Looking over his shoulder, he gave her a dark glance. "Keep pushing and you might not like the result."
Something sizzled under her fingertips, a thousand tiny teasing bites. Delighted, she pressed a kiss over the skin she'd bitten. Judd looked away, pressing his hands harder on the wall in front of him. It had the effect of further defining the muscles in his back.
"What was that you did?"
"A controlled use of Tk." His voice was arctic in its extreme focus.
Dangerous, he was dangerous. Again her brain tried to tell her something important, but she was concentrating too hard on getting through to Judd. "Just listen, okay?" She kept going before he could interrupt. "I've been talking to Faith more than you know. She thinks that maybe Silence isn't all bad."
"The Protocol gives sociopaths free rein." Words that sliced with their brutal cold.
She shivered. "That almost felt like you cut me." The sensation had been of a knife passing close to her skin. It scared her - Santano Enrique had taunted her with his scalpels hour after hour. Sometimes he'd done more than simply taunt.
Judd turned to stone. "Stop touching me. I'm losing control."
There was something in his voice that made her obey. She unclasped herself from him and took a couple of steps back. He didn't turn as he spoke. "I can cause telekinetic damage that looks like a cut, literally turn my will into a blade."
She swallowed at the image. "Okay."
"I didn't mean to hurt you," he said, every muscle on his back tight.
Her fear transformed into pure tenderness. God, the man was so hardheaded, so unwilling to see the truth. He'd likely kill himself before harming her and he thought he had to convince her of that? "I said it almost felt like you'd cut me. You didn't actually."
"So close, Brenna. Too close. You should be running, not trying to convince me to test my chains even more."
"That's exactly it," she said, fisting her hands in order to keep her distance. Touch was natural to her, the lack of it unbearable. Especially where Judd was concerned. "Maybe you can choose which parts of Silence you want. Where is it written that you have to accept or reject the entire Protocol? Faith says the skills she learned under Silence help her fight the cascades triggered by bad visions."
"What about Sascha?"
She breathed a sigh of relief - he was listening. "You know the answer. Silence was plain bad for her; it ran totally counter to her abilities. But not for Faith - "
He turned to face her at last. His expression stopped her in midsentence. "If Sascha exists, then it's logical I do."
"I don't understand." Her changeling instincts urged her to hold him to her with tactile contact. The need was so strong she had to physically force herself to pay attention.
"I'm her exact opposite." Judd crossed his arms over that beautiful chest that made her want to stroke. "She heals. I kill. Those are our gifts."
Anger burned through her sensuality but paradoxically stoked up the more profound hunger inside of her. Oh, how she wanted Judd Lauren. "Why do you insist on seeing yourself that way? You helped heal me, remember?" He'd "fed" Sascha his psychic strength, had often ended up totally drained, only to show up again the next day.
He waved off the reminder. "A lesser ability. My main one can be used for little else but death. For me, Silence - all of it - is necessary. As long as I can discipline my emotions, I won't kill. Simple."
"I don't buy that."
"You've forgotten what happened to those like me pre-Silence."
"No, I haven't." The idea of her beautiful, loyal, and strong Judd spending his life alone or in a jail cell was her personal nightmare. "But they were the other extreme - no emotional control at all. I'm asking you to consider that there might be a middle way."
Something beeped, startling her into a slight jump. Judd took a sleek silver phone from his pocket and spoke a few terse words into it. All she really cared about were the last - "I'll be there as soon as I can."
She waited until he'd hung up to ask. "Where?"
"That was Indigo. They think they've tracked down one of the hyenas responsible for the cabin explosion." Picking it up off the floor, he pulled on his shirt. "They're holding him at the cabin."
"Why do they need you?" Her craving for touch, his touch, was a biting ache by now. Unable to resist, she closed the distance between them and began doing up the shirt buttons. "The soldiers question people all the time." If they got the wrong answers, they did more than just question. Brenna accepted the necessity of that - in their world, mercy was often taken as weakness. Which was why the SnowDancers made certain their public face was one of vicious strength.
Judd didn't push her away. "To scare him, what else?"
Finished with the shirt, she dropped her hands and looked up. "What's that supposed to mean?"
His eyes hadn't returned to normal. "Everyone in the pack has a position. You're a tech, Riley's a soldier, and Lara, a healer. Haven't you ever considered what I am?"
"A soldier like my brothers," she said, a painful knot forming in the pit of her stomach.
"The kind of soldier they call on when a mess needs to be cleaned up."
"Hawke wouldn't use you like that." Wouldn't demand that price for the sanctuary Judd had sought for the children's sake.
"Hawke will do whatever it takes to keep the SnowDancers at the top of the food chain." A blunt answer. "But you're right - changelings don't much like to use assassins."