She glanced down and blushed. "That wasn't nice."
A warning graze along her neck with sharp leopard teeth. "I'll tell you anything you want to know." His unshaven jaw rasped over the skin exposed by her V-necked sweater. "But right now we have to focus on this. We'll talk about the other stuff later." He pressed a row of kisses along that same triangle of flesh. "Freckles. I want to count them."
"You'll lose count after the first million." Her heart felt like it would burst from inside her chest. Did he have any idea what he meant to her? She didn't think so.
"Go get the others." It would give her time to compose herself, to put her heart back together. "Call Faith, too." She made a face and pulled the short hairs at his nape. "I'm not a baby. I can handle her."
He shot her an amused look. "Very mature."
"I can call them from here." He proceeded to do exactly that. "Sascha will be here in about an hour. Faith's tied up with something, so you don't have to be mature."
"Really not nice." She began to sit back down at the table.
Clay grabbed her hand and pulled her toward the door. "First, we eat."
"But - "
"Did you have lunch?"
She considered lying but knew he'd catch her out. "No."
"It's three o'clock."
"Did you eat?" she countered.
His response was a grunt.
Scowling at his back, she let him tug her down the corridor and past several startled people she assumed were his packmates. "Answer my question."
"I'm a man. You're small and weak. Different rules apply."
"Of all the - !" she yelled. "That's it. I'm going to kill you this time."
The woman in front of them pressed her body to the side of the corridor, computer tablet held up like a shield, eyes in danger of popping out of her head.
"Clay, I swear to God, if you don't - "
He stopped so suddenly, she almost careened into his back. Turning, he fixed her with an intimidating look. "Behave." Cool, calm, a voice that dared her to disobey.
Her mouth fell open. "Take that back or I'm not going anywhere with you."
"How are you going to stop me?" His smile was pure, conceited cat.
Her temper, hard to arouse, quick to blow over, but steaming hot while it was up, flared into full life. She smiled, patted his arm. "Oh, Clay darling, if you had told me you were feeling irritated because of your...problems, I wouldn't have made a fuss." She knew very well the changelings around her could hear every whispered word.
"Tally." It was a warning growl.
"I mean it must be embarrassing for you...being that you're such a big man." Her tone implied all sorts of things. "Last night was an aberration, I'm sure. And if not, there are always the pills."
Gasps sounded up and down the corridor.
Clay's eyes blazed hot. "I'm going to show you aberration, you brat." He turned and glared at their audience, as if memorizing every single face.
Suddenly, everyone had somewhere else to be. Only when he'd intimidated the corridor clear did he turn back to her. "I bet you think you're funny."
She grinned. "Yep."
"I hope you still think that when I'm proving to you just how big I am."
Her eyes dropped involuntarily to his pants and she realized she might have pushed him a tad too far. "Now, Clay..."
Pressing his body against hers, he hugged her to him with one arm and bent to speak with his lips against her ear. "Now, Tally," he mimicked.
At the familiar exchange, Talin felt something else "click" into place between them. Clay's expression told her he felt it, too. Giddy, she pressed a kiss to his throat, the affectionate act completely spontaneous. "I'm hungry."
"So am I." His tone was a lazy invitation. "When are you going to feed me?"
A rush of damp heat between her legs. Lord have mercy but she couldn't remember any of her rational reasons for not having a sexual relationship with Clay.
By the time they returned from lunch, Sascha and Lucas were already in the meeting room. "There you are. We were waiting for you."
It was impossible to do anything but smile in response to the incredible warmth in Sascha's voice. "Clay decided to eat the place down."
"Yes," Sascha said, a frown forming between her eyes, "I heard that you've been having some problems." The last word was a sympathetic whisper.
Talin felt Clay stiffen behind her and was about to set Sascha straight when she noticed the glint of humor in the cardinal's eyes.
"Better watch out, Clay," Lucas drawled from where he sat on the side nearest the door, feet on the table and chair tipped back. "You'll be getting helpful advice from the juveniles before you know it."
Clay clasped Talin's nape with one hand. "You are in so much trouble."
Her laugh made the others grin. "It was your own fault."
"We'll discuss that later." He pushed her toward a chair - beside the one Sascha had just taken, on the other side of the table.
She sat, while Clay chose to lounge against the wall to their left. The mischief leached out of her as soon as she focused on the papers. It had been over a week since Jon's abduction. That in mind, she raced through the information as she bought Sascha up-to-date. "I was hoping you could pick out other Psy names."
"It's a long shot." Sascha made a sound of utter frustration. "If I was uplinked to the PsyNet - "