Kiss of Snow Page 50

“Fair enough.” Taking the precious bundle from Sascha, he cuddled the baby close to the warmth of his body. When she scrunched up her face, he laughed. “Yes, I am a wolf, little cat.” Touching a careful finger to her nose, he was startled to feel tiny hands grip at it. “Look at that.”

Fascinated, Sascha thought, looking from one man to the other. They were both fascinated. It hadn’t astounded her in the least when Naya had wrapped Lucas around her finger, but somehow, she’d expected Hawke to last longer. But really, was it any surprise? He was alpha, too, had those same strong protective urges running through his blood.

The baby made a fussy noise.

Taking her from Hawke, Lucas held her against his chest, purring low and steady until their princess quieted in contentment. Sascha didn’t know how she stood it, the love for her mate and child that filled her body. It was so visceral, so intertwined in every cell of her being. An impossible, huge thing that eclipsed all that had come before.

It threatened to blind her to everything else, but she was an E-Psy. And so, she caught the whisper of darkness in the man who was an alpha without a mate. Glancing at Lucas, she tilted her head. He scowled. She pursed her lips. Sighing, he said, “I think baby girl here wants to go for a walk.”

Hawke exited first, with Sascha following Lucas out. He walked across the clearing until he was out of hearing range—if they kept their voices low. “You’re worried about something,” she said to Hawke, cutting to the heart of it.

Black thunder rolled across that harsh but beautiful face. “Stop doing that.”

“I can’t help it.” She never intruded on people’s emotions, but she could no more stop sensing them than Hawke could turn off his sense of smell.

Folding his arms, he leaned against the cabin wall while she perched on the window ledge a foot away. “What happened?” She prodded, because you had to with men so used to keeping everything contained. “Does it have to do with Sienna?”

“What makes you say that?”

“She’s the only one who incites this reaction in you.”

Hawke stared at where Lucas walked the baby. “She’s refusing to talk to me.”

“That shocks you.” No, Sascha thought, that wasn’t quite it. “It stuns you that she’s able to hold out against you.”

Hawke scowled. “You make me sound like an ass.”

“Not an ass—just a man who rarely has anyone stand up to him.” She felt the baby’s searching mind, sent reassurance as she did a thousand times a day. “Tell me why she’s not talking to you.”

After Hawke finished, she said, “I see.”

Pale eyes pinned her to the spot, his dominance a staggering wave. If she hadn’t been used to living with Lucas, she might’ve wilted. As it was, she touched her fingers to his jaw and pushed a fraction. “Stop that.”

The wolf continued to prowl behind that icy gaze, but he glanced away.

“Let me ask you one thing,” she said, wondering if she’d be able to get through to him, this man who, from what she knew, had become alpha at an even younger age than Lucas. “If Judd told you to keep your distance, would you?”

He folded his arms, biceps pushing against the sleeves of his white T-shirt. “The two situations aren’t the same.”

“She’s a cardinal, Hawke.” Gentle words, but Sascha was a cardinal, too, and the statement held a piercing power as it settled on Hawke’s skin. “If you’re to have any kind of a relationship with her, you must accept what she is—ignoring her when she makes a decision about her own power is about as far as you can get from acceptance.”

Hawke’s wolf paced inside his mind, wanting to tear at her words with its claws. “I have to get back.” There were a hundred things he had to handle today, but the most critical, he thought as he said good-bye to the leopard pair, would take some careful planning. There would be no more doors slammed in his face—of that much, both man and wolf were certain.


We regret to inform you that Alice Eldridge appears to have suffered a fatal accident during her most recent climb. A search-and-rescue unit is attempting to recover the body, but it is lodged so deep inside a crevasse that it may not be safe to proceed. Telekinetic assistance has been denied.

Chapter 35

ACCORDING TO A packmate, Lara had headed down to the waterfall, but Walker found no sign of her when he arrived. In the end, it was the crimson of her wool coat that gave her away—she was sitting tucked into the trees, her face turned toward the wild fury of the water.

Knowing she’d catch his scent, he walked to sit by her side, his shoulder touching hers. “You have shadows under your eyes.” He wanted to reach across and wipe them away, even knowing that to be impossible. When she didn’t reply, he said, “Talk to me, Lara.” He wasn’t used to silence from the woman who had become his closest friend.

“I had an emergency call from one of the women this morning. She was three months pregnant.”

Everything in Walker went quiet. “Something was wrong?”

“She had a miscarriage.” She took a ragged breath. “There was no warning, nothing to indicate a problem. I keep a careful eye on the pregnant women, but I didn’t catch this—” Wet in her voice. “I couldn’t fix it.”

He touched his hand to the wild energy of her curls. “Some pregnancies terminate without any apparent reason, you know that.”

“Intellectually, yes. But . . . She’s in so much emotional pain right now.”

Stroking his hand down the stiff line of her spine, he rested it on her hip. “I saw Hawke in the infirmary with a young couple when I went to find you.”

Lara nodded. “I called him in. He’ll be able to help her wolf to an extent, help her mate, too.” She wrapped her arms around raised knees. “She’s strong, healthy, will heal. I just hate that she’s having to go through this hurt. I hate it.”

Walker wasn’t female, would never carry a child, but he was a father. “Yelene,” he found himself saying, speaking a secret he’d never shared, “was pregnant with our second child when we got the rehabilitation order.”

Lara sucked in a breath. “She lost the baby.”

Of course she’d think that, this healer who worried so much about her pack. “The order was for everyone who bore Lauren blood. She’d already aborted the child by the time I came home.” Everything else, he would have accepted, would have survived, but that act, it broke something inside him. Because even in the PsyNet, he’d worked with children. Dangerous, gifted children, but children nonetheless, and he’d done everything in his power to protect them. Yet—“I couldn’t protect my child.”

Hearing Lara’s quiet sobs, he turned and took her into his arms, weaving his fingers into her hair. She buried her face against his chest and cried as if her heart was splintering. She understood, he thought, knew that it wasn’t only his unborn child that had died that day. But . . . as Lara cried for the child he’d lost, as she gave voice to the grief he couldn’t express, the tight knot of sorrow inside him began to unravel fragment by jagged fragment.

“I sometimes wonder,” he whispered, the soft skin of her nape delicate under his palm, “what my son would’ve been like.”

Lara’s hand spread on the fabric of his shirt. “Tell me what you imagined.” Her voice was raw with weeping, but her strength, it was an enduring flame.

It took him a long time, but as the water continued to thunder into the pool below, Walker held the warmth of her close and spoke of the son who lived deep within his heart and always would.

HAWKE nodded at Lake as he jogged down to the perimeter in the quiet of the hour before midnight. “Any problems?”

The soldier shook his head. “Spotted a couple of falcons in the distance when it was light, but they stayed clear of den territory.”

“Good.” Hawke spent several more minutes talking to Lake, having had a heads-up from Riley about him. Intelligent, Hawke thought, and not only that, but he had the capacity to think outside the box. “Are you happy with your current duties?”

Lake took a deep breath. “If I had the choice, I’d prefer more complex tasks.”

“Talk to Riley tomorrow,” Hawke said, because he didn’t want the talented young male getting bored. “He’ll shift your duties.”

“I understand we’re at high alert after the recent events.” An intent look. “I can wait until we’re better situated to move things around.”

“No. We’re not going to allow anyone to stifle the growth of our pack.”

“Yes, sir.” Lake glanced down, back up. “I wanted to say something—about Maria.”

“Go on.”

“She’s still pretty cut up about stepping off watch that time. If you could . . .”

Hawke’s wolf liked the boy better for his request. “I’ll take care of it.”

“Thank you.” A faint smile. “Sienna should be about five hundred meters to the north.”

Hawke pointed south. “Go.”

Lake left with a salute—and a grin.

Jogging along the perimeter until he caught the rich, vibrant scent of a woman who was well and truly under his skin, he drew in a deep breath of the cool mountain air and leashed his wolf. Demands would get neither man nor wolf anything when it came to Sienna. Neither would orders. This was about male and female. Hawke and Sienna.

He found her standing watch on a cliff’s edge, keeping an acute eye on everything that passed. Quiet as it was, it took her the barest instant to detect him. “Would you like a report, sir?”

He narrowed his eyes at her tone, but where the alpha in him would’ve delivered a quick and lethal verbal response to anyone else, that wasn’t the relationship he wanted with Sienna. “No, I’d prefer a kiss.”

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