He didn't put on his T-shirt, a bronzed god in sunlight. "You didn't seem keen on talking to her when she visited."
"I was ashamed." Unable to stop her eyes from drinking in the addictive beauty of him, she got up and walked to stare sightlessly through the windows. "I didn't understand why then, but now I know."
"She'll have guessed - "
"It doesn't matter!" Thrusting a hand through hair that had begun to lighten even under the winter sun, she leaned her forehead against the glass. "I need to face her, tell her what I did."
Dev's voice came from inches behind her. "You've remembered more."
"I dream." Such horrible dreams. "But last night was different - for a while it was as if I'd wiped the grime off a particular lens, making everything crystal clear."
He leaned forward, one hand palm down on either side of her head. "How much?"
She found herself desperately fighting the urge to lean back, to surrender to the illusion once again. "Pieces, but enough that I know I need to tell Ashaya, warn her."
A long silence, broken only by their breaths, the window fogging over to lock them in a still, quiet intimacy. "You could be a threat to her family, the children. You were pretty adamant yourself about not going to her when I mentioned it at the clinic."
Her stomach dropped. "Yes. . .yes, you're right." Legs weakening, she braced herself on the glass rather than on him, not sure she'd be able to pull back a second time. Emotion was a feedback loop without rules, without boundaries. It scared her how susceptible she was to this man who seemed almost Psy in his ability to lock away his emotions when they became inconvenient.
Forcing herself to think past her turbulent awareness of him was almost impossibly hard, but something in his words drove her forward. "Dev," she whispered, "you said children. Ashaya only has a son."
The solid warmth of Dev's body stroked over her as he spoke. "The two kids who were kept in the labs while you were there . . ."
"The boy and a little girl." So young, so vulnerable.
"Ashaya didn't kill them - she helped them escape."
Panic beat in her. "Wait - "
"The Council knows," Dev told her. "The kids were adopted by a DarkRiver couple and after Ashaya's defection, there was no need to hide them."
Emotion - relief, worry, joy - buffeted her on every side. "I guessed that Ashaya got them out, but I was never sure." And she hadn't asked, conscious that the fewer people who knew the truth, the better. "I suppose," she managed to say through the chaos in her body, her mind, "I'd begun to think that since I hadn't been compelled to head toward her, Shine had to be the target, but the reality is I could be programmed to hit her or the children. I'd never know until that particular component of the compulsion activated." Her hand fisted so tight, she felt her entire hand throb. "I hate this, not knowing what's in my own head."
"How far would you go to fix that?" Dev asked, and there was a darkness in his voice that should've scared her.
But she'd gone past that kind of fear. "As far as it takes!"
"Would you leave the PsyNet?"
That halted her. It was a question she'd never even considered. "I can't. I need the biofeedback provided by my connection to the Net." Psy who lost that feedback died within a matter of minutes. "I know - I remember - the ShadowNet can't take pure-blooded Psy anymore."
His arm muscles went rock hard. "I didn't realize Psy knew that."
"Not Psy . . . well, I suppose the Council does now." She wrapped her arms around herself, ashamed of how utterly she'd broken, how much she'd betrayed. "Ashaya and I, we made that assessment. It was a best-guess scenario. We had to know, you see."
"Yes." A silence. Then, a wave of heat, as if he'd shifted an inch closer. "If the ShadowNet could support full-bloods, rebels would have the perfect escape hatch."
Katya bit her lip, wanting him to close the final, minuscule gap between them and hating him at the same time for inciting such need inside her. Because, unlike Dev, she didn't know how to go cold anymore. This want, this hunger, she'd never be able to put it back in its box. But she didn't turn, didn't pound him with her fists as she wanted.
"It wasn't mercenary," she said. "There's just so much we can't do because we're trapped by our need for feedback. If we could somehow neutralize that . . ." More and more of her memories were starting to come back, as if her mind had picked up enough steam that it could part the curtains, even if it was only segment by slow segment.
"The thing is, Katya," Dev said, his lips grazing her ear in a hot caress that almost broke her, "the ShadowNet would probably drive most Psy to insanity. It's chaos given form."
"What about the ones who are already mad?" she asked, seeing another painful truth. "What about the ones like me?"
Jack looked up as William walked into the garage. "Hey, kiddo. What's up?"
"I have a question." All big moss green eyes, Will hitched himself up on his usual spot on top of the closed tool chest.
"Yeah? Homework?" Setting down the old-fashioned saw he'd been using to shorten a length of timber in preparation for building a tree house, Jack headed over to hunker in front of his son, glad Will was acting more like his normal self. After the last incident . . . "Hit me with it."
But Will didn't respond with his usual mock punch. Instead, his lower lip trembled. "How do you know if you're bad?"