Dev was on his way to talk to Katya later that evening when he got a call from Maggie. As a result, he ended up spending over two hours on a conference call with a number of people high up in Shine - all of whom were starting to panic about the rising rate of incidents.
For once, however, the meeting didn't degenerate into an argument - despite the fact that Dev's cousin Jack was pushing for a solution Dev refused to accept. When he finally hung up, it was with a feeling of exhaustion weighing down his shoulders. He wanted to go to Katya, to be with her, even if he couldn't share the fears that threatened to splinter the Forgotten, but the hour was well past eleven, and according to Tiara, both Tag and Katya had gone to bed around ten, after the two women chatted over a late dinner. Dev wasn't sure quite what to make of that. Tiara got along with almost everyone, but she was also fiercely loyal to Shine.
Reaching back to pull off his T-shirt in preparation for catching a few hours' sleep, he froze at the sound of a short, sharp scream, cut off almost before it began.
By the time he slammed into Katya's room, she was sitting up in bed, staring at the sheets.
"What happened?" he asked, sensing Tiara return to her watch in the front.
"The boy," she whispered, "he was such a beautiful boy." Her hand shook as she raised it to her face. She dropped it midway, as if she'd forgotten what she meant to do. "I couldn't help him."
He didn't interrupt, realizing he was hearing an inner nightmare.
"I tried to protect him, but then Larsen asked for him and I couldn't say anything, couldn't stop him." Her throat worked as she swallowed. "I wanted to stab Larsen through the heart with his own scalpel, but if I had, then Ming LeBon would've known we were traitors and all the children would've died."
"The boy survived," he reminded her. "I told you that. I don't know why Ashaya nev - "
She shook her head. "It was to protect me. To protect the children. The less I knew, the less they could take from me if I was ever broken."
"You don't have to worry about that anymore - you won't be retaken." Dev did not let go of what was his. "And Jon - that's his name - is safe. The Council knows if they touch the boy, it's a declaration of war."
"Jon . . . Jonquil Duchslaya," she murmured slowly. "I'm glad he's protected . . . God, he screamed so much." She dropped her head in her hands, her entire body shaking. "And I had to pretend that it didn't matter, that I didn't care."
His own body strained toward her, but how could he go to her when he'd put her in a cage himself? "You shouldn't have. You were Silent - without emotion."
She lifted her head, eyes shining in the light coming in from the corridor. "There's being cold, and then there's such a thing as being without conscience. I've always had a conscience, and it keeps me awake every single night."
"Katya," he began, not knowing what he was going to say.
"Do you think he'd see me? Jon?" She folded her arms around herself. "I need to say sorry. I need to do that much at least."
Dev knew about demons, saw too many in her eyes. Losing the war to keep his distance, he closed the door and crossed the carpet. "I'll ask."
"Thank you." She scooted back as he sat down on the bed. "You should go now."
"I'm not leaving you like this." Her eyes were stark in a face gone white, her body shivering in spite of the blankets.
"I want to be alone."
"The hell you do." Swearing under his breath, he got into the bed and, ignoring Katya's protests, maneuvered her into his lap. "Quiet," he snapped when she pushed at him.
She went still. "Even I know that's not the appropriate thing to say in this situation."
The overly prim response should've made him laugh. But he continued to feel the remembered terror in her body, her heart racing so fast he thought it might bruise itself against her ribs. Keeping one arm around her body, the other in her hair, he crushed her to him, knowing she needed the sensation, but also knowing she'd never ask for it. Not now.
Slowly, the stiffness drained out of her, one of her hands creeping under his T-shirt to spread out over his pulse. Her hand was cool, or maybe it was that his body was too hot. As always, he couldn't control his reactions around her. It didn't matter. Instead of shoring up his shields, all he wanted to do was offer comfort, give her a way out of that dark room where she'd been trapped without sight, without sound, without touch.
"Tiara told me she was in Paris not long ago."
Startled at her choice of subject, he slid his hand down to her nape, squeezing gently. "Hmm."
"She said she went to visit her parents." Her fingers stroked over his skin in a touch that reached far deeper than anyone else ever had. "She said her mother made her cake and coffee every afternoon, and brushed her hair for her every night, while her dad splurged on a day spa for both her and her mother, took them shopping, and bought chocolate for her to snack on on the airjet ride home."
Dev looked down, but Katya had tucked her head against him, her lashes delicate fans against her cheeks. "Sounds like she was spoiled."
"That's what she said, too." Those fingers stroked lower, curving over his ribs. He knew he should stop her before she inadvertently went too far, but he didn't. Because even now, her skin was a little clammy, her heart jittery.
"What else did Ti share?" Shifting his hold, he closed his hand over her thigh.
She stayed put - though he felt the tremors beneath her skin. "That she expects any man who wants her to spoil her just as badly."