He felt his hand clench on the door. “So was Faith when you met her if I’m right.”
“Not the same situation, and you know it.” The changeling didn’t sound angry—if anything, there was a gut-deep understanding in his tone. “Faith was watched, but in an isolated setting. Sophia is in the middle of the Justice Corps. There are all kinds of eyes on her.”
And though the sentinel didn’t say it, Max knew the implications—Sophia might already have something in her head, something that had penetrated her shields without her knowledge.
Having changed into a loose T-shirt to sleep in, Sophia returned from the bathroom to find Max waiting by the bed. He looked strong and beautiful . . . and remote, the stunner he held loosely by his side a stark reminder of who he was, what he did.
“Stay with me.” It came out without thought, the heat of his body still imprinted on her skin. “I think I can handle the sensations now.” The invitation took all the courage she had. She bit her lip to quiet the plea that wanted to escape. She didn’t want him to pity her—but oh, how she needed him.
No words but he placed the stunner on the bedside table and ripped off his T-shirt. She clenched her hands on the bottom of her own. Angling his head, he tugged down the comforter and waited for her to get in. As he went to follow, his jeans still on, she had a thought. “Max, what if I’m compromised in some way? You shouldn’t leave a weapon that accessible to me.”
“Safety’s on, release programmed to my active thumbprint,” he said, pulling the comforter over them. “And no offense, Sophie, sweetheart, but you’d make a very bad assassin.”
“I could blow out your mind,” she reminded him.
“Not easily,” he answered. “According to what I’ve picked up over the years, a natural shield means I’d have enough of a warning to go for my weapon, or considering the fact that you’re a little bit of nothing—knock you out cold.” The words made him scowl.
“Good.” Relieved—in spite of the fact that she could see he hated the idea of hurting her—she let him slide an arm under her head, the other going around her waist. That much sensation, that much contact, still burned a hot, wild flame across her skin, but she was, she thought, becoming used to it. With Max it wasn’t an intrusion but a choice on her part. Turning, she placed her hands flat on his chest.
Heat. A sudden fever. Almost pain.
“But no voices in my head,” she whispered. “No memories, no thoughts, no yesterdays but my own.”
Max squeezed her gently, and she knew he understood. “Don’t push it,” he said. “Small bites, remember?”
She didn’t listen, lost in the storm of sensation, the world a kaleidoscope around her. “We never finished.”
Max’s hand stopped its soothing strokes over her back. “You’re not exactly in any shape—”
Tilting her head, she kissed the line of his neck, taking the taste of him into her lungs. “Sophie.” Then his hand was on her cheek and she was being turned onto her back and he was kissing the breath out of her. The kaleidoscope spun and spun until it exploded.
As the pieces rained around her, she found herself gripping Max’s shoulders in an attempt to hold on. His muscles shifted beneath her palms, liquid and powerful. Instead of trying to control the amount of sensory input, she gave in, drowning in the wild heat of him, the delicious pressure of his lips, the way his thumb pressed down on her jaw to open her mouth to him.
Max felt the instant Sophia let go. Her entire body melted for him, every inch of her open in invitation.
It was the most luscious of temptations.
But he wasn’t about to take advantage of her when she’d been disoriented and lost only minutes ago. Breaking the kiss, he looked into eyes that had gone pure black again—but he could distinguish a difference, though he’d have been hard-pressed to describe it. He just knew this time, it wasn’t a marker of danger. “Do all Psy eyes do that?” An intimate murmur against her lips, his legs tangled with hers, his hand in her hair.
Her fingers stroked over his shoulders with quick, hungry movements, and he was male enough to adore her for being so very delighted with him. “It’s more apparent at the higher end of the spectrum . . . but I think I may be even more susceptible to it, given the nature of my mind.” Calm words, but her eyes, her body, told a different story.
He could almost feel the vibrating tension in her, every tendon held taut. “I know who you are,” he said, holding her gaze. “I’m not going to be scared away because of your ‘imperfections.’ ”
A sheen of wet in her eyes, turning the midnight iridescent.
“We fit, you and I,” he whispered looking into that haunting gaze. “Two broken pieces making a whole.” It wasn’t the most romantic of statements, but it was torn from his soul. “I am not losing you.”
She tugged him down, kissing him until his body hummed for her, until her breath came in choppy gasps. He broke the kiss. “Is this much contact causing you pain?”
A pause. “No.”
Swearing, he rolled off to sit on the edge of the bed, looking back at her over his shoulder. “Why the hell did you—”
“I wasn’t lying, Max.” Curling onto her side, she watched him with an intense interest that told him he was the absolute and utter focus of her world. Some men would’ve been scared away. Max knew he watched her the same way.
Her chest rose as she took a long, shuddering breath. “I don’t know how to describe these sensations. The closest word is pain, but I know that’s not right. I don’t crave pain. And yet I crave what happens when you touch me.”