It was near dawn that he put his hands on Lara’s shoulders and said, “Go to bed.” All the injured had been treated and were now resting.
“I’m okay,” she mumbled, cheek against his chest, “one more espresso and I’ll be set. Where’s Tammy?”
“Her mate carried her off an hour ago.” Literally. “Now go to bed or I’ll handcuff you to it.”
“Kinky.” But she didn’t resist when he walked her to her room and pushed her in the direction of the bed.
Turning around when he was certain she didn’t plan to sneak back out, he made his way to his own quarters and stepped into the shower. Dressed in sweats and a clean T-shirt afterward, he didn’t crash, but headed to Sienna’s, knowing she’d only returned to the den thirty minutes ago—she’d been on protection detail over the techs since the attack. Her strength made his wolf raise its head in pride.
She opened the door at his first knock and said nothing as he pulled off his T-shirt. When he nudged her into her bed, she went without argument. He curled himself behind her, nuzzled his face into the curve of her neck, and fell headlong into sleep.
LARA had fallen asleep the instant she stumbled facedown into bed, not bothering to strip, but her wolf nudged her awake what felt like moments later. “What?” she mumbled, feeling someone tugging at her shoes. “One sec—”
“Shh.” A strong, warm hand on her hair. “Just getting these off.” Another tug and her medical coat was gone, too.
“Kids,” she mumbled, not able to find the will to move.
That big, callused hand stilled on her body. “They’re with Drew and Indigo.”
She tried to say that that was good, but exhaustion kicked her hard. Right before everything went dark, she felt Walker’s lips on her temple, warm and firm. Wishful thinking. But it was a nice way to go into sleep.
NO, no, no, no, no, no, no, no . . .
“Perfect.” Ming walked into the room to examine the pile of fine ash where there had once been a screaming person. “While your lack of control is problematic, I can’t be less than pleased with the strength of your ability.”
She was a monster trapped in a room with another. Maybe she should just burn them both up, end it all.
A vice around her mind, black and vicious, a reminder that her thoughts weren’t her own. “Stop, ” she said, blood trickling out of her nose.
“Remember, Sienna,” he said, the birthmark on the right side of his face the same color as her blood. “I own you. You are my creature.”
A growl in the evil silence of that room, shaking the very walls.
As she watched, Ming began to disintegrate until he was nothing, less than nothing. The sight of it caused her such violent pleasure that when the growl turned into a voice and ordered, “Rest. I ’ve got you,” she snuggled back into a big, muscled body and surrendered to the wings of sleep once more.
SIENNA woke perhaps three hours after Hawke had come into her room. At the time, there’d been no need or time for words—though she had a vague memory of hearing his voice sometime in between. Frowning, she thought back, caught fragments of what might’ve been a nightmare, but there were no lingering remnants of terror.
Hardly surprising given the protective heat of the man who slept curved around her. Hawke’s thigh was pressed demandingly against the softest part of her, his hand flat on her abdomen beneath her favorite old tank, his arm under her head, his face nuzzled into the curve of her neck—the reality of him was a sensual pulse under her skin.
Part of her wanted to turn around, to rub her face against the fine, silky hairs on his chest, but a bigger part was scared to shatter the moment, to have him wake and leave. She knew he’d have to go. He was alpha, and last night, the pack had been attacked. He’d given himself and his people a little time to rest and regroup, but morning had broken—everything would kick into high gear as soon as he rose.
A rumble against her back, his hand moving in lazy circles on her abdomen as he wedged his thigh more firmly against her. “Morning.” That rough, male voice made her skin go taut, her face flush with heat that had nothing to do with embarrassment and everything to do with throat-clenching desire. She’d never woken up with a man tangled around her, never thought that when it happened, it would be him.
“Morning,” she managed to say, readying herself for the loss of his presence. “I can make you coffee before you go.” Yes, she wanted him to stay, but he was the heart of SnowDancer, being alpha as much a part of him as her abilities were of her. She’d never consider getting in the way of his loyalty to the pack, had understood even as a girl barely out of the Net that he was loved by many, needed by many. “I only have instant, but it’s not bad.”
“Not coffee,” he said, kissing the curve of her neck. “Give me something sweet to take into the day.”
She squeezed down on that slowly rubbing thigh, her body tight, hot. “What do you want?”
His hand moved, his fingers trailing along the top of her waistband. “To pleasure you.”
“I—” She’d never stuttered in her life, but it looked like that was about to happen. Swallowing, she attempted to rearrange her scattered thoughts. “I don’t know if I can handle it.”
“We’ve played before.” Another kiss. “You said that wasn’t what made the cold fire spill over.”
“No, it didn’t.”
“I’m not sure my control is good enough,” she admitted, because while emotion didn’t drive the X-fire, it did have an impact on her capacity to cage it. That was what Silence had given those of her designation—a cold, calm place in which to stand. “After last night I feel as if my emotions are on a hair trigger. I might lose my grip on my abilities if I . . .”