“Why the hell,” he said the instant the office door was shut, “did you not tag Walker with a telepathic report?”
“We had a situation,” Judd said, making Hawke’s blood run cold. “I had to do a fast teleport to get Sienna out of a tight spot. Combined with the teleport in and out of the village for both of us, as well as what was necessary to complete the op, it brought me close to flaming out.”
Eyes on Sienna, Hawke said, “Explain.”
She drew up her spine. “Since Judd was effectively drained, we made the decision to conserve my psychic energy. A long-distance telepathic report would’ve only utilized a small amount of power, but that may have counted in a confrontation.”
Heart an ice-cold block in his chest as he read between the lines, Hawke nodded at Judd to continue.
“We missed our scheduled flight because I needed time to recover enough that there was no chance of a collapse.” Judd carried on when Hawke didn’t interrupt. “The charges have been placed. Brenna can activate any or all of them from here.”
“Have her build two remotes as well—I’ll carry one, you take the spare,” Hawke ordered. “We need to be prepared in case we have to abandon the den.”
Judd’s eyebrows rose. “Has that ever happened?”
Hawke gave a curt nod. “Once. The location had been leaked.” As a lieutenant, Hawke’s father had known too much when he’d been compromised.
The only reason SnowDancer had managed to reclaim the den was that the men and women who’d been left after the blood and death had gone out and quietly executed the small group behind the psychic rapes. No one had ever connected the deaths to SnowDancer, a deliberate choice on the pack’s part. They’d been too weak to chance a Psy reprisal. But they were no longer weak, no longer broken. “Tell Brenna the remotes are a priority.”
Judd nodded. “We also captured detailed images of the camp with the cameras hooked into our collars.”
“Mariska can clean up and summarize the footage.” The twenty-eighty-ear-old senior tech was so shy she appeared standoffish, but had a mind like a scalpel.
“I’ll drop it off to her. If you haven’t got any more questions, we should get changed and try to rest.”
“From the way Brenna kissed you at the entrance, I don’t think you’ll be doing much resting,” Hawke said, and saw Sienna’s lips tug upward a tiny fraction.
Judd, on the other hand, showed no physical reaction. “Goodnight, Hawke.” Cool, very Psy, very Judd. “Sienna, you should get to bed, too.”
Sienna glanced up, expecting Hawke to stop her, but he’d already turned away to look at something else on his desk. Deflated, she exited with Judd.
“Sienna,” he said, halting her when they would’ve split two corridors later, “you did very well.”
Her shoulders went tight at the memory of that instant before the guard had been distracted by a call. It had given Judd the time to answer her telepathic hail and ’port her out. “I could’ve gotten us both caught.”
“Things happen in the field—the mark of a good operative is how you respond to the challenge. You stayed composed and silent, the right course of action given the circumstances.”
It felt good to hear that. “Thanks.”
“How’s your rib?”
“Fine.” Judd hadn’t mentioned it to Hawke, but the work he’d done to knit the bone was the real reason he’d been so wiped out. She’d been hurt worse than she’d thought. “Doesn’t even feel bruised.”
“Good.” Leaning over, he pressed his lips to her temple. “Go shower. I’m sure you’ll be having a visitor in another ten minutes, at the absolute maximum.” His tone was so even, it took an instant for the words to penetrate.
“I’ll attempt,” he added, “not to ’port in and break his legs for having the gall to be in your room.”
She stared, stunned, after he stalked off.
Ten minutes, at the absolute maximum.
Jolted to action by the mental echo, she ran to her room, dodging any attempts by packmates to stop her. The instant she closed the door behind herself, she stripped and jumped into the shower.
She was rubbing the towel over her wet body when there was a hard knock on the door.
Definitely not ten minutes.
More like four and a half.
“Just a second!” Grabbing her dirty clothes—scattered all over the floor—she threw them into the bathroom, then raced to pull on underwear.
The knock came again, more impatient.
Her jeans hooked on her ankles. Cursing, she managed to get them on and struggled into a forest green T-shirt, pulling her damp hair out from under the back as, breathless, she opened the door partway through the third knock. “Wha—”
The door was closed, and she was pressed up against the solid mass of it before she knew what was happening. “Hawke, I—”
His hands cupped her face, the wolf looking out of his eyes. Her words faded away, her heartbeat accelerated, and still he continued to watch her with that complete and unwavering focus. When his thumb moved over her cheekbone, she jumped.
“I,” he said in a quiet, quiet tone, “will not send you into a hot zone again.”
So easy, it would be so easy to let the overwhelming power of him take her over. “You must.” Her voice came out husky. “I was born for war.”
One hand stroked down, over her jaw, to collar her throat. “No.” A single word spoken in a warm rush of air against her skin, his body aligned to hers.