"Who holds you accountable?" she asked instead of answering. "Who punishes the alpha?"
He wished he were on the other side of the desk so he could touch her and find out if she was fighting fire with fire, or simply being practical. "If I break Pack law, the sentinels will take me down. Who takes down your Council?"
He almost thought she wouldn't answer. Then she said, "They are Council. They are above the law."
Lucas wondered if she understood what she'd just admitted. More than that, he wanted to know if she cared. That was truly madness, because the only thing the Psy cared about was the cold sterility of their lives. Except every instinct he had said that Sascha was different.
He had to uncover the truth about her before he did something he regretted. And the best way to crack that impenetrable Psy shell might be to yank her from the safety of the world she knew and throw her into the flames. "How about lunch?"
"I can meet you back here in an hour," she began.
"That was an invitation, darling." He added the endearment as a tease. She'd reacted last time and he wanted to see if she'd slip again. "Or do you have a date?"
"We don't date. And I accept your invitation." No obvious reaction but he felt the spike of temper.
He stood, satisfaction thrumming in his veins - the trap had sprung. "Let's go feed the hunger."
Those slightly uptilted eyes seemed to widen but then she blinked and it was gone. Was he fooling himself, imagining emotion on one of the merciless Psy because he found himself drawn to her? Sleeping with the enemy was not part of the plan. Unfortunately, his panther half had a way of destroying the best-laid plans once it began craving a taste of something... or someone.
Almost forty minutes later, Sascha got out of Lucas's car in front of what he'd told her was a packmate's home. Located in the wide zone where urban dwellings gradually started giving way to the trailing edges of the forests, the house was isolated at the end of a long drive and appeared to back on to a wooded reserve.
She felt uncertain and out of place. No one had ever taught her how to deal with the situation she was in... because Psy weren't usually invited into changeling homes. "Are you sure your packmate won't mind?"
"Tammy'll love the company," Lucas assured her. His quick knock was answered by a call from inside the house and he walked in without hesitation.
Following him down the hallway, she found herself at the entrance to a large room that appeared to be a kitchen and dining area combined. A rectangular wooden table with six chairs sat to her right. It bore a number of scratches that she thought might've come from careless claws. The thick legs were similarly scarred.
The table and chairs sat on a shiny wooden floor covered by a colorful rug that couldn't disguise the number of scratches in the wood. For the most part, the scratches were thin and closely spaced, far too narrow to have come from leopard paws. They puzzled her analytical Psy mind.
"Lucas!" A beautiful woman with rich brown hair walked out from behind a counter.
Lucas met her in the middle of the room. "Tamsyn." Leaning down, he brushed her lips with his. The woman held him for a second before stepping back.
Sascha was shocked at the sick feeling that invaded the pit of her stomach at witnessing the casual intimacy. Trained to recognize emotion so she could destroy it, she identified this one as jealousy. It was characterized by anger and possessiveness and made people extremely vulnerable. The aim of the training had been to teach her how to exploit changeling and human weaknesses, but she'd used the information to mask her own flaw.
"Who have you brought to visit?" The brunette walked over. "Hello. I'm Tamsyn." She went to stretch out a hand and then dropped it as if remembering the Psy aversion to touch.
"I'm Sascha Duncan." Glancing over Tamsyn's shoulder, she met Lucas's gaze. He was looking at her in a way that unsettled her with its directness. She had to force her attention back to Tamsyn.
"Come on," the woman said. "I've just made the most divine chocolate chip cookies. You two can have first pick before the rest of the pack sniffs them out. I swear Kit and the juveniles always know when I'm baking cookies." She headed back to the other side of the counter. As she passed Lucas, he ran the knuckles of one hand down her cheek and she rubbed back gently against him.
Mates, lovers, and Pack.
"Is she your mate?" Sascha walked to stand beside Lucas, trying not to grit her teeth against the jealousy churning in her gut.
Tamsyn laughed, startling Sascha. She'd forgotten that changelings had far better hearing than the Psy. "Good Lord, no. Don't say that around Nate - he might decide to challenge Lucas to a duel or something else equally archaic and testosterone driven."
"I apologize," she said to Tamsyn, far too aware of the acute interest in Lucas's eyes. "I misunderstood."
The other woman frowned. "What?"
It was Lucas who answered. "We kissed. We touched."
"Oh that!" Tamsyn lifted up a plate from behind the counter and put it on the top. "That was just saying hello to a packmate."
Sascha wondered if they knew how lucky they were. They could show such extreme emotion without fear that they'd be locked away and rehabilitated. Part of her wanted to tell them that she, too, hungered for touch, that her hunger was so great she was starving. But she knew that was the madness talking. Changelings despised the Psy. Even if they somehow sympathized, what could they do? Nothing. No one had ever withstood the might of the PsyNet - the only way to leave it was death.