"Are you all right?" He could feel the shadows around her, feel her... as if she were Pack.
"I'd like to suggest some alternatives to the materials you're planning to use," she said, instead of answering. "My research tells me this type of wood will weather better in the site environment." She slid across a sample and an accompanying inch-thick report.
Frustrated by her intransigence, he fingered the sample. "This stuff is cheaper."
"That doesn't mean it's no good. Please read the report."
"I will." He put it aside. "You look like hell, Sascha darling." No way was he going to let her push him away, not after last night. She was Psy and he'd been dreaming some pretty odd dreams. He could do the math.
Her hands tightened on her organizer before she got herself under control. "I've been having trouble sleeping."
Every instinct he had told him it was time to press hard. "Dreams keeping you awake?"
"I've told you, the Psy don't dream." She refused to meet his gaze.
"But you do, don't you, Sascha?" he said softly. "What does that make you?"
Her head jerked up and he glimpsed something very lost in her eyes in the second's window before her computerized security-blanket chimed. "Excuse me." She walked out of the room and he knew it was because of him, not the call. He'd finally reached her. If that call hadn't interrupted them...
"Damn it." His claws sliced out of his hands, an indication of just how much control he'd lost. Forcing them back in, he went to hunt down his elusive prey.
She was gone.
Ria, his administrative assistant, gave him the message. "Said she had to leave to take care of something but that she'd be back for the two o'clock with Zara."
Lucas took the message with an ill-hidden frown. "Thanks." His tone said otherwise.
"Sorry. I didn't know I wasn't supposed to let her go." Ria screwed up her pretty human face into a scowl. "You're supposed to warn me about things like that." Mated to a DarkRiver leopard for the past seven years, she had no problem talking her mind with Lucas.
"Don't worry about it. She'll be back." Where else could she go? If he was right about her, then her very uniqueness might get her rejected by her own people.
What worried him was that rather than calculating how he could use her weakness to further his own goals, he was concerned for her. The unexpected development was enough to disturb both man and beast - how had one of the enemy gained a slice of his loyalty?
She didn't turn up for the meeting until a minute before two. "Shall we go in?" were her first words to him. Her suit was black, her shirt white, and her tone as chilling as the most brittle of frost.
In spite of his concern at what she made him feel, he wanted to reach out and kiss her until she purred. He'd seen beneath the shell and he was never going help her bury the woman he'd glimpsed. Sascha Duncan might be Psy, but he was a Hunter.
"By all means." He waved his arm, willing to let her believe she'd defeated him. Sometimes an unexpected ambush worked better than a full frontal attack. "Zara should be in there with Dorian, one of the other architects. Kit's asked to sit in. Fine with you?"
"Of course. I learned business the same way."
The second they walked into the meeting room, he knew there was going to be trouble. Dorian was standing with his back to the window, the lines around his mouth white with strain, his shoulders so taut that the muscles were almost vibrating.
"Kit." Lucas chose to greet the juvenile next to Dorian, giving the sentinel time to get himself under control.
"Hey, Lucas. I have the designs." Kit pointed to the pile of document tubes on the table, his gaze shifting to Sascha and then skating away.
"Where's Zara?" Lucas didn't take his eyes off Dorian - the other male hadn't stopped staring at Sascha since the moment they'd entered the room. Beside him, Sascha had gone preternaturally silent, as though she knew how precarious the situation was.
Kit pulled at the cuffs of his brown cable-knit sweater and shoved a hand through his hair. "She got delayed." His tone held a subtle appeal - he didn't want to discuss Pack business with an outsider in the room.
Lucas spoke without looking away from the lethal fury that was Dorian. "Would you give us a moment, Sascha?"
"I'll wait outside." She turned and walked out the door, pulling it shut behind her.
"What happened?" he asked.
The other man bared his teeth. "SnowDancer lost a female today."
Lucas felt rage arc through his bloodstream. "When?"
"Dorian said two hours ago." It was Kit who answered. "One of Hawke's lieutenants just called him."
"Which means we have a week before a body turns up." Dorian's voice was raw, his fists clenched so tight that the tendons in his neck stood out. "He'll keep her for that week and when he's finished doing whatever it is he does to them, he'll slice her up and leave her someplace that was once a safe haven."
Lucas didn't even try to soothe the other man. "Do they know anything?" Despite his rejection of torture as a way to find the killer's identity, a fury as cold as Dorian's had burned in Lucas's heart since Kylie's murder. She'd been under his protection, a juvenile not much older than Kit. What had been done to her had been inhuman and the panther in him craved justice.
"No." Dorian shoved both hands through his hair. "Why don't you drag your pet Psy in here and force her to tell us who he is?" His eyes held such pure menace that Lucas knew he couldn't be allowed anywhere near Sascha.