Walking over on the legs he'd mocked, she pushed him in the chest.
He didn't shift so much as an inch, but his eyes narrowed. "What was that for?"
Her palms tingled where she'd touched him, her skin tight with painful craving. "I want you to leave." Fighting the need for tactile contact, she folded her arms and tilted her head toward the door. "Right now."
"And if I don't?" He stepped closer, until they were toe to toe, those impossibly beautiful eyes of his staring down at her.
He was good at intimidation.
But she was through with being intimidated. "Then you'd better eat carefully," she said sweetly. "I am a scientist, after all."
"Poison?" His lips curved. "Bring it on."
"I just threatened you and you smiled. I tried to escape and you got angry?" She didn't understand him.
"The threat," he said, touching his fingers to her cheek in a slow caress, "is permissible. After all, I'm keeping you prisoner, and it's hardly as if you can overpower me. But the escape attempt? That, I won't allow - you belong to the Forgotten, and until I figure out what you're meant to do, you're staying right where I can see you."
She understood the distinction. When she dealt with Dev, the man, she might get away with a great deal. But when it came to Devraj Santos, director of the Shine Foundation, rebellion could cost her everything. The heat that had reignited within her during the argument, the sudden spurt of fire, chilled under the ice of understanding.
She didn't know what she would have said, didn't know how he would have responded, because his cell phone beeped at that moment. Except. . . he made no move to retrieve it from his pocket. The sustained eye contact stole her breath, threatened to pull her under. "Aren't you going to answer that?" Her voice sounded strained to her own ears.
The sheer iron of the answer made her heart crash against her ribs. "Has anyone ever talked you out of anything?"
"If I'm in the mood."
His answers kept confounding her. He didn't behave according to how her brain, how her knowledge of the world said he should behave. "What do you want?"
The phone stopped beeping.
Dev blinked, a slow, lazy thing at odds with the wild energy that she'd felt under her palms. "That's the problem, isn't it?"
PETROKOV FAMILY ARCHIVES
Letter dated November 30, 1971
Today you fell off a swing and bloodied your knee rather spectacularly. But you know what? You never cried. Instead, you stood there, your face all scrunched up and tears glittering in your eyes as I cleaned and bandaged the wound. It wasn't until I kissed it better that you threw your arms around me and told me it "hurt." Oh, my baby, you make my life a joy. And soon, you'll have someone else to play with - your father has charmed me into giving him another son or daughter, you a little brother or sister.
I love him, your father, exasperating man that he is at times. But I wonder at bringing a child into this world. The tide is changing, Matty. Today, Mrs. Ennis told me that maybe the Council is right, that maybe we should embrace Silence. I wanted to argue with her, but what could I say in the face of her loss? She's still grieving for her husband. As soon as Enforcement catches one serial killer, another takes his place. Mr. Ennis was simply one victim among many - and that horrifies me.
And yet, I can't accept a protocol that would steal your smiles, your tears, your very heart. You're more precious to me than all the peace in the world.
Changing into sweatpants and a sleeveless tee, Dev continued to ignore his cell phone in favor of a hard workout in the gym set up at the back of the house. Pounding his fists into the punching bag worked off some of his frustration, but left him with no new answers.
Katya drew him. Simple as that. And it was about time he admitted it.
She was the enemy, had even warned him that she was a grenade waiting to blow up in his face, but still, she drew him. Part of him wanted to protect her, take care of her, while the other part, the hard-nosed pragmatist, warned him that doing so would just come back to bite him on the ass.
He'd almost kissed her upstairs, his entire body humming with the raw excitement that came only from arguing with a woman who aroused a much more intimate passion. She shouldn't have been able to get through the metal of his shields, shouldn't have been able to affect him on such a visceral level, not without a conscious decision on his part.
And yet she had. She did. Every f**king time.
Slamming his foot into the punching bag, he spun and came down feet flat on the exercise mat.
He didn't turn, focusing on his next round of punches. "Been doing it since I was a teenager." Since the day he'd realized he carried within him the seeds of the very violence that had shattered his life as a child. "Good stress relief."
Katya stayed in the doorway, and he was blindingly aware of her gaze as she watched him. It took all his concentration to maintain his focus. "We'll get you into doing some easy stretches, strengthen those muscles."
"Are you sure I have any?"
It was a kick to the gut, that hint of humor. He glanced at her, pushing damp hair off his face, conscious of the fact that his tee was sticking to his body, his arms shimmering with sweat. "I'm sure there're one or two hidden away in that scrawny body of yours."
Hazel eyes darkened. "Do you always insult the women you kidnap?"
A temper. Interesting. "Depends on the woman."
"How many have you brought here?"
None. Dev didn't share his personal spaces well. "That's for me to know." Wiping off his face with a towel he'd thrown in the corner, he strode to the door. "I'll make you that smoothie after I shower."