Kiss of Snow Page 5

Having—somehow—followed all that, Hawke rose to his feet and tousled Ben’s dark hair, the little boy’s head warm under his touch. “She’ll be out in a few days.” And working in the nursery. The work itself, he knew, wouldn’t be a chore for her. She was a natural protector, and like any protector, wolf or not, she enjoyed watching over the pups. They, in turn, felt utterly safe with her.

So no, it would be no hardship for her to work in the nursery. It was the fact that she’d been taken off the duties befitting and expected of her rank that was the punishment—a public indication that he didn’t have trust in her ability to do the job. The blow would strike hard at the pride she wore like armor, but his wolf had no doubts about her steel spine, her iron will. Sienna wouldn’t allow anything to crush her, especially not Hawke. On principle.

The thought made his wolf bare its canines in a feral grin. “Go on home, Benny.”

The pup fell into step beside him instead, those short legs pumping as he ran to keep up. “Where’re you going?”


“Can I come?”


“How come?”

Leaning down, Hawke picked Ben up under one arm like a football. “Because you’re too short.”

Ben giggled and pretended to swim. “I’m taller than I was last week.”

“Who says?”


Hawke’s lips curved at the sheer love in that single word. “I guess it must be true, then. But you’re still too short.”

A huge sigh. “When am I going to be tall enough?”

“Before you know it.” Placing Ben down in front of the door that led to the White Zone, the safe play area for the kids, Hawke nudged him forward. “Go kick a ball around. It’ll make you grow.”



Ben ran over to a clearing in the left section of the White Zone, to join in a game already in progress, one being watched over by an off-duty dominant who’d come to hang with the little ones. Half the pups were in human form, the other half wolf. Clearly this was changeling-rules football, which included judicious nipping to make those in human form drop the ball.

Normally, the sight of a wolf streaking away with a football in his mouth as his friends tried to bite down on his tail would’ve made Hawke laugh, join in. Today, his skin was too tight over his body, his own wolf edgy. Turning away, he headed into the hush of the forest, intending to work off the tension with some hard physical exercise. He hadn’t made it more than a hundred meters beyond the White Zone when he froze.

The damn cub had his hands on Sienna.

His claws were slicing out of his skin before he’d processed the thought.

As he watched, Kit angled his body to tuck Sienna even closer, his hands cupping her face to draw her in for an open-mouthed kiss that lasted long enough to have Hawke considering dismemberment. But the young leopard male broke the kiss before Hawke’s wolf took control, clasping Sienna’s hand to tug her deeper into the dark green firs that covered this area, the spaces between the tall, straight trunks shadowed by late afternoon sunlight.

Hawke didn’t have to be a genius to figure out what the boy planned.


Retracting his claws, he attempted to wipe his expression clean as he turned to face a woman who was one of his most trusted friends.

And could be a royal pain in the ass.

Indigo frowned as she closed the distance between them. “Was Kit here?” A pause as she obviously caught a second scent. “Ah, Sienna’s using her free hour.”

“Did you need me for something?” He held his hand out for the datapad by her side. “Is there a problem with the extended patrols?” They’d set up the patrols deep in the forested interior and along the isolated mountain edges of den territory, after Councilor Henry Scott’s games a couple of months back—games that had almost stolen the life of Indigo’s mate, Drew.

Things had been quiet since then, but the pack wasn’t about to drop its guard, especially when it appeared the Psy Councilors had their knives out for each other. Like it or not, the Psy were the most powerful race on the planet. If they imploded, the repercussions would make everyone bleed. “Indigo, I don’t have all day.” Sharp words.

The lieutenant’s response was to fold her arms, her namesake eyes bright with challenge. “The young males are starting to show signs of aggression. You know why.”

“I’ll take care of it.” It was a statement brimming with dominance, one that would’ve made almost any other individual tuck tail and run.

Indigo gave him an easy, dangerous smile. “I know all you have to do is snap your fingers and women throw themselves into your bed—” She held up a hand when he growled. “I’m not saying you use your position, but the fact that you’re alpha, the reason why you’re alpha—your strength, your speed, your sheer dominance—that’s potent stuff. Not to mention your pretty face.”

It was a struggle to keep his focus when the back of his neck burned with the snarling awareness of what was going on not far into the forest. “Thanks for the pep talk.” It came out wolf rough.

“Shut up.” Indigo was one of only two people in the den who could say that to his face and not get herself in seriously deep shit, and she used that knowledge ruthlessly. “I know damn well you could go and scratch that itch right now if you wanted to, but why don’t you think about whether scratching it with just any packmate—even one you like—will have any effect whatsoever.”

KIT halted now that they were out of range of keen changeling hearing—even that of a wolf so close to his animal that his senses were more acute than normal. Because while Kit was happy to prod at Hawke, he also had a healthy respect for the SnowDancer alpha and wasn’t about to push him beyond a certain point.

That fact might’ve annoyed his leopard had it been another dominant male closer to his own age, but just as Kit’s leopard knew its own strength, man and leopard both also knew that Hawke was a predatory changeling male in the prime of his life. The wolf alpha would wipe the floor with Kit without so much as breaking a sweat.

Sienna tugged her hand out of his. “Why did you do that?” Curious, not angry.

“Don’t say my kisses aren’t nice?” He couldn’t resist the tease.

Folding her arms, she pinned him with one of those looks she’d picked up from her mentor, Indigo. “That was the problem, as I seem to recall.”

Kit’s pride winced. Just a little—before his leopard shrugged it off with feline confidence. “Want to try again? It was only one kiss.”

Shadows clouded her expression, turning her gaze to midnight. “Kit, I—” Eyes narrowing as she glimpsed the grin tugging at his lips, she mimed throwing something at his head. “Not funny.”

Laughing, he pulled her body against his with one arm around her neck, deeply conscious that such informal skin privileges came hard for her, that he was one of the few people she trusted in this way—enough to have allowed him to spring a kiss on her. “How could I resist, Sin? You’re so adorable and earnest.”

She elbowed him. Hard. Wincing, he continued to hold her by his side. “So, still no chemistry, huh?” He nuzzled the top of her head with his chin. “Pity. Because you know you’re smoking hot.”

“Also not funny.”

“Wasn’t a lie.” He knew from the slight shake of her head that she thought he was spouting a whole boatload of shit, but the fact was, Sienna was gorgeous—in a way every dominant changeling male in both packs had noticed.

Hers wasn’t a delicate feminine beauty, for all that she was small and fine-boned. No, Sienna carried within her a deep, deep core of strength that had etched itself onto her face. This was a woman who would stand her ground, come what may. And to a predatory changeling male, that was both purest temptation and the most enticing challenge.

He got another intriguing glimpse of that internal strength when she pushed away to face him once more. “You didn’t answer my question.”

“I scented Hawke walking out,” he said, eyes never moving off her . . . so he saw the immediate stiffening of her shoulders, the pinched tightness around the lush curves of her mouth.

When she spoke, her voice held a husky undertone that stroked over his senses like rough silk. “Did he see us?”

“Yes.” Leaning against an old lodgepole pine, the trunk clear of branches high up into the canopy, he hooked his thumbs into the pockets of his jeans, thinking again that chemistry was a bitch. But disappointing as it was that there were no fireworks between him and Sienna—oh, there’d been sparks, sure, but not enough to satisfy either one of them—he had the rock solid feeling that their friendship was here to stay. And Kit took care of his friends. “Don’t look at me that way.”

Arms crossed over her chest once more, she pinned him with an angry stare. “You know I don’t like to play games.”

Yes, he did. Sienna was smart on a whole different level than the majority of people, but she’d also spent most of her life in Silence. The conditioning designed to suppress her feelings, her very heart, had left her with huge gaps in her emotional education—which was why she needed friends to watch her back, especially now. “There are games, and then there are strategic moves.” He shook his head when she would have spoken. “Predatory changelings are possessive; it’s part of the package. Alphas take that to an entirely new level.”

“That doesn’t apply here.” A hard angle to her jaw, those arms so defensively folded. But she didn’t try to pretend she didn’t know what he was talking about. “He doesn’t see me as an adult female, not in that way.”

“Hence my helping hand . . . or lips, as the case may be.” Walking over, he tugged on her braid because not touching someone he cared about was incomprehensible to his leopard. “Trust me, kitten. I know when a man wants to rip my head off.” Followed by various other parts of his anatomy. “Hawke was ready to make leopard mincemeat of my insides and feed it to those feral wolves who follow him around like he’s their alpha, too.”

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