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Heart of Obsidian (Psy-Changeling 12) - Page 18


The shield.

Breathing in and out at the mental reminder, she opened her psychic eye to the obsidian shield that protected her mind. That beautiful, indestructible creation wasn’t hers, could never be hers. It belonged to Kaleb. If she attempted to escape him, he might well collapse it in punishment.

Her stomach roiled at the idea of being so na**d and helpless once more, panic threatening to seize her senses, but she gritted her teeth, forced herself to think the same way she’d done as a scared teenager at the mercy of strangers who wanted only to use her until she was nothing and no one. There might be gaps in her memory, huge chunks lost to the twists of the labyrinth, but some things were hardwired. She knew how to build shields, had done so since childhood.

And Kaleb would never hurt me.

Ignoring the thought that had to be a product of her confusion over his apparent care of her, she began to weave her own shields below his. When he realized she had no intention of giving him what he wanted and withdrew his protection— He won’t hurt me. He’d never hurt me.

Trembling at the thoughts that could well mean she hadn’t come out of the labyrinth sane, she decided to shower, in the hope the water would calm her. It did, one thought arrowing through the panic.

I have the tools to escape.

Chapter 8

HER STOMACH REVOLTED violently at the idea of using those tools against Kaleb, but the reminder that she wasn’t helpless gave her something to cling to. No longer was she a drugged sixteen-year-old with erratic control over her mind; she was a woman, a survivor. Dressed, she tied back her hair and opened her door, taking care to be quiet. From the way Kaleb never had any trouble locating her, he had to be keeping track of her in some fashion . . . perhaps through a Trojan in her mind.

Bile burning her throat, she scrambled to check her neural pathways for the construct that could give one telepath a back door into another’s mind. Nothing obvious jumped out at her, but Kaleb was too powerful not to know how to hide such a leash—and regardless of her subconscious’s determination to trust him, he was a man who lived for power. Even as the latter thought crossed her mind, another, more rational part reminded her that no such construct—no matter how subtle—could circumvent the unique natural safeguards born of her ability.

Her mind simply could not be compromised by outside forces.

Added to that, if Kaleb had wished to know her thoughts, fragmented though they’d been, he could’ve easily rifled through them in the days since he’d taken her. The quiet psychic recorders she’d hidden inside her mind long before the labyrinth told her he hadn’t. Rather than relief, the realization made her blood chill—because it left only one reason why he wanted her under his control.

And she’d never tested her ability against a man with shields of obsidian.

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Her every breath jagged, her heart out of sync, she stepped out of her room to see the door to his own open. Not chancing a look inside in case he was still within, she padded down the hallway to the kitchen, the gentle light coming in through the window telling her the sun had just risen. Once there, she forced herself to eat—she had to rebuild her strength. But her hand shook as she picked up a breakfast bagel so fresh it was still warm, the paper sleeve around it bearing the elegant silhouette of what appeared to be a luxury hotel.

Most telekinetics hoarded their strength for only the most necessary use, but Kaleb . . . that level of power was beyond scary. Except an insane part of her continued to fight her conscious mind, continued to see him as safe and as off-limits to the single devastating weapon she had in her arsenal.

The irrationality of it frightened her, made her distrustful of her own judgment—how could it be otherwise when it was clear to anyone with a working brain that a man so deep in Silence would only ever “help” another being if it was to his advantage?

The bagel stuck in her throat, but she swallowed it down using the fortified nutrient drink she’d located in the cooler and made a mental note to eat again in an hour, before taking a deep breath and heading toward Kaleb’s study.

It was empty.

Palms damp, her gaze went to the computer panel on his desk. The transparent screen was raised up from its resting position flat on the desk, and when she shifted her angle of sight, she could see news reports scrolling across it, so the password had been cleared.

A flicker of movement.

Jerking, she looked through the glass doors to see Kaleb on the terrace. Dressed only in a pair of long black athletic pants, his feet bare, his skin gleamed golden under the sunlight as he went through the elegantly deadly patterns of a martial art she couldn’t name but knew instinctively was nothing a civilian should know.

Except, of course, Kaleb was no civilian.

Her fingers curled into her hands as she watched him, the fluidity and grace of his body doing nothing to mask the fact that the beautiful movements could quickly turn lethal. It was hypnotic, the way he moved, the flex and release of his muscles compelling on a visceral level, until she found herself leaning against the French doors, her palms spread on the glass.

The cold was a shock, snapping her back to a reality in which she was a prisoner who appeared to have formed an unhealthy and dangerous attachment to the man who was her new jailer—when she’d survived years in captivity without falling victim to the psychological trap that made prisoners feel sympathetic toward their captors. Yet two days with Kaleb and the labyrinth had unraveled. Not only that, but she’d cuddled against that lethally honed body, caressed him with long, slow strokes.

And felt . . . happy.

Throat dry and skin hot, she shot one last look at the male on the terrace before sliding into his chair. Fear crawled up her spine as she brought up the Internet, and she couldn’t stop from glancing over her shoulder to check that he remained outside. He did, his hair gleaming blue-black in the soft light of the rising sun.

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