The other woman took a long time to reply, her expression troubled. “He told me something in confidence, and I can’t break that promise,” she said at last. “But Adria, you need to know … any relationship with him, even more than with another lone wolf, is unlikely to ever turn permanent.”
The fact that Indigo hadn’t flat out warned Adria off, told her it wasn’t a case of Riaz already being involved with someone else. Which either meant he played the field—and nothing she’d heard indicated that—or he wanted someone he couldn’t have. Though Indigo couldn’t know it, that realization eased the cold knot inside Adria, allowed her to breathe, come to a decision.
“I need to talk to him.” Wolf and woman in agreement, she rose to her feet. “We left things in a bad place.” No matter what happened, she didn’t want this to affect their working relationship, and by extension, the pack.
Waiting until she’d redone her braid, Indigo walked out with her. “Are you enjoying being back in the den?” she asked, reaching back to tighten her own ponytail.
“So much.” Adria narrowed her eyes at Tai when the young soldier with uptilted green eyes and wide shoulders walked down the corridor.
“God hates me,” she heard him mutter. “Now there are two of them.”
Neither she nor Indigo said anything until he was out of earshot. Then Indigo’s lips twitched. “Poor baby.” Affection laced the words.
“Loves Evie.” Wolfish amusement danced in her eyes. “Doesn’t mean we don’t get to mess with him.”
Since Evie was gentle and in no way dominant or aggressive, Adria agreed. “Don’t get me wrong,” she said, returning to their earlier topic of conversation, “Matthias is a great lieutenant to work under.” Darkly beautiful and with those eyes that had talked many a woman into bed, Matthias had been a friend as well as her lieutenant.
He’d called to check up on her a couple of times since she’d relocated to the den, and it was a measure of her trust in, and respect for him that she hadn’t bristled. “But that region’s got too many bad memories for me, you know? Den’s a fresh start.” One she’d allow nothing, not even the hot burn of a shocking need, to steal from her.
“Here’s my stop.” Indigo halted in front of one of the break rooms. “Having an informal chat with some of my novices and newer soldiers.” She raised an eyebrow at the young woman who was all but crawling down the hall. “What happened to you?”
“Riaz the Sadist’s new configuration of the training run is an excuse for heinous and unparalleled torture,” Sienna muttered before nodding hello at Adria and limping inside—to a chorus of sympathetic groans from others who’d obviously been subjected to the same torture.
Indigo hung back, her eyes returning to Adria. “Remember what I said.” Open concern on her face … tempered by a glint of wickedness. “But don’t be too sensible. Claws and teeth are part of the fun.”
Adria’s grin faded as soon as Indigo walked in to join her soldiers. Martin had been the biggest chance she’d ever taken in her life, overriding the concerns of those who didn’t think the dominant female/less dominant male pairing had a hope of working. The spectacular failure of that risk had savaged her confidence, until sometimes she felt as if the core of her was a patchwork quilt, the stitches barely holding.
It would be easy, so easy, to stay “safe,” to never again stick out her neck, but Adria was a dominant, a SnowDancer. She was not a coward, and would never shame her wolf by allowing herself to become one. Even if that meant she had to go claw to claw against a lone wolf who was nothing she’d ever wanted in a man—and who compelled her beyond reason.
JUDD LAUREN WAS still alive.
Ming looked down at the unexpected report. He’d ordered the Arrows to eliminate Judd soon after the continued existence of the rogue Tk-Cell became known. It had been meant to be a first, debilitating strike before the much more important elimination of Sienna Lauren, the X a far bigger threat. Though the Arrows were no longer his, he hadn’t expected Aden or his men to have a problem with taking care of the rebel Arrow.
Since the Tk-Cell had abandoned the squad when he defected, it was clear the Arrows had disregarded Ming’s order not out of any loyalty to their former comrade, but to make it clear to Ming that they would no longer support him in any form. A critical loss, but not crippling. Looking up to meet the eyes of the man who’d brought him the report, he said, “Do we have anyone with the training to take on Lauren?”
“No. Only an Arrow can successfully contain another Arrow.”
Ming had to agree. The Arrows were too highly trained to be easy prey. He’d been one of their number in his youth, but he’d been out of active service for two decades, no longer had the same level of skill when it came to covert assassinations. Added to the fact that Judd Lauren could teleport, it made no rational sense to go after the rebel Arrow himself.
However, Sienna Lauren was neither an Arrow nor a telekinetic. He’d trained her, and so he knew her exact skill set. There were murmurs in the Net that she’d further honed those skills during her time with the wolves, but that didn’t alter his conclusions. If it came down to it, the battle would be a psychic one—and he’d trapped her with his mind once. He would do it again.
“Keep monitoring the situation,” he ordered. “Unobtrusive surveillance. No contact.” Sienna hadn’t appeared in public since the lethal wave of her X-fire had consumed a significant percentage of Henry’s Pure Psy army. No one was yet certain that she hadn’t perished in the aftermath. If she had, it would’ve been because she’d been physically executed by one of her own—because unless his power release theory had borne out, the psychic implosion of a cardinal X would’ve taken out the Sierras themselves. “Your goal is to discover if Sienna Lauren survived the battle.”