His mouth moved under her touch, his smile creasing his cheeks. “I guess we’ll have to take good care of our gifts.”
“The best.” Laughter bubbled inside her, the sheer depth of her happiness seeking an outlet. “We need to dance.”
A raised eyebrow.
Passion melding with tenderness, she kissed him until his heart thundered, until he grinned in wolfish delight and asked her to do it again. “So,” she said after granting his wish, “we can do it on our hundredth anniversary.”
Her black wolf smiled, rose … and spun her out in an outrageous curve before spinning her into his arms again, her back to his chest. “Where you belong,” he said, pressing a kiss to her pulse.
KALEB HAD FOUND the first clue eight months ago, a psychic tracker he’d constructed and released into the Net. Of the thousands he’d sent out, only one had returned to him. It had been old and crumbling, but it had carried a viable information payload.
It had taken him months of painstaking tracking through the Net to pick up the trail. The last weeks had required hours of intense concentration every single day, the blind alleys and shields formed to confuse a pursuer having had years to mature and morph until they created a twisted psychic jungle. Enough to halt even the most highly trained operative. But … no one had expected Kaleb to come hunting.
No one knew they had taken what belonged to him.
No one alive anyway.
Because he’d made it through, and now stood silent and motionless, certain he was so close to his target that he was in danger of setting off multiple psychic trip wires.
Touching the NetMind and the DarkMind, the latter identity still stronger than the former, he asked them to tell him what they saw. His mind filled with an overlay of fine lines across the star-studded skies of the Net. Those were the “blood vessels” of the network, conduits for the rapid transfer of information. He disregarded them to focus on the finer red lines below—psychic alerts someone had rigged in a section of the Net that appeared uninhabited.
Skirting the trip wires with the flawless mental grace of a cardinal with lethal combat training, he continued toward his target. There were more trip wires, more traps, until he glimpsed the minds of the guards at last. But they didn’t see him. Cloaked in psychic invisibility, his shields impenetrable, he passed right by them. To find himself in front of the doors of a locked psychic vault disguised as dead space. It had been constructed by a telepath of considerable skill, its effect to create a prison around a particular mind, ensuring no trace of that mind leaked out into the Net.
Kaleb had waited too long to make a mistake now. He circled around the vault to check for hidden alarms that would alert the ones who monitored it. He found five. Dismantling them took four hours of unremitting concentration. Only when he was certain no other alarms remained, did he “break” the psychic seal of the vault and step inside. He stayed two seconds, just long enough to take a telepathic imprint of the mind within.
Dropping out of the Net after leaving the guarded and rigged area with the careful stealth he’d used to enter it, he teleported at almost the same instant, using the imprint of that imprisoned mind as a telekinetic lock. This was the rarest possible method of getting a lock, because to get it, you had to rip apart the shields of the mind being used as a lock, effectively laying the brain open—but the mind he’d seen in the vault had already been stripped, its shields destroyed.
Completing the teleport, he found himself in a small white cell, the walls padded, the glare from the single ceiling lamp cutting. No windows. No natural light.
He ignored the irrelevant factors. Only one thing mattered.
He’d found her.