Trembling, she stepped back. “Please don’t touch me.” Choked-out words.
Hawke curled his hand into a fist at Sienna’s near-silent command, his wolf snarling to get out, to teach this slender girl that he would not be rejected. “You have a cut there.”
Her fingers lifted to that cheek, a cheek that also bore a scattered spray of sun golden freckles she hadn’t had the last time they’d spoken. “Oh,” she said after a moment, “that must’ve been from when I was with Kit yesterday.”
His wolf pulled back its lips, baring the lethal sharpness of its canines. Kit was young, extremely dominant, and very close to Sienna in age. That didn’t mean he was right for her. “He hurt you?” It came out a cold question, his wolf gone predator-still.
Sienna’s eyes widened. “No. I wasn’t looking where I was going on the run back from a sparring session and I tripped.” An embarrassed look. “I’m never going to be as graceful as a changeling.”
Hawke said nothing, could say nothing, his mind filling with images of the young leopard male touching her, laughing with her as he helped her up from the earth. “How much longer are you planning to stay in the den?” He’d fought against her going to DarkRiver, but there was no arguing that she was far more stable now than she’d been before.
“A while longer. I miss Toby so much when I’m with the cats,” she said, referring to the little brother she loved with an intensity that was almost wolf in nature. “I also want to talk with Judd about some things to do with my abilities. But later this month, I’m going on a small hiking trip with Kit and a few other novice soldiers in DarkRiver.”
“Make sure you speak to Indigo so she can adjust your duties.” Hawke’s wolf was scraping at the insides of his skin now, his vision starting to blur. “And stay out of my way while you’re here.” The order came out harsh as the edge of a rusted blade.
Sienna’s face went white even as fury tightened the corners of her mouth. “Don’t worry. I didn’t come back to see you.”
Indigo stood with her back to the airport wall, waiting for Riaz to exit his gate. She’d already tracked down and spoken to all the teenagers on her half of the list, informing them they needed to be packed and ready to head out into the cold but spectacular beauty of the mountains in a couple of days’ time. The responses had ranged from gulps to outright glee.
She’d also had a message from Drew saying he was almost through his half of the list, too, but hadn’t actually seen him since the meeting with Hawke. That only fired up the burner on her anger—because if nothing else, she’d expected an apology for his behavior. Instead, he’d acted like nothing had happened. Idiot.
Scowling, she lifted her head just as Riaz appeared in the stream of passengers disembarking from the New York flight. At six feet two, he was taller than her by four inches and built along the lines of his solid grace in wolf form. It was all pure muscle—and Riaz knew how to use it well.
He scented her from the gate, teeth flashing white against his dusky skin as their eyes connected. “Hola, bella,” he said, dropping his bags on the floor and lifting her up in a powerful hug as she met him halfway.
Laughing, she kissed him on the jaw, feeling the rasp of stubble against her lips. “Hello, stranger. You back for good?”
“Depends who’s asking.” A lazy smile in those eyes that were such a pale brown as to be beaten gold. Unusual. And for most females, fascinating. He raised an eyebrow when she continued to stare. “Did I grow a second nose or something?”
Stepping out of the soap-and-earth-and-warmth of his embrace, she watched him pick up his bags. “No, but you’ve put on some more muscle.” It was a dodge. Because in truth, she’d been thinking something far different—that Riaz, with his jet-black hair and eyes of Spanish gold, was gorgeous and sexy and—very importantly—a dominant only just below her in the hierarchy. The difference wasn’t enough to bother her wolf. And they’d never had a problem with physical chemistry.
All facts to consider.
Riaz’s lips curved into a deeper smile as he hefted one duffel over his shoulder while gripping the other in his free hand. “So you noticed. Want to feel?”
“Sexy you might be; Don Juan you’re not.” Laughing at his affronted look, she led him to the vehicle, and they clambered inside after dumping his bags in the trunk. “How was Europe?”
“It was all pretty girls, flash hotels, five-star food,” he moaned, pushing back his seat as far as possible so he could stretch out those long, powerfully muscled legs. “I thought I’d go mad.”
Smile tugging at her lips, she waved her debit card at the parking gates, and they opened with a quiet swish. “Poor baby.”
Riaz said nothing for several minutes, putting down the window to let the wind ruffle his hair. “God, it’s good to be home, Indigo.” Heartfelt words, the homesickness of his wolf evident in every syllable. “I can’t wait to run through the forests, to walk in the den, to shoot the bull with the rest of you.”
“You’ve been back now and then.”
“I always knew I’d be leaving again,” the other lieutenant said, “so I never really gave myself a chance to settle. But now . . .” He exhaled, long and slow. “Anything I should know?”
“Riley’s gone to meet his mate’s grandparents.”
Riaz shook his head, that black-as-night hair whipping off his face as she accelerated. “I couldn’t believe he’d mated with a cat when I heard, but having met Mercy on my last trip home, I can say the man has excellent taste.” Another comfortable silence, then, “So, what was that at the airport about me being tall, dark, and irresistible?”