wait for his body to recover from this session before I can carry on. He’ll be here for a while yet.”

Seeing Lucy examining the readout on the panel in Riordan’s room, he held out his hand. “Come with me, Lara. You need to have a break.”

“No, I can’t—”

He took her hand, halting her words midstream. “Either you walk out with me,” he said, keeping his tone calm though his words were nothing reasonable, “or I’ll take a leaf out of Hawke’s book and carry you out.” That situation, too, was something he had his eye on, but it wasn’t time for him to say his piece. Not yet.

Lara’s mouth fell open. “You wouldn’t.”

He waited, let her eyes scan his face, see the truth.

Cheeks flushing a dull red beneath that deep tan skin, she said, “You would.” A small tug as she tried to free her hand, failed. “I need to tell Lucy.”

“She’s seen.” Then he began walking, pulling Lara along.

She made a small growling sound he’d never before heard from her. “I’m a wolf, not a dog.”

“You’d treat a pet better than you treat yourself.”

Neither of them said another word until they were some distance from the den, beside a waterfall that froze in the winter months but was at present a roaring spray.

Releasing his grip on her, he pointed to a rocky ledge. “Sit before you fall down.”

“Argh!” She slammed fisted hands against his chest. “Would you like me to shift and wag my tail while I’m at it?” Anger turned her tawny eyes dark, thinned the soft invitation of her mouth.

“No,” he said, grabbing her wrists, her bones delicate under his touch. “I’d like you to permit me to take care of you.” It was a raw craving, this need he had to ensure she wasn’t hurting herself. He didn’t understand it, had never felt its like.

Lara shook her head. “I can’t do this.” Breath hitching, she pushed against him. “You can be my friend, Walker. But you don’t have any other rights—you didn’t want them.”

“Lara,” he began, continuing to maintain his grip, but she shook her head again.

“You were honest with me, so I’ll be honest with you. The kind of rights you want, the kind you’re trying to claim? They’re intimate rights.” Wet shimmered in the expressive depths of her eyes. “I can’t give them to you. They belong to the man with whom I’ll build a life, have children.”

This time, when she pulled, he released her wrists, watched her leave.

The spray of the waterfall was cold on his skin.

THE day after running the surveillance search, Sienna found herself with time on her hands. Aware Hawke was busy organizing something with DarkRiver, she decided that rather than give in to her frustration at being shut out because of her rank, she’d make productive use of her time to go speak with Sascha.

When she moved out of the woods near the cabin, it was to see the empath walking back and forth in front of the home she shared with Lucas. “Thanks for agreeing to talk to me.”

“Hush.” A hand cupping her cheek for a warm moment. “You know you’re always welcome.”

“Where’s Lucas?” It was a given that he wouldn’t be far with Sascha now only days from her due date.

Sascha lifted a finger to her lips, then pointed up. Following the cardinal’s gaze, Sascha found a black panther draped in graceful sleep over one of the thick branches that supported the aerie the couple planned to move back into after Sascha recovered from the birth.

“Wow,” Sienna whispered, having never before seen Lucas in animal form. “He’s beautiful.”

The cat’s tail waved lazily.

Sascha laughed. “He heard you—he’s just dozing. Stayed up rubbing my back most of the night.”

“Shouldn’t you be sitting down?”

A black scowl. “Sienna, don’t make me deck you.”

“I don’t know much about pregnancy aside from the facts, or what I’ve learned from being around you,” she admitted. “I wasn’t there while my mother was pregnant with Toby.” No, she’d been trapped in a telepathic prison created by a master of mental combat. Awful as that had been, she wouldn’t change it—because Ming had trained her in his own image, taught her the skills to fight those who would hurt her brother, her family, her pack . . . her man.

“Then we’re in the same boat.” One hand bracing her back, Sascha reached over to tuck Sienna’s hair behind her ear. “You wanted to talk, kitten?”

Sienna looked up at Lucas, dropped her voice. “Can he hear us if we keep the volume low?”

“I’m afraid so. He’s got bat hearing these days.”

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