Dorian came to stand beside him. With his blond hair and blue eyes, he could've passed for a surfer hanging out, waiting for the right wave. Except for the feral edge in those eyes. Dorian was a latent leopard. Something had gone wrong in the womb and he'd been born changeling in all ways except one - he lacked the ability to shift forms. "How did it go?"
"I have a Psy shadow." He watched a car glide by on the darkening street, the energy cells that powered it leaving no trace of their passage. The cells had been created by changelings. Without their race, the world would've sunk into a quagmire of pollution by now.
The Psy thought themselves the leaders of the planet, but it was the changelings who were attuned to the Earth's heartbeat, the changelings who saw the intertwined streams of life. Changelings and the occasional human.
"Think you can pump her?"
Lucas shrugged. "She's like the rest of them. But I'm in. And she's a cardinal."
Dorian rocked back on his heels. "If one of them knows about the killer, they all do. Their web keeps every single one of them in contact."
"They call it the PsyNet." Lucas leaned forward and pressed his palms to the glass, luxuriating in the cool kiss. "I'm not so sure that's how it works."
"It's a damn hive mind. How else could it work?"
"They're very hierarchical - it doesn't track that the masses would be allowed access to everything. Democratic is the one thing they're not." The Psy world of cold, calm survival of the fittest was as cruel as anything he'd ever seen.
"But your cardinal would know."
As the daughter of a Councilor and a powerful mind in her own right, it was almost certain that Sascha was a member of the inner circle. "Yes." And he had every intention of finding out what she knew.
"Ever slept with a Psy?"
Lucas finally turned to glance at Dorian, amused. "You're saying I should seduce the information out of her?" The idea should've revolted him but both man and beast were intrigued.
Dorian laughed. "Yeah right, your cock'd probably freeze off." Something bright and angry glittered in those blue eyes. "I was going to say that they really don't feel anything. I went to bed with one back when I was young and stupid. I was drunk and she invited me to her dorm room."
"Unusual." The Psy liked to keep to themselves.
"I think I was some kind of experiment to her. She was a science major. We had sex but I swear it was like being with a block of concrete. No life, no emotion."
Lucas let the image of Sascha Duncan run through his mind. His panther senses stilled, sniffing at the echo of her memory. She was ice but she was also something more. "We can only pity them."
"They deserve our claws, not our pity."
Lucas looked back at the city. He hid it better but his anger was as deep as Dorian's. He'd been with the other man when they'd discovered Dorian's sister's body six months ago. Kylie had been butchered. Coldly. Clinically. Mercilessly. Her blood had been spilled with no thought to the beautiful, vibrant woman she'd been.
There had been no animal scent at the scene but Lucas had picked up the metallic stink of the Psy. The other changelings had seen the brutal efficiency of the kill and known exactly what type of monster had done this. But the Psy Council had claimed to know nothing, and the authorities in Enforcement had done so little, it was almost as if they didn't want to find the murderer.
After DarkRiver had started digging, they'd discovered several other murders with the same signature. All buried so deep that only one organization could've been behind it. The Psy Council was like a spider and every Enforcement station in the country was caught in its web.
The changelings had had enough. Enough of Psy arrogance. Enough of Psy politics. Enough of Psy manipulation. Decades of resentment and fury had built up into a powder keg that the Psy had unknowingly ignited with their latest atrocity.
Now it was war.
And one very unusual Psy was about to be trapped in the middle.
When Sascha arrived at the DarkRiver building at seven thirty sharp, it was to find Lucas waiting for her by the entrance. Dressed in jeans, white T-shirt, and black leather-synth jacket, he looked nothing like the businessman she'd faced yesterday. "Good morning, Sascha." His slow smile invited a similar response.
This time she was prepared for him. "Good morning. Shall we proceed to the meeting?" Nothing but the coldest practicality would serve to keep this male at a distance - she didn't have to be a genius to understand that he was used to getting what he wanted.
"I'm afraid there's been a change in plans." He raised his hands in a placatory gesture but there was nothing submissive about him. "One of my team couldn't get into the city in time so I postponed the meeting until three."
She smelled deception. What she couldn't figure out was whether it was because he was trying to charm her or because he was lying. "Why didn't you call me?"
"I thought that since you were already on your way, we might as well go check out the site I've scouted." He smiled. "A very efficient use of our time."
She knew he was laughing at her. "Let's go."
"In my car."
She didn't protest. No real Psy would. He knew the way so it made sense for him to drive. But she wasn't a normal Psy and she wanted to tell him to keep his autocratic commands to himself.
"Have you had breakfast?" he asked when they were both in the car and he'd brought up the manual controls.
She'd been too nervous to eat. Something about Lucas Hunter was accelerating her descent into madness but she couldn't stop the tumble, couldn't stop herself from continuing to tangle with him. "Yes," she lied, not quite sure why.