“What do you expect?” Tammy rolled her eyes. “They’re growing up around Nate and the others. They’ve figured out you’re to be ‘looked after.’ ”
Sascha laughed as Tammy took a seat opposite her. Ferocious, the twins’ pet kitten, immediately made himself at home in the healer’s lap. “Shouldn’t they both be in kindergarten?”
“They’re doing half days at the moment—just got home a few minutes back,” Tamsyn said with a fond smile. “They both got a good-behavior report from the teacher.”
Kissing the pad of her index finger, Sascha touched it to the tip of Julian’s nose. Lifting a paw, he nipped playfully at her finger. “Why do you sound so surprised?”
“Tell me you’re not.”
Sascha couldn’t help it, she laughed again, even as Jules and Rome both gave little growls. “They’ll grow up into wonderful young men, you know.”
Tammy’s eyes softened. “I know.” Petting a purring Ferocious, she leaned back in her seat. “So, you saw your mother today.”
“Yes.” Roman butted against her hand when she stopped stroking him, and she continued at once, scratching him behind the ears in that way he liked before moving up and down through the beautiful gold and black fur of his back. “I don’t know if I’m fooling myself, but I think . . . there’s something different about her.”
Tamsyn didn’t say anything, just let Sascha talk. And she did. She talked about her hopes, her worries, her fears. “Do you think,” she said at last, “it’s just the emotions of pregnancy? I mean, I love our baby so much. I can’t imagine any mother not feeling this way.” Under her now unmoving hands, Jules and Rome lay curled up, fast asleep, two exquisitely precious lives.
“Psy are different,” Tammy said at last, “you know that far better than I ever could. But you’re also an empath, and if your heart tells you there’s some hope of a healthy relationship with Nikita . . .”
“I don’t know,” Sascha said. “I just know I’m not ready to give up on her yet.”
Tammy’s smile was slow, strong as her healer’s heart. “Then I guess Councilor Nikita Duncan had better watch out.”
Having dropped a dubious-looking Morpheus off at DarkRiver HQ—to be taken home by Clay—Max and Sophia arrived at the closest airport to the D2 penitentiary less than three hours after Max’s meeting with Nikita. A twenty-minute drive later and they were at the facility.
“Bonner still refusing to talk?” Max asked Bart after Sophia returned to the room, having undergone a quick preliminary checkup at the M-Psy’s hands. Max met her gaze, caught the very slight shake of her head. Relief twisted around his heart—she was hanging on, refusing to surrender to the death that had been stalking her her whole life.
“Bastard hasn’t said a word since he asked for Ms. Russo,” Bart said, glancing at Sophia. “Be careful, Ms. Russo. I have a feeling he’s enraged after we sent in a male J to do a follow-up on his comm-conference with you.”
Sophia’s expression didn’t change. “I expected that, Mr. Reuben. Bonner isn’t used to being denied.”
Max folded his arms across his chest. “That’s an understatement.” Bonner had been born into wealth, gone to the most exclusive private schools, summered on a vineyard in Champagne, wintered at a ski resort in Switzerland. He’d had simply to ask and his parents had given it to him, their only son—a hundred-thousand-dollar car at sixteen, a trip around the world at seventeen, a private residence on their extensive property at eighteen.
“He’ll try to play you,” Bart said, tapping a pen on the old-fashioned legal pad he insisted on using. “He’s had a few days to do some underground research, maybe find out things about you—”
Sophia shook her head. “I’ve survived worse monsters.” Her eyes met Max’s. “It’s time for me to go in.”
Every single muscle in his body went rock hard in rejection of the idea, but he nodded. “I’ll be right here—one small signal and I come get you.”
Sophia walked into the same room she’d entered only a few days prior, but this time, she was viscerally aware of Max’s gaze on her no matter that he stood hidden behind the wall that separated the room from the observation chamber. And though a prison guard stood with his back to the wall behind Bonner, it was the knowledge of Max watching over her that kept her calm, focused.
Her cop would never let the monster touch her.
With that knowledge in her heart, she said, “Mr. Bonner,” as she reached the table.
Gerard Bonner’s smile presumed an intimacy that made her skin crawl. “Sophia. I’d rise to welcome you, but alas . . .” He gestured to the clamps that kept him immobilized, his hands jerking to a halt.
“It’s for my protection that you can’t move,” she said, taking a seat across from him. “You have very strong hands.” After torturing Carissa White in a multitude of horrific ways, he’d finally killed her with the intimacy of his hands.
“Are you attempting to shock me?” A warm chuckle from the outwardly handsome man in front of her. “I enjoyed it, you know. Poor Carissa. She begged me to do it in the end.”
So clever, she thought, always couching his words in a way that it was never quite a confession. Not that they needed it, not for Carissa White. “I was told you were ready to cooperate.”