“It annoys Garnet. Reason enough.” He tapped a rolled-up chart on the comm screen. “I’ve had an interesting contact from the BlackSea Coalition.”
Hawke put down his coffee. BlackSea was a changeling pack—in a sense. It was a coalition of all the water-based changelings. As single entities, their population numbers were miniscule, with only one or two recorded instances of some changeling types. However, rather than being powerless, they’d grouped together to form a close-knit network that gave them considerable negotiating and territorial power.
Kenji shook his head. “They want in on an alliance.”
“Send me the data.” It would go to the top of his list, because unlike any other pack on the face of the planet, BlackSea had members worldwide. “Copy Riley on everything.”
“Will do.” Kenji signed off.
Seeing a scrawled message on his desk, Hawke headed out to speak to Indigo about some of the younger pack members she’d had under supervision.
“You’re more balanced,” she said after they’d finished the discussion, long legs crossed on top of her desk while he stood with his back against the closed door of her office.
“Yep.” The contact he’d allowed himself with Sienna had satisfied both parts of him to the extent that his need was no longer bleeding out to everyone around him. More to the point, the wolf was willing to be patient now that he’d decided to go after her—it understood the hunt, understood that sometimes you had to stalk your prey. “I hear Tai’s dating Evie,” he said in an effort to distract Indigo because he wasn’t ready to discuss his decision.
Indigo’s expression said she was onto him, but she let it slide. “I’ve promised to break both his arms if he makes her unhappy in any way, shape, or form.” A pause. “I should promise to do the same to you.”
Hawke narrowed his eyes. “Don’t go there.”
“Of course I’ll go there—that’s why I’m a lieutenant.” Swinging her legs off her desk, she picked up a small datapad. “But not today. I’m late for a session with the novices.” Rising, she waited for him to open the door. “On second thought . . .” She pushed her free hand into his hair and pulled down his head.
“I almost let the best thing that ever happened to me slip away because I was hung up on ideas of what I ‘should’ want. Sometimes there is no ‘should,’ there’s only a single chance to grab on to happiness.” Pressing her lips to his in a fast, affectionate kiss, she let go and strode off.
Her parting statement, however, didn’t disappear as easily.
SOMEHOW fighting the distraction of last night’s memories, Sienna had just sent in a completed physics project using the computronic resources in the den library when she ran into an elderly changeling. “I’ve got it,” she said, catching the book she’d knocked from his grasp. “I’m so sorry, sir.”
Dalton chuckled as he accepted the book, his white eyebrows bushy over dark, dark brown skin marked with a thousand laugh lines. “Makes me sound about a hundred years old.”
Sienna wasn’t sure Dalton wasn’t exactly that age. The man the kids in the den affectionately called a whitebeard wasn’t a librarian, he was the Librarian, the repository of Pack knowledge. “Were you undertaking research?”
“It’s all up here.” He tapped his temple, his sparkling eyes the same warm tawny brown as his granddaughter’s. “I came to get some light reading.” Holding up the heavy tome she’d caught, he beamed. “In the original French!”
Sienna nodded as if she knew what he was talking about. “I hope you enjoy it.”
“I’m sure I will.” Tucking the book under his arm, he touched her on the shoulder as he passed.
Sienna blurted out, “Wait,” before her courage deserted her.
“The Pack archives—are they accessible to anyone?”
Dalton’s eyes were piercing when he looked at her, leaving no doubt that whitebeard or not, his brain was as acute as it had always been. “Yes. But certain truths, while written, are kept out of reach—because there are some wounds that don’t need to be reopened.”
Sienna felt her fingers curl into fists. “I understand.”
“Do you, young one?” Dalton shook his head. “The histories I write give the facts, but for the heart of it, you must ask those who were there.”
Sienna didn’t move for several minutes after Dalton left, remembering the way Hawke had shut her down the one time she’d brought up the past. He’d held her last night, danced with her until the entire den seemed to go quiet, as if they were the only two awake in the hushed time between midnight and dawn. She’d never felt more alive, more a woman. However, Dalton’s words made her confront a stark truth: that despite the escalating physical contact, Hawke hadn’t yet—might never—trust her with his secrets.
Sienna. Judd’s telepathic voice, slicing through the bleakness of her thoughts. Hawke’s office. We need to discuss what you told him about the cold fire.
The reminder of the danger stalking them was an icy trickle down her spine. I’m on my way.
HAWKE noted Sienna’s expressionless face, the flat ebony of her gaze, and scowled. “You release the X-fire to keep from reaching synergy, correct?” he asked, figuring he’d get to the bottom of the emotional change in her as soon as he had her alone.