She dropped her forehead to his chest, letting him grip her nape in a hold most Psy would've read as threatening. "How do I face them?" There was deep humiliation in her voice. "Greg won't keep his mouth shut - everyone will know."
"He won't say a word. Trust me."
"But my brothers and Hawke. They know. I remember their faces when they came in before. They think I'm crazy."
"Then prove them wrong."
"What if they're not?" She sounded shaken, shocked. "I lost it, Judd. I really lost it."
"We'll talk about that later." They did have a problem to deal with and it had to be dealt with, not swept under the rug. "But first you're going to shower and get dressed so you can reassure your family." He spoke to her as he might to a new recruit, giving firm, short instructions. "Go on. I'll hold the fort." Releasing his grasp on her neck, he slid his hand down the curve of her back before lifting it away. A small indulgence. Worth the red-hot skewer of dissonance shoving through his spinal column.
She took a deep breath, then broke away. "You'll be here when I come out?"
He knew how much that question had to have cost this proud changeling. "Even Andrew couldn't move me."
Her lips quirked a little. "He's okay, you know. Just over-protective."
"I know." More than that, he understood.
Nodding, she turned and disappeared behind a door he assumed led to the bathroom. He leaned his back on the bedroom door - no one was getting through. He had made a promise and he would carry it through. Even as he thought that, vibrations traveled down his spine as someone banged on the door. "Brenna?"
"She'll be out soon." Judd shored up the barrier with Tk.
The bathroom door opened approximately ten minutes later. Brenna stood there wrapped in a fluffy blue towel that only just reached her upper thighs and seemed in precarious danger of falling off the rise of her br**sts. "I forgot to take in a change of clothes." She blushed. "Didn't want to put that robe back on."
Since he found he had trouble enunciating words, Judd simply nodded. She walked shyly into the room and began to gather her clothing from the bureau. He caught a glimpse of pale yellow lace as she took things from a top drawer and ordered himself to look away. There was no reason for him to invade her privacy. "Would you like me to step outside?"
Brenna glanced over her shoulder, eyes huge. "Stay. You make me feel safe."
"Not what people usually feel around me."
She shrugged and he had to fight the urge to throw out some Tk and catch the towel he was sure was on the verge of being dislodged. "You don't usually cuddle people who are hysterical after a major freak-out."
Cuddle? It took considerable effort to force his mind back on track. "I said we'll talk about that later. Get dressed before your brothers decide to break down the door."
She turned back to her dresser and grabbed a pair of jeans and a blue sweater. Her legs were bare nearly all the way up and no matter how hard he tried not to look, he couldn't drag his attention from her. Her skin appeared as soft as her lips had felt, smooth and flushed pink from the heat of the shower.
A lightning bolt of dissonance shot through his spine, strong enough to cause spots in front of his eyes. Ironically, he managed it using the same tools he'd been given to handle interrogation under torture. He knew he was treading on thin ice - he'd come close to killing mindlessly today. That lack of discipline indicated severe degradation in critical components of his conditioning. Even knowing that, he couldn't stop his eyes from drinking in the sight of her, his body tightening in unfamiliar need.
Brenna spun around without warning, clothes clutched to her chest. Her br**sts plumped over the top, drawing his eye. "I can feel you watching me."
"Impossible." That towel was going to unravel. If she moved her hands, it would fall. He decided he wouldn't use Tk to stop its descent after all.
She scowled. "Are you saying I'm not worth looking at?"
"I didn't mean to imply that." Was her skin that soft all over? That...biteable.
A second bolt shot through his spine, originating from his brain stem and traveling down. Designed to cripple an ordinary Psy. But he was an Arrow.
"You have that male look in your eyes."
In spite of the battle he was fighting to segregate the pain, it suddenly struck him that this might be distressing to her after her recent relapse. "I apologize. I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable."
Brenna wanted to laugh. "Why not?" She walked back to the bathroom, an extra sway to her hips. Damn but the man had some timing. There she'd been feeling about as attractive as a psychotic rat and then he'd looked at her like that.
As if he wanted to lick her straight up.
She shivered. Pure male heat, that's what she'd seen in those Psy eyes, raw and hungry and dominant. She pressed her thighs together at the images that assaulted her brain. He'd try to take over in bed, of that she had no doubt. He wouldn't let her pet him till...after. The man liked to be in control. Good thing she was no wilting violet.
"You're all talk, Brenna Shane," she muttered, dropping the towel and pulling on her panties over flesh sensitized from her thoughts alone. What would happen if he actually touched her there? She sucked in a breath, br**sts rising. "A mess, that's what I am."
As today had made clear, she could flirt with the best of them, but getting down to business made her shatter into a thousand pieces. What she couldn't understand was why she'd gone after Greg in the first place - it was more bizarre behavior on her part. Sure, she'd been mad at Judd, but it wasn't like her to try to inspire jealousy by using another man. And Greg was in no way her type. Still, he hadn't deserved what she'd done.