The command released her voice. “I thought you weren’t being alpha here.”
As she raised her arms, she realized her boots gave her enough height to cup his nape with one hand, while she placed the other on the muscled warmth of his shoulder. When he shifted position so that his jaw rubbed against her temple, her heart began to thud fast as a jackhammer.
This close, he was all hot, hard heat. Pure muscle and strength . . . and temptation. Always, he’d been her temptation. He was the reason her Silence had shattered into innumerable shards the instant she’d walked into SnowDancer territory. She should’ve kept her distance, but she couldn’t. Just once—just for a little while—she wanted him to be hers.
Teeth nipped at her ear.
“Pay attention.” A rumbling growl.
Her ni**les tightened to stiff points she hoped he couldn’t feel. It was beyond tempting to spread the hand on his nape upward, into the thick, silver-gold silk of his hair, but she didn’t dare break the moment. He had such beautiful hair, the same color as his pelt in wolf form. That told her more about how close his wolf was to the surface than anything else.
“Sienna.” A deep murmur against her skin, his lips brushing her temple. “This can’t be. You know that.”
Her blood was thunder in her ears, her skin stretching taut over a body hypersensitized by a raw, near-painful craving. “Is it because I’m Psy?” she forced herself to ask. Hawke hated the Psy—that much she knew, though she didn’t know the reason behind the depth of his animosity. The fact that he’d accepted the Lauren family as deeply into the pack as he had was nothing short of miraculous.
A low growl that had her going motionless. “It’s because you’re barely grown.” He stroked his hand down her back, as if in reassurance.
But she wasn’t ready to be soothed. “I haven’t been a child since the day they came for me when I was five.” A cardinal X could not be allowed to live outside of Council control. “Ming LeBon sure didn’t sing me any lullabies.”
Hawke’s hand pressed against her lower back, big and warm and shockingly intimate through the thin fabric of her shirt. “Five?” The wolf was so apparent in his voice, she had to focus to understand him. “You were a baby.”
She laughed and knew it held no humor. “Cardinals are trained from before we gain the ability to speak.” The years she’d spent with her mother, the commands had been gentle, given by a woman who had wanted her child to learn to protect herself on the psychic plane. Aware she’d have drowned under the deluge of voices otherwise, Sienna had never resented the instruction; she missed her mother’s touch to this day. “The first conscious thought I remember having was about the need to shield.”
But when they’d discovered she was an X, the shields they’d put around her had been brutal prison walls, unlike anything she’d known. She’d been so small, so scared. Even her brave, strong mother, with her gentle telepathic touch, was gone, unable to reach Sienna through the hard carapace of Ming’s creation. It had probably been for the best—Kristine had stood no chance against a daughter who’d put her in intensive care with a simple childish display of temper.
“Did you ever play?” Hawke’s voice so rough, his body so muscular and overwhelming.
She had never felt more feminine, never felt more like a sexual creature. “No.”
A pause. “Sienna—”
“No,” she said. “No more questions. Not tonight.” She wanted to dance with him, be a woman in the arms of a man who made every part of her awaken in a hunger she’d never expected to feel and who, for this magical moment, was hers.
His jaw, heavy with stubble, rubbed against her temple again as he shifted his hold to press her closer. Then, as the music played, as the night grew softer and quieter, they danced.
RECOVERED FROM COMPUTER 2(A) TAGS: PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE, FATHER, ACTION NOT REQUIRED
FROM: Alice <[email protected]
TO: Dad <[email protected]
DATE: November 5th, 1971 at 11:14pm
SUBJECT: re: re: JA Article
I protest! I did very much enjoy your paper in the Journal of Archaeology, and it has nothing to do with being your daughter—I totally agree with you about your interpretation of the newly discovered glyphs. Cho is wrong. I know it and you know it.
Dad, I wanted to talk to you about something else, too, something that’s troubling me. I now have four Xs enrolled in my study (Gradients 3 through to 4.2), and from everything the Psy academics tell me, it means I’ve done astonishingly well. The designation is so rare that if there were ten living X-Psy at any given time, it would be considered a miracle.
That isn’t what worries me. Of the four I’ve located, none are over the age of sixteen. There was a fifth known X, one of the boys tells me, a girl he met on the PsyNet. I got the impression he had a crush on her. The heartbreaking thing is, she died just short of her nineteenth birthday when her power consumed her.
I don’t want to see my Xs die.
HAWKE’S WOLF WASN’T riding him as hard as it had been doing for the past week when he drove down to DarkRiver territory the next morning—to talk to Lucas about the weapons coming into the area, to see if DarkRiver had any news on possible Pure Psy operatives in the city. It didn’t take much thought to figure out that the wildness in him had been temporarily sated by the contact he’d allowed himself with Sienna.