“Then we leave it at that.” He could see Sienna growing deeper into her skin day by day. No way in hell was he going to cut her off at the knees. “You sound certain that it can’t be stopped, but is there any way to slow the progression?”
Judd shoved a hand through his hair. “I’ve been searching for the manuscript I mentioned to you once.”
“The dissertation on X-Psy?”
The other man nodded. “I’ve found no evidence to confirm its existence, but I’m waiting to hear back from one final contact.”
Hawke’s wolf caught the minute change in Judd’s expression. “The Ghost. You don’t trust him.”
“Not in this. She’s a weapon of infinite potential.”
And the Ghost, Hawke knew, had an agenda that had nothing to do with peace.
EIGHT hours later, with the mountains kissed white-gold by the morning sun, Hawke stood staring at the door that had just been slammed in his face. “Sienna,” he growled.
Silence from the other side.
He slammed his hands palms down on the flat surface hard enough that she couldn’t miss it. Waited. Still nothing. Part of him—the part that made him alpha—wanted to rip the door off its hinges, throw her onto the bed, and teach her what happened to a woman who dared defy him. He wouldn’t hurt her. But he would bite her. Hard.
Strangling the primitive urge, he decided to walk it off but changed his mind midway and headed to the garage instead. The drive gave him enough time to settle so that he wasn’t feeling completely feral when he arrived at his destination—after having made a small detour to pick up something.
Sascha laughed when he handed her the stuffed toy wolf. “How did you talk your way past the sentinels?”
“Natural charm.” He thought about kissing her on the cheek but decided to cut Lucas a break.
“What’re you doing here?” the leopard demanded, his hands on Sascha’s h*ps as they stood in the doorway of the cabin.
“I’ve come to meet my new girl,” Hawke said, doing his best to look harmless. “Where is she?”
Lucas scowled, but moved out of the doorway when Sascha turned to press a kiss to his jaw. “Come in,” the empath said, heading deeper into the cabin.
Hawke hung back long enough to stick out his hand. “Congratulations.”
Lucas shook it. “Thanks.” Jerking his head toward the bedroom, he said, “Sascha refuses to move the bassinet to the nursery yet.”
“Just Sascha?” Hawke raised an eyebrow.
The snarl was quiet but no less powerful for it. “Do you want to see her or not?”
Hawke caught a delicate new scent hidden beneath the protective markers of a panther and an empath as soon as he crossed the threshold. Baby powder and smiles. The innocence of it made his wolf stop pacing, anger and irritation temporarily shelved.
Conscious of the instincts that had to be clawing at Lucas, he kept his hands behind his back as he peered down at the tiny creature in Sascha’s arms, her curious eyes already as bright green as her father’s. “Hello, sweet darling.” It was impossible not to smile, not to fall in love a little.
Sascha nuzzled the baby with a gentle, maternal kiss before saying, “Would you like to hold her?”
Hawke glanced to Luc first. The leopard alpha nodded. “I’ll tear your throat out if you even breathe wrong.”
“Fair enough.” Taking the precious bundle from Sascha, he cuddled the baby close to the warmth of his body. When she scrunched up her face, he laughed. “Yes, I am a wolf, little cat.” Touching a careful finger to her nose, he was startled to feel tiny hands grip at it. “Look at that.”
Fascinated, Sascha thought, looking from one man to the other. They were both fascinated. It hadn’t astounded her in the least when Naya had wrapped Lucas around her finger, but somehow, she’d expected Hawke to last longer. But really, was it any surprise? He was alpha, too, had those same strong protective urges running through his blood.
The baby made a fussy noise.
Taking her from Hawke, Lucas held her against his chest, purring low and steady until their princess quieted in contentment. Sascha didn’t know how she stood it, the love for her mate and child that filled her body. It was so visceral, so intertwined in every cell of her being. An impossible, huge thing that eclipsed all that had come before.
It threatened to blind her to everything else, but she was an E-Psy. And so, she caught the whisper of darkness in the man who was an alpha without a mate. Glancing at Lucas, she tilted her head. He scowled. She pursed her lips. Sighing, he said, “I think baby girl here wants to go for a walk.”
Hawke exited first, with Sascha following Lucas out. He walked across the clearing until he was out of hearing range—if they kept their voices low. “You’re worried about something,” she said to Hawke, cutting to the heart of it.
Black thunder rolled across that harsh but beautiful face. “Stop doing that.”
“I can’t help it.” She never intruded on people’s emotions, but she could no more stop sensing them than Hawke could turn off his sense of smell.
Folding his arms, he leaned against the cabin wall while she perched on the window ledge a foot away. “What happened?” She prodded, because you had to with men so used to keeping everything contained. “Does it have to do with Sienna?”
“What makes you say that?”
“She’s the only one who incites this reaction in you.”
Hawke stared at where Lucas walked the baby. “She’s refusing to talk to me.”