Lucas rocked back on his heels, thinking. "Which means it's either all a front and she's a Council spy..."
"... or there's something wrong with her," Clay finished, verbalizing what Lucas didn't want to admit. "If she's been shoved out of the inner circle, she's of no use to us."
The panther inside Lucas flexed its claws - there was nothing wrong with the female who'd caught its attention. "Let's give it a few more days," he said, fighting the animal. "We don't have any other option at this point. The other Psy won't even talk deals with us."
"We could let the SnowDancers do what they want."
"If they start taking out high-level Psy, any hope of ending this without massive loss of life goes out the window." The SnowDancers wanted to torture information out of those they blamed for condoning the killings, including Nikita Duncan. "The Psy will retaliate against all of us and they won't spare the cubs."
Clay nodded. They'd been through this before and the same thing had swayed them back then. DarkRiver was a powerful but young pack. They had a lot of cubs and juveniles under their protection. If the Psy struck back after a SnowDancer attack, the entire next generation could be wiped out in one bloody wave. Even Dorian's thirst for vengeance had been overpowered by his deep-rooted need to keep their young safe.
"Setting the wolves loose has to be our last choice." It was a choice he hoped he never had to make but he wasn't naive enough to believe that it wouldn't end in violence. Too many changeling women had died and they were all out for blood. Psy blood.
That night, when he finally went to bed after a lengthy meeting with his sentinels, his mind was full of images of death. His desire to find justice for their women warred with his unexpected need to protect Sascha from harm. It was baffling but he was beginning to feel as if she had a prior claim on his loyalty.
It only seemed fitting that his dreams should echo his very real hunger. When he "woke" inside the dreamworld, it was to find himself sprawled on his front as a feminine hand stroked the back of his thigh. The touch was familiar and as acceptable to the panther who was his other half as it was to the human male. She had skin privileges. He looked over his shoulder. "You're back."
Sascha jerked away. "You're talking."
"I thought we figured this out last time around," he teased. "Why are you wearing clothes?" Not that she didn't look delectable in the white bra and panties she had on, but he preferred seeing her naked, skin gleaming and flushed.
In his dreams she was the woman he needed her to be - hot and needy and wild enough to tantalize.
"I thought it might help slow matters down." Calm words but her cheeks were flushed, her body taut in expectation.
He chuckled. "I'm sorry, kitten. Was I too fast for you last time?"
"Why are you remembering the other dream?" Tiny lines appeared on her forehead.
"Why shouldn't I?" He turned onto his side and curved one hand over her waist as she knelt beside him.
"Because it was my dream, my fantasy." Breathy and soft, her voice was a stroke to his senses.
"Maybe me remembering is part of your fantasy. Otherwise how would things progress?" he said, playing along. Was this how Sascha would've acted had she not been born one of the Psy? If he'd met this sensual, stubborn creature in reality, he would've made it his goal to seduce her until she belonged to him without compromise.
Tapping at her lower lip with a finger, she nodded. "That makes sense."
He reached out and pulled her down beside him without warning. Night-sky eyes went huge in surprise. When he rose so that he was braced over her, she couldn't hold back her gasp. His erection was hot and hard between them. Given that "she" had imagined him na**d on a large bed, it was difficult to ignore, especially since it was nudging at her navel.
Before she could tell him that this was her dream and he shouldn't be interfering, he leaned down and nuzzled at her neck, taking her scent into his bloodstream. "I'm never going to be an easily controllable lover, in your dreams or out of them."
Her hands clenched on his biceps. "But - "
"Shh." He nipped gently at her chin. Her hands gripped him tighter. "If you want to fantasize about me, don't try and turn me into someone else. Take me as I am, rough edges, dominance, and all." Trailing his lips across her jaw and back, he kissed her. Hard. Fast. His way. "I love your mouth," he murmured. "So, how about it?"
She took a ragged breath. "I don't want to fantasize about anyone else."
The panther let out an almost subvocal growl. Running his hand down her side, he said, "I'm possessive and I'm territorial. Can you handle that?" Under his palm, the supple skin of her bottom felt beautifully bitable.
"I can always wake up if I can't." Fire glittered in her eyes. "Don't try to intimidate me."
He smiled and began to kiss and suck at the side of her neck. "I'll always try but it would be no fun if you didn't push back." He liked her spirit, her stubborn will, her refusal to bend to his every demand.
Her hands slid to his shoulders, then tunneled into his hair, her body moving restlessly against his. He let her feel more of his weight, bracing himself on one arm so he could move the other up and down her body. On the upward stroke, he cupped her breast, shaping and petting.
"Stop." It was a sharp cry.
He froze at the sound of real distress. "Did I hurt you?" Looking up, he searched her face.
She shook her head. "I can't feel so much so soon." Panic shimmered in the dark skies he was getting used to seeing in his dreams.