Kiss of Snow Page 43

Hawke’s wolf considered that, permitting the human part of him to come to the forefront. Unlike other changelings who’d let the wolf have control for extended periods, Hawke had never been in danger of losing his humanity. His wolf had taken charge when he’d needed it to as a youth, helping him make decisions the boy had been too young to make, but it had withdrawn as soon as Hawke found his feet.

The animal had a very black-and-white view of life, didn’t understand the games played in the human world. It understood face-to-face combat, understood killing to survive, to defend. It did not understand killing for political gain. The human, however, had lived through a massacre, comprehended the darkest of motivations all too well.

“I’ve got the Rats doing some more sneaking tonight,” Clay continued.

“No one ever notices them. Tomorrow, I figured we’d meet up, work out a plan for the rest. I’m thinking we should utilize the youngsters—the novices who look like teenagers.”

Clever, Hawke thought. Teens were universally ignored, they were such a ubiquitous sight in their noisy groups. Giving a crisp nod, he stepped back, leaving the sentinel to his post and allowing his wolf to rise to the surface once more. He saw several more leopards as he went deeper into DarkRiver land. A couple of the youths even ran with him, trying to outpace an alpha. The wolf laughed husky and deep as it let them play before continuing on his way, leaving them winded and tired.

He covered miles and miles and miles.

But not for one instant did he forget that Sienna was on the most lethal of playing fields.

SIENNA tripped. No, no, no!

Twisting her body with an awkwardness that went against Indigo’s teachings, she fell hard. Something snapped, and she was pretty certain it was a rib. The pain was a stabbing shock, but she’d evaded the searchlight sweeping over the area.

Sucking in a quiet, pained breath, she rose and did a quick physical check to confirm she hadn’t injured anything vital. Everything was functional—except that breathing had become difficult. Taking an extra minute and reworking her mental countdown to compensate for it, she divorced the pain from her conscious mind.

It was a military trick and could prove dangerous if utilized with a severe injury, as the mind would ignore the cues sent by the body—however, it was the perfect solution to a broken rib. That done, she inspected the explosive components in her pack to verify their undamaged state, then continued on her way, silent as a wolf in the forest. She was two steps from the edge of a building that should’ve been empty according to their recon, when everything went wrong.

The door swung open.

She froze behind it, unable to see through the metal to the individual on the other side. But she could hear him . . . them.

“How many tonight?”


“It’s happening slower than I’d like.”

“We can’t move too fast or they’ll detect us.”

“Yes.” A pause. “It’s reached this point because of the weak ones on the Council.”

“We won’t have to worry about them much longer.”

One of the speakers—a tall, black woman—stepped out and began to close the door. Sienna held her breath, so motionless as to be a statue as the door was pulled shut from the inside. The woman checked something on a small organizer, began to turn.

Another second and she’d see Sienna.

Throat dry, she flexed her telepathic fingers in anticipation of a strike.

HAWKE looked over Brenna’s shoulder the next morning. “Talk to me, sweetheart.” He’d kept his distance after returning from the run, busying himself drafting a list of novices who could work the warehouse district, and briefing them on the task, but it was way past time for Judd and Sienna to have checked in.

Walker had already confirmed a lack of telepathic communication. “They’re alive,” he’d said ten minutes ago, fine lines flaring at the corners of his eyes. “I can sense them on the LaurenNet.”

“Can you chance contacting them through your network?” He didn’t want either Judd or Sienna distracted, but he needed to know if something had gone wrong so the pack could mount a rescue.

Walker had shaken his head. “The LaurenNet has limitations because of its size. It can compensate for one of the adults being in a distant location, but with two of them gone, the network is stretched. It’ll hold, but I can’t risk a loss of focus.”

A breach, Hawke knew, would have catastrophic consequences. “Take care of Toby and Marlee.” That had to be the priority. Neither Sienna nor Judd would want it any different.

“I’ll let you know the instant I hear anything. And Hawke?” Pale green eyes holding his. “We need to talk after they return.”

Now, in the communications hub of the den, Brenna shook her head in response to his words. “I gave them both untraceable cells, but they might’ve decided not to chance a call anyway.”

Hawke clenched his hand on the back of her chair. “Can you track them on the airjet?” The two were meant to board a flight home in a few hours.

“No.” Brenna pushed her bangs out of her eyes. “We infected the airport computers with a subtle virus. It erased them from the systems, so it’ll be no use hacking into the visual imaging files.” Releasing a steady breath, she reached back to put her hand over his. “They’ll be fine.”

Startled by the confidence in her voice, he looked down into her face as she tipped it up. “So sure?”

“I’m worried. Of course I’m worried,” she admitted, the darkness in her eyes a silent echo of her words. “But Judd’s sending me ‘I’m safe’ vibes through the mating bond.”

Hawke’s wolf scowled, because it couldn’t keep tabs on Sienna that way.

“Plus,” Brenna continued, “my mate is a complete badass. Seriously, your girl couldn’t be in better hands.”

In spite of the wolf pacing within his mind, he felt his lips tug up at the corners. “I’ll have you know, Sienna is a trainee badass.” Accepting that the only thing to do was wait, though such inaction grated, he said, “I’m heading down to talk to the cats about another issue—the instant you hear anything, you call me. Understood?”

“Absolutely.” Rising to her feet, she said, “I could do with a hug.”

He enfolded her in his arms without a word. She was Pack. It soothed something in him to hold her, too. But he knew the wolf would continue to prowl half-mad inside his mind until Sienna was back safe in his territory. “Better?”


He left with a caress to her cheek. Picking up Riley from the cabin the lieutenant shared with Mercy, he drove them both down to the meeting spot, which happened to be the home of the DarkRiver healer.

“It’s a huge indication of trust, isn’t it?” Riley said as they came to a stop in front of the graceful split-level home. “To allow us so close to their healer. We’ve come a long way.”

Hawke had to agree. “Honestly? I never expected an alliance of any kind with the cats when they first began to make their presence felt.” He’d wanted only that they stay out of his way while he rebuilt his shattered pack.


Neither of them made a move to exit the vehicle.

“Hawke,” Riley said into the tense silence, “I can handle this. You don’t want to be here.”

“I need to be doing something. Might as well be this.” He got out, slamming the door.

Riley glanced at him when they met at the front of the vehicle. “Word of advice. Strong women don’t take well to being snarled at.”

“Tough.” She’d be lucky if all he did was snarl at her he thought as he headed into the meeting, his mind on the phone in his pocket.

When a message did come in, it only said, “Still no contact.”

Chapter 30

ADEN LOOKED OVER at the Arrow who stood beside him on the sandy beach along the Amalfi Coast. Abbot was a telekinetic, 9.1 on the Gradient, incredibly powerful, incredibly skilled, incredibly cursed. It had come as no surprise to discover that the twenty-six-year-old was drawn to the idea of Purity.

“Have you come to stop me, Aden?” the other Arrow asked. “Ask me not to join Pure Psy?”

Aden shook his head. “I’m not Ming, to force you to follow my own political agenda. But you must know—you cannot be both an Arrow and a member of Pure Psy.”

“So you would exile me.”

“No, Abbot. That isn’t who we are.” The water held an edge of luminescence in the dark of the night that had fallen on this side of the world, and he made a note to do some research, find out what sea organism caused the effect. “But the squad works on unconditional trust.” On the knowledge that the Arrow at his back would never use the position to knife him. “Once you give your allegiance to Pure Psy, you must follow their goals.”

Abbot took his time replying, his ink black hair blowing back in the salt laced wind coming off the Gulf of Salerno. “You’re not a Tk.”


“What does Vasic say?”

Aden thought of the Tk-V who could lift blood out of walls and bodies from within graves. “You should ask him.”

“No games, Aden. You know his mind—he speaks to you.”

Aden looked down at the glowing foam before the sea sucked it back in. “Vasic believes it doesn’t matter the Councilor at the helm, or whether the machinery is called Council or Purity—in the end, we’re nothing but warm bodies to bleed for them.” So many Arrows had died to protect Silence. Their only reward had been more death.

“Yet we give our allegiance to Kaleb Krychek.”

“There are reasons.”

Abbot looked out toward the lingering golden light in the windows of some of the homes that hugged the cliffs, and Aden saw bleak longing in those eyes as blue as the deepest part of the Aegean. A breach of Silence, but an Arrow never betrayed one of his own.

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