She was about to tell him this was no time to tease when she realized he was trying to find control. He was much bigger, far stronger than her. But she didn't want him in control. And she trusted him with every cell in her body, her surrender to him absolute.
"Clay, I swear to God, if you don't bury yourself in me right now, I'm going to reach down and bring myself to - " Her throat froze up as he pushed himself into her in a single thrust. He was stretching her apart, killing her with pleasure. Parts of her body that had never before been touched were being touched and she wanted to beg for more. Because this was Clay, she did. "Move," she said, voice husky. "Please move."
He nuzzled at her throat, caught her lips in a kiss. "Ready?"
She looked into his eyes and nodded. "Ready."
The last thing she remembered thinking was that she had never seen a more beautiful man in her life. A moment later, pleasure crashed through her like thunder and Clay became her world, her universe, her reason for being.
Sometime during the night, Clay had carried her upstairs and to bed. Talin wasn't sure how - she had vague memories of being tossed over his shoulder, his hand on her upturned bottom. But really, she didn't care. Because when she woke, it was to find her face snuggled against Clay's chest, his thigh between hers.
Smile wide, she pressed a kiss to the skin below her lips. He did that purring thing again. "My kitty," she teased, stroking her fingers over the silky heat of him.
Grumbling, he squeezed the thigh he'd pulled over his hip. "Go to sleep."
"It's daytime," she pointed out, able to tell from the light seeping in through the windows.
"Too early." Then he pretended to snore.
She kissed him again and laid her head against his chest. His heart beat strong and steady, anchoring her. "What will we do today?" Her laughter faded.
"Get one step closer to finding your Jon." He pushed his hand into her hair, cupped the back of her head. "Have faith."
"I do. I just...I wish I could swoop in and save him like a hero out of some comic book."
"You are his hero, Tally. You made sure he wasn't forgotten."
"You know, when I thought I might have a lot of Psy blood, I was angry. I like being human." The genetic link had threatened her identity, the one thing no one had ever been able to steal from her. "But at the same time, I can't help but wonder if I could've done more to save the children if I had had Psy gifts or changeling strength." Surrounded by the extraordinary power of both races, it was difficult not to feel weak.
"Don't." Clay's voice was firm. "You're you because you're human. I like you."
She rolled her eyes even as her lips threatened to curve. "I like you, too, even if you're only half human," she teased. "But sometimes, being only human - "
"Be quiet and listen," he ordered in that dominant tone that intrigued her even as it infuriated. "Do you know about the eighteenth century's Territorial Wars?"
"Sure, we learned about it in school." Thousands of changelings had died in the bloodshed, taking the other races with them.
"Do you know the name of the man who helped draft the laws that ended the war?"
"Adrian Kenner," she said, flipping through her memory files to retrieve the name. "He was a side note in a history textbook."
"A side note to the other races, maybe," Clay said. "He's considered a critical figure in changeling history. All our children know his name. What most people forget, though" - he brushed his lips over hers - "is that Adrian Kenner was only human, too."
She wiggled up the bed until they were face-to-face. "Really? But how? Why?"
"The predators would've torn each other's throats out. A nonpredatory negotiator would've been ignored by the predators." Matter-of-fact words. "As for the Psy - they tried but the changelings wouldn't trust anyone who had the ability to mess with their minds. Plus, they had a nasty way of looking down on us for being animals."
"The Psy were like that before Silence?"
"Why do you think Silence took so well? The seeds were there."
Talin mulled his words over. "You're saying we're neutral territory."
"No, you're the bridge. Changelings trust only Pack. Psy stay in the PsyNet. But humans move freely between all three - or did, before Silence."
She bit her lip. "The Forgotten - more of them married humans than changelings."
"Yes. It's almost impossible to breach the walls of a changeling pack. We're as unwelcoming to outsiders as the Psy."
"You're not so bad," she murmured. "I like how you care for each other." The depth of that loyalty was an almost visible force.
"But we need the occasional human to come in and shake us up. All the humans who've mated into DarkRiver have made us stronger, given us bonds outside the pack. You're not only human, Talin. You're beautifully, powerfully human."
She nodded, but her mind was less on his words than why he'd said them. For her. To bolster her confidence. Was it any wonder she loved him? "I'm so glad I came to you," she said, just as a low beep cut through the air.
"That's my cell phone," Clay told her. "It's on the bed stand - can you grab it?"
Knowing it had to be important if he was willing to cut short their conversation, she turned, grabbed it, and gave it to him. She stayed with her head on his arm but put enough distance between them that she could see his face as he flipped open the phone. "Thanks for getting back to me," were his first words.