Judd said nothing to strike at Sienna’s confidence, aware she’d need every ounce of it if she was going to survive the coming darkness—because he knew something she didn’t. It was a truth he’d carried in his heart for years, a truth he would never, ever share with her. To do so might well turn it into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
He’d hacked into secret Council archives when Sienna had been ten, helped by fellow Arrows who’d understood that his niece might one day end up in the squad. Only he had read the files that went back 150 years, and so only he knew the brutal facts: The longest any X-Psy had ever survived, even under Silence, was to age twenty-five.
That twenty-five-year-old X had registered as 3.4 on the Gradient.
Sienna was off the charts.
HAWKE had spent his first week in the mountains avoiding contact with even the sentries. He’d known he wasn’t fit company for anyone. The feral wolves, too, had given him a wide berth after he snarled at them . . . though they still came to huddle around him at night, all of them sleeping in a big pile of fur. It was difficult to maintain a bad temper in the face of such fierce affection, but Hawke’s wolf was riding him hard.
The dreams sure as hell didn’t help.
Ruby red fire and smooth sun gold skin; autumn and that rare, wild spice. The echoes of her haunted him until he couldn’t close his eyes without it whispering over his senses, a fleeting silken touch.
So vivid were the dreams that he woke hard as stone and furious with himself for his lack of control. As a result, he was leaner and feeling a hell of a lot meaner when he returned to the den. He’d run himself to exhaustion, and though his wolf was behaving, he knew it would take only the slightest provocation, the slightest touch, to send him over the edge. And still, he had to fight the compulsion to track her down, make sure she knew he was back. “Fuck.”
Throwing his gear on the floor of his bedroom, he’d pulled off his T-shirt in preparation for a shower when he scented a familiar female. Snarling, he stalked to the door and wrenched it open. “Not a word,” he snapped at Indigo.
Freshly showered and dressed in jeans teamed with a plain white T-shirt, her hair pulled back in a ponytail, Indigo favored him with a slow smile before running her eyes down his body, up again. “I guess that whole not sleeping thing has its advantages.”
Hawke bared his teeth. “Go gawk at your mate.”
A snort. “If Drew was here, do you think you’d rate a glance?”
“I will—after I get what I want.”
“Hold on.” Indigo shifted to glance down the corridor. “Here she is.”
“Sorry,” Yuki said, neat and pressed in a suit that told him she was heading to work. “Thought we were meeting in your office.” Reaching into her satchel, she withdrew a printed form attached to a clipboard.
Indigo took it, shoved it at him. “I decided to beard the rabid wolf in his den.”
Growling, Hawke grabbed the pen. “What is it?” he asked, signing without reading. That was a trust reserved for the lieutenants. If it got to a point where he didn’t have total faith in them, then the pack was in serious trouble. That had happened only once in their history, and Hawke was determined to never let those painful events taint the relationship he had with his men and women. “Don’t usually need a lawyer to witness things.”
“Do for this,” Indigo said, scrawling her name beside his, then handing Yuki the pen so she could follow suit. “It gives Riley power of attorney over your worldly goods in exigent circumstances.”
He looked up. “Indigo.”
“I’m serious. It also gives him the right to make life-or-death decisions on your behalf should events warrant it.”
“Since when is that necessary in a pack?” Pack was one. Pack was family.
“Since Judd pointed out that if you get incapacitated,” Yuki said with a frown, “it’d make things a lot less complicated if we had the legal papers. Otherwise, anyone who wanted to undermine the pack could use the opportunity to throw roadblocks in our path. I’m annoyed I didn’t think of it myself.”
Hawke had to agree it made sense. Especially since . . . Oh. “It’s because I have no next of kin.” No parents. No siblings. No mate.
Yuki shot him a sharp glance, an abrupt reminder that Elias’s loyal mate and Sakura’s loving mother was also a pit-bull for her biggest and most demanding client—the SnowDancer pack. “I’d rather we never had to use these papers, so don’t get hurt.” Putting the clipboard and its contents back into her bag, she looked at her watch, her glossy black hair swinging to brush her jaw. “Have to run, got a meeting in Sacramento.” The last words were called out over her shoulder as she left.
“I second everything Yuki said.” Indigo leaned forward as if to embrace him. When he stepped back without meaning to, she narrowed her eyes. “You’re in a shitload of trouble if you don’t trust yourself to touch a packmate in whom you have no sexual interest whatsoever.”
“I told you I’d take care of it.”
Realization had her lips flattening into a thin line. “Damn it, Hawke.” Arms folded, she shook her head. “I know what you’re planning, that you think you’re protecting her—but you do this and Sienna will never forgive you. You sure you want to end any chance the two of you might have?”
He caught her gaze, allowing the wolf’s dominance out to play. She held it longer than anyone else aside from Riley could have.