She gave a slow nod. "Perhaps it'll help me understand why changelings and humans place so much emphasis on marriage and bonding."
He didn't give her a chance to change her mind. Bending his head, he ran his lips across hers in a quick, hot slide. Warm, soft, delicious, they invited him to return. When he did, he kept the kiss shallow - tugging at her lower lip, easing the hurt with his tongue, then suckling her upper lip. A soft, innately female moan silvered into the silence.
Heat seared him.
This was no block of concrete. He could feel the rise and fall of her br**sts against his forearm, inviting his palm to go lower. For now, he satisfied himself with the pounding heartbeat he could feel in her neck, with the jagged breath she couldn't hide. The Psy could shut off emotion, but it was far harder to shut off the body's hunger for touch.
Sascha could see the edge of the cliff dropping away in front of her and she didn't care. Never in her life had she felt this much sensation, this much pleasure. Her fantasies were nothing compared to the reality of Lucas. The lazy greed with which he was kissing her was the most dangerous of temptations. His movements were so languorous, so subtle, so sensually slow that she'd opened her mouth to him before she knew it. Shocked at how far she'd come, she pulled back.
He didn't fight her withdrawal, watching her with those cat-green eyes tempered by arousal. "Enough experimenting, kitten?"
The endearment was straight out of her dreams. Terrified by her own reaction and by the realization she could see in his eyes, she said, "I'd like to return home." She knew she hadn't answered his question. She also knew that she couldn't say the words expected of a Psy without it being such a huge lie that she'd give herself away. The truth was, she hadn't had enough. Not by a long shot.
"All right." He leaned down and nipped at her lower lip with those sharp predatory teeth.
Sascha was home by eight a.m. Exhausted, she took a shower and started preparing for the day ahead. The first thing on the agenda was a meeting with her mother. Then she had to check on a couple of other family projects. After that she had to face Lucas again. Her face flushed as she tried to put her hair in order.
She couldn't forget the feel of his hands in her hair, the pleasure he'd taken from touching her. Yet it hadn't been the pleasure that had almost broken her. It had been the need she'd felt in him, the need for touch, for peace. It had captivated her that he'd found surcease in her, a Psy, one of the enemy.
Part of a race of killers.
Grim reality wiped away every trace of lingering pleasure. She couldn't accept his accusation, couldn't give up everything she believed in so easily. Perhaps she'd never fit in but the Psy were her people, all she had. Lucas had kissed her but he was a changeling and when push came to shove, he'd always choose his pack over her.
Wait for me outside.
The image of Lucas ordering her to leave, when Dorian had fragmented, merged with thoughts of him in bed with a woman called Rina. He'd never treated her as anything but an outsider, she thought, deliberately forgetting that visit to Tamsyn's home because it didn't fit, and she needed something to go right, something to make sense.
She needed to belong.
The second she turned against the Psy, she'd be saying good-bye not only to her life, but also to any hope she had of ever fitting in anywhere. Even if she somehow survived the anger of the Council, who'd take in a rogue Psy? Not DarkRiver. She could still remember the hatred she'd glimpsed in Dorian's eyes as he'd accused her of being from a race of psychopaths.
Lucas had stood by Dorian while pushing her out - she'd been left on her own, once again an outsider. The leopards had come together for their packmate, but who'd come together for her when she'd found herself unconscious on the floor of her apartment? No one.
Because she was nothing but a tool.
Lucas had never hidden his nature. She'd known from the start that he'd utilize every advantage he had to get his way... even if it involved something as distasteful as kissing one of the stinking, metallic Psy. He was using her to gather information and the second she delivered, he'd be done with her.
Sharp pains stabbed her stomach but she stood her ground and forced herself to face the truth. As she'd always feared, the changelings had picked up on her flawed nature and were exploiting it to get what they wanted.
Lucas was exploiting it. Exploiting her.
"Stupid," she whispered, righting tears. "I'm so stupid." How was it possible that the rest of her race repelled him, but she didn't? It wasn't. Only her pitiful need to be accepted, to be valued, had let her believe something so improbable. She'd been guilty of participating in her own deception.
It was time she stopped letting him blind her with emotion and the dangling threads of false hope and started thinking like a Psy. Maybe it wasn't too late to salvage her position, at least within the family. The first thing she had to do to ensure that was to tell Nikita everything she'd learned - she might never be a perfect cardinal, but she could be a perfect daughter. This was her chance to make a place for herself as something other than a mistake.
Humiliation and hurt combined to make a dangerous mixture. She wanted to make Lucas pay, wanted to wound him as he'd wounded her, shatter his dreams as he'd shattered hers. He'd taught her so much about his people. He shouldn't have. In the end, she was Psy.
And he was the enemy.
Lucas knew something was wrong the instant Sascha walked onto the building site where he and his team were taking some initial measurements. They had to make sure everything looked normal on the surface - there was no need to tip off the Psy unnecessarily. To foster that impression, he was out here when he'd rather be hunting murderous human prey.