There was no touch, no warning.
Max only just kept his balance as they appeared in front of the massive glass lobby that fronted the resort, the air heavy but clear of rain. The gaping doorman snapped his mouth shut. “Councilor Krychek,” he managed to croak out. “I wasn’t aware you had a reservation, sir.” Max went through the door before Kaleb, heading to the desk.
Slamming down his ID in front of the receptionist, he brought up Bonner’s photo—from a newspaper story—on his cell phone and showed it to the blond male on duty. “Which room?”
“Ah . . .” The man looked left, then right. “I have to ask my manag—”
“If she dies,” Max said with absolute intent, “you die next.”
Going sheet white, the receptionist shook his head. “I haven’t seen—”
“Single male, probably checked in within the past twelve hours, isolated bungalow.”
The blond began working his computer. “We’ve only had one arrival in the past twenty-four hours. But Mr. White’s—”
The ice in Max’s bloodstream turned to liquid fire at the sound of that name, a name the Butcher had no right to use. “Where!”
“Bungalow Ten, right at the end of the Eastern Route.” The receptionist brought up a holographic image of the resort without prompting. “We’re here. Bungalow Ten is here.” He pointed out the locations. “About a twenty minute walk.”
Max saw Kaleb walk in, turned to him. “Can you teleport there?”
“This image is representational—a 3D map,” the other man said at once. “I need a shot of the actual building.”
“I’m sorry.” The receptionist spread his hands. “I don’t have anything like that on hand. I could try our PR depart—”
But Max was already running through the doors.
Sophia rolled off the bed and began to stagger to the door. He hadn’t tied her up when he went to have his shower, and that was his mistake.
Her leg went out from under her after three halting steps, her knee hitting the floor hard enough to send pain shooting up her leg. Biting off her cry, she gripped the edge of the bed and pulled herself up again. It took too long. She could hear him whistling in the smoked-glass enclosure a bare few feet away, obscenely cheerful, a man without a care in the world.
The bedroom door swayed then stretched sideways, making her grip the end of the bed for balance. Forcing herself to let go of the anchor, she lurched forward, desperate to get through that twisting, stretched door. She could almost hear it laughing at her. “Stop. Stop.”
The laughter turned into chuckles. “And where do you think you’re going?” Damp around her waist, skin so close to her cheek. She flinched, trying to hide her bare hands under her armpits.
“Now walk back . . . there you go.”
She knew she had to do what he said, because his semi-nakedness was on purpose, a threat. “Why?” It came out raw, but it was also from the center of her brain, the part that hadn’t been compromised.
He didn’t answer until she was sitting with her back braced against the headboard, her legs stretched out in front of her. “You fascinate me,” he said, stroking his hand down her thigh.
Nauseated, she tried to pull away, but he pinned her in place.
“When we talked before,” he continued in a calm, clear voice, as if they were close acquaintances having an everyday conversation, “I used to wonder what you were like beneath that Psy surface. I wondered if you were like other women or if you were more.”
“Drugged,” she said, her mouth full of cotton wool. “Not myself.”
Anger rippled across his features. “No. That’s rather disappointing. I want to play with you. It doesn’t matter—we have time.” He leaned in. “Your skin is so clear, so lovely.” His hand moved a bare centimeter away from the vulnerable flesh of her face. “I don’t want to lose my playmate too quickly, but after so long, I just . . . can’t resist.” His fingertip brushed her flesh.
Gaping, screaming mouths.
Pleas. Whispers. Cries.
Earth, dark and dirty.
Blood spraying a wall. A thousand droplets of horror.
Sophia fought the spiraling whirlpool, knowing that this time someone would come for her, her cop would come for her. All she had to do was survive.
Max made himself come to a full stop a few feet from Bungalow Ten, his lungs burning after the sprint that had brought him here.
Instinct urged him to slam the door open and blast in, guns blazing, but he took two deep gulps of air, settled his breathing. “We have to be careful,” he said to the cold-eyed Psy who’d run beside him with a lethal grace that made it inhumanly clear he was a telekinetic. “If he’s near her with a weapon, he could decide to kill her if we startle him.”
Krychek looked at the building, no change in his expression. “The windows are curtained. How will you know what’s happening within?”
“Bonner’s ego was always his undoing,” Max said, walking silently to the door and twisting the old-fashioned door handle with care. As he’d hoped, the monster hadn’t locked it—the possibility of escape a taunt to his victim. Pushing it back a fraction, he chanced a look. Seeing nothing and no one in the living area, he opened it enough that he could slide in.
Not sure what Krychek’s interest was in this beyond a cool intellectual curiosity, he left the Councilor to make his own choices as he toed off his shoes and sodden socks and crossed the living area on quiet feet, heading toward the semi-open doorway he could see on the other end. Pressing himself to the wall, he glanced in through the crack on the hinged side of the door.