Brenna's legs were jelly. "I don't think I can move," she mumbled into Judd's neck, where her face was currently buried.
His response was a grunt. His hand stroked her bottom once before falling away - as if he didn't have the energy to do more.
She ran her fingers over his chest, nuzzled at his pulse, and took the scent of him into her lungs. She already smelled of him, but from today, the scent would be inside her very pores. It made her feel possessed, protected, adored. It was good to belong to him, even if he did have a tendency toward dominance.
She was sure she was having an aural hallucination. "You did not just say 'once more.'"
"Before the Tk comes back."
She shook her head. "You're crazy." After that loving, he'd be lucky if she moved anytime this century. "Good thing I like crazy."
"One hour. Nap. Then again."
Despite her exhaustion, she found the femaleness in her reacting to the determination in his tone. "You are so sexy."
It made her smile. "Yeah?"
"This beautiful changeling keeps telling me." His hand closed over the back of her nape. "Now sleep."
She did. Exactly one hour later, she woke to the touch of male fingers and lips, her body relaxing in the most sensual way. They danced more languidly this time, and Judd let her cuddle and pet him as much as she wanted.
His muscles were hard and warm under her fingertips, his skin holding the flavor of salt and man. It made her deeply happy to be so intimately connected to him. "I want to do this every day for the rest of my life."
His eyes were sparks of gold in the darkness. "Yes."
But he had to leave her when the Tk regenerated. "Brenna - "
"Shh." She shook her head, aching to cross the divide between them. "I'll see you tomorrow morning." It was obvious he didn't want to go. Equally obvious to her heightened knowledge of him was the pain - the dissonance - he refused to betray. "Tomorrow morning, baby."
He finally left after several more minutes of persuasion on her part. Only then did she lie back against the pillow and let the tears come. Was this all they'd ever have - stolen moments when Judd was stripped of a crucial part of his psyche? It seemed so hopeless. She might've cried into the night, but exhaustion took her under after a few minutes, and when she woke, hope reawakened with her.
"I made love to Judd Lauren," she whispered, amazed. Even a month ago, that would have seemed a fool's dream. "Then I guess I'm a fool." Smiling, she pushed off the bed, showered, and grabbed a bite to eat. Afterward, knowing it wouldn't do any good for Judd to be trapped in the confines of an apartment stamped with the psychic echoes of their loving, she headed toward one of the specialized tech chambers to do some work.
Judd found her halfway to her destination. "Don't you need to be at DarkRiver?"
No words of romance, but his eyes held such dark fire that even as her body thrilled to life, she worried. "Judd, you have to pull back or the dissonance will punish you."
"Never thought I'd hear you say that." The intensity of his gaze didn't change.
Shaking her head at his stubbornness, she answered his question. "I've done most of my bit in terms of programming - Dorian will give me a call if he needs anything."
Her words cut through the sensual resonance still vibrating through Judd's whole body, reminding him of something very important. "Why did you leave DarkRiver yesterday? Who called?"
Brenna paled. "It was an ambush. That bastard could've killed Drew! It was only because Riley gave chase and scared him off that he didn't keep shooting."
He wanted to hold her, but couldn't chance bodily contact, not with the memory of their intimacy so fresh. His hand fisted. "Do you know the identity of the caller?"
"The message was passed on by DarkRiver's main receptionist." She thrust a hand through her hair. "It came in through their general line. We should have known something was wrong, but we weren't thinking because the message said that there had been a Psy attack on the pups and several were dead."
"Riley didn't call back to confirm?" It was standard operating procedure in most tactical and military units.
She winced. "I think he was too angry...and the shooter counted on that."
Emotion as a weakness - it was what he'd always been taught. "Considering the import of the message, why didn't the cats know?" Clay, as a sentinel, would certainly have been informed by the receptionist.
"The message was in the code Pack soldiers use," she revealed. "It said that this time there was incontrovertible proof of DarkRiver being involved. God, we were stupid!"
"Not necessarily. If it was in code, then Riley was correct to assume it came from a legitimate source. Even if he had called back, the shooter may have been prepared to intercept." Smart. But in his cleverness, Timothy's killer might have made a fatal mistake. "How many people know that code?"
"I have no idea."
"I'll ask Riley. Can you trace the call itself?"
"I'll see if Dorian can hook into DarkRiver's comm system, but if the shooter used one of the public phones in the den..." She shrugged. "How can we have bred such evil? I can't imagine it, and yet it's true." She sounded angry and sad at the same time. "Here's my stop - I'll probably be inside the chamber for hours. See you for dinner?"
He knew she was deliberately putting distance between them, too perceptive not to understand the devastating impact it had had on him to experience the fury of their intimacy after feeling nothing for most of his life. "Yes. How secure is this room?"