Kiss of Snow Page 67

Her sweet, gentle baby brother, a boy who’d already lost his mother, would also know, but she’d have chanced that to hug him tight if she hadn’t been so afraid her power would go unstable while she was still in the den.

Walker would protect him, she thought, fighting back tears because they had no place here, in the most crucial battle of her life. Walker would lay down his life for Toby. So would Hawke, Judd, Riley, Indigo, Drew, Brenna—so many people loved him. Sunny-natured Marlee would reach him even if everyone else failed. And she could ’path him later when she was at a safe distance, make sure he wasn’t afraid, that he knew she loved him.

Hawke isn’t a telepath.

Her eyes glanced off the phone she was leaving behind because it contained a tracking chip. She wouldn’t be able to contact him if she failed in her last desperate attempt to contain her power, wouldn’t be able to tell him the secrets of her heart. But he’d know—how could he possibly not know how much he meant to her?

The physical act of leaving was easy. No one had any reason to stop her. She didn’t make any detours until she was well past the lake. Then she began to run, raising a wave of X-fire at her back. The intensity of it would erase the scents on the ground, in the air. Hawke might still be able to track her, but she had a head start and the most painful incentive to get as far as possible from those she loved. She would not murder them, would not become the monster Ming had trained her to be.

An hour later, her power hit one hundred percent.

HAWKE was speaking to Riley about Alexei’s team of snipers when Toby ran up to them. The boy was so well behaved that the instant he grabbed Hawke’s hand and tugged, he had both men’s immediate and total attention.

“Sienna.” Toby sucked in a breath, his face red, his chest heaving. “She’s in trouble.”

Hawke’s wolf went predator-quiet. “Where is she, Toby?”

“I don’t know.” Stark terror in the skin stretched tight over his skull. “Her star is like ice in our net. But there’s fire inside.” Trembling voice, a sheen of wet on those eyes. “You have to help her.”

Hawke took Toby’s face in between his palms, captured the boy’s distraught gaze with his own. “You did the right thing coming to me. I’ll find her.” Always. She was his.

Toby gave a jerky nod. “You gotta go. I think she’s running away.”

No way in hell.


“I’ve got him.” Riley put his hand on top of Toby’s head.

“Go,” both man and boy said.

He left, fury beating in every pulse of his blood. Did she really think he’d let her go? That he’d lie down and accept the fact that she’d cut and run? If she had, she was going to get a nasty surprise when he caught up to her. Because Hawke was feeling all kinds of mean.

A single question and he knew she hadn’t checked out any of the vehicles. Which meant she was on foot. He shifted to wolf form mid-run, following her scent out of the den and to the lake. Anger had his wolf digging its claws into the earth, but worse was the jagged sense of betrayal. How dare she do this? How dare she think to isolate herself in this way? They were going to have the mother of all fights when he caught up to her.

Which he would do, very, very soon.

Sienna was smart, but she wasn’t wolf, wasn’t alpha. He lost her scent at the lake. It didn’t matter. Because he knew her. He also knew this territory like the back of his hand. Cutting across the land with the speed of a predator infuriated with the woman he’d claimed as his own, he planned to head her off in under three hours.

SETTLING them in the break room off the infirmary, Lara made Toby and Marlee cups of hot chocolate, and handed out cookies. “Sienna will be fine,” she said, ignoring the tear tracks Toby furtively wiped away, and hoping her words weren’t a lie. “Hawke’s gone after her.” Hawke always ran his prey to ground. Always.

Marlee scrunched up her nose. “I bet he was mad.”

Toby nodded to his younger cousin. “Yeah, Sienna’s in big trouble.”

They began to discuss whether they wanted to swap their cookies.

Startled, Lara looked up to meet Riley’s gaze. The lieutenant gave a single satisfied nod before leaving the children in Lara’s care—though Lara wasn’t certain they were as sanguine about the situation as they appeared, especially Toby. But, having dealt with more than her share of boys, she didn’t fuss. Instead, she moved around to fix the ribbon on Marlee’s braid. “Did you tell your dad what was happening?” Walker would want to know as soon as possible.

“Uh-huh.” Marlee nodded. “He was helping Riaz with the older kids far away. He’s coming home though.” Eyes identical to her father’s pinned Lara to the spot when she finished with the ribbon. “Ben says you smell like my dad.”

Lara hesitated, glanced at Toby . . . to see no surprise on the boy’s face. Of course not. He was empathic, had to have picked up the undercurrents long ago. “Does that bother you?” she asked both children.

Toby just shook his head, but Marlee dunked her cookie and took a bite before saying, “No, Dad needs someone to cuddle him, too.” A brilliant smile. “And me and Toby, we think you’re pretty great.”

Wanting to smile at the idea of anyone cuddling Walker, Lara pressed a kiss to Marlee’s cheek before moving over to pour Toby some more hot chocolate. “You need anything else, sweetheart?”

Toby looked up, a quiver in his lower lip that he bit down to still. “A hug.”

“Oh, Toby.” Going to her knees, she embraced him tight. “We won’t permit her to handle this alone. We’re pack.”

A small hand brushed over her own as Marlee patted Toby’s back. “Don’t be sad, Toby. Hawke won’t bite her very hard for running away.”

Toby’s eyes went huge as he drew back from the hug . . . and then he started laughing, turning to wrap one arm around his grinning cousin’s neck to tug her to his side.

From the mouths, Lara thought, her own lips twitching, of babes.

SWEAT was trickling down Sienna’s back, her face, pasting tendrils of hair to her temples when she crested the rise and found herself two meters from a very pissed off wolf. “No,” she whispered. “You can’t be here.” In the hours since she’d left the den, she’d realized that there was no way to turn back the psychic clock, no way to escape the inevitable. The only thing she could do was make sure she didn’t take anyone else with her. “Go back.”

The wolf snarled, lips peeled back to display razor-sharp canines.

It was difficult to stand her ground when all she wanted to do was go to her knees, wrap her arms around him, and ask him to make it alright. But even Hawke couldn’t fix this, fix her. “I’m close to a lethal breach,” she said, breath coming in ragged gasps. “You have to leave.”

His response was to pace around her in a slow, predatory sweep. Dropping her pack, she swigged from the bottle of water she’d refilled at a stream an hour ago. “Stop trying to intimidate me and listen, you stubborn wolf!”

Pale eyes dared her to continue.

She folded her arms. “I’m not being melodramatic or a diva or a child.” The time alone in the wide-open spaces of the Sierra had given her room to breathe, quiet the nascent panic to cold reason. “My power is amplifying at an exponential rate. I could go active at any time—in the bedroom, at the infirmary, in the nursery.”

Hawke walked over to stand right in front of her, his ears pricked, his body motionless. She wasn’t surprised in the least when he shifted in a storm of light and color. When it passed, he towered over her, his anger as feral as it had been in wolf form. “You. Left. Me.”

It was the last thing she’d expected him to say. “It was for the best.” He had her scrambling backward before she realized it. Her back hit a tree trunk. “I’m dangerous. I—” His mouth on her own, his hand gripping her at the nape as his body pinned her against the tree.

She should’ve resisted, but how was she supposed to exercise restraint when he was everything she had ever wanted?

Seventy-three percent.

Time, she had time enough to love him. Rising on tiptoe, she gripped at his waist as she met him kiss for kiss, breath for breath.

When he reached down and ripped open the button-fly of her cargo pants, she kicked them off after toeing off her boots. Her panties were in shreds an instant later. She shifted her grip to his shoulders as he lifted her up, wrapping her legs around his waist. And shuddered, her every nerve sparking with near-painful need as he claimed her with a single primal thrust.

But even wild with possessive fury and animal need, he remembered to brace one arm around her lower back, the other around her shoulders, so she didn’t get pounded into the rough bark of the tree. Then he took her, kissing her with such ferocious demand that she could do nothing but give him everything he wanted.

“You left me.” A husky accusation against her ear.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” Fisting her hand in his hair, she kissed him in ragged apology—she couldn’t say she wouldn’t do it again. That choice had been taken out of her hands the instant she’d been born an X. “Love me.”


THEY sat in the silver-green shade of the tree afterward, its branches shimmering in the sunlight. Sienna had managed to knot the top of her cargos across her hips, though they hung precariously low, while Hawke sat unashamedly naked, with her in his lap. His chin lay on her hair, one muscular arm around her shoulders, his free hand heavy on her thigh.

Head on his shoulder, she traced her fingers through the soft hairs on his chest. “I thought I’d beaten it. I thought I’d be the X who survived, but I was just fooling myself. I should’ve looked more carefully, should’ve realized—”

“You had no one to teach you,” he said with changeling fierceness. “You’re doing the best you can in a wilderness no one knows how to navigate.”

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