"Give us a moment." The older woman looked at the younger.
The tiny hairs on the back of his neck rose. They always did that in the presence of Psy who were actively using their powers. Telepathy was just one of their many talents and one that he admitted came in very handy during business negotiations. But their abilities also blinded them. Changelings had long ago learned to take advantage of the Psy sense of superiority.
Almost a minute later, Sascha spoke to him. "It's important for us to have control at every stage."
"Your money, your time." He put his hands on the table and steepled his fingers, noting how her eyes went to them. Interesting. In his experience, the Psy never displayed any awareness of body language. It was as if they were completely cerebral, shut into the world of their minds. "But if you insist on that much involvement, I can't promise we'll hold to the timetable. In fact I'll guarantee we won't."
"We have a proposal to counter that." Night-sky eyes met his.
He raised a brow. "I'm listening." And so was the panther inside him. Both man and beast found Sascha Duncan captivating in a way that neither could understand. Part of him wanted to stroke her... and part of him wanted to bite.
"We'd like to work side by side with DarkRiver. To facilitate this, I request that you provide me with an office at your building."
Every nerve he had went taut. He'd just been granted access to a cardinal Psy almost twenty-four seven. "You want to be joined at the hip with me, darling? That's fine." His senses picked up a change in the atmosphere, but it was so subtle that it was gone before he could identify it. "Do you have authority to sign off on changes?"
"Yes. Even if I have to consult with Mother, I won't need to leave the site." It was a reminder that she was Psy, a member of a race that had sacrificed its humanity long ago.
"How far can a cardinal send?"
"Far enough." She pressed at something on her tiny screen. "So we'll settle at eight?"
He grinned at her attempt to catch him unawares, amused at the almost feline cunning. "Ten, or I walk out and you get something lower quality."
"You're not the only expert on changeling likes and dislikes out there." She leaned forward a fraction.
"Yes." Intrigued by this Psy who appeared to use her body as much as her mind, he deliberately echoed the movement. "But I'm the best."
He couldn't afford to let the Psy think of him as weak - they respected only the coldest, crudest kind of strength. "Nine and a promise of another million if all the homes are presold by the time of the opening."
Another silence. The hairs on his nape lifted again. Inside his mind the beast batted at the air as if trying to catch the sparks of energy. Most changelings couldn't feel the electrical storms generated by the Psy, but it was a talent that had its uses.
"We agree," Sascha said. "I assume you have hard-copy contracts?"
"Of course." He flipped open a binder and slid across copies of the same document they undoubtedly had on their screens.
Sascha picked them up and passed one to her mother. "Electronic would be much more convenient."
He'd heard it a hundred times from a hundred different Psy. Part of the reason changelings hadn't followed the technological wave was sheer stubbornness; the other part was security - his race had been hacking into Psy databases for decades. "I like something I can hold, touch, and smell, something that pleases all my senses."
It was an innuendo he had no doubt she understood, but it was her reaction he was looking for. Nothing. Sascha Duncan was as cold a Psy as he'd ever met - he'd have to thaw her out enough to gain information about whether the Psy were harboring a serial killer.
He found himself oddly attracted by the thought of tangling with this particular Psy, though until that moment, he'd considered them nothing but unfeeling machines. Then she looked up to meet his gaze and the panther in him opened its mouth in a wordless growl.
The hunt had begun. And Sascha Duncan was the prey.
Two hours later, Sascha closed the door to her apartment and did a mental sweep of the premises. Nothing. Located in the same building as her office, the apartment had excellent security, but she'd used her skills at shielding to ring the rooms with another level of protection. It took a lot of her meager psychic strength but she needed to feel safe somewhere.
Satisfied that the apartment hadn't been breached, she systematically checked every one of her inner locks against the vastness of the PsyNet. Functioning. No one could get into her mind without her knowing about it.
Only then did she allow herself to collapse into a heap on the ice-blue carpet, the cool color making her shiver. "Computer. Raise temperature five degrees."
"Complying." The voice was without inflection but that was to be expected. It was nothing more than the mechanical response of the powerful computer that ran this building. The houses she'd be building with Lucas Hunter would have no such computer systems.
Her breath came out in a gasp as she allowed her mind to cascade with all the emotions she'd had to bury during the meeting.
Unclipping the barrette at the end of her plait, she shoved her hands into the unfurling curls before tugging off her jacket and throwing it aside. Her br**sts ached, straining against the cups of her bra. She wanted nothing more than to strip herself na**d and rub up against something hot, hard, and male.
A whimper escaped her throat as she closed her eyes and rocked back and forth, trying to control the images pounding at her. This shouldn't be happening. No matter how far out of control she'd gone before, it had never been this bad, this sexual. The second she admitted it, the avalanche seemed to slow and she found enough strength to push her way out of the clawing grip of hunger.