“I don’t want to hold you back from exploring the options open to you.” Cardinal eyes locked with her own. “Your intellect is in the highest percentile, meant for study and research.”

“I am studying, remember?”

“Not as much as you could be if you weren’t handling multiple things for me.”

“I enjoy the variety of things I do behind the scenes for you.” Like translating documents he could trust were verbatim to the original and being the contact person with DarkRiver. “But mostly, I just like being with you.” Never did she feel as alive as when she was with Kaleb. He challenged her, loved her, made her think in innovative and exhilarating ways. “Do you mind?”

The stars disappeared to leave his eyes endless black. “Sahara.” His kiss was a branding, a reminder that he would’ve destroyed an entire civilization for her. You could be with me every instant of every day and I would ask for more.

Breaking the kiss to look into his face, she petted his nape with possessive hands. “Come to bed.”

“Le—” He broke off his reply, paused, then said, “I have to handle a business matter—it appears a certain conglomerate has decided to flout my mandate for price stability in the current climate.”

Sahara wished she could growl like the changelings. Throwing up her hands instead, she managed a good approximation of a snarl instead. “Damn it! Idiots.” Economic uncertainty could do as much damage as the infection, not only to the Psy, but to the entire world.

“Yes.” Hands on his hips, Kaleb seemed to be listening to something. “I’ll have to pay the CEO a personal visit. It shouldn’t take long.”

“Wait.” She squeezed his shoulder, the muscle firm under her touch, his skin warm. “You’ve been working nonstop for the past twenty-one hours.” And not only today. “Can you ask one of the squad to handle it?”

Kaleb stared at her. “Arrows don’t normally deal with economic issues.”

“This isn’t an economic issue—this is about scaring the pants off an arrogant CEO who wants to destabilize the economy,” she pointed out, tugging him down with one hand in his hair. “And you need to learn to delegate. Don’t be like Ming and not use the Arrows to their full capacity.”

A pulse along the bond that connected them. Irritation.

Her lips twitched. “Sorry I put you and Ming in the same sentence,” she said with a kiss. “But you know I’m right. This is exactly the type of situation an Arrow could contain so you don’t have to—they’re highly trained operatives capable of subtlety.”

Hands curving around either side of her rib cage, he said, “And in utilizing them in such a fashion, I show the Arrows I value them beyond their ability to kill.”

God, but she loved him, ruthless political mind and all. “Yes,” she agreed. “Words mean nothing after their betrayal at Ming’s hand.” From everything she and Kaleb knew, the former Councilor had attempted to destroy the very foundations of what it meant to be an Arrow.

“Aden says he has the perfect Arrow for the task,” Kaleb responded a minute later. “It’ll be done immediately.”

“Good. Now, come to bed.”

Chapter 28

I’ve reviewed the scans we took yesterday. It’s imperative we speak at once.

Message from Dr. Edgard Bashir

VASIC TELEPORTED DIRECTLY inside Ivy’s cabin to discover it silent, but he could sense her behind the screen that concealed her bed. Unwilling to venture into the private area without an invitation, he reached out with his mind. Ivy?

No response, not even a sleepy one.

He strode past the screen to find her curled up unconscious under a heavy blanket. Refusing to acknowledge the ice creeping into the edges of his mind, an ice that didn’t numb but burned, he checked her vital signs.

Her skin was clammy, her pulse sluggish but present. His hand clenched convulsively on her wrist at the confirmation that she lived; he had to force himself to release her slender bones before he caused bruises.


Turning at the startled sound, he saw Jaya. “What happened?”

“She helped Eben,” the other woman answered, her eyes shadowed with concern. “I called Sascha Duncan after Isaiah and I found her collapsed in the kitchen. She drove over immediately and said Ivy should come out of it on her own, that she simply overloaded her empathic senses, but that we should watch over her.”

“Thank you.”

“Isaiah’s keeping Eben occupied. I’ve been sitting with her, just stepped out for a minute to return a call from my father. Shall I—”

“No,” Vasic interrupted. “I’ll take care of her now.”

Jaya leaned down to brush her lips over Ivy’s forehead, her fingers trembling as she stroked back the silky black curls that always made Vasic want to touch. “You’ll tell me when she wakes?”

Nodding, Vasic said, “Stay a few more seconds.” He thought of Aden and was beside his partner a split-second later, the other man in the midst of talking to the pathologists who’d already begun to conduct autopsies on the infected.

I need you to check Ivy. It wasn’t that he didn’t believe Sascha Duncan’s assessment; he simply trusted his partner more.

Aden nodded and asked the medical staff to excuse him. Go.

Hand clasped around Ivy’s, Jaya remained while Aden scanned Ivy using a small medical device, then a light telepathic touch. “She has the same signs as a classic flameout, should recover with rest,” was his diagnosis. “I haven’t had any experience with empathic minds, but Sascha’s recommendation to keep an eye on her and allow her to recover naturally would be mine as well.”

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