Even in the darkest part of his psyche, the part covered in blood and death, he recoiled at the idea of violating her. “I’ll maintain the shields until you say otherwise.”
Sahara watched him with those eyes of blue midnight, and he wondered if she could see the ugliness that had shaped his stance. It was better for her if she didn’t. Some memories couldn’t be erased, some depravities too sickening to forget. Kaleb had survived by slicing away his capacity for empathy, for pity.
Sahara wasn’t built to make the same choice, and so the memories would eat her alive. “Don’t,” he said. “You’ll regret it.”
“I would never,” was the soft answer. “I would never.”
Some part of her, he thought once again, remembered the promise she’d made him before the night a knife slid over and into her flesh and blood smeared his skin. And Sahara had never once broken a promise she’d made him. He was the one who’d done that, his betrayal unforgivable.
Continuing to maintain the intimacy of the eye contact, her gaze holding a haunting sadness that he knew was for him, Sahara touched her fingers to his jaw in a featherlight caress, but when she spoke, it was to say, “Tatiana may have shared the truth about me with others—another reason for me to avoid the PsyNet for now.”
“I could take you to her.” Subject Tatiana to the power of the very gift she’d tortured Sahara in an attempt to harness. “You can do whatever you like to her.”
“I never want to touch that woman in any way, even on the psychic plane. She’s evil.” Quick, jagged words thick with revulsion. “She always spoke to me in such a cool, cogent way, but it was her orders the guards followed when they—” She cut herself off with vicious suddenness, the edges of her words torn raw.
“I’ll find out what was done to you,” he said, knowing she’d stopped herself because of him, because of what he’d done to Tatiana and to the guard who had dared enter his home with the intent of taking Sahara. “Whether you tell me or not.”
Sahara set her jaw, her expression no longer haunted but fierce. “I won’t push you deeper into the darkness.”
He didn’t tell her it was too late, that it had been too late the first time they’d met. Because Sahara hadn’t wanted to believe him then, and she wouldn’t want to believe him now. That was who she was, as he was a man who had no compunction committing murder when it was necessary.
Shifting his gaze to the wind-lashed waves thundering to shore, he said, “I’ll take you home.” He rose to his feet and accessed his memory banks to locate an image he’d updated three weeks before.
Retrieval was simple—a mental trick that came naturally to most telekinetics—and an image of a tree trunk with an idiosyncratic pattern of knotholes was at the forefront of his mind a second later.
“Wait,” he said to Sahara when she got to her feet, and, activating the low-level hum of his ability, he did a test ’port. He appeared in the night darkness beside the tree at the back of Leon Kyriakus’s home between one thought and the next, the tree large enough to provide concealment for a Tk who should have never set foot on this land. But he had, and in so doing, he’d altered the course of Sahara’s life, coloring it in suffering and isolation.
The well-kept house at the edge of the NightStar compound appeared quiet, but a light glowed in the room he knew to be Leon’s study.
Returning to Sahara, he said, “Are you ready?” as the void screamed its denial of what he was about to do, the madness threatening to suck him under.
A deep breath before she slid her hand into his. “I’ll be able to reach you?” The question was quiet, her hand clenching on his.
“At will.” His telepathy was agonizingly strong, would amplify her own abilities to allow them to speak as they wished. “If you feel at risk at any stage, just call. I’ll come.” He would always come to her call.
An unexpected uncertainty, her throat moving as she swallowed. “What if the clan disowns me because of my broken Silence?”
“They didn’t disown Faith, and it’s highly unlikely they’ll do so when it comes to a family member they’ve been searching for for seven years.” When her breath trembled, he said, “A single word and I’ll get you out.” It was keeping his distance that might yet prove an impossibility.
Pulse fluttering in her throat, she nodded. “Let’s go.”
He made the teleport with that slender hand curled around his, the connection causing his already raw nerve endings to bleed. Though he’d planned on using sex to bond Sahara closer to him, he hadn’t realized the brutal impact intimate touch—extended touch of any kind—would have on him when it was Sahara whose skin slid against his, Sahara whose taste was a drug in his system. To everyone else, he would appear as stable as always. He wasn’t. And that could be devastating when it involved Kaleb’s level of power.
Sahara’s fingers flexed in his hold, causing another tiny rupture, another spike in the dissonance he’d initiated. “I never thought to check if he still lives here. This unit is meant for a parent and child, not a man alone.”
“He does.” Kaleb knew Leon Kyriakus had never stopped waiting for his only daughter to come home. He hadn’t paused for a suitable period, then organized another fertilization and conception contract to replace his genetic legacy. He hadn’t cleared out her room and thrown away her belongings. And he hadn’t ever stopped searching for her.