She nodded. You should’ve waited for me.

I never dared dream of you, Ivy. I never thought a man like me deserved such a gift.

Petting his chest, she said, You’re my gift, too, you know. I’m so glad for you every instant of every day. Even when I’m really, really angry with you.

In front of her, Samuel Rain’s spectacles shimmered, and she belatedly realized they weren’t old-fashioned at all, but tools to allow him to see to a microcellular level. “Imbeciles.” The engineer shut the interface panel, nodded at Vasic to close the protective carapace. “Stealing my work and thinking they know what to do with it. Like monkeys deciding to program a computronic system.”

“Can you fix it?” Vasic asked.

“No, I’m brain damaged.” With that, he put away the tool, snapped the toolbox shut, and hefted it. “Come back tomorrow.”

Ivy stared after the engineer, hope a tight, hard knot in her chest. “He’s either mad or brilliant.”

“There’s often only a razor-thin line between the two.”

“And”—Rain called over his shoulder—“bring the dog!”

Chapter 47

Anchorage, New York, Rio, Cape Town, Seattle, Osaka, Dubai, and Chengdu have all suffered outbreaks. And the pace is continuing to accelerate.

Live NetStream, PsyNet Beacon

LUCAS HUNTER AND Sascha Duncan, as well as Alice Eldridge, were already in the city and in discussion with Jaya and Abbot by the time Ivy and Vasic got back. Leaving the empaths to talk, Vasic decided to take advantage of the relative quiet to have another important meeting. Vasic trusted Abbot to the core, and Lucas looked at Ivy with a protectiveness that likely resulted from the leopard alpha’s love for his own empathic mate.

“Contact me the instant there’s a problem,” he told them both. “I can be back in a heartbeat.”

Getting their agreement, he ’ported to an isolated location in the Sierra Nevada mountains and sent Judd the visual so the SnowDancer lieutenant and fellow Arrow could join him. “Thank you for meeting me,” he said when the other man arrived a minute later.

“No thanks needed.” Running a hand through his hair to dislodge snow that had fallen on him from an overhead branch, Judd fell into step with Vasic.

The snow wasn’t as thick in the trees as it was out in the open areas, their boots more than adequate for the terrain.

Judd gave him a measuring look. “You realize no one knows you have a visual anchor for this area.”

“I never had any intention of using it for an aggressive act. I like the quiet.” It was one of the most remote parts of SnowDancer’s vast territory. He’d found it by accident, the image he’d been given for a transfer matching a particular section here. Such an accidental match was so rare, Vasic had only experienced it twice.

“I like the quiet, too.” Judd’s breath frosted the air as he spoke. “Brenna and I come up here.” His cheeks creased. “We had a snow fight last time.”

Vasic wouldn’t have understood that before Ivy. Now, he found himself wondering if Ivy would enjoy playing in the snow. Rabbit surely would. “I need to ask you some highly personal questions.”

Judd reached down to pack the snow into a ball. “I’ve been hoping for a long time that someone else in the squad would get to the point where a discussion like this would be necessary.” Rising, he threw the snowball with a fast arm. “Ask.”

“How do you control your telekinesis while intimate with your mate?”

“I broke a damn lot of furniture at the start, including two beds.” A curious glance. “What are you doing?”

“Traveling around the world.”

Judd stared, then started laughing, the gold flecks in his eyes vivid against the brown. Vasic couldn’t imagine laughing, but it looked as if Judd did it naturally, so perhaps it was a skill he could learn.

“Sorry,” the other Arrow said when he could speak again. “I just had visions of what Brenna would do to me if I teleported us somewhere public in the middle of intimate skin privileges.” He thrust his hands into the pockets of the jeans he wore below a fine black sweater and black leather-synth jacket. “Your Ivy blister your hide?”

“I’ve managed to keep the locations remote so far,” Vasic said, “but obviously, I can’t leave that to random chance.” He straightened the cuff of his own leather-synth jacket—the style was different from Judd’s, but they were otherwise identically dressed. “Ivy says my civilian clothes are a uniform.”

Judd scowled. “Leather-synth provides excellent protection against knives, and denim is extremely strong.”

“Exactly.” Their civilian clothes made sense. “Krychek is trialing a new bulletproof material that also deflects a certain level of laser fire.” Vasic had already ordered a coat for Ivy of the material, though Krychek’s offer had been made to the squad.

Instead of rejecting the request, the cardinal had ordered the coat be fast-tracked. “You should get it for Brenna.”

Judd nodded. “I might talk to Kaleb about a larger pack-wide order.” Stopping at the edge of a cliff, he looked out over the spread of ruler-straight firs below, their branches heavy with snow. “Like I said, I broke a lot of furniture,” he began, keeping his eyes scrupulously forward. “Then we bought a titanium frame for the bed, and I bent it—though at least I could bend that back until it strained too far. Outside, I took down several trees, cracked a few boulders.” Copyright 2016 - 2023