Pulling on a black jacket identical to the one Tai had slashed, he slid the phone into his pocket. It was time to leave the den.
He had a bomb to build.
Kaleb Krychek, cardinal Tk and the newest member of the Psy Council, terminated the call and leaned back in his chair, hands steepled in front of him. "Silver," he said, activating the intercom with a negligible use of his telekinetic abilities, "find all my files on the Liu family group."
Knowing the task would take her several minutes, he mentally reviewed the call. Jen Liu, matriarch of the Liu Group, had made her thoughts clear.
"We have a mutually beneficial relationship," she'd said, green eyes unblinking. "I'm certain you would do nothing to jeopardize that. However, I'm not so certain of your colleagues on the Council. We're still paying for their last decision - Faith NightStar's prices have almost doubled as her family seeks to regain what it lost."
The NightStar Affair, as that particular political debacle was now called, had come about immediately prior to Kaleb's ascension to the Council. Faith NightStar, a powerful foreseer, had chosen to drop from the PsyNet and into the arms of one of the DarkRiver cats. Two Councilors had made the hasty decision to try and recapture her, putting her life at risk and alienating not only her family, the powerful NightStar Group, but also all the businesses who relied on Faith's predictions. Businesses such as the Liu Group.
Now, Kaleb stared thoughtfully at the transparent screen that had moments before held Jen Liu's face. The matriarch had been correct in her estimation of his loyalties. He valued the alliances he'd built up on his way to gaining a Council seat. Those alliances had been nurtured with cold-blooded precision - he had known that a Councilor who had the support of certain sectors of society would wield far more than his share of power. And Kaleb appreciated power. It was why he'd made Councilor at a bare twenty-seven years of age.
He tapped at the screen, switching it from communications to data mode, then pulled up files on the rest of the Council. Putting the bio files on one side, he accessed the ones on the NightStar Affair. Beside that, he left an empty space for the information Silver was collating.
Finally, he brought up a highly confidential file titled "Protocol I." Right now, all he had on that matter were suspicions, but that would change. The Liu issue would do for a first strike. He saw no need to draw blood...yet.
Kaleb was nothing if not patient. The same way a cobra is patient.
One day after the murder, and countless hours of arguments with herself later, Brenna knew Judd was the only person she could ask, the only one who might possibly understand. And yet, he was also the worst, so cold that he sometimes appeared less human than a statue carved out of ice. Before being kidnapped, she'd gone to great lengths to avoid him, intrinsically disturbed by the inhuman chill of his personality.
Well aware her brothers would turn feral at the mere thought of her alone with Judd, she took every care to remain invisible as she tiptoed out of their family quarters after dinner and toward the section occupied by unmated soldiers. Judd lived alone, his brother, Walker, and the three minors having been relocated to the family section. The move had taken place four months after the Laurens first sought sanctuary with SnowDancer.
Surprisingly, it had been the pack's maternal females who had ordered Hawke to think about what it was doing to the Psy children to be isolated in the soldiers' area. Given how sensitive the females were to anything that might pose a danger to the cubs, Brenna would've expected them to demand distance - Marlee and Toby might be kids but they were very powerful kids.
Conversely, SnowDancer pups tended to play rough and could maul the Psy children without meaning to. But the maternal females had extended the invitation and Walker Lauren had accepted on behalf of his daughter, Marlee, and nephew, Toby. At seventeen, Toby's sister, Sienna, could no longer be classified as a child, but neither was she an adult. In this case, the headstrong teenager had chosen to stay with the children.
Leaving Judd alone.
As Judd was considered the most dangerous member of the Lauren family, his living quarters had never been in any question. He continued to be looked on with suspicion, though she knew he'd been integral to her rescue. While he hadn't been one of those who'd entered the pain-soaked room that had been her torture chamber - an omission for which she would always be grateful - he'd helped Sascha lay the psychic trap that had led to Enrique's capture. He'd proven his loyalty. But still he remained an outsider.
The unfairness of it rubbed at her sense of justice, but she couldn't blame her packmates for their feelings, not when Judd seemed determined to reinforce their attitude. The man was aloof to the point of rudeness.
Reaching his door, she knocked softly. "Hurry up." Though the corridor was currently deserted, she could near the sound of approaching footsteps. With her luck, it would be one of her overprotective brothers.
The door opened. "What - ?"
She ducked under his arm and into the room. "Shut it before someone comes." For a second, she thought he would refuse, but then he pushed it closed.
Turning to stand with his back to the door, he folded his arms across a bare chest. "If your brothers find you here, they'll put you under lock and key."
She was suddenly hyperconscious of the scent of fresh male sweat and gleaming skin in a confined space. Terror spiked, but she squashed it almost before it arose, hiding it in that impregnable box in her mind. "Aren't you worried about what they'll do to you?" Despite the edge of fear, her fingertips tingled, wanting to touch this dangerous creature.