Kiss of Snow Page 52

It seemed to go on forever, an endless hail of violence. The increasing level of noise indicated the offensive craft was getting closer—she was about to try to talk to Hawke, tell him they needed to move when the sonic boom of a massive explosion set her ears to ringing.

Chapter 36

A SECOND EXPLOSION followed on the heels of the first.

Hawke rolled off her an instant later. “Baby, you okay?”

She said, “Yes,” through the buzzing in her ears, aware he had to be in acute pain, given the sensitivity of changeling hearing. “You?”

“Hurts like a bitch, but eardrums didn’t blow.” Getting to his feet, he hauled her up.

“W—” Her dazed brain rallied to make sense of the debris raining down from the sky only meters away. “We need to check the wreckage as soon as possible, in case they have a Tk clean-up squad ready to mobilize.” The destroyed craft might yield information the pack could use to its advantage in the growing hostilities.

“Go,” Hawke said to her surprise. “Do what you need to if Tks ’port in. I have to check on the others.”

“Be careful.”

Getting his nod, she took off. The debris was lumps of blackened and twisted metal at first glance, nothing of any use. Keeping her senses—physical and psychic—on wide alert, she did a crisscrossing grid search at high speed, hoping like hell the pack’s air-defense systems had left her something to find.

As it was, she almost missed it.

It had to have been part of the hull, a tiny warped square that she glimpsed with the corner of her eye. Running back to it, she gloved her hand in a layer of cold fire before picking it up. Her ability protected her from the blazing heat coming off the debris, but it did nothing to affect her vision.

The single silver star on the metal fragment was as bright as platinum.

HAWKE made contact with Brenna as he ran, the sat phone’s reception crystal clear. “Are the skies clean?”

“Yes—and the aerial defense systems are rearmed and ready.”

“Has Lara been notified?”

“She’s on her way. Riley’s coordinating everything. I’ll patch you through.”

“Casualties?” he asked as soon as Riley came on the line.

“No reports so far.” Crisp, collected words. “But we’ve got some severe injuries.”

“Why did it take so long to blow those bloody things out of the sky?” SnowDancer knew its weaknesses, had prepared defenses. “They should’ve been picked up before they ever got close enough to hit anyone.”

“Same stealth technology they used last time,” Riley said. “I’ve asked the cats to send in teams to secure the wreckage until we can spare the people—what we find could prove critical in modifying our detection systems.”

“Were they hit?”

“No. The attack was focused on SnowDancer.”

Seeing Lake’s fallen body, Hawke said, “I’ll call you back,” and hung up.

The young soldier had taken a shot through his back, but he was breathing. “Go,” he whispered. “I’m not going to fucking die and give them the satisfaction.”

Good man. “Lara’s on her way,” he said, making the tough decision to take Lake at his word, check on the others.

It was a long night.

Lake had lost a lot of blood, but the bullet hadn’t nicked anything major. Sam had been hit once, the bullet digging a channel across the side of his skull and knocking him out, but Lara assured Hawke the damage looked worse than it was. Inés had taken a bullet in the leg, Riaz had been hit in the shoulder and a newly promoted Tai had fractured his left arm as he dived to avoid the bullets, while Sing-Liu had been hit twice, both bullets entering through her back to crush a path through her internal organs.

The small human woman was the most badly injured, alive only because her mate, D’Arn, had shoved his energy into her in an effort to keep her alive after he felt her pain through their bond. He’d collapsed where he stood in the den, but he’d kept her alive. It was now up to Lara and her team.

The DarkRiver healer, Tamsyn, worked beside Lara. She couldn’t heal wolves, but as a qualified physician, she could take some of the burden by dealing with the less severe injuries. Riley and Indigo had the security situation under control, had made sure the attack left no gaps in their defensive perimeter, while the techs were combing through the wreckage. That left Hawke free to remain in the infirmary.

It was near dawn that he put his hands on Lara’s shoulders and said, “Go to bed.” All the injured had been treated and were now resting.

“I’m okay,” she mumbled, cheek against his chest, “one more espresso and I’ll be set. Where’s Tammy?”

“Her mate carried her off an hour ago.” Literally. “Now go to bed or I’ll handcuff you to it.”

“Kinky.” But she didn’t resist when he walked her to her room and pushed her in the direction of the bed.

Turning around when he was certain she didn’t plan to sneak back out, he made his way to his own quarters and stepped into the shower. Dressed in sweats and a clean T-shirt afterward, he didn’t crash, but headed to Sienna’s, knowing she’d only returned to the den thirty minutes ago—she’d been on protection detail over the techs since the attack. Her strength made his wolf raise its head in pride.

She opened the door at his first knock and said nothing as he pulled off his T-shirt. When he nudged her into her bed, she went without argument. He curled himself behind her, nuzzled his face into the curve of her neck, and fell headlong into sleep.

LARA had fallen asleep the instant she stumbled facedown into bed, not bothering to strip, but her wolf nudged her awake what felt like moments later. “What?” she mumbled, feeling someone tugging at her shoes. “One sec—”

“Shh.” A strong, warm hand on her hair. “Just getting these off.” Another tug and her medical coat was gone, too.

“Kids,” she mumbled, not able to find the will to move.

That big, callused hand stilled on her body. “They’re with Drew and Indigo.”

She tried to say that that was good, but exhaustion kicked her hard. Right before everything went dark, she felt Walker’s lips on her temple, warm and firm. Wishful thinking. But it was a nice way to go into sleep.

NO, no, no, no, no, no, no, no . . .

“Perfect.” Ming walked into the room to examine the pile of fine ash where there had once been a screaming person. “While your lack of control is problematic, I can’t be less than pleased with the strength of your ability.”

She was a monster trapped in a room with another. Maybe she should just burn them both up, end it all.

A vice around her mind, black and vicious, a reminder that her thoughts weren’t her own. “Stop, ” she said, blood trickling out of her nose.

“Remember, Sienna,” he said, the birthmark on the right side of his face the same color as her blood. “I own you. You are my creature.”

A growl in the evil silence of that room, shaking the very walls.

As she watched, Ming began to disintegrate until he was nothing, less than nothing. The sight of it caused her such violent pleasure that when the growl turned into a voice and ordered, “Rest. I ’ve got you,” she snuggled back into a big, muscled body and surrendered to the wings of sleep once more.

SIENNA woke perhaps three hours after Hawke had come into her room. At the time, there’d been no need or time for words—though she had a vague memory of hearing his voice sometime in between. Frowning, she thought back, caught fragments of what might’ve been a nightmare, but there were no lingering remnants of terror.

Hardly surprising given the protective heat of the man who slept curved around her. Hawke’s thigh was pressed demandingly against the softest part of her, his hand flat on her abdomen beneath her favorite old tank, his arm under her head, his face nuzzled into the curve of her neck—the reality of him was a sensual pulse under her skin.

Part of her wanted to turn around, to rub her face against the fine, silky hairs on his chest, but a bigger part was scared to shatter the moment, to have him wake and leave. She knew he’d have to go. He was alpha, and last night, the pack had been attacked. He’d given himself and his people a little time to rest and regroup, but morning had broken—everything would kick into high gear as soon as he rose.

A rumble against her back, his hand moving in lazy circles on her abdomen as he wedged his thigh more firmly against her. “Morning.” That rough, male voice made her skin go taut, her face flush with heat that had nothing to do with embarrassment and everything to do with throat-clenching desire. She’d never woken up with a man tangled around her, never thought that when it happened, it would be him.

“Morning,” she managed to say, readying herself for the loss of his presence. “I can make you coffee before you go.” Yes, she wanted him to stay, but he was the heart of SnowDancer, being alpha as much a part of him as her abilities were of her. She’d never consider getting in the way of his loyalty to the pack, had understood even as a girl barely out of the Net that he was loved by many, needed by many. “I only have instant, but it’s not bad.”

“Not coffee,” he said, kissing the curve of her neck. “Give me something sweet to take into the day.”

She squeezed down on that slowly rubbing thigh, her body tight, hot. “What do you want?”

His hand moved, his fingers trailing along the top of her waistband. “To pleasure you.”

“I—” She’d never stuttered in her life, but it looked like that was about to happen. Swallowing, she attempted to rearrange her scattered thoughts. “I don’t know if I can handle it.”

“We’ve played before.” Another kiss. “You said that wasn’t what made the cold fire spill over.”

“No, it didn’t.”


“I’m not sure my control is good enough,” she admitted, because while emotion didn’t drive the X-fire, it did have an impact on her capacity to cage it. That was what Silence had given those of her designation—a cold, calm place in which to stand. “After last night I feel as if my emotions are on a hair trigger. I might lose my grip on my abilities if I . . .”

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