He’d built the suite for her, for this exact possibility.
It was impossible to predict how she might react to the wide-open vista that encircled the house.
He had no neighbors within screaming distance . . . further. The one side not bounded by grassy fields housed the terrace—and it was flush up against a jagged gorge. A terrace, he realized all at once, that had no railings and could be reached by any number of rooms in the house, including the bedroom across from this one.
He was already retrieving the supplies to fix that oversight as he spoke. “If you wish to continue to smell like a pigsty, that’s your choice. However, when I get sick of the stink, I’ll simply teleport you into the shower, clothes and all, and turn on the water while pouring liquid soap over your head.”
The rocking had stopped totally by now.
“There are civilian clothes for you in the closet.” Not every piece would fit her emaciated frame, but she’d have enough for the time being. “If you’re attached to your institutional uniform”—a white smock, white pants, both filthy—“there’s a clean set in the dresser.” He’d sourced it a few minutes ago from a medical facility that would never notice the lack.
The woman in the corner remained mutinously silent.
Turning, he walked to the door, his fingers playing over the tiny platinum star in his pocket. “It’s after midnight. Sleep if you wish—if not, the house is yours to explore. I’ll be on the terrace.” He left without further words. This chess game was the most important of his life, each move as critical as the next. Those who’d held her captive had treated her as one might a dumb animal, but she was not that. No, she was far more gifted a prize. One he would do nothing to jeopardize.
As he would make no final decisions.
Not yet. Not until he knew how much of her they’d broken.
* * *
KALEB could’ve built the barrier between the terrace and the gorge using his telekinetic abilities, but he stripped, changed into thin black sweatpants designed to keep the body cool, and took on the task manually. As a Tk, energy was his lifeblood, but right now, he had an excess of it—not on the psychic plane, but on the physical.
Had he been human or changeling, the sudden spike in his energy levels might’ve been put down to excitement in achieving the goal that had been his driving force for seven years, in having her in his home and within reach. But he wasn’t a member of the emotional races. He was Psy and he was Silent, his emotions conditioned out of him when he’d been a child. His path to that Silence had been erratic at times, but the end result was the development of a coolly rational mind that held no shadow of fear or hope, anguish or excitement.
He had once had a large structural flaw in his conditioning, a bone-deep fracture in his Silence, but that had been in another life. The fracture had sealed to adamantine hardness, the weak spot morphing into the strongest part of his Silence, but he knew that behind the stone, the fault remained.
The day it no longer did . . . it was better for the world if that didn’t come to pass.
Wiping the sweat off his brow with his forearm, he turned up the voltage on the outdoor lights and began to drill in the screws that would ensure the metal barrier he was putting in place wouldn’t collapse even in a major earth tremor. He hadn’t searched so long for his quarry to lose her through a lack of preparation.
Even as he concentrated on the task, he kept an ear open for his guest. Some would say “prisoner”
was the more apt term, but the words didn’t matter. Only the fact that she was in his grasp.
Drill abandoned, he’d teleported into her room before he consciously processed the violence of sound.
THE DRESSER MIRROR against the wall opposite the bathroom door lay smashed, shards of glass on the carpet, on the bed, on her as she sat hunched in the center of that bed. A smeared streak of wet red sliced her cheek from where a splinter had flown directly at her, but she appeared otherwise uninjured.
Not far from the mirror lay the broken pieces of the mug she’d used to shatter the glass, the spilled tea a rusty stain on the dresser itself and on the pale rug that covered the polished wood of the floor.
Kaleb didn’t ask for the reason behind her behavior. “Stay still.” Gathering up the larger fragments of glass, he teleported them out into the waste receptacle. He knew a teleporter who could take blood itself out of carpet, but Kaleb’s ability worked on a larger scale. He could cause an earthquake that would devour a city, rip an airjet out of the sky with his mind, even create a tidal wave—what he could not do was pick up every tiny sliver of glass.
“You can’t stay in this room,” he said. “Not until it’s been cleaned.”
She shifted to press her back against the headboard in silent rebellion. Since forcing her compliance would run counter to his intention to win her trust, he reworked the situation, came up with another viable solution. “Hold on.”
His guest let out a surprised gasp, grabbing at the sheets as the entire bed lifted a foot off the floor.
Holding it and the other furniture aloft, Kaleb used his Tk to roll up the thick rug that ran the entire length of the room and covered ninety percent of the floor. There appeared to be no shards on the floor itself, but he walked around the room to make certain before returning to his position by the door, the rolled-up rug at his feet.
Gauging the impact of the stains caused by the tea, he accessed a visual file he made certain to keep up-to-date and, using the image as a lock, teleported the rug straight into the incinerator of the region’s central waste processing and recycling plant.