Sienna realized she’d relaxed against him, but she was too fascinated by this tiny glimpse into his past to worry. “Were you a good sentry?”
“No,” he said to her surprise. “I couldn’t stop moving long enough to keep watch.” Another laugh. “So Garrick made me a messenger. I ran constantly along the perimeter, taking messages from one sentry to another, spending time with the soldiers, learning from them.” Looking back, he knew half the messages had been created to give him something to do.
“It was the best thing Garrick could have done.” The work had not only provided an outlet for his energy, it had begun to teach him the skills he would need in the future—as well as connecting him to the men and women he would one day be called upon to lead.
“This Garrick was a good alpha?”
Hawke thought of the slender black man who’d appeared about as strong as a willow branch—and who had fought like a gladiator for his pack. “Yes.”
“Oh.” Sienna paused. “I guess . . . no one ever mentions him, so I thought maybe he was a bad person.”
“No.” Hawke forced himself to speak. “They don’t say anything because they don’t want to hurt me.” But it wasn’t fair to the man, the alpha Garrick had been. “Garrick died fighting one of his lieutenants.” The next words were stone fists in his chest. “My father.”
Sienna’s hands came up to close over his. “You said he was abducted, hurt. He was no longer the man you knew.”
Hawke’s mind filled with the memory of the agony on his father’s face as blood poured out of his chest. He’d taken his last breath in his mate’s arms, his hand held by his mortally wounded alpha as their already weak healer tried to save them both.
“Was your father the only one?”
“Your mother . . . she lost her mate.”
He never spoke of his laughing, gifted mother and what it had done to her to lose her mate, not to anyone. “There’s Lake, coming up now,” he said instead of answering her question. “I think we should go for a run.” A high pitched whistle and Lake raised his hand to signal he understood.
When Hawke shifted to face Sienna, he saw her eyes had turned to midnight. “You’re good at keeping a distance between you and a lover, aren’t you, Hawke?”
He curved a hand over the column of her throat, stroked. “I haven’t exactly been keeping my distance from you.”
“There’s more than one kind of distance.” Not saying anything further, she took a black hair tie out of her pocket and pulled her hair into a sleek ponytail.
Her words disturbed both man and wolf, but his past wasn’t why he’d tracked her down. “Come on, Lake’s almost to us.” Loping down the slope, he waited for her to catch up. They ran the watch at a moderate speed, which allowed them to take in their surroundings, confirm everything was as it should be. “Your need to purge the cold fire,” he said, wanting to get that out of the way, “was that because of my touch?”
“No,” she said at once. “I was aware it was building—just made a miscalculation as to how close I was to critical.”
Hawke thought of Judd’s revelation, placed it against Sienna’s will. He knew where he was putting his money. “You fully recovered?”
“Good.” Deciding to set the issue aside for tonight, he asked, “Who’s your preferred partner on watch?” It wasn’t a question from alpha to soldier, but man to woman. He wanted to simply be with her on this beautiful night, her voice brushing against his skin as they passed under the moon shadow of forest giants.
“You won’t believe me, but Maria.” Sienna ducked under a branch, leaving a strand of ruby red behind.
He liked that she’d inadvertently marked their territory. “You’re right, I don’t believe you.”
She wrinkled her nose at him. “Until the fight, we worked well together. We’ve actually kind of become friends since then.”
“Yeah, I remember your buddies from Wild.”
Ignoring his snarl, she pointed out a fleeing rabbit. “Lake is very serious—too much like me. I think we become too quiet together.”
Hawke could see how that could happen. Sienna needed a wolf who was willing to play. Though of course, wolves weren’t the only predators in this region. “Seen that leopard cub lately?”
“If you’re talking about Kit, yes. I had lunch with him today.”
He felt claws pricking at the insides of his skin as they came to a halt on top of another rise that allowed them to look out over the territory. “Lunch.”
Most women would’ve either bristled or frozen at his not-so-subtle attempt at intimidation. Sienna showed how shockingly well she knew him by ambushing him with an unexpected bite on his lower lip as he bent to demand more information. She was gone before he could retaliate.
His wolf bowed its back in pleasure, happy to play with her at any time and delighted she’d initiated this game. Catching up to her, he shot her a look that promised revenge. Her response was pure cool-eyed Psy . . . except for the laughter hidden in that cardinal gaze. He was about to tug her to him, taste the laughter, when he heard something that had his wolf coming to a dead stop.
STOPPING at once when Hawke went motionless, Sienna shoved her amusement to the back of her consciousness. “What do you sense?” She kept her voice subvocal, in a range she could only just hear herself.