Tangle of Need

By: Nalini Singh

Indigo hung back, her eyes returning to Adria. “Remember what I said.” Open concern on her face … tempered by a glint of wickedness. “But don’t be too sensible. Claws and teeth are part of the fun.”

Adria’s grin faded as soon as Indigo walked in to join her soldiers. Martin had been the biggest chance she’d ever taken in her life, overriding the concerns of those who didn’t think the dominant female/less dominant male pairing had a hope of working. The spectacular failure of that risk had savaged her confidence, until sometimes she felt as if the core of her was a patchwork quilt, the stitches barely holding.

It would be easy, so easy, to stay “safe,” to never again stick out her neck, but Adria was a dominant, a SnowDancer. She was not a coward, and would never shame her wolf by allowing herself to become one. Even if that meant she had to go claw to claw against a lone wolf who was nothing she’d ever wanted in a man—and who compelled her beyond reason.

Chapter 6

JUDD LAUREN WAS still alive.

Ming looked down at the unexpected report. He’d ordered the Arrows to eliminate Judd soon after the continued existence of the rogue Tk-Cell became known. It had been meant to be a first, debilitating strike before the much more important elimination of Sienna Lauren, the X a far bigger threat. Though the Arrows were no longer his, he hadn’t expected Aden or his men to have a problem with taking care of the rebel Arrow.

Since the Tk-Cell had abandoned the squad when he defected, it was clear the Arrows had disregarded Ming’s order not out of any loyalty to their former comrade, but to make it clear to Ming that they would no longer support him in any form. A critical loss, but not crippling. Looking up to meet the eyes of the man who’d brought him the report, he said, “Do we have anyone with the training to take on Lauren?”

“No. Only an Arrow can successfully contain another Arrow.”

Ming had to agree. The Arrows were too highly trained to be easy prey. He’d been one of their number in his youth, but he’d been out of active service for two decades, no longer had the same level of skill when it came to covert assassinations. Added to the fact that Judd Lauren could teleport, it made no rational sense to go after the rebel Arrow himself.

However, Sienna Lauren was neither an Arrow nor a telekinetic. He’d trained her, and so he knew her exact skill set. There were murmurs in the Net that she’d further honed those skills during her time with the wolves, but that didn’t alter his conclusions. If it came down to it, the battle would be a psychic one—and he’d trapped her with his mind once. He would do it again.

“Keep monitoring the situation,” he ordered. “Unobtrusive surveillance. No contact.” Sienna hadn’t appeared in public since the lethal wave of her X-fire had consumed a significant percentage of Henry’s Pure Psy army. No one was yet certain that she hadn’t perished in the aftermath. If she had, it would’ve been because she’d been physically executed by one of her own—because unless his power release theory had borne out, the psychic implosion of a cardinal X would’ve taken out the Sierras themselves. “Your goal is to discover if Sienna Lauren survived the battle.”

If she was alive, she could not be allowed to exist off the leash of Ming’s psychic control.

Chapter 7

TEMPER STILL SIMMERING—and that wasn’t the only thing—Riaz got dressed in plain black athletic pants made of a light material that didn’t overheat, his upper body bare, and walked out to the training run just in time to see a group of the more experienced soldiers cross the finish line. “How did it go?” he asked Judd, who’d been overseeing the session.

“Curses were cast on your name.” Judd’s expression remained unchanged, his sense of humor a subtle thing. “The course is a tough one, but wolves enjoy challenge.”

“So do Psy.” He knew that as a Tk, Judd was brutal competition. “Me and you.” The painful fury of energy in his body needed somewhere to go.

But Judd shook his head, dark hair catching the deep orange rays of the slowly setting sun. “I have dinner with Walker and the kids. Tomorrow?”

“Sure.” Riaz opted to remain behind after the other lieutenant left with the rest of the group, deciding to run the course on his own. That was when he caught an unexpected scent on the breeze.

Crushed ice over berries … licked with an unexpected undertone of lingering warmth.

His jaw tightened when Adria emerged from the trees, his wolf reacting with a snarl even as his cock hardened. The response was so hot, so fast, and so beyond his conscious control that it infuriated him.

Not saying a word, Adria kicked off her boots and socks.

“You’re not dressed right.” It came out a near growl.

A fluid shrug that revealed the lithe muscle on that tall frame. “Jeans are worn in.”

His wolf heard the unspoken challenge, flashed its canines. “Then let’s go.” With that, he ran up the smooth wooden log that had been the downfall of more than one SnowDancer, conscious of Adria making the climb with an almost feline grace.

Instead of a wall at the top of the slope, there was now a specially designed rope climbing frame that required rigid muscle control to navigate. It favored those of lighter weight, and Adria beat him to the top—and to the ring ladder that tested upper-body strength. He was much stronger than her by any measure, and they were neck and neck again by the time they reached the final set of rings.