Sophia only understood about half of what he’d said. But she knew he’d taken her, and that he wasn’t a man she wanted to be alone with. He smelled wrong.
A laugh, almost amused. “I’ll shower when we get to the bungalow. Got a little sweaty and bloody saving your life.”
A snapshot of memory, her legs kicking out in futile panic, her limbs too heavy to do much damage as he cut away the straps that held her in the car, as he pulled her out. Rain on her face. Glass on her legs.
Reaching down, she touched her thighs, touched the damp material that covered it.
“You’re not injured,” the man with the wrongness in him said as he brought the vehicle to a stop. “A few cuts and bruises from the crash, but otherwise fine. Not even that wet. My arms got nicely sliced up coming to your rescue—I’m sure you’re dying to thank me.”
A buzzing in her head, a dizzying splash of words and images, her mind twisting out of control for a frightening instant as the drugs punched at her again. But she came to enough to flinch when the man exited his side of the car and came around to hers.
“I’m not going to hurt you.”
Lying, she thought, he was lying. “Don’t touch me,” she forced out through lips that didn’t work right.
His expression changed, becoming mean in a way she couldn’t describe. “I’m in charge now.” His hand clamped over her upper arm, and he lowered his head, as if he would kiss her.
Even in the depths of her narcotic induced state, she knew that if she told him the truth, it’d give him another weapon with which to torture her. But if she didn’t, he might inadvertently break her mind, kill her by making her relive the horrifying ugliness of his blood-drenched memories. And she had to survive. Because Max didn’t know. “No,” she whispered, swallowing the nausea inspired by his mere presence. “J. Can’t . . . contact.”
He stilled, his hand tightening on her arm. “You telling me direct physical contact can hurt you? Is that why you were always wearing those gloves?”
She tried to nod, but her head fell forward, and she had so much trouble bringing it back up. “Yes.”
“Then I guess I’ll just have to be careful.” Unsnapping her safety belt, he lifted her out of the car and into his arms.
Her clothing protected her, but this close, her remaining telepathic shields shredded by the drugs, she couldn’t help but drown in the fetid evil of him. He appeared normal, human. But he wasn’t. He was so twisted up inside, so viciously mutated that he wasn’t even close to human.
A slam, her body being laid down on some sort of a soft surface, that handsome blue-eyed face going in and out of focus. Her stomach revolted at the same moment, and she pitched over the side of what turned out to be a sofa, her stomach twisting in agony.
“There, there . . .” He was wiping her face with a wet cloth, his voice solicitous. “I’ll clean that up. Let me take you into the bedroom.” A smile that made her blood chill. “That’s where we’ll be playing our games anyway.”
Take care of my heart won’t you, Sophie? It’s a little odd having it outside my body—but I’m planning to steal yours to make up for it.
—Handwritten note from Max to Sophia
Max overrode his car’s safety instructions for the fifteenth time but knew he was going to be far too late. By his calculations, Bonner was almost fifty minutes ahead of him. Even if he made the journey to the resort in half the time, that still gave the Butcher an eternity too long to torment a confused and drugged Sophia.
She’d survive, he told himself. J-Psy were tough in every way. And his Sophie had proven her strength over and over. He’d find her. There was no other option.
He’d just overtaken a sedan going at exactly the speed limit when there was a slight shift in the world to the right of him. He had his stunner out and pointed to the head of the Psy who’d teleported into the passenger seat before the thought cleared his mind.
“That won’t be necessary, Detective.” A voice so cold, it was beyond ice, beyond emotionless. “Nikita asked for a favor. Where do you need to go?”
Making a split-second decision, Max lowered the stunner and crossed lanes to the blaring of warning signals, coming to a full stop on the verge. “To Sophia Russo,” he said to the man in the passenger seat.
Councilor Kaleb Krychek wore a razor-perfect charcoal gray suit and had eyes of pure black filled with white stars. But unlike Faith’s or Sascha’s, his eyes were remote in a way Max simply couldn’t explain. It was as if Kaleb had never felt, as if not even an echo of the boy he must’ve once been lived in his eyes.
“I need a lock,” the Councilor said, and they could’ve been discussing the weather, not the life of a woman who had fought for her right to live every second of every day. “I can only teleport to locations I’ve either seen or have a recent visual of.”
“Can you go to people?”
“Yes, with certain qualifications.”
Max held out his hand. “Take her image from my head.”
Kaleb didn’t touch him. “You have a natural shield.” His tone said that that made taking anything impossible.
Not giving in to frustration, Max quickly routed to the Internet using his phone. “There,” he said, bringing up an image of the beach resort. “Can you get me there?”
Kaleb brought out a slim device that appeared to be a high-end organizer and pulled up several more detailed pictures of the place. “Yes.”