At a speed that meant each had done their own personal teleport.
Judd hissed out a breath. There was no chance of four teleport-capable Tk-Psy—all of whom would’ve been pulled into the Council superstructure as youths—deciding to defect at the same time. No chance. It would provoke too much attention, incite too massive a search. No Council operative would make that mistake—and all four of the intruders had been standing in a battle-ready stance that revealed their training.
“Clear!” one of the SnowDancers called out, holding up a gadget Brenna and the other techs had put together to detect any surveillance devices in their territory.
Only then did Judd step out of concealment. “Somebody suspects we’re still alive.”
Hawke, having crouched down to stroke, touch, and play with the wild wolves that swarmed over him, now rose. “Our demonstration should put that rumor to rest.”
“Especially when it happens to be so close to the truth.”
Hawke’s grin was that of the wolf, amused and dangerous. “You’re lucky I was feeling mellow the day the five of you turned up in our territory.”
Judd knew now that Marlee and Toby had never been in any danger—the wolves balked at harming any child, even one who might be a threat. It was their Achilles’ heel, one the Council could not be allowed to discover, because they were fully capable of breeding and sending in child operatives. “Let me talk to my contacts, see if I can get an idea of who might’ve been behind the fishing expedition.”
“A Councilor has a hand in it somewhere with all those Tks.”
“There is a second option.”
When Hawke turned to him in question, he said, “I didn’t recognize them, but it’s possible they were recruited into the squad after I left.” Arrows didn’t turn against their own, but Judd had defected and, in so doing, broken the covenant. “They might be hunting me.” Feeling a wolf brush against him as he finished speaking, he glanced down at Riaz, who’d wandered over from the other side of the clearing. “Yes?”
But the lieutenant was only interested in Hawke, walking over to sniff at the alpha. Judd was certain he saw the black wolf grin before Hawke warned him off with a low growl. Judd didn’t have changeling senses but he had a brain. Still, he made no comment. Not yet.
IT was late when Hawke returned to the den. He should’ve gone to bed, but instead he tracked a certain scent through the corridors until he located Sienna in the same training room where he’d watched her once before. This, the thing between him and Sienna, he didn’t know where it was going, and yeah, his guilt at claiming her when he had so little to offer continued to be a claw raking his gut—but as proven by his inability to keep his distance, ignoring it was no longer an option.
As for the guilt? Turned out it stood no chance against the piercing pleasure he derived from being in her presence. Locking the door behind himself now, he sat down on a bench to savor the sight of her moving with such lithe grace. “Couldn’t sleep?” he asked when she saw him and halted.
She pushed a flyaway tendril out of her eyes. “I was worried.” A statement without sophistication, stark in its honesty. “I wanted to telepath Judd, but I knew he wouldn’t tell me anything without authorization.”
Protecting his own was instinct, but this was her life—a life she’d fought for from the start. He wasn’t about to handicap her by leaving her blind to a possible threat.
She sucked in a breath as he started giving her the rundown, her face going pale under those intriguing freckles she’d gained during the summer months. “Me,” she whispered. “I’ve given us away.”
He was already rising to cup her jaw, run his finger over the softness of her skin. “No one would have recognized you,” he said, thinking she was worried about her visits to Wild, the city. “Hell, I hardly recognized you.”
“No.” A violent shake of her head, her eyes gone midnight. “When I ‘earth’ the X-fire, it causes a psychic shockwave. They’d have to be close to feel it—”
“But,” he said, seeing the lethal point she was trying to make, “Henry Scott’s men have been lurking on the fringes and maybe even in interior sections of den territory for months.”
She gave a jagged nod. “I’m sorry. I should’ve realized—”
He stopped her with a finger on her lips. “Even if they did catch something, it must’ve only been the barest hint, or they’d have been a lot more certain tonight.”
“They’ll come back.” She spoke against his touch, and it was instinct to trace those full lips, to indulge himself that much though he knew he couldn’t allow himself to go any further. Not tonight. Not when she was so shocked and vulnerable.
“Then,” he said, drawing in her scent, “we’ll take care of them.” He rubbed the rough pad of his thumb over her lower lip, deeply satisfied to hear her breath catch. “Can you mute the release of your power in any way?”
“Yes.” Hot breath against his skin, the thudding beat of her pulse a caress that had his body going rigid in want. “I’ll go deep into SnowDancer territory, places I know are under heavy guard and highly unlikely to be compromised.”
“Good.” It was beyond tempting to bite the flushed curves of her mouth, but he resisted and said, “What were you reading when I came in earlier? I saw the reader on the bed.”
Sienna had been sick to her stomach when she’d realized her actions might’ve brought danger to her whole family, but now, a wholly different sensation skittered within her abdomen. “Shouldn’t we,” she said against that thumb that continued to tease her until it felt as if her lips were connected in a direct line to the damp heat between her legs, “discuss the security issue?”