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Kiss of Snow (Psy-Changeling 10) - Page 2


Reaching forward, he gripped her chin, turning her face to the side so that the light fell on the smooth lines of it. “You’re lucky you don’t have a broken cheekbone.” The flesh around her eye was going to turn all shades of purple as it was. “Where else are you hurt?”

“I’m fine.”

His fingers tightened on her jaw. “Where else are you hurt?”

“You didn’t ask Maria.” Stubborn will in every word.

“Maria is a wolf, able to take five times the damage of a Psy female and keep going.” Which was the reason Sienna had been ordered not to get into physical confrontations with the wolves. That and the fact that she didn’t have her lethal abilities under total control. “Either you answer the question, or I swear to God I really will put you in the pen.” It would be the most humiliating of experiences and she knew it, every muscle in her body taut with viciously withheld anger.

“Bruised ribs,” she gritted out at last, “bruised abdomen, wrenched shoulder. Nothing’s broken. It should all heal within the next week.”

Dropping his grip on her chin, he said, “Hold out your arms.”

A hesitation.

The wolf growled, loud enough that she flinched. “Sienna, I’ve given you a long leash since you came into the pack, but that ends today.” Insubordination from a juvenile could be punished and forgiven. In an adult, in a soldier , it was a far more serious matter. Sienna was nineteen going on twenty, a ranked novice—letting her actions slide wasn’t even an option. “Hold out your f**king arms.”

Something in his tone must’ve gotten through to her because she did as ordered. A few small cuts on that creamy skin kissed gold by the sun, but no gouges that would’ve spoken of claws. “So Maria managed to rein in the wolf.” If she hadn’t, he’d have kicked her right back into training. Losing control of your temper was one thing; losing control of your wolf was far more dangerous.

Sienna’s hands fisted as she dropped them to her sides.

Looking up, he met those eyes of absolute, unbroken black. It was clear she was fighting the elemental impulse to go at him, but she continued to hold her position. “How far did you go?” Her control was impressive—and it irritated him in a way it shouldn’t have. But then, nothing about Sienna Lauren had ever been easy.

“I didn’t use my abilities.” The tendons in her neck stood out against the dirt-encrusted hue of her skin. “If I had, she’d be dead.”

“Which is why you’re in far more trouble than Maria.” When he’d given the Lauren family sanctuary after their defection from the cold sterility of the PsyNet, it had been under a number of strict conditions. One of those conditions had been a prohibition against using Psy abilities on packmates.

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A significant number of things had changed since that time, and the Laurens were now an integral and accepted part of the pack. Sienna’s uncle, Judd, was one of Hawke’s lieutenants, and often used his telepathic and telekinetic abilities in defense of SnowDancer. Hawke had also never tied the hands of the two youngest Laurens, knowing Marlee and Toby would need their mental claws to defend themselves against their rambunctious wolf playmates.

But that freedom didn’t extend to Sienna, because Hawke knew exactly what she could do. The instant Judd accepted the lieutenant blood bond, keeping secrets from his alpha had become a question of loyalty and trust.

“Why?” Sienna lifted her chin. “I didn’t disobey the rule about using my abilities.”

Naturally, she’d challenge him. “But,” he said, reining in the wolf’s snarling response to her defiance, “you did disobey a direct order in engaging in the fight—you said it yourself, you could’ve walked away.”

White lines bracketed her mouth. “Would you have?”

“This isn’t about me.” He’d been a young hothead once upon a time, and he’d had his ass kicked for it . . . until everything had changed, his childhood wiped out in a surge of blood and pain and piercing sorrow. “We both know your lack of control could’ve led to a far more serious outcome.” The hell of it was, she knew that, too—and still she’d let herself cross the line. That angered Hawke more than anything else.

“I could be confined to DarkRiver land,” Sienna said while he was considering how to deal with her, “if you don’t want me in the den.”

Hawke snorted at her reference to the leopard pack that was SnowDancer’s most trusted ally. “So you can hang out with your boyfriend? Nice try.”

Sienna’s skin flushed a dull red. “Kit isn’t my boyfriend.”

Hawke wasn’t going to get into that conversation. Not now. Not ever. “You don’t get to have a say in your punishment.” He’d spoiled her. It was his own damn fault it was coming back to bite him in the ass. “One week confined to quarters in the soldiers area, one hour out per day.” Psy were much better at handling isolation than changelings, but he knew Sienna had changed since defecting from the PsyNet, become far more intertwined in the bonds of family, of Pack. “Second week spent working with the babies in the nursery, since that’s the age you’ve been acting recently. No duty rotations until you can be trusted to stick to your task.”

“I—” She snapped her mouth shut when he raised an eyebrow.

“Three weeks,” he said softly. “Third week you’ll spend in the kitchens as a dish hand.”

Her cheeks burned a hotter shade, but she didn’t interrupt again.

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