“It’s fine.” On edge and angry with herself for being unable to forget Hawke, she’d been feeling raw, vulnerable, had struck out at Maria’s jibe without stopping to consider the fact that the very state of her emotions made the accusation patently untrue.
“No.” Maria put a hand on her arm. “It’s not fine and we both know it’s not true. I was talking any bullshit I could to goad you into a fight. My only excuse is that wolves my age tend to be dickheads.”
Sienna’s lips twitched. “Difficult since you don’t possess that particular body part, either on your head or elsewhere.”
Maria snorted. “I dunno—I did a pretty good job of acting it.” Tucking her hands into the back pockets of her jeans, she rocked back on her heels. “I was meant to be your partner and I f**ked with you.” No smile now, dark eyes solemn. “It’ll never happen again. I want you to know I’d have you at my back anytime.”
“Same,” Sienna said without hesitation. In the PsyNet, she’d have looked for the betrayal hidden behind the contrition, but she’d been in SnowDancer long enough to see Maria’s words for what they were—a declaration of both loyalty and friendship. “And it wasn’t all you, you know. I was looking for a fight.” Maria had just provided a handy excuse.
“You sure have a mean kick,” the other soldier said as they headed back.
“Judd makes me train with him.”
“I don’t know whether to be jealous or offer commiseration.”
They were both laughing when they reached the rest of the group.
“Now that that’s sorted”—Evie wrapped her arms around their waists, her personality evident in the radiance of her smile—“are we ready to dance?”
Not only was Sienna ready to dance, but if a man made a move on her tonight . . . well, she might just let him. She was through with waiting.
ALONE in the apartment but for the sleeping children, Walker found himself looking at the sat phone he’d recently been issued courtesy of his position as “Head Wrangler” for the ten-to-thirteen-year-olds.
The phone came preloaded with contact information for the other senior members of SnowDancer. Flicking through the directory, he stopped at Lara’s name. The healer would be a good sounding board when it came to his concerns about Sienna’s emotional state—Lara was one of the most sensitive people in the pack.
His thumb hesitated over the Call button, the sensual echo of that kiss the night of the party causing every one of his muscles to go taut in a waiting kind of expectation. Unlike the changelings, he wasn’t a man driven by the desire to touch, but Lara made him react in unexpected and uncomfortable ways. He wasn’t used to having his body respond in such an undisciplined manner, but more, he wasn’t used to having the reins slip from his grasp when it came to his mental reaction.
So many weeks later and he could still feel the softness of her skin beneath his fingertips, the warm seduction of her body under his palm, the sweetness of her lips parting as they met his own. She was small but curvy in a way that had made him want to stroke his hands over her at his leisure, to explore the intriguing shadows and arcs of her body. He’d kept his hands from roaming that night . . . but not his mind.
He glanced at the phone again.
If he called her, she would come. He hadn’t been an Arrow like Judd, but he’d had his own reasons for learning to read people—he knew that in spite of the fact that their friendship appeared irreparably damaged, Lara had the softest of hearts. The second he mentioned his concern about Sienna, he’d have her immediate attention. And the instant she was in his quarters . . . images of kiss-wet lips, of a warm feminine form under his hands.
His body grew hard.
It was an unwelcome reminder of how she impacted him, how she skewed the rules on which he’d rebuilt his life. He took his finger off the Call button . . . and got up. There was a chance he could catch her at the infirmary.
BY midnight, fighting the constant compulsion to track down Sienna had gnawed Hawke’s temper to a fine edge. It wasn’t the best of times for him to receive a call from the manager of Wild, the changeling-owned bar and dance club that sat in a small but popular nightlife area just beyond the edge of den territory.
“Hawke, I need you to come pick up your pups.”
Hawke rubbed his forehead. The only time José ever called him was when things had progressed to breaking point. “How much?”
“No bill for damages,” José said to his surprise. “But if you don’t get here soon, you’ll probably be bailing a few of them out of jail.” The deer changeling—a dominant bull who could bash heads with the best of them, for all that he was non-predatory—hung up.
“Shit.” Already dressed in jeans and a T-shirt since he’d been wide awake, he pulled on well-worn work boots, then buzzed Riley.
His lieutenant was not impressed. “Do you know what time it is?”
“Yeah, yeah. How many of them went down to Wild tonight?” Riley would know. Riley knew everything.
“Seven, but Ebony and Amos were in San Francisco for a security run”—a small pause—“and the system’s not showing them logging back into the den, so they probably took a detour.”
“You’ll need a second driver.”
“Stay snuggled up to Mercy,” Hawke said, already halfway to the garage. “I’ll get one of the night-shift people.”
“Don’t be too hard on them.”