Her eyes widened. Letting go of him, she scrabbled through the files. "These numbers - I couldn't figure out what they meant. But if you look at Jon as a descendant with a lot of Psy blood, it makes sense. He's labeled as.45."
"Forty-five percent Psy?" Sascha nodded. "What about - "
Talin had already found the numbers for the other abducted kids. "Forty, thirty-six, thirty-nine - nothing lower than thirty-five percent." Her fingers touched the edge of the extra file Dev had sent through. She'd figured it to be a mistake. "And here's mine."
"You Psy, Tally?" Clay lips lifted up in amusement.
"Hardly. Look." She showed him the percentage marker next to her name, her sudden fear shifting into scowling outrage. "Point zero three! Three percent! It's a joke!" Though her minuscule Psy blood might explain her "feelings." More likely, she snorted inwardly, they were the result of plain old human intuition. "Makes me wonder why Shine took me on in the first place."
Clay's amusement turned into disbelief. "That low? What about your memory?"
"According to this, my maternal grandfather had an eidetic memory. And he was a hundred percent human." Her heart quieted. "We humans aren't without our gifts."
"I know that." Clay slid her hair through his fist. "Maybe we're not giving Shine enough credit. Could be they take on mostly human children, too. After all, a lot of the renegade Psy had to have married humans, so they can't think of themselves as Psy."
"I think you might be right. There's another consideration." She stared at the documents in front of her. "Some of the Shine kids are too gifted to worry about mundane things like files and organization. We worker-bee types pick up the slack - could be one more reason for seeking out the mostly human descendants."
Sascha gave her an odd look. "You know, I've heard other humans refer to themselves as the worker bees of the world. But I don't - " She shook her head. "We'll discuss that later."
Talin nodded. "We need to talk to Dev now."
"Probably go better if you do it alone. We'll wait in my office," Lucas said.
Talin waited until the mated pair had left before getting up and walking to the computer screen. Touching a key, she activated the comm function.
Clay went to stand behind her and when she leaned back into him, he felt something tight in him ease. "Call him."
Putting one hand over the arm he'd wrapped around her middle, she entered the private code Dev had sent with the files. "Clay, if we're right, it means I'm part Psy."
"You smell human. You taste human." He nipped at her ear. "And you have the heart of a human. Don't worry - hell, I'm pretty sure even Luc has more than three percent Psy blood."
"How did you know I was worrying?"
Because he understood her with a part of him he couldn't explain. "You're transparent." Putting his hands on her hips, he nudged her attention forward as the screen cleared to show Devraj Santos.
Deep grooves bracketed the other man's mouth. "You've read the files."
"Yes," Talin replied. "Is Shine collecting descendants of the Psy?"
Santos didn't bother to pretend surprise. "Not collecting but reconnecting with. The history of the Forgotten - the Psy who left the Net after Silence was voted in - is convoluted, but basically, we had to scatter and hide our identities about three generations back when the Council started hunting us."
Clay's leopard didn't trust the Shine director's sudden bluntness. "You're very cooperative today."
"You could say there's been a coup in management." His jaw firmed to granite. "I showed the old ones pictures of what they're doing to the kids - kids we promised to protect. Two of them had heart attacks. The rest handed over control to me." Santos's tone was cool, but his eyes betrayed the cost of the choice he'd had to make. "I'll cooperate with the devil if it means stopping the murders."
"Do you know where Jon is?" Talin asked.
"No," Santos grit out. "We're almost certain the Psy Council is behind the kidnappings, but we don't know why they're taking the children after so long. We're all of mixed blood now, hardly a threat to their power. Our organs are as mixed as the rest of us - of no use to pure-bred Psy."
"Focus on locating the mole in Shine," Clay said. "We'll find Jon."
The other man's eyes met his. "He's not your child." Unasked was the question - will you fight as hard for him?
"He's Talin's." That meant the boy was his, too, was DarkRiver's.
"I'll find the son of a bitch, don't worry about that. Every Shine kid - official and unofficial - has now been warned and offered protection. Those who won't cooperate are being detained until things clear up."
"You're keeping them prisoner?" Talin asked, then added, "Good."
Ending the call on Dev's surprised face, Talin relaxed into Clay, finding her strength from his. He pressed a kiss into the curve of her neck and her body hummed, remembering the hard promise of the kiss he'd given her earlier.
"Yes," she said, home.
"Where I can teach you not to mess with me," he growled. "My reputation is in shreds."
She wondered if he'd brought up their earlier play on purpose, her leopard's way of giving her a moment's respite from the agony of knowing Jon was out there, being hurt, being brutalized. "I'm not scared of you."
"You should be. I bite."
The warning tore a smile from her. "You'd never hurt me." He'd killed for her, let himself be imprisoned for her, taken her back despite her betrayal in running from him, and, even now, when she might leave him again in the most final way, he stood with her.