"You didn't have to go to so much trouble," Sascha said, and though the words sounded stilted, Lucas knew the sentiment was genuine.
To his surprise, so did Tamsyn. She touched Sascha's hand in fleeting reassurance. "Cooking relaxes me - maybe it's part of being a healer. If you don't help eat my efforts, Nate's going to start accusing me of trying to fatten him up."
Lucas pulled out a chair. Instead of taking it, Sascha went to the other side and pulled out her own. Stubborn woman. "You eating with us, Tammy?"
"Yup." She took off her apron and came to sit at the head of the table, Lucas to her right and Sascha to her left. "I feel strange sitting here - this is Nate's seat."
That was why Lucas hadn't taken it. He might be alpha but this was a packmate's home and in here, Nate believed that he was alpha. Tamsyn might disagree, Lucas thought with a hidden smile, but she let Nate think what he liked because she loved him.
As they began eating, the healer started talking. "I can't stop thinking about that poor girl - Brenna." She put down her fork. "He's probably hurting her right now. And we're sitting here doing nothing."
It was Sascha who said the right thing. "If you think so negatively you'll make it a self-fulfilling prophecy. Look past the anger and pain and think. Perhaps you'll discover a way to help her."
Tamsyn looked at her for a long moment. "You're more than you appear, aren't you, Sascha?"
"No, I'm not." Sascha stared at her food.
"The word is that the SnowDancers are skating the edge," Tamsyn commented, her eyes still on Sascha. "I heard her brothers had to be restrained until they came to their senses and stopped speaking about taking off Psy heads."
Neither of them mentioned Dorian. After his wild breakdown, he'd been acting almost spookily normal. Everyone was afraid that he was going to snap when they least expected it.
"What did they hope to achieve?" Sascha raised her head to meet Lucas's gaze. "Two changelings against the entire Psy race? It would've been suicide."
"Logic and love don't necessarily coincide," he said, watching her eyes trace the claw-like lines on his face. Unlike many a non-changeling, she'd never appeared put off by the violent-looking markings. He'd caught her staring at them as if fascinated more than once. Nor had he forgotten the way she'd caressed them in his dreams. "They were hurting because they couldn't protect their sister - their need to strike out is understandable."
Lucas appreciated their position as only someone who'd once been in that very place could. The years of waiting for his body to grow strong so he could claim vengeance had been torture of the most excruciating kind, slow and seemingly endless.
"What would Psy do in the same situation?" Tamsyn asked.
Sascha took long moments to answer. "There is no love in the Psy world, so logic would prevail." Her words were crisp but her eyes gave her away.
Somehow, he'd learned to read those night-sky eyes, learned to interpret the haunting sadness that flickered over them for barely a millisecond before she asked, "Tamsyn, may I use your home for a few hours this afternoon?"
Lucas pushed away his plate, excitement churning in his gut. Sascha was going to surf the PsyNet.
"Sure. People might drop by, though."
"I need a room where I won't be disturbed."
"You can use one of the upstairs guest rooms. Most visitors tend to hang around downstairs." Tamsyn rose to get the tarts. As she placed them on the table, the doorbell chimed. "I'll go see who that is."
Lucas touched Sascha's hand after Tammy had left. "You're going to try and search the Net?"
She nodded and slowly slid away her hand. "You can't be here."
"Because your presence distracts me." The look on her face dared him to make anything of that.
The panther in him growled, smug. The man wasn't so easily appeased. "I'm not going to leave you unprotected."
"If I trip some silent alarm, you won't be able to protect me," she said, not skirting around the truth. "My mind would be jelly before you knew anything was wrong."
His jaw set. "Then you don't go in." The answer was instinctive - he wasn't even thinking of the lost SnowDancer.
"Don't worry. I'm only going to search the public archives. Nothing will happen." She looked over his shoulder as Tamsyn walked back into the room.
"I don't think you two have officially met," the healer commented. "Rina - Sascha. Rina is Kit's sister."
When Lucas turned, he saw Rina nod a wary hello to Sascha before the curvaceous blonde walked over to hug his neck from behind. Her cheek rubbed against his. Though Rina was a highly sexual female, her caress was asking for comfort. She'd never tried to come on to him, being young enough, now twenty-one, to have always treated him as her alpha rather than as an attractive male.
Moving his head, he kissed her on the lips, running his hand up her arm in a soothing gesture. It was a small thing but it helped her. She let go and sat in the chair beside him. Lucas glanced at Sascha to see how she'd handled the contact. Her face was expressionless, so much so that he knew she had to be hiding something pretty intense.
He bought his attention back to Rina. "What's wrong?"
"Kit's gone missing."
"What?" The killer had never taken a male before.
"No, no, it's not like that," Rina protested. "He's just taken off on some joy-riding trip to Big Sur with a couple of the other juveniles and I can't get in touch with them. I think it's Nico and Sarah with him."