She shifted away as he walked past. It was a very Psy thing to do. They hated any kind of physical contact. But Katya had seemed to crave it. Irritated at the change, he took the steps with angry confidence. And when the shower came on ice-cold, he left it that way.
Katya bent over, bracing her hands on her knees as all the breath simply rushed out of her. Dear God, she'd known he was in shape, but . . .
She swallowed, tried to relearn to breathe. She'd once seen a tiger in a wildlife reserve in India. Her job had been with a multinational lobbying for permission to mine in the region, but it was the image of the tiger that had always stuck with her. The lethal grace, the beauty of it - even her Psy mind had understood that it was something extraordinary.
Dev's muscles slick with sweat, his biceps defined as he punched the bag - he'd been as wildly beautiful as that tiger, as far from the man in the dark suit and formal shirt as she was from the Ekaterina who'd once worked for the Council. It had taken every ounce of control she had not to reach out and stroke him.
He'd probably have snapped off her hand if she'd dared.
Drawing in another shaky breath, she walked across the exercise mat to put her palm on the punching bag. It was heavy. And he'd been sending it back and forth like it weighed nothing. Her memories of the details might be scattershot, but she knew that all her life, she'd valued psychic strength over physical. But after seeing Dev move, she was revising her opinion.
The physical plane was just as powerful as the psychic.
Especially between male and female.
And for the first time, she felt very much female.
She drew in a deep breath, trying to find her balance. . . and catching an echo of Dev's distinctive scent instead, harsh, sensual, unforgivingly masculine.
Something low in her body tightened, a sensation for which she had no name, no comparison. It was hot and tight and. . . needy. And it craved Devraj Santos.
Dressed again after the welcome chill of the shower, Dev picked up his phone to see three missed calls. One from Maggie, two from Glen. Maggie had left a message saying she'd rescheduled his meetings, but Glen had hung up both times.
Running his fingers through his damp hair in lieu of a comb, he coded through a call to the doctor as he headed downstairs. The house's security was undisturbed, which meant Katya was inside somewhere. Deciding to finish the call before he tracked her down, he walked into the kitchen and pulled out the blender.
"Dev?" Glen's voice came on the line. "Where were you?"
"Busy." He put the milk on the counter. "What is it?"
"One of the Shine Guardians picked up a kid in Des Moines. Looks like a true telepath."
Dev froze. "They sure?" True telepaths were extremely rare outside the PsyNet - after their exodus, the Forgotten had intermarried with humans and changelings, had mixed-race children. Their abilities had changed in remarkable ways, but they'd lost things, too. The first to go had been the purity of certain Psy abilities - some Psy in the Net could telepath around the world without blinking an eye. None of the Forgotten had been able to do that since the rebel generation.
"Very," Glen said. "You know the Guardian - Aryan - he has some low-level telepathy himself, and he did a phone consult with Tag and Tiara. All of them agree the kid's showing clear signs of strong telepathic abilities."
Tag and Tiara were the strongest telepaths in the ShadowNet - the neural network created by the original rebels when they dropped from the PsyNet - but even their range was limited to a distance comparable to the length and breadth of the United States. Of course, that was impressive on its own. "Is he salvageable?" Dev had to ask that question, though the weight of it was a rock on his chest. He hated losing any of his people, hated it with a vengeance that had turned him merciless.
"Kid was in a state home." Glen's voice was tight. "Parents died in a car crash, leaving him an orphan. The grandparents apparently never passed on the fact that the father was descended from the Forgotten, so the poor kid's been doped up on meds most of his life for his apparent schizophrenia."
Anger roiled in Dev's gut. That knowledge should never have been lost. All the Forgotten who'd scattered after the Council began hunting them had been told to keep precise records for the very reason that latent genes could awaken with devastating results in their children. "Mother had to be one of us, too, if the kid's a true telepath."
"Aryan tracked her records down. Her great-great-grandmother was part of the original rebel group." Glen muttered something blue under his breath. "The boy's fragile, Dev. He's going to need you - you've got a way of getting through to these kids. If I didn't know better, I'd say you had some kind of empathic ability."
Dev knew it was the opposite the children sensed in him - that he was a pit bull, one who'd let no one and nothing get to them. "I'll be there."
"What about Katya? You want one of the others to keep an eye on her?"
"No. She comes with me." It was an instinctive response, threaded with an almost brutal possessiveness. Something in him flinched at that description, at the realization that he was losing the cold faster and faster.
But Glen didn't argue. "With the meds currently in his system, the boy isn't going to be coherent for at least two days, so we don't need you until then."
Hanging up after getting a few more details, Dev set his senses to searching. This aspect of his abilities, while very minor in the scheme of things, was an interesting offshoot of telepathy. He could literally scan a discrete area, correctly identify the individuals in each room, and if he was emotionally linked to someone, accurately guess at his or her mood.