“If he had, it wouldn’t be illegal now,” Lara muttered as she fitted a tissue-thin computronic skullcap over Alice’s head and walked around to the control pad at the end of the bed to scan the readout.
For the hundredth time, Judd tried to sense if Alice’s mind was active and came up against the same unexpected shield that had obstructed his earlier attempts. “He was a telepath, had a psychotic breakdown in which he destroyed his lab and all associated records before killing himself and his family.” Perhaps that was the reason her abductors had abandoned Alice Eldridge—no one knew what chemicals the scientist had used to induce suspension, much less how to reverse the state.
Lara slammed a fist down on the control panel. “Shit,” she muttered, staring at the woman who lay so lifeless on the bed, “just, shit.”
Judd had never seen that expression on the healer’s face. “How bad?”
“That’s the thing—I don’t know. It’s not like they teach us this at medical school.” She leaned forward, hands clamped around the edges of the panel. “I need Tammy and Ashaya.”
“Who first?” He could do one more dual teleport.
A moment’s pause. “Ashaya. She’s not a medic as such, but she’s a scientist—and she can discuss the situation with Amara.”
Ashaya’s twin, Judd knew, was insane. No one trusted her, and she couldn’t be allowed in the den, but there was no discounting her brilliance. “I’ll get Ashaya,” he said. “You call Tammy, have her drive up.” The teleport to Dorian and Ashaya’s house wasn’t difficult, since he’d been to the location before. He had enough energy to bring the M-Psy back before he slid down the wall and to the floor of the infirmary.
The two women ignored him as they worked over Alice, with Tamsyn arriving seventy minutes later. Sometime in between, Brenna found him, just like he’d known she would.
“Sweetheart,” she said, kneeling down beside him. “You’re about to flame out.”
He gave a slight shake of his head. “Not over the threshold.” But he was slurring his words, so he leaned against her when she sat down beside him . . . and then he was stretched out with his head in her lap.
The last thing he remembered saying was, “Walker, find him.” His older brother had a way of seeing to the heart of things, would know whether or not they should tell Sienna what had happened when there was a good chance Alice Eldridge would never wake. Even if she did, there was no guarantee she’d be able to tell them anything—the Ghost had found data that suggested she may have asked an E to wipe that part of her memory clean.
SIENNA scraped a kick by Hawke’s ear as the stars turned into glittering beacons overhead. “You can’t stay up here,” she said as he made a fluid move to avoid the blow. “You know that.” No matter how well prepared his people, how well drilled, they were changeling, were wolf—without their alpha, the pack would be lost, rootless. More, she understood his wolf needed to stand in the line of fire, to be SnowDancer’s first line of defense.
He danced out of the way of her strike. “You can do better than that, baby.” Blocking her next kick with his hand, he pushed up until she had no choice but to flip and come down hard on her feet. “I won’t leave you up here alone.”
When he’d suggested a bout of hand-to-hand sparring, she’d figured she might as well accept since she wasn’t going to sleep. Now she knew his cunning plan—to exhaust the argument right out of her. But they both knew she was right. “I’ll be fine,” she said after her teeth stopped vibrating. “I have supplies.” Taking a moment to catch her breath, she decided it was unfair he had that lickable upper body on display. “Put your sweatshirt back on.”
His eyes gleamed wolf-blue in the night. “Come closer and make me.”
Her lips twitched, though she’d thought the cold fire had seared the laughter right out of her heart. “Maybe I should take off my own top.”
A smile full of teeth. “Maybe you should.”
Laughing, she set her feet for another attempt at taking him down. “Talk me through the pack’s defensive plans.” If she managed to hold off synergy, then she might yet be able to assist SnowDancer.
Moving with lethal grace around her, Hawke spoke, listened when she asked questions or made suggestions. There was a perfection to the moment that made Sienna think: Yes, this is it. This is who we’re meant to be together.
If she could have, she would’ve frozen time at that instant, but second by second, minute by minute, the stars would dim, the sky would lighten—until dawn streaked a brilliant explosion of color across the Sierra. As brilliant as the cold fire inside of her, voracious and violent.
“Sienna, your eyes.”
“I know.” Stepping a small distance away, she let the flames pour out of her and into the earth in a storm of wildfire that was an impenetrable wall between her and her wolf.
HAWKE HUNG UP the sat phone feeling as if he’d been punched in the chest by a granite fist. Sienna glanced back at him from where she sat on the edge of the lake, the early morning sunshine dancing over hair as black as the heart of a ruby. “What is it?”
“A dead woman come back to life.” When he told her what—who—Judd had brought home, hope flared a shiny new coin in her eyes for a single bright second.
It turned dull almost as fast. “There’s no knowing if she’ll ever wake,” Sienna said, “much less if she’ll come back whole. I have to stay up here.”