“Have you come to kill me?”
“Those are my orders.”
“Since I can teleport, that means Vasic is nearby.”
Aden looked at him for the first time; that face with its high cheekbones, olive skin, and uptilted eyes was that of the quintessential Arrow. Cold. Without any indication of a man behind the mask “Vasic was taken off Jax when you were,” he said without warning, referring to the drug that turned Arrows into killers.
“Did it help him?”
“He says there was nothing left in him to save.”
Judd’s eyes went to the emblem on the shoulder of Aden’s uniform, a single star. “Kaleb didn’t give the order.”
“Ming.” Aden turned back to look at the garden. “He doesn’t understand us, never has, though he once wore the badge of an Arrow.”
Judd leaned forward to brace his arms on his knees. “I broke the code. I left the squad.”
“To save an X.” Aden echoed his move, unusual from a Silent Arrow.
“Silence was meant to save the Xs, save all of us who don’t fit into the normal world.”
“It’s failed, Aden.”
“Yes. For some at least.” A long pause. “The Council no longer exists, though the populace doesn’t yet realize it. The factions are already forming behind the scenes.”
“You’re talking about a civil war.” One that would devastate the Net.
“Perhaps it’s been inevitable since the instant our race chose Silence.”
Yes. “How long?”
“There’ll be a small lull as each faction gathers support . . . months, Judd, not years.”
Bells rang somewhere in the distance, and they both went quiet.
“Has Walker ever told you he had me as a student?” Aden asked after the echoes faded.
Judd shook his head. “He doesn’t speak about his time in the squad’s schoolroom.”
“What he taught me . . . tell him it has saved the life and sanity of more than one Arrow.”
Judd thought of his brother’s brilliance at telepathic deceptions, without which they would’ve never have escaped the Net, and wondered just how Aden had utilized those skills. “If you need me, I’ll stand beside you.”
“You exist. Sienna exists. It’s enough. You not only survived, you’ve found happiness. I don’t understand the emotion, but I know it’s better than the dark. So do the others.”
Hope, Judd thought. That was the word Aden couldn’t find. “What will you do?”
“Silence is falling.” No change in the tone of his voice, nothing to betray the scale of what he was talking about. “We will watch, wait, and fight the war when it comes.”
Judd didn’t ask on which side Aden and the Arrows would stand. He knew.
DIZZIED by the turn of events that had left her with decades, maybe a century left to live, Sienna was more than grateful when Hawke took her to the privacy of their cabin. She found herself being kissed an instant later. She wanted to nip at those firm lips, even knowing it would be a very bad idea. Might just get her devoured. “Wait, I—”
“No talking,” he said, a bare millimeter between them. “Skin privileges first.”
“Talk first.” She dug her nails into his chest.
Picking her up, he pinned her to the wall, her legs around his waist. “Okay.” Clever hands opening the buttons of her shirt, a sexy mouth on the skin of her throat and the upper curves of her br**sts.
“Hawke.” It was a moan, her fingers in his hair.
“You don’t need these, do you?” Her jeans and panties were torn into fragments moments later, his hand cupping her with heated possessiveness as he kissed the life out of her.
“Off.” She pulled at the sides of his shirt, heard a button ping to the floor.
He refused to help her, more interested in playing with her slick flesh, in teasing and tormenting the br**sts he’d bared by cutting her bra with a claw. But Sienna had claws of her own. Putting her lips to his ear, she said, “I want to rub my br**sts against your chest.”
She was on her back on the bed with breathtaking speed, a na**d Hawke above her moments later. He snapped his teeth at her. Laughing, she did the same. And then she pulled him down and did exactly as she’d demanded.
Her wolf let her play, played with her, and it wasn’t until they were lying on the rug in front of the fireplace—Hawke dressed in a pair of jeans barely buttoned, her in his shirt—nibbling at a tray of food that Sienna plucked out the key she wore around her neck. “What does this open?”
Rolling to his feet, he went out to the vehicle to return with a small metal box that he placed beside her before resuming his previous position. Knowing the wolf wouldn’t give her a clue, she slid in the key and unlocked the box. Lined with blue velvet, it was empty.
Strange how she understood. “For the memories we’ll make.” Her throat grew thick, and though she knew there was a chance his answer would break her heart, she had to ask the question she hadn’t dared to until this moment. “How did we mate?” Had the events on the battlefield pushed him into it? Did he regret it? She couldn’t speak those fears aloud, but they lived in her heart, bleak and painful.
HAWKE glanced up at Sienna and knew that he held the balance of power, that what he said next would affect the remainder of their life together in the most profound of ways. He could answer her question without giving anything away, without tilting that balance. Or he could make another choice, one that took them beyond lovers, beyond mates, and to a true alpha pair.