Putting aside her datapad and tightening her abdomen against the futile surge of anger, she took the hard-copy book he held out.
“You’re a tactile learner,” he said, as she opened the pages to see that it was a math textbook.
“I thought this might help you remember the equations better.” Reaching into a pocket, he put two ink pens between them.
“Why don’t you just tell me the answers?” she asked brightly. “Then we can talk about much more interesting things.”
Kaleb simply looked at her with those beautiful starlight eyes that were too often an empty black these days, holding a numbness that made her chest hurt.
Sighing, but happy because he hadn’t gone away again, she picked up the blue pen and began to do the equations on the first page, making sure to write down her entire painstaking process.
When she was done, Kaleb went over her work, showing her where she’d made errors of logic so she wouldn’t make the same ones again.
“Can you write down the correct processes, too?” she asked him. “I can use them as study aids while I do my homework.” No matter what the teachers tried, Sahara never learned as well at school as she did with Kaleb when it came to math. He knew exactly how to explain things to her.
Nodding, he went down the page with a black pen, his writing strong and neat. “Did you have a dance lesson today?”
She said, “Yes,” then ran over to the side of the house to peek at the window to her father’s study. He was still there, working on a paper for the Psy-Med Journal . Smiling, she ran back to Kaleb. “I learned a new step.” Bubbles of happiness in her blood. “Want to see?”
Closing the math textbook, he set it on the stump and nodded. Then, as the birds flew home to their nests and the sky turned a dusky orange, she danced, the grass soft beneath her bare feet and Kaleb her quiet audience.
Sahara’s heart warmed at the innocence of the memory, at her absolute trust in the boy-becoming-a- man who had understood that for her, dancing was like breathing, their friendship iron strong. It had only grown stronger as the years passed, but Kaleb had had to be so careful—Enrique had him on a very tight psychic leash, but the older he grew, the better he became at slipping that leash for small periods of time.
Secret, everything had been secret.
Her stomach clenched without warning at the whispered thought, bile coating her throat.
Staggering out of bed, she made it to the bathroom before falling to her hands and knees to retch, her abdomen and throat hurting from the force of the convulsive shudders that tore through her body to leave her shivering on the floor. When she could move again, she cleaned up the mess, brushed her teeth, then showered under a red-hot spray before wrapping a towel around her body and walking to sit back down on the bed.
Droplets of water trickled over her neck and between her br**sts, but she made no move to mop them up, her mind on her fragmented past. It didn’t take a genius intellect to realize the bad thing that had happened to her was somehow connected to Kaleb, an event her mind continued to rebel against remembering, regardless of how hard she tried.
All it got her was the promise of another episode like the one she’d just suffered.
Frustrated but conscious she couldn’t expect absolute recall all at once, she gave up the fruitless exercise after twenty minutes and got up. Pulling on underwear, a pair of jeans, and a V-necked cashmere pullover in an azure blue shade that Faith had gifted her, the texture exquisite against her skin, she dried and braided her hair.
Her next task was to check on her father. Hearing that he was in a natural, deep sleep had her smiling after she disconnected the comm link. She could’ve gone for a walk under the moonlight, but what she really needed was to be close to Kaleb, her heart chilled by the malevolence that hovered over her.
Is your meeting over? she asked over the extraordinarily pure connection that spoke of his telepathic strength.
Yes. I’m working from the house—what do you need?
Swallowing at the question that said so much about what he felt for her, she sent her answer. To come to you.
Kaleb appeared by her side an instant later, dressed in the same suit he’d been wearing earlier, minus the jacket, his collar open and sleeves rolled up. “Is something wrong?”
“No.” Stepping into his arms, she held on tight. “Can we sit on the terrace?”
Skin hot through the fine fabric of his shirt, he took her home and sat down in the lounger with her between his legs, her body curled up against him under the early afternoon sunlight on this side of the world. It took time for the masculine heat of him to melt the ice, for her body to stretch out until she lay with her back to his chest, his arms around her and one of his legs bent slightly at the knee outside her own.
“You made me float beside the koi pond.”
Tension infiltrated his muscles at her quiet words. “You remembered.”
“Yes.” She curled her hand around his biceps. “How we met, how you came to visit me.”
“Do you,” he said, the tension fading, “remember what you asked me to do on your fifteenth birthday?”
Sahara went to shake her head but the memory was suddenly there, as if it had simply been waiting for her to notice.
SAHARA’S LAUGH WAS sunlight in his veins. “I asked you to kiss me. And you said no!” Tipping up her head, she pretended to scowl at him. “I finally had to make the first move.”
“In my defense, I was twenty-one to your fifteen. It would’ve been inappropriate.” Stroking his hand around her throat, he angled her head so he could taste her lips. That she’d come to him after what he’d told her at the aerie, it was a miracle. The fact that her mind continued to withhold the bloody truth from her was another.