“As for your eyes—” Lara pointed to a patient room. “Lie down and I’ll put a gel pack on your face. You have two hours before the meeting. I’ll wake you when it’s time.”
“I’d like to shower first.” Her bones, her skin, everything hurt.
Lara found her a change of clothing from the supplies kept in the infirmary. “Through there.”
Stripping off inside the small shower, she allowed the hot spray to pummel her body until Lara knocked on the door. “I have the gel pack.”
Adria got out of the shower, dried off, and dressed before she lay down on one of the beds, needing the armor of clothing after the nakedness caused by her emotional breakdown. Lara’s wild corkscrew curls and fox brown eyes were the last things she saw before the coolness of the gel pack covered her puffy eyelids and cheeks.
The dreams took her under soon afterward.
Strong arms, a heavy male body, eyes of a brown so pale they shimmered gold, the night filled with the sounds of harsh breaths and hands sliding over sweat-slicked skin. When he flipped her onto her front, she waited in quivering anticipation.
Hot breath against her cheek, a big hand sliding under her body to close over one of her br**sts with blatant possessiveness, the hard ridge of his erection insistent against her lower back. She attempted to arch upward, demand more, but was pinned down by his body.
A shift, his fingers brushing her unbound hair off her neck.
His weight lifting.
She rose toward him in silent invitation.
His c**k and his teeth sank into her at the same instant.
Jerking awake, she pulled off the gel pack to see that Lara had closed the door to her room, leaving her in blessed privacy. It was seven fifteen according to her watch, so she had a little more time.
Allowing herself a shudder of bone-deep pleasure, she stretched, her arms above her head, her feet pointed. But her mind replayed not the erotic dream, but her conversation with Riaz after they’d spoken to Tamsyn—and, though it made her wolf stiffen, the way he’d held her beside the waterfall. The man she’d glimpsed that morning, and the one who’d cared enough to put his arms around a packmate who was hurting, he was dangerous, someone who spoke to her soul beyond the primitive tug of sex.
The way he’d rubbed his cheek against her hair, attempting to give comfort though she’d taken none … she’d never have expected such rough tenderness from the abrasive, angry man she’d first encountered. And he was loyal, so much so that he was destroying himself in his fight not to betray a mate who was forever lost to him.
No woman, Adria thought with a prickling sense of unease, would be immune to such a man.
KALEB TOOK THE printed documents Silver held out, relating to a business arrangement between him and the BlackEdge wolves. “Any issues?”
“No. They’ve agreed to the changes you requested.” She glanced at her datapad, looked up. Hesitated.
Such hesitation was unusual for the ice-blonde who had been his aide since before he became a Councilor, but Kaleb had an excellent idea of the reason behind it. “You’re wondering why I would subcontract any type of security to the wolves.”
“Yes. You have the Arrows, and your own men. You don’t need BlackEdge.”
“They have certain unique skills,” he said, scanning the first page of the contract as he did so, his mind taking in the data at a speed that, when Silver first started working for him, had caused her to believe he wasn’t actually reading. He was. His mind processed each word as he swept his eye over it, embedded it in his memory.
Flipping the page, he continued. “Even Psy can be tracked by scent.”
“True,” Silver said, “but changelings can’t evade a telepathic sweep.”
Kaleb glanced up. “A weakness only if the Psy in question is aware he or she is being stalked. Many of our race ignore any skill or ability beyond their own.”
A longer pause, and he could almost hear her mind working methodically through his words. It was what made her such a good aide. He didn’t trust her—he didn’t trust anyone, and Silver’s first loyalty was to the powerful Mercant family, but he knew she wouldn’t betray him so long as he had her respect.
For the majority of the time since he’d become aware of them, he’d believed the Mercants were swayed solely by power and wealth—of which Kaleb had amassed a great deal. However, after monitoring them for years, he’d seen multiple Mercant family members remain with failing companies until there was no chance of salvage. He’d also seen them betray wealthier employers if the price was right. It had led him to revise his earlier conclusions.
Power and money might purchase a Mercant’s skills, but earn their cold-eyed respect and they would not only become mute when it came to your secrets, they would also stand fast in the face of trouble. In the past year, Kaleb knew he’d moved onto the very exclusive list of people the Mercants would not sell out.
Their connections and abilities, added to that of the Arrows, brought him another step closer to taking total control of the Net. Of course, there had always been a second option when it came to the Net, one he hadn’t yet discarded. It all depended on the outcome of his search.
“You are correct, Councilor,” Silver said at last, her voice cool, clear, flawless. “Do you need me to collate data on the individual you’re tracking?”
“No.” He had long ago discovered and memorized every shred of available data on the one person he searched for with remorseless persistence.
Scanning the penultimate page of the contract, he indicated for Silver to wait. Thirty seconds later, he was done. Picking up a pen, he signed the document in triplicate and passed it across the desk. “Tell BlackEdge I have no need of their services at present.” The wolves would serve their purpose after he’d located his target—because that target was highly likely to refuse his hospitality. And in this case, a psychic leash was not a viable option.