"I won't be there." Tamsyn made a face. "Computerspeak might as well be gibberish to me."
"I'll be dropping in," Nate added from the doorway, his eyes never leaving Judd. "See you there."
Judd gave a small nod, wondering if the cats would ever accept his presence as anything other than a threat. Likely not. That showed their intelligence - because he was a threat, a big one.
They'd begun to back down the long drive when he saw two little boys run out from behind Nate and Tamsyn. The DarkRiver male picked up the children and said something that made both his mate and the boys laugh. Judd looked away. That wasn't his life and it never would be. Yet even knowing that, Brenna had made her choice very clear.
And if she decided later that she wanted out?
The darkness, the badness in him, bared its teeth. Tonight - maybe tonight - he could set her free. After that, she'd have to kill him to get away.
"Judd? Have you heard a word I've said?"
Forcing his mind back into rational patterns, he turned to her. "There's no doubt of it being a wolf now."
"What?" she asked, as she pulled out of the driveway and set the car on automatic hover-navigation, possible because the roads in this area were embedded with guidance chips. Hands freed, she slid the steering wheel away into its compartment and faced him. "Who are you talking about?"
"What's that got to do with the attack on you?" She shook her head. "Anyway, both you and Indigo could be wrong. The Psy could have got in somehow."
He knew she needed a place of safety, needed to trust implicitly in her people. But she couldn't, not if she was to be on her guard. "You're reaching, Brenna. The body was found in the den, in an out-of-the-way location no Psy could know about."
"You guys can teleport over long distances," she insisted.
"Yes, but we have to have a solid mental image of our destination." He tapped a finger on the edge of his seat, a gesture that he caught almost as soon as it happened, but which he shouldn't have made in the first place. Psy did not fidget. "Even if one of my race had obtained that data, teleportation tends to leave us drained - the energy used is directly related to distance traveled. No evidence of a Psy presence was found within miles of the den."
"And" - a soft acceptance - "what was done to Tim had to involve a lot of power and strength. He didn't lie down and take it - there were bruises."
"I'd suggest it was a very physical struggle. Most Psy would have used mental means against a stronger changeling opponent." He made himself say the next words, though he knew it would only forge another point of similarity between him and Enrique. "Of course, using Tk to throw someone against a wall would also cause bruises."
Brenna's hand lifted to her neck and then dropped away, her eyes losing focus. "He didn't do that by Tk," she whispered. "He used his hands to strangle me while he kept me immobile with his powers."
Another piece of the nightmare. "Brenna." It was a single word wrenched out of the most primitive part of him. The part that wanted to bathe in the dead Councilor's blood, unconcerned about the cost of such an extreme emotional reaction.
Brenna's eyes widened. Raising a hand, she brushed his hair gently off his forehead. "Why do I keep telling you things I swore I'd take to my grave?"
The contact shot electricity through his nerves. "Because you know I'll always be your shield against the nightmares."
Her face brightened. "Yes. You're tough enough to handle my demons." She took a shuddering breath and trailed her fingers down his cheek and along his jaw, but he felt the touch in far hungrier places. "So why are we talking about Tim instead of your attacker?"
Leashing his need was becoming harder and harder. "I think," he said even as his body urged him to do something other than talk, "Tim's death is why someone is trying to isolate you - statistically, it's the strongest reason for why you would become the target of another wolf. And I'm certain you were the target."
Her stroking fingers went motionless. "What possible reason could - The dreams." It was a gasp. "But how could he know I'd seen the kill in a dream?"
"It's not a secret that you saw something. You screamed, 'I saw this!' when the body was found."
"Oh, my God." She slumped back in her seat. "The killer thinks I'm a witness and that I'll figure out who he is."
"Which means we have to track him down before he makes another attempt." Judd had promised Brenna safety and he would ensure it. Failure was not an option.
Brenna's expression shifted. "What will you do to him?"
"The same thing any other man would do." He dared her to stop him.
"I don't want you to go further into the darkness because of me."
"There's a difference between acting to protect someone and - " He cut himself off, suddenly realizing where he was headed.
"And what, Judd?"
He shook his head. "It's not relevant to the present situation."
"You're lying." A flat, angry accusation. "I can't believe you'd sit there and lie to my face after - " Jaw clenched, she turned away and pulled up the steering wheel, going manual again. "Fine. You keep your secrets."
It was almost a compulsion to push her, to demand she return her attention to him. And that was why he fought it. Because she didn't understand what she was asking for, what it would cost her. That thought stayed his hand as nothing else. But there was one thing he did need to know the answer to. He waited until they were almost to the den before bringing it up. "How did you know where I was last night?"