Indigo fell into step beside him a second later. “The famous Andrew Kincaid charm in action?” Her question was sharp . . . but held an undertone of amusement. Because she’d been close enough to hear what he’d said to Sienna at the end.
His wolf wasn’t fooled—the ice hadn’t melted. It had simply been eclipsed momentarily by the wolf’s curious nature. “Sienna could do with some charming.” The Psy girl—young woman now—had been through things that would’ve broken far older and stronger men, been scarred by them. “If Hawke would figure that out, he’d be much happier.”
Indigo snorted. “Yeah, I can just see him pulling charm out of a hat.”
Andrew angled his body toward her. He’d planned to apologize for his behavior last night as soon as they had privacy, but as he went to open his mouth, he glimpsed a fleeting expectation in her eyes. The lieutenant was waiting for him to say it. When he did, she’d forgive him—both because she wasn’t the kind of woman to hold a grudge and because it would shove them firmly back into the roles she’d decided were the only acceptable ones.
His wolf went quiet, thinking.
Better, he thought, feeling sneaky and downright delighted with himself, far better to keep her angry and thinking about him. Oh, there was no question he’d been a dick and needed to apologize, but he’d do so in a time and place of his own choosing—and in a way that would further his cause, not hers. “See you later, Indy.”
He was almost sure he heard a low feminine snarl as he strolled off down the corridor.
His wolf peeled back its lips in a feral grin.
Sienna ran her hands self-consciously over her hair, wondering how badly Drew had messed it up. “I didn’t mean to interrupt.” The words came out stiff, jerky. No matter how composed she was around everyone else—until more than one wolf in the den had called her an “old soul”—she got to Hawke and it all fell apart.
He rose to his feet, his desk between them. “We were done.” Ice blue eyes swept over her face . . . her cheeks—which she knew were ridiculously freckled after all the time she’d been spending out of doors.
“I didn’t know you and Drew were close.” It was a question phrased as a statement.
She fought the urge to cover up the cheeks he continued to stare at and shrugged—a very human or changeling motion, something she’d picked up after spending almost three years outside the PsyNet. Once, she wouldn’t have answered Hawke’s implied question, awaiting a direct query. But once, she’d been Silent, her emotions chilled like so much ice . . . not full of so much fire that it terrified her.
“Drew figures that since his sister is mated to my uncle,” she said, focusing on a spot beyond Hawke’s shoulder in an effort to regain her equilibrium, “that gives him the right to claim me as family.” She was a cardinal Psy, her psychic power blinding, but she still couldn’t figure out how Drew had snuck in under her defenses and made room for himself in her life. She just knew she’d miss him horribly if he ever left. “But,” she said, her voice stupidly breathy, “he says he’s not old enough to be an uncle, so he’s decided to treat me like another younger sister.”
Most people would’ve rolled their eyes at the convoluted reasoning, but Hawke simply nodded, as if it made perfect sense. Of course, to him, it probably did. The predatory changelings she knew were all big on family—and she had to admit, it was . . . nice to be treated with such easy affection by those she trusted. Drew understood that she was powerful, that she could cause incredible damage, and yet he continued to tease her as mercilessly as he did his real sister, Brenna.
Sometimes, Sienna even teased him back. Self-defense, she called it.
“Do you want permission to return to DarkRiver land?” Hawke asked, and his voice was as cool as Drew’s had been warm, shattering what stability she’d managed to recapture. But no, she thought, remembering what Sascha had told her the last time she’d spent the night in the home of the woman who was a fellow defector from the PsyNet—and an empath able to sense and heal emotional hurts.
No one can take from you what you don’t want to give. It is your choice.
And, she thought, steeling her spine, she chose not to let this strange compulsion toward a man who wasn’t interested, who would never be interested, break her. “I wanted to say thank you,” she said, controlling her volatile emotions by reciting a calming mantra she’d learned during her conditioning in the PsyNet, “for letting me spend so much time with the cats.”
Hawke finally walked out from behind that desk he always kept as an impassable wall between them. And that quickly, everything shifted, her shields trembling under the impact of him.
“Has it helped?” he asked.
“Yes.” She would not give in, not today. “My control over my abilities is far better.” Because he wasn’t constantly there, wasn’t breaking through her defenses with nothing but his presence. “Sascha and Faith have been helping me refine and strengthen my shields.”
“F-Psy,” she said, referring to Faith’s ability to see the future, “have incredibly tough shields. And Faith’s recalibrated hers for maximum effectiveness.” For now, those same shields were giving Sienna a measure of peace.
Though now, today, her heart beat like that of a trapped rabbit against her ribs, her skin suddenly too tight over heated flesh.
Reaching out, Hawke touched the top of her right cheekbone. It was the barest graze . . . but it was the first time he’d touched her in over a year. Fractures cracked across her shields, sudden and vicious and threatening to shove her into the black abyss of her power.