“Jesus baby.” Strangled words as she lay her cheek on his abdomen and reached down to close her fingers over the stiff length of him through the black fabric of his briefs. Max’s entire form went rigid . . . and it just felt exquisitely right to lick her tongue across the very edge of his briefs, to squeeze her hand firmly along the masculine heat in her hold.
Max walked out of the bathroom to find Sophia curled up under the sheets. There was a look of distinct guilt on her face. Joy warmed him up from the inside out, but he kept his expression stern. “That’s twice you’ve rushed me.” He hadn’t lost control like that . . . well, ever. “Don’t think I’m not going to punish you for it.”
Color tinged her cheeks as he slipped in under the sheets beside her. But no matter the temptation, he didn’t pull her into his arms, having noticed that she was reacting much more quickly to even the slightest touch. “It’ll take a while for you to recover.”
A stubborn look that faded into a sigh. “You’re right. I think I’ve pushed it as far as my senses will take today.”
“I guess it’s like a person who’s been starving,” Max murmured. “When you start to eat again, you have to do it in small bites at first.”
“Can I bite you?” A teasing question that didn’t surprise him now that he’d met the wicked side of her.
“If you ask nice.”
They lay together for a time, talking about nothing, and then later as they sat side by side in the living room, about the complex jigsaw that was the Nikita investigation. But eventually, she had to go to her own apartment. “I wish I could spend all night with you,” she said to him as he walked her over. “But it’ll be too much today.”
“Next time,” he said, keeping his distance as she unlocked the door and entered. “Sophia?”
She glanced back, so beautiful with those amazing eyes and that soft dark hair.
“Tell me if anything happens.” His hand tightened on the doorjamb at the thought of losing her to the ferocity of her gift, of never again seeing her lying rumpled and smiling in his bed, never again hearing her talk in that prim tone that held an undertone of wild emotion.
“I will.” A steady answer, but when she looked up, her eyes were bruised. “I’m so angry, Max,” she said in harsh whisper. “How am I supposed to fight my own mind?”
Sophia Russo may require further persuasion re the Valentine case.
—Jay Khanna to unnamed contact via e-mail
Frustrated, choked up with a rage that had nowhere to go, Max made a cup of coffee and tried to lose himself in work. Sophia had updated him on everything she’d discovered during the time he’d been tied up in the wrenching aftermath of the discovery of Gwyn Hayley’s body, but now he began to read her notes in depth. She had one hell of a brain, he thought. The information was not only neatly bullet-pointed and outlined, but cross-referenced in a way that told him she had an innate understanding of how his own mind worked.
Near the end of the file, he came across something that made him frown. Knowing he needed Sophia to explain the relevance of the information in a Psy context, he began to get up—when he caught the blinking time code on the comm panel.
His gaze went to the wall that separated his apartment from Sophia’s, and he couldn’t help but remember the softness of her skin, the way her pulse had rocketed under his touch, the delicate, enticing scent of her. His body, having finally stopped riding the steel edge of need, grew hard, heavy once more. Sucking in a breath through clenched teeth, he threw down his pen and got up, intending to take a cold shower when something stopped him.
Angling his head, he listened again. A soft thump. Once. Just once. But he’d heard.
He grabbed his stunner and walked quietly to the door. Activating the outside cameras, he checked that the space immediately outside his door was clear before exiting—with a vigilance all cops learned on their first day on the job. The corridor proved empty, the lighting muted to night levels. Stepping to Sophia’s apartment, he scanned himself in using his palm print, his access courtesy of Sophia herself.
Worried that she’d had a blackout as a result of the previous day’s events, but forcing himself to move with caution in case of an intruder, he made his way through the unlighted living area and to her bedroom.
The bed held only rumpled sheets and an organizer with a bright, glowing screen. She’d been awake, too, he thought. Whatever had happened, it hadn’t taken her unawares.
Fur across his foot. Morpheus.
Following the cat’s night-glow gaze, he felt his toes nudge something on the floor.
He froze, bent down. The feel of cotton covering warm skin. No. Continuing to hold his stunner at the ready, even as he checked Sophia’s pulse, he said, “Lights, night mode.” The lights came on, on a dim setting, making the transition from dark to light much easier. No one jumped out, the shadows hiding nothing malignant. He looked over the bathroom quickly just in case. Nothing. Whatever had happened, it had happened in Sophia’s mind.
Returning, he bent down to check her for injuries, found no cuts, no abrasions. But when he lifted her eyelids, it was to see her eyes swallowed by black. “Sophie,” he said again, his tone firm though an anguished rage tore through him—driven by a part of him that didn’t understand logic, only a powerful, visceral need for her voice.
Sliding his arms beneath her body, he lifted her up and took her to the bed, pulling a comforter over her before his hand went to the pocket of his jeans, where he’d left his cell. Pressing in a familiar code, he said, “I need Psy help.”