“You need to move immediately into a safe house.”
Sahara’s back went stiff at Anthony’s statement, her muscles rigid. “No. I won’t be caged again.”
“There is no other option,” Anthony responded. “As long as the bounty exists, you stay a target.”
“Are you certain a safe house will provide any better protection?” Kaleb had no intention of allowing Sahara to go anywhere aside from the home he’d built for her in Moscow. “This hunter, inept and young, managed to evade your perimeter guards.”
“That will be investigated.” A flint-hard promise. “Our safe houses are fortresses.”
Sahara, hands fisted, shook her head. “No.” Backing away from them until her spine hit the wall, she began to bump her fists against it. “No. No. No.”
Recognizing the danger, Kaleb reacted before Anthony could figure out what was happening. “No safe house, no cage,” he said, cupping her face and forcing her to meet his gaze until she stopped bumping her fists against the wall, though she continued to rock back and forth.
You risk losing her if you push this, he ’pathed to Anthony as he released her. Her mind isn’t fully healed. It was why Kaleb had scared information from the intruder instead of permitting her to exercise her ability.
I can’t leave her unprotected.
I can protect her.
“So can the cats.”
Kaleb was still trying to digest that wholly unexpected statement when Anthony shifted to enter Sahara’s line of sight. “I’m sending you to Faith.”
Sahara’s body stopped moving, eyes of midnight blue shifting to Anthony. “Faith?”
“Even the best bounty hunter in the world won’t think to look for you in the midst of a changeling pack.”
“The connection with Faith,” Sahara began, her intelligence plainly pushing past the visceral reaction that had sent her tumbling back into her personal hell.
Anthony shook his head. “No one expected NightStar to jettison the most powerful F-Psy on the planet, regardless of her personal choices. That was business and expected. This is family.”
Kaleb knew Anthony wasn’t saying everything, but he could guess. NightStar had been very, very careful to maintain a line of demarcation between its business dealings with Faith and her lack of status as a member of the family—in public at least. Privately was another matter: Anthony remained in regular, direct contact with his daughter.
The latter suspicion was one it had taken Kaleb a year to confirm.
“You’re ready to trust the changelings with Sahara’s life?” The only reason he was willing to consider the proposal was because of Sahara’s response to the mention of her cousin—and because he knew Anthony was right about the prospect of any bounty hunter venturing onto DarkRiver land.
“If they accept her as family, the leopards will close ranks. With Faith certain to vouch for her, as well as Sahara’s broken Silence, there is no reason to assume they won’t treat her as one of their own.” Anthony’s next words were directed at Sahara. “You’ll be safe within their borders, and you’ll have the forested part of their territory to roam.”
That territory is vast, Kaleb added, sending Sahara a number of telepathic images. You’ll be as free as any leopard changeling, so long as you don’t go into a city.
Deep blue eyes met his before moving to Anthony. “Yes.”
“I’ll clear it with the DarkRiver alpha.” Anthony glanced at Kaleb. “You seem to be treating my territory as your own.” It was a warning.
Kaleb slid his hands into the pockets of his pants. “Would you rather I let her die?” he said aloud, even as he spoke to Sahara along their private telepathic channel. Why didn’t you call me?
I had it under control. I am a grown woman.
Anthony’s stare bore into him on the heels of Sahara’s tart reply, but Kaleb hadn’t been intimidated by anyone for a long time. “I can transfer Sahara to leopard territory.”
“Thank you but that won’t be necessary.”
“Very well.” He looked to Sahara. The knife was a nice touch.
Her scowl faded into a frown. Someone once told me I must always be prepared. I don’t remember who it was, but it was sound advice.
If only, Kaleb thought, she’d followed it when she was sixteen. But then, Santano had been a cardinal Tk, an adult male who found pleasure in the pain of young women who couldn’t fight back.
Sahara had never stood a chance.
SAHARA KNEW THE black-garbed man who stood beside her as the clock ticked over four a.m.
was an Arrow. She also knew he was a teleporter, one with cold gray eyes and a computronic gauntlet on his left forearm. Yet regardless of the single silver star on the shoulder of his combat uniform that said he was aligned to Kaleb, Anthony trusted the male to transport her to DarkRiver territory.
“I’ve been sent the image for the transfer.” The Arrow looked up from the small screen built into the gauntlet. “Are you ready?”
Sahara had never once hesitated with Kaleb, but she had to take a deep breath before nodding when it came to this Arrow with his steely eyes that seemed as distant as light on a storm-dark horizon. If Kaleb was at times encased in black ice, this man was as chill as frost, his Silence metallic in its perfection.
He was, however, as fast as Kaleb—and since he wasn’t a cardinal, he had to be one of the extremely rare true teleporters, designation Tk, subdesignation V. While those of subdesignation V were telekinetics, with the attendant abilities depending on their level of power, it was said they came out of the womb with the ability to ’port, no practice or study necessary, the talent independent of their standing on the Gradient.