It was the only peace he could offer.
The leader of Pure Psy coughed up bloody froth, his voice a raw whisper as his blood-slick fingers tightened on Kaleb’s. “The Psy have always been meant to rule. When it is over, we will be the only power that remains.” A final rattling gasp, his eyes fading to stare out into the nothingness of death.
Andrea Vasquez was dead and with him, his dream of a world enslaved by the Psy.
Closing the man’s eyelids, Kaleb rose to pull Sahara close. “We may have won this battle, but now comes a far harder one—to rebuild a society that is so fundamentally broken it has begun to cannibalize itself.”
“Which you need to be alive to do,” came the furious response. “The bulletproof fabric did its job?” She was staring at his thigh as she repeated his earlier assurance.
Only to Sahara would he explain himself. “That was a later shot.”
Ignoring him, she twisted around as the first of the wider team cleared the level. “Judd can—”
“No.” He teleported them directly to a private medical facility staffed by those who would not dare betray Kaleb, not only because he paid them very well, but because the agonizing punishment involved should they speak his secrets would in no way be worth it.
Pushing back her hood, Sahara began issuing orders to the medics. Stay still, was her snapped telepathic command to him when the head M-Psy reached for a scanner.
“Projectile weapon. Bullet hasn’t exited.” The M-Psy put the scanner aside to pick up a surgical tool. “Sir, you may wish to deaden your pain centers.”
Kaleb had done that when he was shot. “Go.”
The M-Psy began to work with an efficiency that was a silent testament as to why she was in Kaleb’s employ. Reaching out, Sahara went as if to brush Kaleb’s hair off his forehead, then dropped her hand after a quick look at the medic. Sorry.
It’s all right. There is no risk here.
Be quiet. Folding her arms, she stood stiff and silent and watchful as the medic put the retrieved bullet in a tray and used another piece of equipment to speed up the healing process.
“This procedure is complete, sir,” the M-Psy said some time later. “You may have slight tenderness in the area, but it shouldn’t last more than a day or so.” She looked up after putting down the tool she’d been using. “Are you wounded anywhere else?”
“Scan my upper left arm.” It was possible the impact of the glancing bullet had caused injuries of which he was unaware.
“No tearing or fractures,” the M-Psy said after the scan was complete, “but significant bruising. I can work on it—”
“No, that’s fine.” Kaleb barely felt the injury and he wanted to be alone with Sahara.
“Yes, sir.” Removing her gloves to leave them on the tray, the medic left without further words.
Noting from Sahara’s unchanged stance that she was in no mood to talk, he teleported them directly into what had become their bedroom at the Moscow house. He’d already discarded his torn and dirty sweatshirt into the same medical incinerator he’d sent the bloodied equipment the medic had used, and now ripped off his long-sleeved bulletproof top in preparation for a shower, after kicking off his boots and socks.
Not saying a word, Sahara picked up his arm to examine the place where the first bullet had grazed him. His skin was beginning to turn the mottled shade that denoted it would be a heavy bruise, but was otherwise undamaged. She didn’t say anything. Instead, she reached down to pull aside the fabric of his cargo pants where the medic had sliced it to work on the wound.
Delicate as air, her fingers danced over the spot. “Does it hurt?”
A strange sensation whispered through his veins now that she’d spoken to him again. “No. It wasn’t a bad wound.”
The look she gave him was murderous . . . but he saw her lower lip tremble.
At last he understood, realized he’d made her afraid. “I’m sorry.”
Swallowing, she rose on tiptoe to wrap her arms around his neck. He bent to make it easier for her to hold him, entrapping her in his arms. “I’m sorry,” he said again, remembering what it had done to him to lose her, and seeing in her response the same bone-numbing terror.
“If the bullet had hit your femoral artery, you’d be dead.” Trembling voice, tears wet against his skin. “A quarter of an inch to the—”
“No,” he said, needing to make this right. “I would’ve teleported immediately to the medics in that case.” Changing his hold, he carried her to the bed and sat down with her in his lap, uncaring of the dried blood on his pants.
Tightening her hold, she buried her face against him. He didn’t know what else to do, how to comfort her, so he simply held her, held the only person in the world who had ever cried for him.
The first time had been six months after their first meeting, when she’d noticed the blue-black bruises on one of his arms after he’d forgotten about them and pushed up the sleeves of his sweatshirt.
Having no idea what to do, he’d warned her she’d be in trouble if she was caught crying, but no matter what he said, she kept crying silent tears and patting at his arm.
“I can’t fix you. I’m sorry. I can’t.”
She was patting him like that again, her hand gently caressing the hurt spot on his upper arm. So he said the same thing that had finally stopped her tears that day. “Please stop crying. If you do, I’ll make you fly.”
“I’ll make you fly.”