“I’m already working on it.” Her voice was husky, a rough caress, a reminder of the sensual fever that had almost consumed them earlier. “I have contacts in Justice who can do it under the radar.”
Max clenched his hand on the arm of his chair. “You know,” he murmured, needing to release the tension in some way, “I think this table is strong enough to take your weight. You never did tell me what you thought of boardroom sex.”
She jerked up her head, a slight flush on her cheeks. But she didn’t back down. “I think we’d need a stronger lock on the door—and I’m not sure I’d enjoy being pounded against a hard surface.”
The word “pounded” acted like an aphrodisiac, sending his good intentions all to hell. “Then you can ride me,” he said, his c**k a steel rod in his pants. “The view”—he ran his gaze over her br**sts—“would make me more than happy to be pounded.”
“Max,” Sophia said in a very tight voice, “if you don’t behave, I’ll—”
It was probably for the best that Andre Tulane, the final individual on the surveillance footage, arrived then. He gave them the same basic story as Quentin Gareth.
“Any one of them could’ve done it,” Max said after the man left, “even Marsha. All she’d have needed was a couple of minutes while Sascha went to the bathroom.”
Sophia’s responding words were practical . . . even if her voice continued to rub across his skin in sweet, hot strokes. “Maybe. But according to my recollection of the interview with Sascha, they were together when she felt Edward die.”
Max frowned, thought back. “You’re right. I’ll confirm with Sascha in any case.”
Nodding, Sophia said, “We should listen to the audio made by DarkRiver.”
Taking out his cell phone, Max played the file. “Edward Chan’s bio said he grew up in France”—a sharpening of interest, the first scent of their prey—“so that’s got to be him. Which means Chan welcomed someone back into his apartment just prior to his death. The time stamp on this file fits the time line perfectly.” Getting up, he walked to lean back against the table beside Sophia, unable to resist running his finger down her arm. “The wording tends to clear Ryan Asquith, even if he is a telekinetic.”
She shivered but didn’t pull away, her hand dangerously close to his thigh. He wanted her to raise it, place it on him, go higher. Smothering a goan at the erotic image, he focused on her mouth instead. “Yes,” she said, her lips soft and lush, “Asquith only went inside the apartment at the end. But by the same token, he is the newest, least known member of Nikita’s staff.”
“Yes”—his own voice was sandpaper rough—“but he wasn’t working for her when the elevator charge was laid.” Remembering the note he’d written while she’d been out of the room earlier, he took it out of his pocket and dropped it into her bag, making certain to just barely brush the back of her hand. It was a silent continuance of their play, a dare.
Sophia parted her lips, but whatever she was going to say was lost as she sucked in a breath, a spread of black staining her eyes. “Max.”
Sophia felt herself kicked into a memory retrieval with ruthless force. Except this was different. Not only the violence with which she’d been plunged into the memory, but her orientation within in. Usually, with other people’s memories, she saw what the individual in question had seen, looked through his or her eyes.
Here, it was as if she was an impartial observer, a third party wholly unconnected to the events playing out below—in what appeared to be a filthy alley crushed between two dirty tenement buildings.
They were children. Two boys. The dark haired one was painfully thin, his legs too long for his body, his eyes liquid dark in a face that was so beautiful, she knew he must’ve gotten teased for it—but he’d grown into that face, turned it savagely masculine with sheer strength of will. “You gotta stop this,” he said to the boy opposite him.
He smiled, that boy with his incredible lilac eyes and hair the color of ripe wheat turned to gold. If the first boy was beautiful, this one was a young god. His lips were flawlessly shaped, his skin porcelain, and his voice, when he spoke, as clear as the purest of bells. “Why?”
“Why?” The first boy, the boy Sophia knew, grabbed his friend’s arm, turning it over to reveal the ugliness of needle tracks. “If this is what it’s doing to you on the outside, what do you think it’s doing to you on the inside?”
The other boy smiled again and this time, Sophia caught it, that odd disconnection in his gaze, the stare of someone who wasn’t quite present. “It takes me flying, Maxie.”
“It’s fake.” Max’s hands on the other boy’s face, forcing the golden child to meet his gaze, his voice flint hard. “It’s just make-believe. You know that. When you crash, it hurts.”
A moment of strange clarity. “So what? What’s so good about our life? Huh?” The golden child cupped Max’s face in turn. “One of her men tried to touch me last night.”
Cold rage turned Max’s expression to ice. “I’ll kill him.”
Truth, Sophia thought, that was the unvarnished truth.
“It’s okay. Mum screamed and kicked him out.” He pressed his forehead to Max’s in a painful kind of affection. “She protects me. Why doesn’t she protect you?”
Thin shoulders sagging for an instant. “I don’t know, River.”