He had the feeling she was lying to him, but he couldn’t be certain, so he permitted her to pass, the warm elegance of her scent stroking over him as she left. She was halfway to the patient rooms when she glanced back and caught him with that fox-brown gaze. “Sometimes,” she said, “it’s just about sex.”
SIENNA had the afternoon free, but after completing the coursework for an advanced physics class she was taking through the online branch of a major university, she decided to head out to the White Zone and volunteer to assist with the after-school activities. As she walked, she tried to keep her mind on dry academic facts, but it was impossible not to think of the emotional storm and dark beauty of the previous night.
The moss-laden grotto Hawke had led her to after the cold burn of her ability had encased her in violent flame had been alive with night-blooming wildflowers, the small pond at the center so tranquil and clear as to be a mirror. Her soul had filled with wonder as she touched her fingertips to a delicate bloom, her heart aching with the realization that he was giving her a gift, giving her a piece of himself he’d never shown to another.
It had threatened to break her. Because no matter how drawn he was to her, no matter how potent the tug between them, Hawke had a will of iron. That will would have him shredding her to bloody pieces tonight as he put his hands on another woman. As he kissed her. More.
“Sinna!” Ben skidded to a halt at her feet not far into the White Zone, breaking the agonizing loop of thought. “Hi!” He threw his arms wide.
Going down on her haunches, she cuddled him tight, whispering, “Do you want me to do up your shoelace?” in his ear.
A furtive nod.
Smiling at the male pride that wouldn’t let Ben admit the need for help to the other kids, she did up the dangling lace, then rose to her feet to find herself being called upon to referee a game of hide-and-seek. Drew tracked her down there ten minutes later. “Hello, sugarpie.” Wrapping an arm around her shoulders, he tugged her into the warmth of his body even as she scowled at the ridiculous pet name he’d given her after discovering—and feeding—her addiction to sweets.
“Temper, temper.” A finger tapping her nose. “Play nice or I won’t give you the pecan-and-nougat candy bar somebody really loves.”
In spite of the pain wracking her insides, it was impossible not to smile at this man who’d claimed her as a sister, who’d laughed, tricked, and teased his way into her life. “I thought you were in Arizona with the falcons.”
“Got back a couple of hours ago.” He slid the candy bar into her pocket.
Leaning into him, she sniffed, loud and obvious. “Hmm, freshly showered. What did you do when you got back?”
Drew gave her a wicked, wicked smile that creased his cheeks with lean male dimples. “Well now, I’ll just leave that to your imagination, Ms. Sienna Lauren.”
Laughter bubbled out of her, pumping through the giant bruise that was her heart. “You like being mated.” He’d always been one of the most easygoing people in the den, but there was a fierce happiness to him now, his adoration of Indigo open.
“Yep.” He lifted a finger to his lips when a little girl poked her head around the bush where she was hiding. She ducked back. “I’ve come to give you some sage advice, being as I’m so much older and wiser.”
“Says the man who once stole Indigo’s phone and recorded himself howling her name as the ringtone.”
His responding words were unexpectedly serious. “I had the same problem as you.”
Sienna went to snap back a reply but closed her mouth partway. “Yes . . . you did.” Drew was only four years younger than Indigo, but he didn’t occupy the same place in the hierarchy. It had made his courtship of the lieutenant difficult.
“I didn’t give up.”
Stung, she pulled away. “I’m not giving up.” She’d asked Hawke to be with her, been rejected with such finality she was still bleeding inside.
“I dunno, sweetheart.” Drew rubbed his jaw, his gaze astute for all that his comment was a lazy drawl. “From where I’m standing, it sure as hell looks like you’re giving Rosalie and Hawke the green light.”
Cold fire licked at her fingertips. Smothering it in her palm, she checked to make sure the kids were happy in their game before hissing a response under her breath. “I’d like to point out that you had a more powerful platform.” Drew might not be a lieutenant, but Sienna had seen the way Hawke and the others listened to him.
“Yeah, that does kinda suck for you.”
“You make me want to throw things at you.”
He hugged her again, before she could put some distance between them. Then the most sneaky wolf in the den lowered his voice and whispered, “But you’ve got an advantage, sweetheart. You’re already in his head. And you know how to mess with it.”
HAVING spent the day buried in strategy and preparation sessions for a war that seemed inevitable, Hawke didn’t get outside until after night had fallen in a lush black blanket. He was at the lake nearest the den, staring at the gentle lap of water when Rosalie appeared out of the trees to make her way across the pebbled shore. Her walk was that of a woman confident in her sensuality—the complete opposite of the cardinal Psy who watched him with an unstudied hunger that had almost broken his resolve last night.
A single touch and he would’ve had her na**d in the silver kiss of the moonlight, her back cushioned by the softness of the lush green grass, her hair a ruby red flame over the wildflowers. So vivid was the image that the wolf growled, wanting to take control, to go hunting its favorite prey.