Kiss of Snow Page 73

Exhausted, his head in his hands as he leaned his elbows on her bed, he almost missed the beep on the monitor above the bed. Then it sounded again. Jerking upright, he searched for Lara, saw Hawke carrying the healer into the office where she had a sofa. From the protective way the alpha held her, it appeared she’d lost consciousness, unsurprising given the number of injuries SnowDancer had suffered.

“Alice,” he whispered, turning to clasp his hand around the woman’s thin one as he kept an eye on the electronic readout above her head.

Her eyes fluttered open. So deep and intense was the brown of her irises that it was difficult to distinguish pupil from iris even when she focused on Judd’s face. Her lips parted, as if she’d speak, but her throat emitted no sound. Squeezing her hand, he reached over to snag some ice chips off a trolley to wet her throat.

“Arrow,” she said in a hoarse whisper, but there was no fear in her, only defiance.

“Former.” Perhaps he should’ve waited, but he had to get the information while she was conscious and lucid. “We need to know if you discovered anything about X-Psy that would help save one about to go critical.”

Confusion. “X?”

“Cold fire,” he said. “X-fire. Remember.”

Not even a glimmer of recognition and he knew the Ghost had been right. Alice had asked for her own memories to be erased. It had to be the reason why she’d ended up in cryonic suspension rather than assassinated, her abductors needing time to work out how to retrieve the data. However, he refused to give up—she’d been in stasis for so long. There was no knowing how it had affected her mind. “The burning ones,” he said, using every key word he could think of. “Fire. Flame. Synergy.”

An instant of piercing clarity. “Find the valve.”

Chapter 52

HAWKE FELT EVERYONE in the infirmary sag with relief when the first of the healers from the other sectors arrived. They’d asked to come before the conflict, but SnowDancer couldn’t risk putting all its healers so close to danger. But now, they were needed, and nothing could keep them away.

It cost him, but he didn’t leave until the healers pronounced that the injured had been stabilized enough that he could take a break. He headed straight for the woman who was the beating heart of him. The tent Drew had rigged over Sienna’s unconscious body was empty, their packmates having left when they sensed his approach.

It was as if she’d been waiting for him.

“No.” It was a whisper so quiet, even most changelings wouldn’t have heard it. But Sienna was Hawke’s, had always been his, whether she’d known it or not, whether he’d accepted it or not.

“Yes,” he murmured, dipping his finger in a bottle of water and rubbing it over her lips. “Yes.”

A shake of her head, but her lips parted, searching for more. He trickled some into her mouth, making low, deep sounds of encouragement in his throat. “Come on now. Open those pretty eyes for me.”


He didn’t know what she meant by that, but driven by his wolf, he leaned down to nip at her lower lip. “Hawke,” he said. “That’s the word you need to be saying.”

Lines formed between her eyebrows.

“Hawke,” he repeated, squeezing her hip. “Hawke.”

“Hawke.” It was a sleepy murmur as her eyes flickered open. That cardinal gaze displayed a wild burst of unadulterated happiness for one stunning instant before it was wiped away by shocked horror as she scrambled up into a sitting position. “What did you do?” A mental door slammed shut with such force it shot pinpricks of light behind his eyelids.

Snarling, he gripped her jaw, “Don’t you dare try to block me.” His wolf began to batter at the wall it couldn’t see but could feel, tied as they were by the mating bond, a bond that would never allow that kind of distance.

The barrier broke in an avalanche of emotion, tangling them up until he could sense her in every part of him. Taking in a shuddering breath, he clasped her head between his hands and said, “Try that again and I’ll paddle you.”

Her eyes narrowed. “Don’t you talk to me like that.”

The laugh came from somewhere deep inside him. “Good morning to you, too, sunshine.” Then he kissed her. And kept on kissing her until she bit down hard on his lower lip. “What?” he growled.


The gasp gave him the impetus to rein himself back. “Judd said your family is okay.” Hawke hadn’t asked too much more, especially when the former Arrow told him what Alice Eldridge had said before lapsing back into the same comalike state she’d been in since entering the den.

REMEMBERING the wrenching sensation that had torn at her before she lost consciousness, Sienna closed her eyes and stepped out into what should’ve been the LaurenNet.

It wasn’t.

She blinked, shook her head.

“Sienna.” Lips on her jaw.

She thrust a hand into his hair. “Stop distracting me.” Yet she turned her face toward his, taking just a little more in spite of the dread that knotted up her throat—and giving, too. He was changeling, touch essential to his happiness. “The LaurenNet is gone.”

His head snapped up. “What?”

“Shh.” She touched psychic fingers to the sparkling wolf-blue and flamehued rope that connected her to Hawke—oh, God—but tempting as it was to focus on the beauty and terror of it, she moved on, spreading her psychic senses.

She found Judd first, linked as he was to Hawke. Bonded to him was a mind Sienna was used to seeing in the LaurenNet, though it wasn’t Psy—Brenna. Judd was also connected in a wholly different way to another mind she recognized: Walker. She, too, was connected to both Judd and Walker, and all three of them had direct links to Toby and Marlee.

However, those weren’t the only minds in this web.

Nine other minds, strong and wild in a way she couldn’t explain speared out from the central core that was Hawke, spokes on a wheel. A tenth mind was held closer to his own in a more protective way. All were fortified by natural shields it would take savage force to pierce—a stab of pain, of memory—and not a single one was Psy. A number of other minds connected outward from the spokes.

“I can see Lara, see your lieutenants,” she whispered, amazed by how “messy” this network was, so many intertwined and crisscrossing connections. “Indigo . . . I know her. She’s sparks and strength and life. And Drew, bonded to her so deep and strong.” Her heart smiled. “That must be Cooper’s mate.” Ever here, he was protective, her mind tucked close to his.

“Riley. I know him, too.” He was the calm in the midst of the storm, the rock on which every one of them depended. “Strange,” she whispered, seeing how the most powerful bond Riley had disappeared into nowhere. “Mercy.”

Strong, slightly rough fingers on her jaw. “Everyone is safe?”

“Yes.” She touched psychic fingers to the bond that was Lara’s. It wasn’t like the others, and she knew on an intuitive level that the tie between alpha and healer had its own set of rules, as would the links between the lieutenants and the healers bonded to them. So complex. So glorious.


Opening her eyes, she met those of a wolf. The LaurenNet, she thought, had held Judd even after Hawke blood-bonded him, because the neo-sentience within the familial network had known they couldn’t survive without him. But what Hawke had done on the battlefield had tipped the balance—and tied as the family was to one another, Judd and Sienna had wrenched everyone into the SnowDancer Web.

“Good.” He kissed her hard. “Now explain to me what the hell you thought you were doing turning yourself into a human torch!”

Outraged by the accusation, she almost forgot what she’d been going to say. Almost. “You idiot!” She pushed at his shoulders, didn’t manage to move him an inch. “It was safe! I was wiped out; the flames would’ve consumed me alone.” She’d known after the X-fire slipped her grasp—cold, such cold inside of her—that it was the only way to ensure she’d never again cause that kind of carnage. “Why did you stop me?”

“I took what was mine.”

“What I did”—sheer, unrelenting horror—“might’ve wiped me out for a short period, but I’m not stable, Hawke.”

“You wanted me to watch you burn? Fuck that!” The wolf stared out at her, arrogant and insulted and furious.

But she wasn’t about to back down. “Yes! You should’ve let me decommission the weapon.” That was what she was, how she should be treated. “Cut it,” she ordered. “Cut the mating bond.” She’d already tried to do it, found she couldn’t—it wasn’t a Psy construct, followed no rules of psychic power that she knew. “Cut it!”

“I’m changeling, baby.” A growling statement. “I couldn’t cut it if I wanted to.”

“I’ll do it,” she said, shivering with panic. “There must be a way. I’ll have to go into your mind and—”

His face was suddenly in hers. “Try it.”

Flinching, she went to do just that, because she would not hurt him, hurt any of them . . . and found she couldn’t. He was inside her, her mate—that impossible, beautiful word—and the idea of violating him was anathema. “I’m sorry.” Her shoulders slumped. “For what I did before.”

Bloated with power, she’d torn through his shields and into his mind on that field of battle in a final, failed attempt at saving her packmates even as she incinerated the enemy. Hawke’s wolf knew each and every one of his people, every inch of his land, every one of the wild wolves—she’d thought to keep them safe by “showing” the cold fire that they weren’t to be touched. “How many—”

“You hurt no one in the pack.” A ruthless tone that forced her to listen. “Not a single singed hair aside from your own, you extraordinary, crazy, beautiful woman.”

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