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Berkley titles by NaliniSinghPsy-Changeling SeriesSLAVE TO SENSATIONVISIONS OF HEATCARESSED BY ICEMINE TO POSSESSHOSTAGE TO PLEASUREBRANDED BY FIREBLAZE OF MEMORY

BONDS OF JUSTICEPLAY OF PASSIONKISS OF SNOWTANGLE OF NEEDHEART OF OBSIDIANSHIELD OF WINTERGuild Hunter SeriesANGELS’ BLOODARCHANGEL’S KISSARCHANGEL’S CONSORTARCHANGEL’S BLADE

ARCHANGEL’S STORMARCHANGEL’S LEGIONAnthologiesAN ENCHANTED SEASON(with Maggie Shayne, Erin McCarthy,and Jean Johnson)THE MAGICAL CHRISTMAS CAT(with Lora Leigh, Erin McCarthy, andLinda Winstead Jones)MUST LOVE HELLHOUNDS(with Charlaine Harris, Ilona Andrews,and Meljean Brook)BURNING UP

(with Angela Knight, Virginia Kantra,and Meljean Brook)ANGELS OF DARKNESS(with Ilona Andrews, Meljean Brook,and Sharon Shinn)ANGELS’ FLIGHTWILD INVITATIONSpecialsANGELS’ PAWNANGELS’ DANCETEXTURE OF INTIMACYDECLARATION OF COURTSHIP

WHISPER OF SIN

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHINGGROUPPublished by the Penguin GroupPenguin Group (USA) LLC375 Hudson Street, New York, NewYork 10014USA Canada UK Ireland Australia New Zealand India SouthAfrica Chinapenguin.comA Penguin Random House CompanyThis book is an original publication ofThe Berkley Publishing Group.

Copyright 2014 by Nalini Singh.Penguin supports copyright. Copyrightfuels creativity, encourages diversevoices, promotes free speech, andcreates a vibrant culture. Thank you forbuying an authorized edition of thisbook and for complying with copyrightlaws by not reproducing, scanning, ordistributing any part of it in any formwithout permission. You are supportingwriters and allowing Penguin tocontinue to publish books for everyreader.BERKLEY is a registered trademarkof Penguin Group (USA) LLC.The “B” design is a trademark of

Penguin Group (USA) LLC.eBook ISBN: 978-1-101-60520-2Library of Congress Cataloging-inPublication DataSingh, Nalini, (date-)Shield of winter / by Nalini Singh.—First edition.pages cmISBN 978-0-425-26401-0I. Title.PR9639.4.S566S55 2014823'.92—dc232014000522

FIRST EDITION: June 2014Cover hand lettering by Ron Zinn.Cover design by George Long.This is a work of fiction. Names,characters, places, and incidents eitherare the product of the author’simagination or are used fictitiously, andany resemblance to actual persons,living or dead, business establishments,events, or locales is entirelycoincidental.Version 1

ContentsBerkley titles by Nalini SinghTitle PageCopyrightCast of CharactersSplinteredChapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3Chapter 4

Chapter 5Chapter 6Chapter 7Chapter 8Chapter 9Chapter 10Chapter 11Chapter 12Chapter 13Chapter 14Chapter 15Chapter 16Chapter 17

Chapter 18Chapter 19Chapter 20Chapter 21Chapter 22Chapter 23Chapter 24Chapter 25Chapter 26Chapter 27Chapter 28Chapter 29Chapter 30

Chapter 31Chapter 32Chapter 33Chapter 34Chapter 35Chapter 36Chapter 37Chapter 38Chapter 39Chapter 40Chapter 41Chapter 42Chapter 43

Chapter 44Chapter 45Chapter 46Chapter 47Chapter 48Chapter 49Chapter 50Chapter 51Chapter 52Chapter 53Chapter 54Chapter 55Chapter 56

Chapter 57Chapter 58Chapter 59Chapter 60Hope

CAST OFCHARACTERSIn Alphabetical Order by FirstNameKey: SD SnowDancer Wolves;DR DarkRiver LeopardsAbbot Arrow, teleport-capabletelekinetic (Tk)Aden Arrow, telepath (Tp)

Alice Eldridge Human scientist,placed in forced cryonicsuspension for over a century, nowliving with SDAmara Aleine Psy member of DR,former Council scientist, twin ofAshaya, mentally unstableAnthony Kyriakus Member of theRuling Coalition, former PsyCouncilor, father of FaithAshaya Aleine Psy member ofDR, former Council scientist,mated to Dorian, mother ofKeenan, twin of Amara

Ben SD pupBrigitte Empath (E), home base:AmsterdamCarter Hirsch Father of IvyChang Cardinal empath (E), homebase: research station in KenyaConcetta Empath (E), home base:ParaguayCouncil (or Psy Council) Theformer ruling Council of the Psyrace, no longer extantCristabel Rodriguez Arrow,

sharpshooterDarkMind Neosentient psychicentity and dark twin of NetMindDechen Empath, home base: TibetDevraj Santos Leader of theForgotten (Psy who defected fromthe PsyNet at the dawn of Silenceand intermingled with the humanand changeling populations),married to Katya HaasDorian Christensen DR Sentinel,mated to AshayaFaith NightStar Psy member of

DR, gift of Foresight (F), mated toVaughn, daughter of Anthony,cousin to SaharaGwen Jane Mother of IvyHawke Snow SD Alpha, mated toSiennaIndigo Riviere SD LieutenantIsaiah Empath (E), home base:NiueIvy Jane Empath (E), daughter ofGwen Jane and Carter HirschJaya Empath (E), home base:

MaldivesJudd Lauren Psy member of SD,Lieutenant, mated to Brenna, uncleof Sienna, Toby, and MarleeJulian/Jules DR cub, son ofTamsyn, twin of RomanKaleb Krychek Cardinal Tk,leader of the Ruling Coalition,former Psy Councilor, psychicallybonded to Sahara KyriakusKeenan Aleine Psy member ofDR, child, son of AshayaKit DR Soldier

Lianne Empath (E), home base:Kuala LumpurLucas Hunter DR Alpha, mated toSascha, father of NayaMarlee Lauren Psy member ofSD, child, daughter of WalkerLauren, niece of Judd LaurenMercy Smith DR Sentinel, matedto RileyMing LeBon Former PsyCouncilor, military mastermind,cardinal telepath (Tp)Naya Hunter DR cub, daughter of

Sascha and LucasNetMind Neosentient psychicentity said to be the guardian andlibrarian of the PsyNet, twin of theDarkMindNikita Duncan Former PsyCouncilor, part of RulingCoalition, mother of SaschaPatton (deceased), Arrow,teleporter (Tk-V), trained VasicPenn Empath (E), home base:ScotlandPure Psy Fanatical and violent

pro-Silence groupRiley Kincaid SD Lieutenant,mated to MercyRoman/Rome DR cub, son ofTamsyn, twin of JulianRuling Coalition Formed after thefall of Silence and of the PsyCouncil. Composed of KalebKrychek, Nikita Duncan, AnthonyKyriakus, and the Arrow SquadSahara Kyriakus Unclassifieddesignation, psychically bonded toKaleb Krychek, niece of Anthony

Kyriakus, cousin to FaithSascha Duncan Psy member ofDR, cardinal empath (E), mated toLucas, mother of Naya, daughter ofNikitaSienna Lauren Psy member ofSD, possesses lethal psychicabilities (X), mated to Hawke,niece of JuddTamsyn SD HealerTatiana Rika-Smythe Former PsyCouncilorTeri Empath (E), home base:

HoustonVasic Arrow, teleporter (Tk-V)Walker Lauren Psy member ofSD, telepath (Tp), father of Marlee,brother of JuddZaira Arrow, in charge of thecovert Arrow compound in VeniceZie Zen Psy elder, telepath (Tp)

SplinteredTHE SILENCE PROTOCOLhas been the defining aspectof the Psy race for over ahundred years. Conditionednot to feel emotion fromchildhood, they are known fortheir icy practicality, acutemental abilities, andadherence to strict codes of

behavior. It is all they knowand all they’ve been since theinception of the Protocol . . .until now.The twilight of 2081 willbe forever remembered as thetime when Silence fell in acrash of violence brutallyleashed by the furiousabilities of the most powerfulPsy in the Net. With the fallcomes a hush across theworld, as the Psy race seeks

to understand who they are inthis new reality whereemotion isn’t a crimepunishable by a viciouspsychic brainwipe, and theheart is no longer an organsimply used to pump blood.For though Silence was adeeply flawed construct, itexisted for a reason.Insanity, blood-soakeddeath, murderous aggression,this is who the Psy were

before Silence. No other race,it is said, bred more vicious,more intelligent, or moresadistic serial killers. Butworse was the clawingmadness that destroyed somany of them, saints andsinners alike, until it becameknown as the flip side to theirincredible psychic gifts.Is the past their future?Will the Psy race oncemore devolve into endless

nightmare?No one can answer thatquestion. Not yet.

Chapter 1To be an Arrow is to be anisland, devoid ofattachments that createvulnerability.First Code of ArrowsTHERE WAS NOTHING left ofthe man he’d been.Vasic stared through theglass wall in front of him as

the computronic gauntletbiologically fused to his leftforearm hummed near silentlyin the diagnostic mode he’dinitiated. Sleek black, the newinvention remained relativelyunstable, despite the constantand ongoing refinement bythe medics and techs, butVasic wasn’t concerned abouthis life.He hadn’t been concernedabout anything for a long

time. At first it had been hisconditioning under Silencethat kept him cold, hisemotions on ice. Now, as theworld navigated the first daysof a new year, he was beyondSilence and into a numbnessso vast, it was an endlessgrayness.The only reason he keptwaking up in the morningwas for the others, the ones inthe squad who still had some

hope of a normal life. It wasfar too late for him, his handspermanently stained withblood from the countless liveshe’d taken in pursuit of amandate that had proven falsein a very ugly way.“What is it?” he said to theman clad in a black combatuniform who’d just enteredthe common area of ArrowCentral Command. None ofthem were sociable, yet they

maintained this space, havinglearned through bitterexperience that even anArrow couldn’t always walkalone.Today the room wasempty except for the two ofthem.“Krychek has a theory.”Aden came to stand besideVasic, his dark eyes on thevista beyond the glass. Itwasn’t of the outside world—

the Arrows were creatures ofshadow, and so they lived inthe shadows, theirheadquarters buried deepunderground in a locationinaccessible to anyone whodidn’t know the correct routesand codes.Even a teleporter needed avisual lock, and there were noimages of Arrow CentralCommand anywhere in theworld, not in any database,

not on the PsyNet, nowhere.Which made it all the morenotable that Kaleb Krychekhad demonstrated the abilityto ’port into the HQ when thesquad first contacted him.However, despite thesubterranean nature of thesquad’s base of operations, onthe other side of the glass laya sprawling green space fullof trees, ferns, even a naturalseeming pool, the area bathed

in simulated sunlight thatwould change to moonlight asthe day turned.It had been difficult toacquire that technologywithout tipping their hand—the SnowDancer wolves werevery proprietary of their tech,usually installed itthemselves. But the squadhad managed, because thatlight was as necessary to theirsanity and their physical

health as the captured pieceof the outside world on whichit shone.“Krychek’s theory—it’sabout the disease in the Net,”Vasic guessed, aware that thebroken remnants of fanaticalPure Psy and the sporadicnew outbreaks of violencenotwithstanding, that was themost dangerous threat facingtheir race.“You’ve seen the reports.”

“Yes.” The disease, theinfection, was spreading at aphenomenal pace no onecould’ve predicted. Rooted inthe psychic fabric thatconnected every Psy on theplanet but for the renegades,it had the potential todevastate their race . . .because to be Psy was to needthe biofeedback provided bya psychic network. Now thatsame link could well be

pumping poison directly intotheir brains.There were some whowhispered that the fall ofSilence a month prior wasbehind the acceleration, butVasic didn’t believe that to bethe truth—the decay was toodeeply integrated in thePsyNet. It had had over acentury to grow, feeding onthe suppressed psychicenergy of all the dark, twisted

emotions their race sought tostifle. “Krychek’s theory?”Aden, his hands claspedloosely behind his back, said,“He believes the empaths arethe key.”The empaths.An unexpected idea fromKaleb Krychek, whom manyconsidered the epitome ofSilence . . . but that was afalse truth, as the entire Nethad learned when he had

lowered the shield around theadamantine bond that linkedhim to Sahara Kyriakus. Ofcourse, it was a false truthonly when it came to SaharaKyriakus. That was a factVasic didn’t think everyoneunderstood, and it was acritical one.Kaleb Krychek remained alethal threat.“Krychek,” Adencontinued, “theorizes that the

fact the empaths are soprevalent in the populationspeaks to their necessity insubtle ways we’ve nevergrasped. Stifling theirabilities has thus had adangerous flow-on effect.”Vasic saw the logic—empaths might’ve beenpublicly erased from the Net,but every Arrow knew the Edesignation had never beenrare. Except once. Their

emotion-linked abilitiescontrary to the veryfoundations of the Protocol,the Es had beensystematically eliminatedfrom the gene pool in theyears after Silence was firstimplemented, only for theruling Council to realizealmost too late that it wasattempting to excise a vitalorgan.No one truly understood

why the Net needed the Es,but it was incontrovertiblethat it did. The Council thathad first come face-to-facewith that truth had named itthe Correlation Concept—thelower the number of E-Psy inthe population, the higher theincidents of psychopathy andinsanity. However, while thecurrent generation of Esmight’ve been allowed to beborn, they’d never been

allowed to be, conditioned tosuppress their abilities sincebirth. “Has Krychekconsidered the fact that itmight not be a case of merelyawakening the Es?”“Yes. You see the criticalproblem.”It was inescapable—if theempaths had to do somethingactive to negate the infection,then the Psy race might welldisintegrate to ash, because

there was no one left to teachthe Es what to do. By thetime the ruling Council of thetime had accepted theirmistake in attempting to cullthe Es from the gene pool, allthe old ones were dead andinformation about theirabilities had been erased fromevery known archive.“How many?” Vasicasked, knowing they couldn’tsimply begin to nudge the

empaths awake on awholesale level. Their deathshad almost collapsed thePsyNet. No one knew whatwould happen if they wokeall at once, disoriented andunable to control theirabilities.“A test group of ten.”Aden telepathed him the list.Scanning it, Vasic saw theshort-listed Es were all highGradient, from cardinal to

8.7. “No,” he said, beforeAden could make the request.“I won’t retrieve them.”“You don’t have toretrieve them all. Just one.”“No,” Vasic said again. “IfKrychek wishes to abductempaths, he’s capable ofdoing so himself.” Vasic wasno longer on anyone’s leashbut his own.Aden’s response wasquiet. “Do you think I’d bring

you such a request?”Turning at last, Vasic metthe eyes of the telepath whowas the one individual in theworld he considered a friend,their lives intertwined sincechildhood—when they’dbeen paired up to do exercisesdesigned to turn Vasic into astone-cold killer. To theirtrainers, Aden had simplybeen a useful telepathicsparring partner, a well-

behaved complement toVasic’s erratic temperamentat the time, an Arrow traineeonly because his parents wereboth Arrows who’d workedto hone his skills since thecradle.As such, Aden had beenput into classes thateventually qualified him as afield medic. He’d been giventhe same harsh training allinductees were given, but was

never deemed worthy of anyextra interest—except when itcame to punishmentsdesigned to “harden” a boywho’d been small for his age.Always, the ones who woulduse the Arrows hadunderestimated Aden, and inso doing, they’d given thesquad a leader who’d savedcountless lives and who theywould follow into any hell.“No,” Vasic conceded.

“You wouldn’t.” Aden knewexactly how close Vasic wasto the edge, that thedestruction of, or damage toone more innocent life couldsnap the razor-fine thread thatbound him to the world.“Krychek,” Adencontinued into the quietbetween them, “doesn’t thinkhis proposed experiment as tothe impact of the empaths onthe infection will work if the

Es are forced to participate.”A pause. “I’m not certain ifthat’s his personal view, or ifit’s Sahara’s, but whateverthe case, each of the Es mustvolunteer.”Vasic agreed with Adenthat the compassion waslikely to emanate from thewoman who had appeared outof nowhere to forge anunbreakable bond with theotherwise cold-blooded dual

cardinal, and who, theirinvestigations told them, wasin no way Silent. “Wheredoes Krychek intend to runhis Very few things had thecapacity to surprise Vasic, onany level. This, however, wasunexpected. “TheSnowDancer wolves have atendency to shoot intruders

on sight”—“shoot first andask questions of the corpses”was their rumored motto—“and the leopards aren’tmuch friendlier.”“I’ve told Krychek thesame, yet I can see his pointas to the area’s suitability.”“An isolated location, noother PsyNet connectedminds for miles in anydirection.” As a result, thatpart of the Net, too, would be

quiet, giving Krychek a cleancanvas on which to run hisexperiment.However, that was a factorthat could be replicatedelsewhere.Which left a single criticalelement that could only befound in the changeling-heldterritory. “Sascha Duncan.”Access to the only active E inthe world no doubt played acrucial part in Krychek’s

plans.“There’s no infection inthat section of the Net,” Adensaid, instead of nodding toconfirm what they both knewmust be true. “HoweverKrychek has the ability toshift the infection in thatdirection, or seed the areawith it. He says he can’tcontrol it beyond that, but Ihaven’t yet decided if he’slying.” The other Arrow

turned to acknowledgeanother member of the squadwho’d just entered, walkingover to her when sheindicated she needed to speakto him.Alone, Vasic consideredthe misleading simplicity ofKrychek’s proposedexperiment. An isolatedgroup of empaths surroundedon the Net by the infection. Ifthe experiment failed and the

infection threatened tooverwhelm them in a wave ofmurderous madness or moresubtle mental degradation, itwould be relatively easy torelocate all ten men andwomen at short notice. Aswell, the deterioration of anempty part of the Net wouldcause few ripples.In that sense, it was aclean plan, with no threat ofmajor losses.

Of course, no one couldpredict how the infectionwould move, what it woulddo to the empaths. “I can’t,Aden,” he said when theother man returned to hisside, their fellow Arrowhaving left the room.Aden waited.“You know whathappened when I had cause topass near Sascha Duncanprior to her defection. It was a

deeply . . . uncomfortableexperience.” Councilor NikitaDuncan’s daughter had beenpretending to be Silent at thetime, but even then, there’dbeen something about her thathad made his instincts bristle.It was one of the fewtimes he’d felt true pain as anadult—at first, he’d thoughthe was under attack, only torealize it was Sascha’s simplepresence in a room separated

from the one where he stoodby a solid wall, that wassandpaper along the insidesof his skin. As if some part ofhim knew she was theantithesis to everything hehad ever been taught to be,the rejection primal.It wasn’t until herdefection and the resultingrevelation of her empathy thathe’d realized the reasonbehind the strange effect; the

knowledge had made himrecall the numerous othertimes he’d felt a faintirritation against his skin ashe moved through theshadows in populated areas.Sleeping empaths, theirconditioning not as badlydegraded as Sascha’s musthave been.He also knew he was ananomaly in sensing them insuch a way—according to

Aden, no one else in thesquad had ever reported thesame. Vasic had a theory thatthe awareness was anundocumented adjunct ofbeing a Tk-V, a bornteleporter. Patton, the onlyother Tk-V Vasic had evermet, had often complainedabout an “itch” under his skinwhen he was in the outsideworld.Regardless of whether that

was true or not, the effectcontinued unchecked forVasic, causing deeper andmore frequent serratedscrapes over his skin as theconditioning of the Es in theNet fractured further witheach passing day.Aden took several minutesto reply. “Uncomfortable, notdebilitating.” The words of aleader evaluating one of hismen. “The empaths will need

a protection squad—theirdesignation has never beenaggressive according to thehistorical records I’ve beenable to unearth so far, andno

Guild Hunter Series ANGELS’ BLOOD ARCHANGEL’S KISS ARCHANGEL’S CONSORT ARCHANGEL’S BLADE. ARCHANGEL’S STORM ARCHANGEL’S LEGION Anthologies AN ENCHANTED SEASON (with Maggie Shayne, Erin McCarthy, and Jean Johnson) THE MAGICAL CHRISTMAS CAT (with Lora Leigh, Erin McCarthy, and