“I was approached by an individual associated with Pure Psy after my reconditioning last year—they believed I would be open to their message.”
“Good way to pick up recruits.” Ryan had killed when his powers went out of control, would’ve been—on some level—searching for something to make the world seem right again.
“Yes.” Ryan paused. “At first, I went along, but I soon realized my goals didn’t match theirs. However, just as I was about to resign my membership, I got the internship with Councilor Duncan.”
“You’re spying for her?”
“Not officially. She doesn’t know.” A long breath. “I wanted to bring her something that would make her more inclined to keep me on after this internship ends.”
Either the boy was honestly pinning his hopes of survival on Nikita, or he was a very good liar. “What did you find out?”
“Nothing concrete . . . but there was an ‘atmosphere’ at the last meeting I attended, a sense of anticipation. I believe that while the members aren’t aware of the details of what’s about to take place, something is.”
Hanging up after it became clear the intern could tell him nothing more, Max began to check the myriad of messages that had come in during the time he’d been in the hospital with Sophia, his hand locked tight around hers.
There was an e-mail from Dorian.
Found a cached note on an old server saying that Gareth won a 6 month internship at KTech Inc. (London). Matches with the time period you’re looking at. All legit. But someone went to a hell of a lot of trouble to hide it.
A second message showed up as coming in only ten minutes ago.
Cop, I hope your girl is okay. Call me.
Max input the code. Dorian picked up on the first ring. “How’s Sophia?”
“Good, really good.” His heart twisted, part of him still unable to believe his Sophie was safe. “So, what’ve you got?”
“I’m sorry this is coming in late,” Dorian said. “A motorcycle slid in the rain, broadsided a couple of our soldiers a few minutes after I sent the first e-mail.”
“Broken arm, broken leg, but they’ll be fine. I’ve been covering their shifts.” A pause, the rustle of paper. “Anyway, I just did some more digging on this KTech Inc. It’s owned by a shell company, which is owned by a shell company ad nauseum. But behind it all, KTech is part of Scott Inc.”
“As in Henry and Shoshanna,” Max completed, all the pieces clicking into place. According to the confidential file Nikita had given Sophia, Henry was the Councilor most involved with Pure Psy. It wasn’t quite a smoking gun when it came to the murders, but it was close enough to put Gareth squarely in the crosshairs. “Thanks, Dorian.” Hanging up, he was about to try Nikita again when he noticed a piece of paper by his foot, as if it had fallen off the coffee table.
Picking it up, he saw Sophia’s handwriting.
Gareth. Rumor. Pr
There was nothing else. She’d clearly been interrupted before she could finish the thought. Fighting a rush of possessive protectiveness when he realized it had to have happened the morning of her abduction, he glanced into the bedroom, saw that she was sleeping peacefully. There was, he thought with a wrench deep in his heart, no need to disturb her. Except . . . it had to be important if she’d left the milk unopened on the counter to write it—and his Sophie, the gutsy woman who’d refused to give in to a sociopath, was strong enough to handle this.
Going to kneel beside the bed, he cupped her cheek, the thin lines of her scars a familiar pattern. “Sophie?” He couldn’t help tracing the lines with a string of tender kisses.
She stirred, her eyes obviously heavy as she opened them. “Mmm?” Beside her, Morpheus—who hadn’t left her side since she came home—shot him a jaundiced look.
“You heard a rumor about Quentin Gareth.” He dropped little kisses on the corners of her mouth. “What was it?”
Another small sound, and she snuggled closer.
“Report from Prague,” she muttered, as if in her sleep. “Vague rumor.” She turned toward his mouth, a kitten seeking more affection.
“What about the rumor, sweetheart?” He brushed her hair off her face, petting her with more kisses. “Sophie?”
“Gareth might’ve killed a student four months ago.” It was a crystal-clear statement. “Student was on a Center short list.”
“He was considered flawed,” Max murmured out loud.
If the rumor was true, Max realized, Quentin wasn’t simply a calculating, high-level mole for Henry Scott, he was a fanatic who believed absolutely in Pure Psy. And that kind of an individual could snap if he sensed any type of a—
The doorbell chimed.
The first thing Max realized was that Security hadn’t called up—every instinct he had went on high alert. “Sophie, sweetheart, wake up.” Shoving off the blankets, he picked her up and carried her into the bathroom, sitting her down with her back against the wall beside the sink. Morpheus followed on silent feet.
Flicking a few drops of water onto Sophia’s face, he roused her. “Lock the door behind me, and stay here until I come for you.”
“Max? What’s wrong?” Her gaze was still a little dazed.
“Maybe I’m being a paranoid fool, but maybe we have some bad company.” Taking his spare stunner from his boot, he put it in her hand. “Just press this if someone comes for you. And take my cell phone—call Enforcement if things turn to shit.” The doorbell chimed again as he put the cell phone in her lap. “Understand?”