Dev made his way from the airjet to his cousin's home - just south of the border with British Columbia - using the snow-capable rental Maggie had organized. Given the airjet's speed, he wasn't that far behind Michel taking Katya into "custody."
Arriving at his cousin's place, he got out and strode straight to the front door. Michel opened it as he was raising a fist to knock. "She's all yours, Santos." Thrusting his hat back on, Michel said, "If I were you, I'd don body armor."
"Thanks for the warning."
His cousin tipped his head and walked off to his own vehicle. Trying to get a handle on a temper that flat-out refused to respond to the cool brush of metal, Dev walked through the door and followed the echo of Katya's presence to the kitchen - where he found her calmly eating a huge blueberry muffin, a cup of what looked like hot chocolate at her elbow. Jesus - there were even marshmallows in the damn chocolate. "Looks like Michel took good care of you."
A glance that told him nothing. "He knows how to treat a woman."
Okay, that bit. "As opposed to?"
He watched as she picked out a blueberry and popped it into her mouth. "Did you really think you were going to get away?"
"Giving in is not what I do."
It was a slap. And it poured the most frigid water over the temper he'd irrationally feared would turn him into his father. What the hell had he expected Katya to do? Sit meekly while he held her captive?
The woman who'd survived Ming LeBon's brand of torture wasn't the sitting-around kind.
Blowing out a breath, he folded his arms across his jacket. "How close are you to wherever you're going?"
She froze, then seemed to shake herself out of it. "I'm getting closer."
"Still no certain location?"
"It's northwest . . . I think possibly Alaska, though it could as easily be in Yukon."
Dev stepped close enough to play with a strand of her hair. She didn't pull away, but neither did she deviate from the concentrated destruction of her muffin. He was being ignored again. He realized that should've irritated him, but it made his lips curve. Releasing her hair, he moved around to stand at her back, placing his hands palms down on the counter on either side of her.
She took another bite of the muffin.
Grinning, he brushed aside the fall of her hair and pressed a kiss to the delicate skin of her nape.
A shiver. "Devraj Santos," she said with quiet forcefulness, "you are not going to charm me into going back."
He kissed her again, along the slender curve of her neck. "Who said anything about charm?" he murmured, nibbling at her earlobe. "I'm planning to seduce you."
She put down that damn muffin. "Dev, why aren't you yelling at me?"
Another kiss as he rose to his full height and wrapped his arms around her, dropping his chin on top of her head. "You're too stubborn to respond to yelling." She'd survived something he wasn't sure even he could survive - a man would be stupid not to respect that kind of will in his woman.
"But you're still going to drag me back." Her hand closed into a fist on the counter. "Why? I'm no threat this far from you."
"I have to consider what you might've learned in the time you've been with us, whether you'll circle back and strike."
That hand flexed, then closed again. "Nothing I say will change your mind, will it?"
He knew what he should do. Until he'd walked into this kitchen, there hadn't even been a question in his mind. But - "I can give you three days."
She sucked in a breath. "Dev?"
"We'll take the airjet as far north as you're comfortable, then hire a car."
"I'm glad you'll be with me," she said to his surprise, leaning into his embrace. "Part of me is so afraid of what I'll find - what if there's nothing there?"
"It would mean my brain really is damaged," she whispered. "If I have this compulsion and there's nothing to back it up."
He suddenly understood her hunger to follow the compulsion far better than he had before. "You aren't brain damaged," he told her, squeezing her tighter. "If you were, you sure as hell wouldn't have managed to sneak out from under my bloody nose."
Katya heard the disgusted edge in that comment and it made her heart lighten. "I did good, didn't I?" Her smile faltered. "How's Tiara?"
"She opened book on how far you'd get before I caught up to you."
"Yeah, and she placed the bet for the longest distance."
"Let's just say he's not your new best friend."
She winced and went to ask about the boy before realizing that might get him into trouble.
Dev chuckled. "The kid is fine - and we've learned to be extra careful with his shields."
"He's strong," she said, apprehensive about what that might mean. "If the Council finds out the Forgotten have that level of psychic ability . . ."
"Let me worry about that." He pressed a kiss to her temple, allowing her to turn so they faced each other. "Tell me everything you can about this pull you feel to go north. Do you have any other information?"
"No. But I know I heard something. There . . . in the black room."
Rage reignited, dark with the need to draw blood. He had to consciously focus to form speech past the vicious power of it. "Why would they have spoken of anything sensitive in your hearing?"
"They made a mistake," she said, her voice halting as if she was reconstructing fragments of memory. "Ming broke me, but even broken, I had ears, I had eyes. He treated me like I was an insect he'd crushed under his boot, not worth bothering about."