He closed the file and put down his organizer. "With your brothers being forced to keep their distance, your safety is in my hands."
He watched her face in the light thrown by the glow of the lamps she'd dimmed. Deceptively delicate-looking bones covered by creamy skin. Hair that shone gold and lashes that were a shade lighter, so long they appeared unreal.
She caught him staring. "Kiss me."
His undamaged hand fisted. "I told you - you can't get what you need from me."
"Liar." She leaned against the wall in front of him, small and curvy and determined. "You want me so much you're burning up with it."
"I don't feel lust."
If Brenna hadn't been so terrified of losing him to his own demons, she might have been put off by his seemingly intractable will. "That's a flat-out lie and you know it." He had so many secrets he wouldn't share, but she was determined to have this out at least. "You were practically eating me up with your eyes that day after my shower. I swear, if you deny it, I won't be responsible for my actions." And he'd break her heart.
He stood, the movement smooth, dangerous. "You don't understand what you're asking." Steely Psy focus, but she was certain she saw the gold flecks in his eyes spark.
Excitement licked along her skin. "I know there are pain controls in the conditioning," she began. "I called Faith today - "
"You think I'm scared of a little pain?" His voice had dropped a decibel, gone eerily darker. "You think I wouldn't risk my life to break the chains on my mind?"
She'd never seen him like this, his icy control morphing into what her animal senses told her was the most finely honed rage, so pure it dyed the air crimson. "Then what?" she dared to ask, walking until she stood only a few small footsteps away. "What has such a hold over you that you're willing to walk away from us?" From something more powerful and more real than anything she'd ever before felt
"I'm not anything like Faith," he said, a wall of stone in front of her. "My ability is nothing good." He thrust his hand into her hair with not the slightest warning, tugging back her head and exposing her throat. "My subdesignation doesn't exist on any chart but the one kept by the Arrow Squad."
Fear coated her tongue as she realized she had somehow succeeded in shattering a crucial part of his defensive shields - the question was, could she handle what she'd unleashed? "Tell me, Judd. I need to know." Because he was hers. Even here and now, her body hungered for him, his very darkness an aphrodisiac - because she was convinced he'd never harm her. Then he spoke and shattered every one of her cozy preconceptions.
"I could kill you during sex," he said, letting her straighten her head but not releasing her. "Stop your heartbeat, crush your windpipe, cut off the blood flow to your brain." The cold words hit her like gunshots at close range. "If not that, then perhaps I'd crack open your skull or your chest cavity. There are so many ways to kill with even a stray thought - of course it'd be less refined than when I've planned it out, but the end result would be the same. You in a body bag."
Everything chilled inside her. At that moment, she was almost ready to run. This man wasn't the Judd she knew. This man terrified her. "You can't manipulate changeling minds that way," she whispered, desperate to find a way out.
"You're not listening." His lips brushed her ear, but it was nothing erotic. "I don't have to influence your mind to kill. No telekinetic does. And I'm a very, very specialized Tk, subdesignation Cell. I can influence the physical structures of human, Psy, and changeling bodies," he said in her ear, the frost of death in his tone. "My control is fine enough that I can rearrange skin cells if I want to. You could say I'm the scalpel to Enrique's blunt object."
She would not cry - he had used the word scalpel on purpose. That had been Enrique's favorite weapon, the one he'd used to carve up his victims. The thought of Enrique nudged at a deeply hidden piece of knowledge in her brain, but she was concentrating too hard on Judd to pay attention.
"It's why you don't have scars," she blurted out, searching for something with which to ground herself. All soldiers had scars. But from the glimpses she'd had of Judd's body, she'd seen not the smallest mark, not counting the new injuries he'd suffered the previous night.
He drew back, his eyes going to her lower lip, which she'd caught between her teeth. It felt like he'd touched her...stroked her. Suddenly the fear transformed - into a passion that was so strong, it made her tremble. "The scars," she prompted, breathless.
"Getting rid of them was a training exercise to help foster control." His tone hadn't warmed up, but there was an inferno in his eyes. "Over time, my body seemed to learn the trick and now they disappear without conscious effort on my part." Releasing her as precipitously as he'd grabbed her, he put several feet of distance between them.
She had so many questions buzzing around in her head but only one was important. "There has to be a way out." She wasn't going to lose him, her recent shock of terror be damned. "Stop trying to scare me and tell me how we get past this."
The gold flecks disappeared from Judd's eyes, the irises going pure black and merging into the pupils. She sucked in a breath but held her ground.
"When I was ten and not yet fully conditioned," he told her, "I had a spike of temper. It was directed at a boy who had taken the ball I was using to practice my Tk skills. He was dead before he hit the ground. The autopsy found that his brain had exploded from the inside out. His name was Paul, his ability was Medical, and he was eight years old."