“Perhaps,” Vasic said with unerring accuracy, “it was when we were placed in training as children. Bonds are more easily formed prior to complete Silence.”
Aden preferred not to think about those days. A child was weak, simple to break. He was no longer that child. “Pure Psy,” he said, returning to the reason for this meeting.
“Gutierrez and Suhana are already inside and reporting back. We may lose Abbot and Sione.”
“That’s not unexpected.” The two Arrows both had unstable abilities.
Aden watched as a tiny insect crawled across the sand at his feet. “The adherents of Pure Psy say they seek to preserve the integrity of Silence.” The insect stumbled, turned onto its back.
Vasic righted the creature with a delicate touch of Tk, and it hurried into its burrow. “What is said and what is done are often two different things.”
“Yes.” More than a century ago, Zaid Adelaja had formed the Arrow Squad to watch over Silence, to ensure it would never fall and shatter the PsyNet. But now . . . “We will have to make a choice soon.”
Going down on his haunches, Vasic picked up a handful of sand, the silica catching the moonlight as it passed through his fingers. “Yes.”
What neither of them said was that it was a choice that might well change the face of the PsyNet forever.
THE INDULGENCE OF the previous night came back to bite Hawke the next morning. His wolf had had a taste of Sienna Lauren, and it was through with waiting. It wanted her, and it wanted her now. The scent of her—the maddening spice and steel of it—lingered in his skin until he drew it in with every breath.
He couldn’t allow himself to surrender to the compulsion. Everything else aside, she was nineteen years old, for Christ’s sake, nowhere near mature enough to handle either man or wolf, especially given the razor’s edge he was walking right now. More than likely, he’d terrify her.
His jaw tightened.
Making a decision, he packed up some gear and strode down to the underground garage where SnowDancer stored its vehicles. “I’ll be back in two weeks,” he told Riley when the lieutenant met him beside the camo green all-wheel-drive. “I’m going to head up to the mountains, make sure we haven’t missed any vulnerable spots along the perimeter.”
It was a legitimate way to burn off his frustration, especially given the extra patrols they’d been running in that region. Riley would simply switch Hawke in for one of the other soldiers and reassign their packmate a task closer to the den—no one would complain since the mountain shifts tended to be quiet and lonely. “Hold the fort.” His unflinching trust in his lieutenants was the only reason he could consider being out of the den for such an extended period.
“Don’t I always?” Riley folded his arms, those dark brown eyes watching Hawke with a patient calm that did nothing to hide the incisive mind behind them. “You have your sat phone in case we need you?”
Hawke held it up. Nothing would keep him from returning to the den if called, whether through technology or through the music of a wolf’s howl.
Riley pulled a small datapad out of his pocket. “I’m promoting Tai from senior novice status to full soldier.”
“I had a feeling.” The young male had gained a maturity this year that would hold him in good stead when it came to his new responsibilities. “I’ll make sure to speak to him when I get back.”
A nod. “As for Maria—she’ll be on supervised shifts after she’s out of confinement.”
“Sienna’s going to be spoiling for a fight when her punishment is done.”
Hawke dumped his gear in the truck with more force than necessary. “No more long leash for her, Riley. She steps out of line, slap her back into it.”
His most senior lieutenant, his friend, raised an eyebrow. “You know what I said about taking you down if you so much as looked at her?” A reminder that both Riley and Drew considered Sienna family and thus theirs to protect. “Well, I’ll still beat you bloody if you hurt her, but I won’t stand in your way if you want to court her—she’s no longer as vulnerable as she was back then.”
Getting into the driver’s seat, Hawke brought up the manual steering wheel and reached back to slide the door closed, his actions rough with the wolf’s fury at being denied. “Doesn’t matter.” He couldn’t let it matter. Not and live with himself.
“Yeah?” Riley braced his arms on the door’s window frame, his expression as relaxed as if they were talking about the most mundane den matter . . . except for his eyes. Those eyes, they saw everything. “Then why the hell are you about to drive up into the most godforsaken corner of den territory and go lone wolf?”
He started the engine. “You know why. I need to run it off.” Hawke knew full well that he could seduce Sienna, and not only that, that he could make her enjoy it—it wasn’t arrogance but simple fact. The sexual attraction between them wasn’t in question. Her skin had burned with the heat of it last night, her pulse a thudding erotic beat he’d hungered to trace across every intimate inch of her body. Add his experience to that, and he had not a single doubt in his mind that he could bring Sienna Lauren sweetly into his bed, take what both man and wolf craved until it was no longer a claw tearing at his gut.
His hands flexed on the wheel at the idea of it, his mind cascading with images of limbs intertwined on tangled sheets, her skin a smooth cream kissed by gold against his darker flesh. But that was where those images would remain—locked within his mind. Because he was no lover for an innocent who didn’t understand the sheer depth of the demands he’d make on her . . . even knowing he could never give her the bond that would make up for the raw intensity of all he’d take.