If they wanted proof, she would give it to them.
But first, she had to strike a bargain.
Talin threw a small bag containing water and food into the plane. If all went according to plan, they would be in and out overnight. "How come you have a pilot's license? Is that what you do for a living?" she asked the tall, blond, and stupidly good-looking pilot. The last time she'd met him had been outside of Joe's Bar. Her gut twisted at the memory of what she'd revealed to Clay that day, the truth that sat a sullen intruder between them. "Dorian?"
Dorian scowled. "How come you're such a smart-ass?"
She winced, realizing he hadn't forgotten their meeting either. "Um, genetic flaw?"
To her surprise, his cool expression segued into a smile so charming, she felt sucker-punched. "You're sort of little. I like little."
Talin looked around. Where was Clay? He'd gone to grab something from the Tank, which was parked a short distance away. She wished he'd hurry the hell up. It looked like his "friend" was hitting on her. "I'm taken."
"I know. I can smell Clay on you." He pushed up the brim of his baseball cap. "And I'm an architect - flying's a hobby."
"Oh." She shifted her feet, wondering if she'd ever get used to changeling sensory abilities. It was unsettling to realize his pack would know beyond a doubt that she and Clay had been intimate. But...it was also kind of nice. Because if she carried his scent, that meant he had to carry hers, too, didn't it? "Why are you staring?" she asked when Dorian didn't look away, his blue eyes bright in the midmorning light.
"Curiosity." His tone betrayed the fact that, charming or not, he suffered from the same arrogant masculine streak as Clay. "Wanted to know what you had that was strong enough to bring Clay down."
She bristled. "I don't think he thinks he's been brought down."
A grunt. "I figure if I know in advance, it'll be harder for a pretty woman to sideswipe me."
"How about an ugly one?" she snapped, irritated by the way he was making it sound as though she'd trapped Clay.
"No such thing," he responded, and there was an honesty beneath the charm that got to her. "I like women."
She had a feeling women liked him right back - when he could be bothered to lay on the charm as he was doing now. That time she'd seen him hauling the teenagers out of the bar, he'd been pure, lethal predator. "If you like women," she said, wondering why she merited the charm, "why are you so scared of committing to one?"
Those surfer-blue eyes were suddenly chrome-cold, flat, dangerous. "It's more a case of having things to do, people to kill, before I set up house."
"I don't want to know."
"No, you don't."
Talin froze, able to sense his deep-seated anger. She felt tension begin to knot up her spine. Male anger was not something she did well with. That level of trust - for them to not turn on her even when angry - she had only with Clay. And the depth of that trust was a revelation, one that awoke wonder in her.
Dorian's eyes narrowed. "I'm not going to hurt you."
She answered his bluntness with the same. "I don't know you well enough to trust you."
He nodded. "Fair enough."
She could've left it at that, but..."Being that angry, holding it so close, it's not good for you." She could almost touch the vicious rage hidden beneath his handsome facade.
"I get enough of that from Sascha," he said with a scowl. "Why don't you stick to babying Clay?"
"How do you think he'd react?"
Dorian's smile returned, slow and more than a little satisfied. "I think you're the one person who could get away with it."
She hunched her shoulders, uncomfortable. "I don't have that much power." Wouldn't know what to do with it if she had. All she wanted was the chance to love Clay, to wipe away the past with the beauty of the present. Before this f**king disease ended everything. Her own ever-present anger grew a dull flame in her gut.
"You got him blind drunk. Clay doesn't drink."
Her head snapped up. "What?"
"He went on a bender the day you came back into his life." He raised an eyebrow. "I'm guessing you two have a history."
"Something like that," she muttered, sick at the thought of what Dorian had described, but trying not to betray what the knowledge had done to her.
Somehow, he knew. Taking off his cap, he put it on her head. "Suits you."
It was a gesture of affection, pure and simple. Her heart melted a tiny bit. "Thanks."
"And don't worry about Clay - he needed to cut loose." He grinned. "Man has a right to get drunk over a woman who matters. I'd have been more worried if he hadn't started acting crazy."
The words were light, but she got the picture. It seemed she hadn't been alone in putting her emotions in deep freeze. "If I wasn't already taken," she said, liking him for telling her what she needed to know, "I would kiss you."
"You're welcome to." He tapped his cheek. "Or how about one with tongue?"
She'd just begun to frown when she felt Clay's hand land on her hip. The growl that came from his throat vibrated into her bones. "Find your own damn woman."
Dorian shoved a hand through his hair, an unabashed grin on his face. "I kind of like yours, smart mouth and all."
"Clay, he said he's an architect - is that true?" she teased, easy now that Clay was back, but also because Dorian had grown on her. She was under no illusion as to how dangerous he was - his charm was a cover for an incredible amount of anger, but it was also a part of him. When he wasn't filled up with that deep-seated rage, she had a feeling he could charm the birds out of the trees.