Then he simply did it.
"Judd." Her eyes went wide as she found herself standing in midair, two feet off the floor.
"Should I put you down?" It cost him literally nothing to do this. In fact, it lessened the dissonance because of the discipline required to govern his Tk.
"No. Take me higher."
He obeyed. To his surprise she began to laugh. "It's like I'm flying." Curling up into a ball, she did a flip in the air, forcing him to concentrate even harder to compensate. At that instant, he was her personal Arrow, a slave who'd do this for as long as she wanted, just to hear her laugh.
"Do something else!" A grinning order as she returned to an upright position.
He began to press on her legs. After a second, she seemed to understand and cooperated as he took her horizontal. Now she really looked like she was flying. Her expression was both delighted and startled at the same time.
"Okay," she said soon after. "Enough. I don't want to wear you out."
"I'm fine," he said, obeying nonetheless. Because she'd asked. There could be no connection between his Tk and her lack of choice.
"Baby, I have plans for that hot bod of yours and for those plans to succeed, you'll need all your energy,"
He made sure her landing was soft. "Did my power scare you?"
"No." She sounded vaguely surprised. "I think it's because he never did anything like that. He was only interested in causing pain and humiliation, not playing."
Play. Another changeling concept. "Was that what we were doing?" He watched her cross the floor to him, graceful and deadly - Brenna Shane Kincaid could destroy him, and yet he offered no resistance when she put her hand on his chest.
"Your skin burns!" She scowled. "What's wrong? Don't give me any crap about it being nothing. Your irises are pure black again - the gold is gone and I can't even distinguish the pupils. No - wait." Her forehead wrinkled. "The irises aren't black - they're a deep shade of red!"
"It's not something you have to be concerned about."
She let out a low growl that sounded like it should've come from a much bigger creature. "I swear, you're going to drive me to grievous bodily harm one of these days."
He couldn't resist. Reaching out, he ran his finger over her cheek, along her jaw, and down her neck, closing his hand about her neck once more. Petting. Gentling. "Then you'd have to find another hot bod."
Her lips twitched and she raised her hand off his chest to close over the wrist of the arm holding her. "Very funny, but I'm not that easily distracted. Baby, please."
He was almost used to being called "baby" by her. "It's nothing you can change. Why should I burden you with it?"
"Because, my Psy darling" - she tugged off his hand and laced her fingers through it - "that's what lovers do. Share."
"We aren't lovers." He had to grasp every shred of reason available to him, because the touch of her hand against his was shoving emotion through him like a battering ram.
She was so stubborn she could have been Psy. But he was even more so - he'd learned not to give away anything even under the most extreme pressure. Which was why his decision to tell her made no sense. "Each time I break Silence, there's a feedback reaction; you know that."
She nodded, expression solemn. "What Faith said about the pain."
"It's called dissonance and it accumulates." Pain in his head, in his nerves, in his very bones. "I have to extend a certain amount of power to keep it contained."
Brenna jerked her hand from his without warning. "In real-speak, you hurt every time I touch you, every time we connect!"
He grabbed her hand again. "It's a programmed reaction, one I can handle."
When she tugged this time, he didn't allow her to get away.
"And that's another thing," she muttered, "how come you're so strong?" She didn't wait for an answer. "What happens if you try to dismantle the conditioning that causes the dissonance?"
"I can't afford to disengage that conditioning." An immutable fact. "I need the spikes of pain - they keep me from killing by telling me when I'm getting too close to an emotional reaction that might lead to the unintentional activation of my abilities."
"Okay, but why can't you get rid of the other parts of the Protocol - so you don't get hurt for feeling things below that unsafe level?" She bit her lower lip and gave him a guilty look through her lashes. "I asked Faith for help in getting you to break Silence."
A flare of red. "If you want to know something about me, come to me."
"I needed some advice!"
This time, it was Judd who pulled away. Walking to the other side of the room, he turned his back to her, bracing his palms on the wall. "There is no way to break Silence. Not for me. I refuse to become a danger to you or anyone else. This - tonight - is as far as I can go."
Brenna wanted to kick something. Instead, she went to stand behind him and, after a slight hesitation, put her hand on his muscled shoulder. His skin was a fever. It hurt her to know that her touch hurt him, but she also knew if she stopped touching him, she'd lose him to the talons of Silence. "Listen instead of doing the alpha male thing on me."
"Hierarchy is a changeling concept."
She wrapped her arms around his waist and pressed herself to his back. Then she bit him - a light graze over his na**d back. He didn't growl as a wolf male might have, but what he did was just as dominant, just as deliciously sexy. She didn't want a puppy - she wanted a man with teeth. And Judd had plenty.