Kiss of Snow Page 57

Everything, Hawke thought as he hung up, was either ready, or would be by tomorrow. Now, it was just a case of keeping an eye on the enemy and being ready to move when they struck.

There was no longer an “if.”

“I think,” Judd said to him a half hour later, as they stood watching a group of novices and younger soldiers complete the training run at night, “we should blow the South American compound soon.”

Hawke tracked Sienna with icy focus—she didn’t have a wolf’s natural night vision, but she was doing more than fine with the night-vision lenses strapped around her head. “Movement?”

“They’re approximately a day, two at most, from completing the runway. Weapons are being shifted into the hangar for loading.”

Hawke knew Judd had rigged the hangar, so that wouldn’t be a problem. “Jem sent in a report out of Los Angeles an hour ago,” he said, frowning as Tai accidentally slammed into Sienna and they both tumbled into the mud below. Lara had healed the young male’s fractured arm, the injury minor enough that it hadn’t strained resources she needed to focus on the more badly hurt. “Looks like the Scotts might’ve gotten in more weapons and troops than we thought via the shipping routes.”

“Means they won’t be hobbled by losing the camp.”

“No, but it will have an impact, and more important, there’s a strong chance it’ll spur them to strike. If we can get them to do that before they’re ready, it’ll be to our advantage.” He tracked Tai and Sienna as they joined forces to get over a stubborn obstacle. “Push the switch when you think it the best time, just give us enough warning that we can hunker down for an assault.”

Judd nodded at the training run. “You’ve factored Sienna into the equation?”

Claws raked along the inside of his skin, drawing blood. “I don’t want her giving herself away unless it’s necessary.”

“But you’re not disregarding her?”

“I’m not an idiot.”

Judd raised a shoulder in a shrug. “It happens with predatory changeling males—you do tend to be protective.”

“Look who’s talking.”

“Why do you think I fit in so well?”

Hawke called Sienna into his office forty minutes later, after she’d had a chance to clean up. “Here,” he said, tapping a spot on the map and restraining the urge to snarl at the memory of the words she’d flung at him by the pool. “If there is an attack, you stand here, and you do not engage unless I give the order.”

A crisp nod, no defiance. “You want to keep me as a surprise gambit as long as possible. I understand.” Her words were calm, practical—as if they’d never had that fight.

His wolf peeled its lips back over predator-sharp teeth. “Pretending to be Silent, baby? Too late for that.”

Flame, dangerous and hypnotic, crawled over the black of her eyes. “Would you prefer I act the part of a hysterical female so you can write me off?”

He gripped the edge of his desk. “Careful.”

“Why?” A look that might as well have come from a pissed-off female wolf. “I’m not the one who seems unable to separate work and pleasure.”

“Feeling bratty tonight, are you?” It satisfied some deep part of him that he’d gotten her riled up so fast—he would never allow or accept distance from his woman.

“Don’t.” An unexpectedly serious response. “Don’t lessen my opinions by calling me a brat. And you know, don’t call me baby either.”

“If you think you can ‘handle’ me, Sienna,” he said as the animal prowled to the surface of his mind, “you’re looking at the wrong wolf.”

“Can we get back to work?” Cool words that ruffled his fur the wrong way.

SIENNA didn’t know how it happened. One minute, she was fighting off the blade of dissonance as she stared at the large, territorial map on Hawke’s desk, with him on the other side, and the next he had a grip on her waist and was pulling her onto the solid bulk of the desk with a speed and strength that left her breathless. She found herself kneeling on the dark wood, her hands on his shoulders what felt like a millisecond later.

“You can’t just—” But his hand was already on the back of her head, and she was being kissed until she couldn’t breathe. Gasping in air when he drew back for the barest instant, she tried to prepare herself for the next kiss . . . but of course, there was way no way to prepare for Hawke.

He’d touched her with exquisite tenderness when he’d brought her to pleasure this morning, but at this instant, he was pure demanding wolf, nipping at her lower lip, sucking at her upper one, stroking his tongue inside her mouth until she knew she’d carry the taste of him into her very dreams. As for his hands, one fisted in her hair, the other gripping her hip—proprietary didn’t even come close.

The temptation to submit was crushing. She’d wanted him for so long, and now that he’d given her the right to touch him, to hold him, she had to fight with her own hunger not to grab at the crumbs he offered. Maybe he was right, maybe they would never mate—but she knew, she knew, that this man with his beautiful wild heart was capable of giving far more than he was willing to risk.

Wrenching away her head, she twisted out of his hold using a trick Indigo had taught her and ended up on her feet on the other side of the desk. “Hawke, there’s—” !! The wordless warning from the primal part of her brain slammed through her a fraction too late—he was already launching himself over the desk and toward her.

Instinct punched to the surface, and she found she’d formed a wall of cold fire between them. He skidded to a halt on the other side, then angled his head in a move that was distinctly not human, touched his finger to the fire. A hissing breath, those wolf-pale eyes meeting hers through the rippling sheet of crimson flame licked with yellow. “You burned me.”

“Well,” she said, shoving tangled strands of hair off her face as her heart thudded double-time, “you didn’t seem to be willing to listen to reason.”

Not giving her any warning, he thrust his arm through the cold fire. But she’d already doused it and was out the door . . . to run headlong into a very hard, very wide male chest.

“Hey there, darling. Careful now.” Strong, unfamiliar hands on her shoulders.

Feeling Hawke exit the office, she took her chances and twisted around behind the solid bulk of the man she belatedly recognized as Matthias, all dark, dark eyes and rich brown skin shaped over a face that held hints of so many cultures, it was impossible to define him as anything but stunning. The big lieutenant gave her an odd look but shifted to intercept Hawke when he went to move around Matthias.

Saying a silent thank-you, Sienna took to her heels. It was self-preservation. In his current mood, Hawke might get her to agree to anything he wanted . . . even an existence in which she would forever be second best.

WALKER was on his way out of the infirmary after having had a late dinner with Lara, when he saw Kieran about to head in. The handsome young soldier carried a bouquet of colorful blooms.

“Are those for Lara?” He didn’t move out of the doorway.

“Yeah. I thought since she’s been working so hard, it might be nice for her to have these in her office.” A flashing smile. “Do you think she’ll like them?”

Walker didn’t have to think about his answer. “She won’t be getting a chance to see them.”

Kieran might’ve been human, but he’d grown up in a wolf pack. His gaze went flat with challenge. “How about we let Lara decide.”

“No.” Walker held the other man’s distinctive gray-green eyes until Kieran jerked his head away.

“Fuck.” Fingers crushing the slender stems in his grip, he thrust the bouquet onto Walker’s chest. “You might be more dominant, but I will skin you if you don’t treat her the way she should be treated.”

As Kieran stalked away, Walker looked at the crumpled flowers in his grasp and considered why he’d felt compelled to keep the other man from getting anywhere near Lara. Kieran had only been trying to look after her in his own way. Except, Walker realized, he didn’t want anyone else looking after the SnowDancer healer. Bringing her dinner when she worked late, making sure she got enough sleep, holding her when she cried, those were Walker’s responsibilities.

. . . you don’t have any other rights—you didn’t want them . . . They belong to the man with whom I’ll build a life, have children.

She’d been furious the night she’d thrown those words at him but that made them no less true. So . . . either he backed off right now, or he asked for the rights he’d once rejected. There was no guarantee she’d say yes. In fact, there was a high chance she would refuse, having moved on in her personal life.

His hands clenched around the already bruised stems in his grasp.

HAWKE growled at Matthias as he sensed Sienna disappearing down the corridor. “Get the hell out of my way,” he said to the big lieutenant.

Matthias folded those arms, which were the size of small tree trunks, and sighed. “I’m only looking out for your dignity. Chasing women down the corridors is not done.”

“I’ll chase whomever I want.” But the wolf’s temper was retreating.

Matthias grinned. “Pretty little thing, your Psy. And fast. What’d she do to get you in a hunting kind of mood?”

“None of your business.” Scowling, he jerked his head toward the office. “Since you refuse to leave.”

Matthias ambled in. “Nice to be here, even under these circumstances.”

“Your team?”

“Primed and ready to go.” Matthias raised an eyebrow at the mess on Hawke’s desk but didn’t comment. “They know den territory, but I’ve got them doing a run to refamiliarize themselves.”

“Good. Make sure they don’t overdo it—I have a feeling the shit is going to hit the fan sooner rather than later, and I want them rested.”

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