It was a potent, quiet question, one for which she didn’t need an explanation. “Yes,” she answered without hesitation. “I’m sure.”

Vasic nodded and returned them to their former positions, Ivy cradled against his chest. She released a shuddering breath. She was where she was meant to be, and she would fight to hold on to the wild beauty of it with everything she had.

“Woof!” Scrabbling paws, then a small weight jumping onto the bed.

“Rabbit,” she chastised with a laugh.

Padding over, he looked at how she lay in Vasic’s arms, huffed, then curled up on Vasic’s other side. It made her smile. “I like that you two are friends now.”

Vasic said nothing, but he cupped the back of her head with one hand and rubbed Rabbit’s back with the other, the black sheen of his gauntlet gleaming in the light. It was a moment as perfect as it was heartbreaking.

Chapter 41

Silent Voices continues to be anything but silent. The Ruling Coalition has not yet made a public statement regarding their demands. More importantly, neither has Kaleb Krychek.

PsyNet Beacon

DEMOCRACY, AS THE humans understood it, didn’t work in the PsyNet. It was populated by too many powerful minds that could careen out of control if not kept in strict check—which meant the people at the helm had to be ruthless and powerful themselves. Orders were given and followed, any revolt dealt with quickly and quietly before it could impact the Net.

Which was why Kaleb found it surprising that he was about to have a meeting with the woman behind the formation of Silent Voices.

You know how to be charming, Sahara ’pathed as he teleported into the woman’s home. Charm. Smile. Don’t make this a clash but a discussion.

It fascinated Kaleb how Sahara saw him—he wasn’t charming, and the smile he reserved for the world was a calculated, cold-blooded facsimile meant either to discomfort or to put the other party at ease. Of course, Sahara never saw that smile. I’ll attempt not to scare her witless at least. Sahara could’ve ensured that by coming with him, but she’d made it clear she had no desire to be a political powerhouse.

“I’m your extremely private, highly personal advisor,” she’d said to him when they’d discussed how visible she wanted to be. “Our bond needs to be viewable in the Net, but our life together will never be for display.” Hauling him down with a grip on his tie, she’d sealed the promise with a kiss.

The memory making the dark heart of him stretch out like a cat in sunshine, he walked through the living area of the small apartment to find the head of Silent Voices in a tiny study. Ida Mill was seated with her back to the door, her eyes on a wall-mounted computer screen. “You really should face the door.”

Spinning around so fast her chair slammed into the desk, she said, “Councilor Krychek.”

It was to her credit that she’d kept her cool. “Just Krychek will do.”

Dark eyes in a narrow, dark-skinned face met his, her hair steel gray and pulled into a neat knot at her nape. She was only forty-seven according to the file his aide had put together for him, but had gone totally gray by thirty-two. That early sign of aging was a genetic family trait that hadn’t been bred out, likely because it gave the possessors a regal appearance, regardless of their chronological age.

Now, Ida Mill rose to her feet, a woman five feet eight inches tall, with perfect carriage and steely self-possession. “So,” she said, “how long do I have?”

They are terribly melodramatic aren’t they?

Kaleb didn’t remind Sahara that if he’d had his way, the founder of Silent Voices would’ve been dead and buried by this point. “I’ve come to talk, Ms Mill.” Stepping back, he returned to the living area.

The room was the stereotypical featureless Psy box, no art on the walls, not even a single photograph . . . such as the one Sahara had found on one of her old datapads, her father having thrown nothing of Sahara’s away after she disappeared. It was of her and Kaleb, taken with the camera on the datapad. They’d been sitting on a tree branch, Sahara laughing as he used his telekinesis to float the datapad into the correct position to take the shot.

That photograph was now centered on the left wall of their living room, next to an image of Sahara with her father. Yesterday, he’d quietly added another one to the collection—of Sahara curled up on the couch, brow furrowed and teeth bared at something on the comm screen. She’d laughed when she’d seen it, promised revenge, and he knew that wall would fill over time with pieces of their lives.

“You aren’t known for talking.”

Hands casually in the pockets of his suit pants, he met Ida Mill’s wary gaze. “It appears I’m turning over a new leaf.”

The woman’s skin blanched, just as Sahara said, Kaleb.

I think she should be a little scared, he replied, finding it interesting that Ida Mill’s own Silence was nowhere near pristine. I don’t want her to start believing she can cross certain lines with impunity.

A slight pause then, You’re right. Those lines need to stay in place for now.

It was possible, Kaleb thought, that they would have to do so forever. Because the Psy weren’t like the humans or the changelings, and each of those cultures had their own power structures. “You wish to reinitiate Silence.”

The force behind Silent Voices, their effective leader, drew up her shoulders. “Pure Psy went off track, but they had a point. Without Silence, who would we be?”

“For one, we’d have had far fewer sociopaths in the Council superstructure.” Copyright 2016 - 2023