Kaleb had first spoken to it at seven years of age.
Satisfied the DarkMind would cause no more chaos for the next few hours, he returned his attention to the problem at hand. If either of the Scotts discovered the truth behind the mark that branded him, it would give them the weapon they needed to challenge his meticulously planned takeover of the Council. That could not be allowed to happen.
He glanced at his watch. While the sun shone in Moscow, it was now three a.m. in San Francisco. But this conversation could not be delayed. Retrieving a secure phone from inside the house, he punched in a code. "Put me through to Anthony Kyriakus. PsyClan NightStar."
"Tell me," Talin said to Clay hours later.
He'd come to her an hour before dawn, after he and the others had cleaned up the evidence and buried the body so far in the forest that no one would ever find it. Larsen Brandell had, for all intents and purposes, disappeared without a trace.
Judd had left the woman's mind unharmed. There was nothing anyone could learn from her other than that she'd been interrogated by two unknown men, men who had taken her organizer before setting her free.
DarkRiver and SnowDancer didn't mind going up against the Psy, but sometimes it was better to work in the shadows, to become stronger than your enemy could imagine. They now had further evidence of the failure of Silence, evidence Clay had a feeling would end up being used as a weapon in the building revolution in the Net.
"Clay," Talin prompted, as they lay face-to-face in bed. "Talk to me, darling. Tell me what's put that look in your eyes."
And because this was Tally, the one person to whom he'd never been able to lie, he told her everything. "I'm happy he's dead," he said, drinking her in as she leaned on her elbow and looked down at him, that glorious mane tumbling over one shoulder. "It had to be done."
"Was it like before?"
"No." He surprised himself with that answer. "That was rage. Rage and protectiveness and helplessness. But it wasn't like the soldier when we rescued Jon and Noor, either - that was in the heat of battle. This was a cold-blooded execution." He refused to dress up the truth. Tally had to accept him, animal brutality and all. If she couldn't...It would claw into his predator's heart, but it wouldn't make him set her free. He wasn't ever letting her go. "I cut his throat."
Instead of exhibiting disgust, she spread one hand over his heartbeat. "Why did you execute him?"
"If I hadn't, he would have found a way to go on killing children." Larsen's own plans - stored in the organizer they had found in his pocket - had provided ample proof of his murderous tendencies.
Talin bent her head until their foreheads touched, her hair a shimmering curtain around them. "If that bastard was standing here right this second, I'd drive a knife into his black heart without hesitation."
He put his hands on her hips. "Would you?"
"Yes." Her lips brushed his. "He hurt my children. Ask any other woman in your pack and they'll give you the same answer. Do you think I'm a monster for admitting that?"
"Then how can you possibly be?"
Something tight unfurled inside him and he lay quiescent as she kissed him with delicate feminine sweetness, as if savoring the taste of him. "Still adore me?" he said into that kiss, his tone husky. A tone between lovers, between mates, between a man and the only woman he had ever wanted.
"Too much," was her response. "I only feel whole when I'm with you. Does that make me weak?"
The cat stretched out inside him as she pressed kisses along his jawline, down his neck. "If you're weak, then so am I." He could function without her but in the way a machine functions. His heart, his soul, he had given to her a long time ago. Her hair stroked over him as she began to kiss her way downward. "Tally - "
"Shh." She put her hand over his heart again and looked up, such tenderness in her gaze that he felt captured, contained, caged. But his jailer was soft and so sweet, he was completely in her thrall. "Let me love you tonight."
"Just tonight?" he teased, pushing one of his hands in her hair.
Her smile lit up the whole room. "Maybe I'll do it again...if you behave." Dipping her head, she pressed more of those delicate kisses to his skin. "Are you sensitive here?" She flicked her tongue across one flat nipple.
Clay sucked in a breath, felt more than heard her laugh. Then she blew a breath across the damp flesh and he groaned. That was when she used her teeth on him. The cat growled but Tally didn't stop what she was doing. He hadn't wanted her to. The cat liked her teeth, her claws, her scent, everything about her.
Her scent? For a second, he thought he should remember something, but Tally was moving to the other side of his chest and he was having trouble thinking about anything but the soft curves of her body. Under his hands, he felt satin and lace. "What's this?"
"The women gave it to me. Hmm." The sound vibrated through him as she reached the waistband of the sweatpants he'd worn to bed. "Why did you get dressed?"
His abdomen grew rock hard as he tensed his muscles in an attempt to keep his dominant instincts in check. "I thought you were tired."
She ran her tongue along the waistband, excruciatingly close to his cock. "You're not tired." Raising her head, she brought up her hand to clasp him through the material.
His back arched. "Tally." It was both warning and plea.
She snapped her teeth at him. "Should I bite?"
His c**k jumped. "I thought you liked me."