Kiss of Snow Page 47

“Yours is longer than mine.”

“You can leave it that length on the condition it doesn’t get in your way.”

Toby frowned, considered. Serious little man, Hawke thought, realizing he hadn’t spent that much time with the boy. But man and wolf both liked him—Toby had a simple and deep kindness to him that Hawke knew would never disappear. The last vestiges of childhood fears aside, there was strength there, too. Hesitant yet, still growing, but when Toby came into his own, he’d make the pack proud, of that Hawke had not a single doubt.

“Cut it.” A decisive statement. “I can have it longer after I pass my outdoor lessons.”

Hawke was impressed. “You sure?”

A strong nod. Then Toby closed his eyes, inhaled. It took three screams and by the last one, Toby was laughing. So was Hawke. They sat on the tailgate afterward, eating peanuts from a bag Toby had had in his pocket. The nuts were crushed, but that didn’t matter.

Hawke found himself reevaluating his opinion of the boy as they talked. Toby had the gentleness of an empath, but he saw everything—and he understood that the world wasn’t always kind. Who better, after all, to know the dark side of the human heart than someone gifted with the ability to sense emotion?

But he was also a child.

“I’m thirsty,” he said after crunching the last peanut.

“Me, too.” Turning around, Hawke hunted through the first-aid kit and came up with a bottle of water. “Aha.”

“You’ll have to replace that or Lara will tell you off.”

“Don’t I know it.” Taking a gulp from the bottle, he passed it to Toby.

Who copied his actions.

Hiding his grin, he grabbed the soccer ball. “Come on, squirt.”

Toby’s face beamed. “Really? Me and you?”

Hawke played the ball over his foot. “Move it.”

“I’m coming!”

They spent over a half hour together, with Toby proving to be both nimble and intelligent as an opponent. Afterward, they finished off the bottle of water before getting back into the truck.

Toby did up his safety belt. “How come you didn’t ask me stuff about Sienna?”

Hawke raised an eyebrow as he started the vehicle.

Toby shrugged. “I figured you were spending time with me to find out about my sister.”

Yeah, the kid saw everything. “Maybe I thought about it,” Hawke said, because he didn’t believe in lying to his pack. “But turns out I like hanging out with you.”

Toby’s whole face lit up. “You mean it. I know.”

Mussing the kid’s hair, Hawke drove him home. He went with Toby to the practice field to ensure the boy’s coach was aware Toby hadn’t played hookey, and the kids begged him to stay. He was alpha. Caring for pups was instinctive. As a result, night had fallen by the time he was able to go after Sienna again.

And this time, nothing was going to keep him from his prey.


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

TO: Dad <[email protected] /* */ >

DATE: November 12th, 1974 at 11:04pm

SUBJECT: <no subject>

Dear Dad,

I received a notice today terminating my access to the X-designation volunteers and “requesting” I cease my research. I’m a scientist. I can’t do that, especially when I’m on the brink of discovering the answer.

What worries me is that if I’m right, I may well be giving those who seek to control the Xs a way to hold them hostage. The promise of safety could be used as an “incentive” to force them to act as psychic weapons—I wouldn’t have worried about such a thing a few years ago, but the Psy Council is no longer what it once was.

Call me when you get this e-mail. I can’t get through to the dig.



Chapter 33

SIENNA WASN’T IN her room. Nor was she in the family quarters—but Walker was. The telepath jerked his head toward the corridor. Realizing the eldest of the Laurens wanted to have this conversation away from the kids, Hawke led them to a small, private alcove before saying, “I’m surprised you waited this long.”

“There’s a time and a place. This would be it.” Holding Hawke’s gaze in a way that not many men could, Walker said, “You will be good to her.” Not a statement, but an order.

Hawke’s wolf stirred. “Do you think I’d be otherwise?”

“If I did, you’d be dead.”

It was Judd who’d been the assassin, but Hawke had the sudden, crystal-clear realization that when it came to Sienna, Toby, and Marlee, it was Walker who was more dangerous. “Understood.” If he had a daughter, he’d kill any man who dared hurt her. And whatever their actual relationship, Walker was the closest Sienna had to a father.

She’d said as much to him when he’d asked about her father as they danced that night in the training room.

“I know his identity, but per the reproduction contract, his only involvement in my life—and Toby’s—was biological.”

“Did you ever feel the need to track him down, demand more?” he’d asked, unable to comprehend how a man could walk away from his children.

“No. I don’t think Toby has either.” There’d been no emotional distress in her tone, her next words explaining why. “We’ve always had Walker, you see.”

Now Walker gave a clipped nod. “Then we’re clear.” Turning on his heel, he walked back to his quarters.

Hawke’s wolf shook its head, staring after the Psy male with pale green eyes. “You told me you were a teacher in the Net.”

The man looked over his shoulder. “I was. You never asked me who I taught.” The door closed.

Deciding that conversation could wait, because whatever he’d been, Walker was now loyal to the pack, Hawke continued on his search. Sienna wasn’t hanging out in the common areas. He checked Lara’s domain next, discovered she’d been in an hour earlier. Starting to lose his temper, he shoved into his own place to grab a bite to eat before resuming the hunt.

The scent of autumn and spice in the air, in his every breath.

“You owe me a game,” Sienna said, picking up a card from the deck she’d placed on the carpeted floor of the front room of his quarters. Dressed in jeans and that sexy-as-sin black shirt with those tempting snap buttons, she sat cross-legged on the carpet, her hair a sheet of dark fire licking down her back.

His wolf growled, bad-tempered because she’d outwitted him. “How did you get in?”

“It’s not like you lock your door.”

“No, because people don’t waltz into an alpha’s quarters.”

“So, punish me.”

He’d expected challenge, was caught by the wickedness. His wolf came to attention. “I might just do that,” he said, prowling over to crouch down and nip at her lower lip.

A tremor silvered over her skin. “Is that it?”

Satisfying as it would’ve been to gorge, he decided to eat her up in small, luscious bites tonight. “For now.” Rising, he went into the compact galley and threw together a plate. “Have you had dinner?”


Coming down to sit across from her, he fed her a plump grape anyway. As her lips closed on the ripe fruit, his wolf watched, fascinated. “Poker,” he murmured.

“Of course.” A husky answer.

He ate half a sandwich before speaking. “We have to have stakes.”

Lines on her forehead. “For credits, you mean?”

Poor innocent baby, about to get fleeced. “Tut-tut, gorgeous. You know when you play poker with a man behind closed doors, there is only one acceptable currency.”

Her mouth fell open. “You’d play for that?”

Enjoying shocking cool and collected Sienna, he took his time eating the other half of the sandwich. “Clothes, Ms. Lauren. What did you think I was talking about?”

She blew out a breath between gritted teeth. “Sometimes I really want to”—a frustrated sound—“bite you!”

He froze. “I might let you.”

“I won’t do it if you’d enjoy it.”

Bad tempered thing. His wolf liked that about her. “Let’s play.”

“I might not be Silent any longer, but I still have the perfect poker face.” A smug smile.

It stayed on her face as she divested him of his socks—he’d kicked his shoes off earlier—his shirt, and his belt. That was when her concentration began to falter, her eyes flicking over his chest and back. Again. And again.

The wolf arched its back, preening for her.

And Hawke stopped playing nice.

SIENNA had seen Hawke unclothed before—it was impossible not to catch such glimpses since changelings came out of a shift naked, but pack protocol meant she’d always forced herself to look away. Even if she hadn’t, those times, she’d been nowhere near this close.

His chest was taut with muscle, his abs washboard flat, his skin a warm, strokable honey lightly furred with silver-gold. She wanted to press him to the carpet and lick him all over.

“You planning to fold?”

She jerked up her head, almost dropping her cards. “What?”

“Time to show your cards.”

Certain she had him beat, she laid out her spread. “Full house.” Her eyes went to his jeans.

She was so busy imagining him naked, she almost missed the smile that flirted over his lips as he said, “Nice, but not good enough,” and fanned out a royal flush.

Stunned, she stared.

“Strip, beautiful.”

She went to pull off her socks, her skin shimmering from the impact of that verbal caress.

“Nu-huh.” A shake of his head. “Shirt.”

That snapped through the sensual fog. “But I let you take off your socks first!”

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