DarkRiver, too, had locked its defenses. Mercy’s and Riley’s work together meant that instead of doubling up, the packs would function as a single cohesive unit in any attack. According to Lucas, Nikita and Anthony had provided lists of their people who might prove helpful in any skirmish. The two Councilors would also utilize their own psychic abilities to assist.
“If it looks like the Scotts are going to hit San Francisco,” Hawke said on the phone to the leopard alpha, “we position the Psy there.” There was no way to evacuate the entire population of the city, which meant they’d have a higher risk of sustaining casualties.
“Are you sure?” Lucas didn’t sound convinced. “Henry’s going to throw his strongest at SnowDancer.”
“We’ve got weapons and a sizeable number of trained people.” The leopards had charge of city security, but even they couldn’t cover all of the vulnerable. “It might also free up some of my people.”
“I’ll have Vaughn work Anthony’s and Nikita’s people into the city’s defenses, get back to you.”
Everything, Hawke thought as he hung up, was either ready, or would be by tomorrow. Now, it was just a case of keeping an eye on the enemy and being ready to move when they struck.
There was no longer an “if.”
“I think,” Judd said to him a half hour later, as they stood watching a group of novices and younger soldiers complete the training run at night, “we should blow the South American compound soon.”
Hawke tracked Sienna with icy focus—she didn’t have a wolf’s natural night vision, but she was doing more than fine with the night-vision lenses strapped around her head. “Movement?”
“They’re approximately a day, two at most, from completing the runway. Weapons are being shifted into the hangar for loading.”
Hawke knew Judd had rigged the hangar, so that wouldn’t be a problem. “Jem sent in a report out of Los Angeles an hour ago,” he said, frowning as Tai accidentally slammed into Sienna and they both tumbled into the mud below. Lara had healed the young male’s fractured arm, the injury minor enough that it hadn’t strained resources she needed to focus on the more badly hurt. “Looks like the Scotts might’ve gotten in more weapons and troops than we thought via the shipping routes.”
“Means they won’t be hobbled by losing the camp.”
“No, but it will have an impact, and more important, there’s a strong chance it’ll spur them to strike. If we can get them to do that before they’re ready, it’ll be to our advantage.” He tracked Tai and Sienna as they joined forces to get over a stubborn obstacle. “Push the switch when you think it the best time, just give us enough warning that we can hunker down for an assault.”
Judd nodded at the training run. “You’ve factored Sienna into the equation?”
Claws raked along the inside of his skin, drawing blood. “I don’t want her giving herself away unless it’s necessary.”
“But you’re not disregarding her?”
“I’m not an idiot.”
Judd raised a shoulder in a shrug. “It happens with predatory changeling males—you do tend to be protective.”
“Look who’s talking.”
“Why do you think I fit in so well?”
Hawke called Sienna into his office forty minutes later, after she’d had a chance to clean up. “Here,” he said, tapping a spot on the map and restraining the urge to snarl at the memory of the words she’d flung at him by the pool. “If there is an attack, you stand here, and you do not engage unless I give the order.”
A crisp nod, no defiance. “You want to keep me as a surprise gambit as long as possible. I understand.” Her words were calm, practical—as if they’d never had that fight.
His wolf peeled its lips back over predator-sharp teeth. “Pretending to be Silent, baby? Too late for that.”
Flame, dangerous and hypnotic, crawled over the black of her eyes. “Would you prefer I act the part of a hysterical female so you can write me off?”
He gripped the edge of his desk. “Careful.”
“Why?” A look that might as well have come from a pissed-off female wolf. “I’m not the one who seems unable to separate work and pleasure.”
“Feeling bratty tonight, are you?” It satisfied some deep part of him that he’d gotten her riled up so fast—he would never allow or accept distance from his woman.
“Don’t.” An unexpectedly serious response. “Don’t lessen my opinions by calling me a brat. And you know, don’t call me baby either.”
“If you think you can ‘handle’ me, Sienna,” he said as the animal prowled to the surface of his mind, “you’re looking at the wrong wolf.”
“Can we get back to work?” Cool words that ruffled his fur the wrong way.
SIENNA didn’t know how it happened. One minute, she was fighting off the blade of dissonance as she stared at the large, territorial map on Hawke’s desk, with him on the other side, and the next he had a grip on her waist and was pulling her onto the solid bulk of the desk with a speed and strength that left her breathless. She found herself kneeling on the dark wood, her hands on his shoulders what felt like a millisecond later.
“You can’t just—” But his hand was already on the back of her head, and she was being kissed until she couldn’t breathe. Gasping in air when he drew back for the barest instant, she tried to prepare herself for the next kiss . . . but of course, there was way no way to prepare for Hawke.