“Damn it.” Blinking as she looked away, she sighed. “You’re a stubborn bastard, you know that?”
“I am who I am.” And what he was, was a man who needed to satiate his sexual hunger before his wolf took the decision out of his hands. Because that wolf would track only one scent.
RECOVERED FROM COMPUTER 2(A) TAGS: PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE, FATHER, ACTION NOT REQUIRED
FROM: Alice <[email protected]
TO: Dad <[email protected]
DATE: March 16th, 1971 at 10:13pm
SUBJECT: re: Your Mother
Tell Mom the reason I never e-mail her is because she gets the phone calls. I must be fair or one of you will accuse me of favoritism.
Before I forget—thank you both for the gift. The sculpture is extraordinary and will look perfect in my study. You and Mom know me too well.
You were asking about my new project. I’ve barely begun and while my Psy colleagues have agreed to publicize my call for information on the PsyNet, I’ve already hit the first hurdle—the sheer rarity of X-Psy. I only have two signed up to participate so far, but I’m not giving up. That isn’t the Eldridge way.
Say hello to the pharaohs for me.
“I KNOW HE’D chew me up and spit me out, but God, it’s all I can do not to strip myself na**d and beg for him to bite me any way and anywhere he wants.”
Overhearing that heartfelt feminine sentiment, Sienna dropped her fourth dish of the day. The chief cook, Aisha, raised a hand and pointed, banishing her to the sinks. She went without argument—scrubbing the hated pots was all she’d been good for since the moment she’d learned of Hawke’s return, her brain scrambled like the eggs Marlee and Toby loved to eat on Sunday mornings.
As if she’d conjured him up by thinking of him, her brother appeared at her elbow. “Wow, that’s a big pot, Sienna.”
Deep warmth spread through her veins. For Toby, she’d do anything. Born with a slight empathic gift, he was goodness, was heart. He made her want to be good, too—even though she knew that to be an impossible goal. X-Psy were born for, and useful for, only one thing.
A hand on her forearm. “Sienna.”
Dropping the pot, she bent to wrap her soapy arms around that gangly preteen body that was no longer that of the child she’d tickled into bed just last year. “How do you always know?” she whispered into his hair.
His arms locked around her neck. “I can see you in our net,” he said, speaking of the psychic network that tied all the members of the family to each other. It provided the biofeedback needed by their Psy minds, was what had kept them alive when they’d defected from the sprawling vastness of the PsyNet. “Your mind goes all icy.”
She heard the fear in his tone. Any time she got “icy,” as he put it, Toby got afraid. Because he understood what she was on an instinctive level that meant she’d never been able to protect him from the harsh truth—Toby saw the monster within and still he loved her, still he needed her.
“Don’t go back to the Net, Sienna.” A plea. “Please.”
“I won’t, Toby. I won’t.” Her earlier intent solidified into stone. If, in spite of everything, she failed to contain her ability, then she would, as Councilor Ming LeBon had once put it, take herself “out of the equation.” Her death would hurt Toby, but it wouldn’t savage him—not like if he had to watch her turn cold, a Silent stranger who rejected his love as if it was a worthless token. I love you, Toby. A telepathic communication between siblings, as easy as a breath.
I’m so glad you’re my sister, Sienna.
They held the embrace a long time. Though Aisha ran a tight ship, she didn’t tell Sienna to get a move on. Aisha’s eyes smiled when she glimpsed them—the wolves understood touch, understood affection. They couldn’t know how much it meant to Sienna that she could openly hold the boy who was a living, breathing piece of her heart.
Since the moment of his birth, she’d had to hide, had to bury everything she felt when it came to Toby. If Ming had discovered the searing depth of a love that had defied Silence itself, the bastard wouldn’t have done anything to her. She’d been too important. But he might well have ended Toby’s life to “safeguard” Sienna’s Silence.
She would’ve killed him for it, of course.
Hiding that dark thought in a secret corner of her mind where Toby would never sense it, she drew back and brushed his hair out of his eyes as she had a habit of doing. “Why aren’t you in school?” Toby attended the small internal school for ages five to thirteen—the older teenagers generally went to a high school outside den territory, except for a few who’d chosen distance learning.
“We got the afternoon off today’cause the teachers got a meeting.”
“Toby, your grammar is atrocious.” His enunciation and grammar had been PsyNet perfect when they defected—she much preferred him this way.
“Aw, Sienna.” Two kisses, one on each cheek. “Can you help me with my homework after you get out of the kitchen?”
“Sure.” She rose back up to her full height. “What subject?”
“Science. I have to build a volcano.” Cardinal eyes gleamed. “It’s going to explode and everything.”
Her hand clenched on the scourer she’d just picked up. “Wow.” Forcing her fingers to relax, she nodded to the fruit bowl. “Eat an apple. It’s good for you.”