“I can drive,” she pointed out through gritted teeth to the wolf blocking her way. “Judd was only coming with me because he wanted to take part in the discussion.” She held out a hand. “I don’t need a babysitter.”
To her shock, it was Judd who stopped her escape attempt. “It’s late. You’ve never driven this route in the dark—and it’ll be darker still by the time you head back.”
What is wrong with you?! she telepathed. I cannot be in a car alone with him. Especially when those ice blue eyes had gone slightly aglow.
Deal with it. It was a pitiless response. If you need that to be an order from a lieutenant, then consider it done.
She clenched her jaw, but no way in hell was she about to disobey an order and bring her maturity into question yet again. So either she allowed Hawke to drive, or she stayed put. It was tempting to seize the latter option, but not only did she want to see Sascha, she would not give Hawke the satisfaction of knowing he’d derailed her plans. “I’ll wait in the car.”
She was ensconced in the passenger seat, her wireless speaker buds in her ears, by the time Hawke finished talking with Judd and got into the driver’s seat. He didn’t say anything until he’d turned the SUV around and they were on their way. Then he leaned over and pulled out the bud on his side.
But he’d managed to grab the tiny music player from her lap, too, throwing it over his shoulder into the backseat. “I don’t like being ignored.”
She set her jaw and twisted in her seat, reaching for the player. He let her find it . . . to take it off her an instant later with changeling speed. It landed on the backseat again, along with the bud still in his hand. “Next time, I throw it out the window.”
“I could—” She let out an aggravated breath and removed the remaining bud, placing it on a tray on the dash. “Now who’s being childish?”
He shrugged, relaxing into the seat when she made no further effort to retrieve the music player. “Country and western?” he said as he navigated the forest track SnowDancer kept deliberately crude, with plenty of lowhanging foliage to deter the use of hover facilities—to make sure no one could sneak up on the den by ground vehicle. “I would’ve picked you as a rock ’n’ roll kind of girl.”
She ignored him in favor of staring out the window.
Except it was hard to ignore over two-hundred pounds of muscled male wolf when he didn’t want to be ignored. Reaching out, he tugged on a strand of her hair. “Tell me about Kit.”
She pushed away his hand, well aware she succeeded only because he let her. “Kit is smart, sexy, and gorgeous. A total package.” He was also wickedly funny and could be charming in a way only a feline could be. Too bad she had the terrible taste to hunger for a wolf instead.
Hawke’s hands tightened on the manual steering wheel. “A real prince.”
“You could learn something from him.”
“Careful.” A quiet warning. “You only get to push so far.”
She was too mad and sad and hurting to care. “Wow,” she said with a wide-eyed look of mock amazement, “you lasted an entire two minutes before pulling rank.”
To her shock, he laughed. It was an open, uninhibited sound, and it held her absolute and utter attention. Hawke rarely laughed like that, and never with her. With such open joy, his wolf in his voice, in his face. “You can be a real brat.”
It was difficult to maintain a tough front when his laugh had wrapped around her like a rough caress, eroding her defenses to nothing, but she couldn’t let him see that, see how very vulnerable she was when it came to him. “Doesn’t make me wrong.”
“Fine,” he said. “When it’s just us, there’s no rank, no alpha, no soldier. Only Hawke and Sienna.”
She’d never, in a million years, expected to succeed in getting him to put aside the hierarchy. Her breath stuck in her throat, her palms suddenly damp.
“Lost for words?” A glance of ice blue before he returned his attention to the forest track.
Since Hawke’s eyes never changed color, no matter his form, most people found it impossible to tell whether they were talking to the man or the wolf. Sienna always knew. Always. The power inside of her recognized the same wild energy in the wolf who was Hawke’s other half. “No,” she said at last, “just wondering how long you’ll be able to hack it before you fall back on those rules.”
“Keep pushing, baby,” he murmured in that low, deep voice that touched places in her body it had no business touching. “We’ll see what it gets you.”
“Frustration!” she said, throwing caution to the winds on an adrenalinefueled rush of courage. “That’s all it’s ever gotten me. If sexual attraction followed any kind of a logical rule, I’d be in bed with Kit right now instead of sitting next to a man too scared to take a chance.”
A charged silence.
Sienna couldn’t believe she’d said that. It was going too far, even for her. Hawke was alpha—whether or not the rules were currently in operation between them—which meant he was dominant beyond any Psy or human man, and most changeling males, too. Men like that did not like having their strength questioned on any level.
“After your meeting with Sascha,” he said, his tone silky with menace, “that’s when we’ll talk about fear.”
Sienna leaned back in her seat, trying to control her racing heartbeat. He could hear it, of that she had no doubt. But she was Psy, had been Ming LeBon’s protégée. She wasn’t about to let anyone scare her off—not even a predatory changeling wolf so lethal, the feral wolves treated him as their leader.