He wondered what she'd do if he gave in to temptation and flicked his tongue along her full lower lip. "How does your gift work?" he asked, curling his hand into a tight fist. "You see me and know my genetic blueprint?"
She shook her head. "Not quite. Depending on what I'm searching for, it can take hours, days, weeks, sometimes months, to tease apart the DNA."
"Why tell me all this?" He was a leopard sentinel. Even half-insane with this unwanted craving, his brain cells were working just fine. And he knew there had to be a reason for her unusual openness. "What do you want?"
She bit her lower lip.
His blood rushed to his cock. The roaring in his ears was so loud, he almost missed her next words.
"I want your DNA."
A kiss is a melding of mouths. I've considered every aspect of this form of affection since the last perplexing dream, but I still don't see the point of it.
- From the encrypted personal files of Ashaya Aleine
Surprise hit Dorian hard. "You obviously weren't this blunt with the Council."
"I can play political games if necessary." Cool voice, jittery heartbeat. "It's not who I am."
He believed her. "Are you planning to mutate my DNA?" he teased.
"Obviously not." She straightened out her legs, stretching until her toes touched the clear glass of the French doors.
He looked at her primly cut, unpainted nails and felt another urge to bite. Then she said, "If I planned to get rid of you, I'd do it silently and with such efficiency that everyone would think you'd died a natural death."
If any other woman had made the threat, he'd probably have grinned and said something about never making her mad. But this wasn't any other woman. Ashaya was a scientist who'd spent years in the arms of the Psy Council. She was also the only female to have ever threatened his control. "You could try." It was a soft, lethal threat.
Ashaya hadn't expected that response, though why, she couldn't say. It just seemed wrong on a fundamental level. "Would you kill me?"
"No. There are other ways to break a woman." An answer that told her nothing, but tore a ragged hole in that primitive core Dorian alone seemed to awaken. She staggered under the mental injury, scrambling to regather her defenses.
And in that instant, Amara found her again.
Naughty, naughty, Ashaya. Trying to hide.
Ashaya broke the connection with the frantic speed of experience, knowing she was only patching up the cracks, only delaying the inevitable... but she didn't want to kill her twin. Because no matter what else she'd done, Amara had upheld the bonds of sisterhood - she'd never revealed Ashaya's secrets.
Feeling psychically battered, she raised her head to find Dorian scowling at her. "Your eyes just bled to pure black," he said, looking at her with a quiet intensity that reminded her of the predator he was.
"I didn't expect you to threaten me," she said, but couldn't stifle the urge to ask, "Is Keenan still safe? You haven't had any reports of problems?" She didn't care what it betrayed, she had to know her baby was okay.
"He's fine - I checked. Cell phones are functioning again."
"Thank you." She wanted to beg for more information, but swallowed the need. To know too much would be the same as going to see him - she'd lead Amara right to his door.
Dorian continued to stare at her. "Were you playing with me?"
"The crack about the natural death."
She didn't know how to answer him. So she told the truth. "You weren't being serious. Neither was I."
He blew out a breath. "I'm sorry I snarled." When she just stared at him, too surprised to respond, his expression turned into a scowl. "How much DNA do you need?"
She blinked, staring into the extraordinary blue of his eyes. He was so beautiful it seemed impossible that he should exist. "Aren't you curious as to why I want it?"
"To see my abnormal genetic structure."
Her guard immediately went up - he was being far too cooperative. "Yes," she said warily. "I want to see why you are as you are."
"Why not steal my DNA? Easy enough to come by."
"Because," she said, not trusting the strange light in his eyes, "as telepaths don't cross certain ethical boundaries, neither do I. And I just need a minute fraction. Give me a moment."
Making a quick trip to her room, she grabbed the small scientific kit she'd found hidden in a side pocket of her pack - Zie Zen knew her well - and returned to her previous position. "A slide," she explained to the cat who'd waited suspiciously patiently for her. "It's the only one in the kit, so I'll have to get it right first time. A drop of blood would probably work best - white blood cells 'show' better to my mental eye."
"I don't feel like cutting myself." That strange light glimmered brighter. "But I will... for a price."
Freezing, she returned the slide to the tool kit. "I'm not that curious."
"Yes, you are."
Yes, she was. It was why she was a scientist. "I have nothing to negotiate with."
"I told you, Shaya," he said, eyes grazing over her lips, causing an almost painful tightness in her stomach, "my cat wants to know what you taste like." A slow feline smile. "And since you're Psy, it's no skin off your back to give up a kiss. Just a primitive animal thing after all. Deal?"
"I knew your cooperation was too good to be true." And that apology was too confusing to even think about.
A grin that creased his cheeks with devastating charm. "I'm a cat, sugar. What did you expect?"