Looking into Sascha's night-sky eyes, eerie in the darkness, Lucas found himself saying, "More. I expect you to be more." Before she could respond, he began walking. "Follow me."
Already, he was debating the wisdom of his decision in bringing her to his lair. It was a stupid thing to do by any standard. Yet, he hadn't been able to stop himself, driven by instincts far older than human thought. The panther wanted her in its territory.
When he'd found her in the lot, where he'd been drawn by impulses he barely understood, he'd thought that he was starting to see the real Sascha at last. Except that if he were to believe the way she was acting, the real Sascha existed nowhere but in his mind.
Had he been wrong about her right from the outset?
He took her through the hidden pathway that exited beneath his lair - most people never watched for danger from above. "How high can you jump?"
She glanced up. "An aerie."
"I'm a leopard. I climb." Even in human form, he could jump higher and farther, climb faster than any human and most other changelings. It was part of what made him alpha, what made him Hunter-born.
"Your home is very far from your business premises."
"I have a city apartment I use when I'm pressed for time. Let's go."
"Is there any other way up?" She was looking at the smooth trunk of the huge tree that supported his home among its branches. Like the other mostly coniferous trees in the forest, it shot up straight as a ruler. But this particular species had an impressive canopy that stretched in every direction, blocking out the starlit night.
"Afraid not. You'll have to hold on." He gave her his back.
After a minute's silence, he felt two tentative hands on his shoulders and almost laughed in relief. Her actions spoke far louder than her frosty tones - his poor kitten was scared and dealing with it the only way she knew how.
He'd been around her race a lot more than she knew, though, for the most part, they'd been low-level Psy the Council would never bother with. Still, they'd all had one thing in common - a complete and utter lack of reaction to most stimuli.
In contrast, he'd caught Sascha looking up at the night sky as if it held a thousand dreams. He'd watched her playing with cubs with what most would term affection. And he'd felt her touch him as if he disturbed her on the most intimate of levels.
"Harder, darling," he drawled, the cat in him giving in to the impulse to tease. "Press close."
"Perhaps it would be easier to speak in the car."
His instincts were going crazy. His personal Psy was definitely disconcerted by his body. Good. He smiled where she couldn't see it. "I have food up there and I, for one, am starving. I ran to you, remember?"
"Of course. I understand." That lush body pressed close, her hands sliding under his arms to wrap up and over his shoulders.
He bit back a purr. His body was responding as if it knew hers, as if those dreams had been utterly real. He touched the backs of her thighs with his fingertips. "Jump."
She moved like they were one, wrapping her legs around his waist as he lunged to begin the climb, his claws slicing out to grip the smooth surface.
"Hold on tight." He could feel his body rubbing against hers with every movement. Her chest pushed into his back, a sweet, sensual pressure that he had no trouble enduring. Even through the leather-synth of her jacket, he could feel the heavy weight of those beautiful br**sts he'd seen in his dreams and fantasized about for days. What would it take to tempt her enough to make dreams a reality?
Her legs tensed as he climbed higher, the heated core of her body cradled against the small of his back. It made him remember what they'd done in that last erotic dream. Smiling, he took a deep breath as he gripped the final branch. Lord have mercy!
Desire filled his nostrils, unleashing the beast that lived within. The panther batted at the scent, rolled it in his mouth, hungered for more of it. He might not be able to read minds but he could read bodies and Sascha's was screaming for his.
He was fully erect by the time he landed on the leaf-strewn porch of his home. It was just as well that he hadn't tucked in the T-shirt. Sascha was hardly likely to be comforted by the sight of him primed and ready. He wasn't exactly comfortable with it himself. Perhaps she was unlike any other Psy he'd ever met but she was still Psy.
Still the enemy.
He'd promised his people that he'd allow no more of their women to be stolen, had taken an oath to see this through to the end, no matter what he had to do. "That wasn't so difficult, was it, darling?" He retracted his claws as Sascha slid off.
Her body pulled away from his as if she'd been burned. In spite of what he'd just reminded himself, he had to fight the urge to preen. This woman wanted him. Whether she knew it or not. "Come inside." Without turning to look at her, he opened the door and walked in.
Sascha was having trouble breathing. She continued to feel Lucas against the sensitive inner faces of her thighs, her muscles quickening in remembered sensation. She bit back a whimper - her mental walls were crumbling. Insanity beckoned. Image after image of incarceration at the Center shot through her mind, nightmare memories from an event that should've never taken place.
"No." She shoved everything she had into rebuilding those walls. Her fear of rehabilitation was so great that it momentarily dampened the heat between her legs. Only momentarily.
The instant she walked into Lucas's home, it shot through to inferno levels. She could see his silhouette behind a Japanese screen that looked to be separating the large room into living and sleeping areas. He was taking off his T-shirt and she couldn't help but watch. Her fingernails bit into her palms.