Slamming out with his senses, he touched every drop of metal in the building. As a result, his fury had turned into a cold kind of rage by the time he reached Katya's suite. Using his abilities to unlock the door before he got to it, he pushed through with every intention of flaying her with his tongue.
That was before he saw her collapsed in an armchair, blood leaking out of her nose.
What had Tag done?
Putting his fingers on the pulse in her neck, he breathed out a sigh of relief. Why, he didn't know. Her death would've made his life considerably simpler. Pushing aside his violent repudiation of the thought, he pulled out his cell and called Tag. "She's unconscious."
"She should be," Tag said. "I sent through a scream along the telepathic line."
Dev's hand clenched on the phone. Tag had done the right thing, but damn if he didn't want to punch the other man in the face for it. God, he was f**king pathetic. This woman had played him from day one, and still he wanted to protect her. "Is she going to come out of it soon?"
"Won't be long. It'll teach her a lesson." Tag's voice changed. "No telepath should ever leave themselves that open, Dev. She should know that. If I'd wanted to, I could've sent in something more than a scream."
Even with rage an icy inferno inside him, Dev knew why Katya had taken the chance. "I put her in a prison. What would you have done?"
"Probably the same." Tag took a deep breath. "That doesn't mean we can afford to feel sorry for her. Your shields are titanium, but she's strong enough to break the shields of half the people in Shine."
"I'll make sure there isn't a next time." Closing the phone, he slid it into his pocket before walking into the bathroom and returning with a damp towel. There wasn't much blood, but he left the stained towel on the little end table as he waited for her to come out of it, an explicit visual reminder of what she'd just chanced.
As he waited, he slid a critical glance over her face. Impossible as it was, it seemed as if she'd dropped several pounds in the short time since he'd last seen her. But that, he thought, rejecting his natural instincts, wasn't his problem. This time, he wasn't going to let her use his weakness where vulnerable women were concerned against him. If she wanted to starve herself, he'd let her.
Katya's head was a pounding bruise, dark and mottled, when she finally managed to open her eyes. Her stomach revolted at almost the same instant, and she pitched forward, feeling her gorge rise.
The snapped command cut through everything, chilling her with its utter control. When a glass was pushed under her nose, she took it and rose slowly back up into a sitting position.
"Drink," Dev ordered, his face ruthless in a way she'd never before seen. "It'll get your system up and running faster."
Since she felt like she'd been hit by a truck, she wasn't going to argue with anything that made her feel better. Bringing the glass to her lips, she drank deep. It tasted slightly sweet, with a strong medicinal aftertaste. Guessing he'd laced the water with vitamins, she finished the entire glass before putting it on the table beside the armchair. "Whose blood is that?" she asked, seeing the damp towel.
"Whose do you think?"
She swallowed and looked at the very dangerous man sitting in the armchair across from her, one foot hooked easily over the opposing knee. It made him no less intimidating. In fact, the sheer calm of him set her pulse to clamoring. He was angry, so angry that her very cells spiked with fear. "Dev," she began.
"When precisely," he interrupted, "were you planning to tell me you were a telepath with enough power to conceivably blow out a mind?" Cool tone, flawless enunciation, eyes that tracked her with unflinching focus.
"I didn't know." She wrapped her arms around her torso, feeling unaccountably exposed. "I swear to you I didn't know until just before I decided to go exploring."
"Exploring?" He raised an eyebrow. "Let's leave that aside for a minute - exactly how stupid do you think I am?"
"I don't - "
"Stop." It was a single terse word that cut off her very breath. "The amnesia thing isn't going to fly anymore."
Emotion rose in a cresting wave. "It's the truth. I'm remembering more, but it's not - "
"I don't give a shit." Said in that same scarily calm voice. "All I'm interested in are your orders."
"I. Don't. Know." The swell of emotion was filling her limbs, turning her voice husky. "And it doesn't matter how many times you ask me - I'm still not going to remember until the memories come back. I might not remember even then, depending on the programming."
"We've been over this - as far as Shine is concerned, you're a fully functional covert operative."
"And you?" she asked. "What do you think?"
A cool glance, with a dark edge she'd never before seen. "I think I've been made a patsy." He stood. "But no one can say I don't learn from my mistakes."
"Dev - "
He bent down to put his hands on the arms of her chair, blocking her in. "Don't ever try to scan anyone at Shine again. I've authorized the use of deadly force against you."
All the air left her body. Her heart felt as if it had turned into rock. But she refused to let him see, refused to give him the satisfaction of knowing he'd savaged something barely grown inside of her. "Understood, Mr. Santos."
His face, his expression, none of it changed. "Good. Make sure it stays that way."
Katya found herself staring at the door long after it closed on Dev's back. Not that long ago, she'd asked him to kill her if it became necessary. Now, the thought of living was a rebellious pulse inside her. She'd beat this - if only to show Devraj Santos that she wasn't an inconvenience he could lock away out of his sight. She was Katya Haas, and she was a person. She'd bled for her right to be a person. She'd survived!