“I think the single women are wise to you, mi amigo,” Matthias drawled with a grin, one arm around Indigo where she leaned against his muscular bulk. “But don’t worry. I’m sure the grandmothers will appreciate the company.”
Turning toward the big lieutenant, Tomás shook his head, his expression mock solicitous. “I’d be careful if I were you—Drew might deck you again if he hears you’ve been touching his Indy here. Didn’t he whip your sorry ass the last time?”
Indigo patted Matthias’s arm. “They’ve made up.”
“Was there kissing?” Tomás asked, clapping his hands to his chest. “I can’t believe you didn’t invite—”
Having strolled over, Jem grabbed his face between her hands and laid one on him. “There you go, Tommy.”
It was the first time Hawke had seen Tomás speechless. Everyone else cracked up.
Hawke’s wolf bared its teeth in a happy grin—it had been years since alpha and lieutenants had all been in one place at one time, and damn but it felt good. He knew it would be good for the pack as well, a quiet declaration that SnowDancer wasn’t scared or cowed by its enemies into running and hiding.
They were wolf. And they were strong.
COUNCILOR KALEB KRYCHEK dropped out of the PsyNet and back into his physical body where he stood on the edge of the balcony of his home on the outskirts of Moscow. That balcony had no railing, and the gorge below, swathed in the dark veil of night on this side of the world, was sheer, signaling death for anything that couldn’t fly … or teleport.
His lashes came down, swept back up.
His ability to teleport to individuals meant nothing, not in this particular situation. For some reason, he could not teleport to the one person he’d spent years learning to know, to understand. Opening his psychic eye again, he considered the pathways he’d already traversed. He was getting closer, that much was inarguable. The only question was whether he’d be fast enough to—
Shifting his focus at the telepathic hail, he slipped back into his mind and out again onto the PsyNet, this time devoid of the shields that made him invisible. “Silver.”
His aide’s mind was crystal clear, with none of the hairline cracks that signaled broken or compromised conditioning. “Sir,” she said. “My family did not lose its contact inside Pure Psy in the fight against the changelings, and his most recent communiqué makes it clear the group is stirring again.”
“I assumed as much.” Pure Psy had been heavily damaged but not destroyed by the cold violence of Sienna Lauren’s X-fire combined with a fierce fighting force of changelings, humans, and Psy.
An unusual mix.
Kaleb had watched from a distance, weighing up what the group effort meant for the future not simply of his own race but of the world.
“Their new goal?” he asked.
“Unidentified. Information is being communicated to a select number of individuals on a need-to-know basis. The only fact our contact was able to confirm is that they’ve shifted their attention from the changelings to the Net.”
Kaleb considered the radical change. After the decisive defeat Pure Psy had suffered, it made sense for the group to rethink its objectives, but it had to be more than that. Fanatics did not think in a logical fashion, and Pure Psy was a construction of absolute fanaticism, no matter what its adherents told themselves about the “Purity” of their Silence.
More than likely, the Pure Psy membership had decided that anyone who had not supported the group’s attack on the changelings was to be treated as the enemy, including those of their own race. “Thank you, Silver.”
“Sir.” Her roaming presence streaked away, a shooting star.
Kaleb stared out at the gorge on the physical plane, but on the psychic, he was reaching for the DarkMind. What do you hear? What do you see?
The broken, twisted neosentience, created of all the emotions the Psy refused to acknowledge, much less feel, twined around him, a pet seeking affection. Except it was no pet but a nightmare, and Kaleb didn’t understand the concept of affection. Still, he could mimic it enough to calm the DarkMind.
The neosentience showed him minds disrupted, areas of the Net disturbed, but Kaleb had seen that for himself, monitored Subject 8-91 on a continuous basis. Pure Psy, he said, narrowing the search parameters.
The DarkMind had nothing new to show him on the topic.
So, Silver was righter than she knew—Pure Psy was keeping all information about its new plans under a mental and psychic lockdown. That meant its members had to be limiting their communications to telepathy or in-person meetings. Slow … but an excellent safeguard to ensure no one would uncover their objective until it was too late.
SIENNA LOOKED IN the mirror, startled by the woman who looked back at her.
Everything else new she’d purchased over the past couple of years, she’d acquired on shopping expeditions with friends. But not the dress she wore today. Hauntingly aware that this night when she made a public claim on her wolf, was claimed in turn, would resonate in her soul for the rest of her life, she’d needed it to be a private thing.
She’d picked the design on her own, sourced the emerald green fabric, cut out the pattern using the template, then asked Tarah to sew it for her. The result was breathtaking. Made of a silky material that caressed rather than clung, it had straps that crossed her upper chest before curving around her neck in a halter, and a graceful, flowing skirt that kissed her ankles. Supremely elegant—but for the hidden slit on one side that hit mid-thigh, and appeared only if she moved a certain way.