Striding upstairs to throw their duffels into his bedroom, he called back over his shoulder, "I need some quiet time."
As she watched him come back down the stairs, she found a thread of laughter inside her. "So we'll be sleeping in separate bedrooms tonight?"
Leaning against the wall, he crooked a finger. "Come here and I'll tell you."
"Do you think I was born yesterday?" Folding her arms, she shook her head. "I'm staying right here, Mr. Santos."
He straightened, the barest hint of a smile curving his lips. "Then I guess I'll have to come to you."
An almost desperate need took hold of her as he walked over. Her time was running out. She hadn't had a nosebleed today, but a headache pounded at the back of her skull with relentless force. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. It made her want to curl up in a little ball and whimper.
But she wasn't going to waste time doing that, not when she had so little left.
Dev's smile turned grim as he came to stand in front of her. "How bad is it?" His fingers settled gently on her temples.
She melted into the touch. "I thought you weren't that strong a telepath."
"I was waiting for you to tell me," he said. "Or were you going to pretend you were fine?"
She recognized that she was being reprimanded, even though it was being done in that quiet, reasonable voice. "There's not much we can do. I have to deal with it using the usual mental exercises."
"They haven't worked for the past ten minutes, have they?"
Realizing his mind was far too acute to miss anything, she gave in. "Do you have an alternative?"
"Possibly," he said, to her surprise. "My ancestors were a rebellious lot, in case you hadn't guessed."
That got her a small smile. "Cheek suits you." A kiss so tender, tears burned at the backs of her eyes. "Sometime after they dropped out of the Net, one of the M-Psy started questioning the accepted knowledge that Psy react badly to all narcotics and painkillers." His fingers drifted down to the back of her head, pressing lightly.
It felt so good, she couldn't stop her little murmur of relief. "Did the M-Psy find a solution?" she said after almost a minute.
"Not a drug one." He shook his head. "You full-bloods are appallingly weak."
"And you half-bloods can't even telepath a foot."
A nip at her lower lip. "But, he did figure out a way to alleviate pain through the use of pressure points during massage."
"Did your ancestors pass the knowledge on to those in the PsyNet?"
"What do you think?"
Sighing, she placed her forehead against his chest, realizing the pain was already starting to fade. "The Council wouldn't have wanted any such close-contact healing when Silence was so young, so easily broken."
His fingers went down her neck, to her shoulders, then back up. "Yes. And then later, the touching would've gone against the conditioning."
"Sounds about right." Her arms were around his waist, the heat of him a familiar stroke. I'll miss you so. Dev trusted her enough to let her roam the house and grounds alone now. He'd never expect her to run. But she had to. Because if she didn't, she was terrified she'd lose herself to Ming's control, try to spill Dev's blood.
And once she was gone, Dev would have to drop his idea of going after Ming - no plan would work without her active participation. He'd be safe.
"Come to bed," he murmured against her ear. "I'm in a good mood - I'll give you a full-body massage."
"How generous," she teased, headache less than a dull throb now. "This has nothing to do with getting your hands on my na**d body?"
Kisses brushed along the shell of her ear. "Of course it does - I don't massage for free."
She let him tug her into the bedroom, let him shut the door, strip off their jackets. Just once more, she told herself. Afterward. . .after he was asleep, she'd sneak out. He hadn't reset the house alarm, and that would have been the biggest hurdle. It would take an hour to reach the main road on foot, perhaps longer, but she had time. All the time in the world. Because she had no destination. . . aside from getting away from Dev.
But right this moment, she wanted simply to breathe in the scent of him, until it was imprinted into her very cells. When he pressed her back against the door, his hands on either side of her, she wrapped her arms around his neck and smiled in welcome. "Do I get a kiss before my massage?"
"Since you asked so nice." His lips were smiling when they touched hers, and she'd never guessed until this moment what it was to kiss a man you could laugh with. They smiled through the entire kiss, as he sipped at her, before slicking his tongue over her lips.
She danced her own tongue playfully over his, flirting but never delivering. He nipped at her in sensual punishment before taking her mouth with a dominance that was as natural to him as breathing. And through it all, he kept her pinned to the door, his heavier body a delicious source of pressure.
Smoothing her hands over his shoulders, she slipped her fingers under the sleeves of his T-shirt, glorying in the quint-essentially male strength of him. "Take off your T-shirt."
"I'm starting to think the headache was a ploy so you could have your wicked way with me."
A teasing Dev, Katya found, was a devastatingly sexy Dev. "You look hot - I thought it would cool you down."
That got her another laughter-filled kiss. He backed off only for the moments it took to strip off his T-shirt and throw it to the floor. She couldn't help but spread her fingers over the silky-rough surface of his chest as he returned to claim her mouth, his own hand closing possessively over her hip.