Home > Wolf Rain (Psy-Changeling Trinity #3)(11)

Wolf Rain (Psy-Changeling Trinity #3)(11)
Author: Nalini Singh

Despite that, she knew what those golden strands represented: the Honeycomb, the empathic network that was currently holding the PsyNet together. She’d read about it in the Beacon.

A glimmer of awareness.

Renault was turning. He was running.

“I’ll find a younger, fresher replacement!” he threw back as a final taunt. “You’re worthless now anyway!”

No surprise that his presence disappeared in the blink of an eye. His mind wasn’t anchored in this region—he’d retracted the roaming part he’d sent out to hunt her down.

Memory stopped screaming, the cold that invaded her veins this time a frigid terror.

Renault would’ve never run from her. He didn’t see her as a threat or an opponent. He saw her as a thing, a possession.

Darkness. Pure darkness.

Memory focused on the horizon, on the wave of deadly black coming closer. Her eyes snapped open. “Darkness comes.” She could never defeat those minds.

“Arrows,” Alexei said, rubbing gently at her nape.

Her heartbeat stuttered. Renault had told her about Arrows. Master assassins, they hunted people for the leaders of the Psy, and Renault was connected to those leaders. Arrows also hunted others—murderers and monsters and nightmares.

Jerking away from Alexei, she fell onto the floor. She scrambled back from him as nausea and betrayal twisted her gut.

He watched her with unblinking amber eyes. “Arrows are affiliated with empaths,” he said, his primal power pulsing in the air. “They’ll protect you.”

Memory’s breath turned into shards of ice in her lungs.

She wasn’t an empath. The Arrows executed those like her.

Chapter 9

Intruder has fled, but we have his psychic signature. Proceeding to the E.

—Arrow field team to Arrow command

RENAULT OPENED HIS eyes with a racing heart, his brain working a hundred different angles. He wasn’t afraid. Renault was Silent, had never felt except for the exultation that swept over him in the aftermath of the murderous ritual that he craved. He did, however, have a well-developed sense of self-preservation.

How had the Arrows discovered Memory so quickly?

He’d set it up so she’d be returned to him long before anyone affiliated with the squad or the Empathic Collective stumbled upon her. Her mind wasn’t the same as an E’s, but it bore a direct resemblance to it, and he’d factored both the squad and the Collective into his retrieval strategy.

Not that it mattered. Now that they’d found her—a woman who knew too many of his secrets—Renault could no longer be certain that his well-laid plan would bear fruit. The squad might be attempting to trace him even now, but Renault’d had years to prepare for this worst-case scenario.

The Arrows would find no trail, his presence a ghost in the PsyNet.

He hadn’t returned to his official residence after confirming Memory was gone, had come instead to a backup property purchased under another name. The next stage in disappearing meant switching to the comprehensive new identity he had waiting in the wings. It would mean a loss of power and status, but only in the short term. He’d build himself back up again.

As for Memory, he’d have to recover her using more personal methods. He also needed to do what he’d said—locate and begin to train a replacement. It’d be a difficult task given her unique skills, but not only was her defiance becoming problematic, she was taking longer and longer to recover from sessions.

He needed to have a spare on standby before she became too worn out to use.

But he wasn’t surrendering her. Memory was the most prized piece of Renault’s property. He would claim her back, and this time, when he put her in a hole, he’d make sure she never again saw the light.

Chapter 10

An unexpected new cooperation agreement, the Trinity Accord, has been negotiated and agreed upon between major elements of all three races.

—PsyNet Beacon (May 22, 2082)

THE GOLDEN WOLF hadn’t moved his gaze off her.

And, one hundred seconds after the Arrows spotted her, she was still alive.

“SnowDancer is allied with the Arrows via Trinity,” the wolf said, and she wondered if he realized his claws had sliced out of his skin at some point. “I asked for protection for you.”

Memory finally found her voice. “You called Arrows to help me?” It was like calling a school of carnivorous sharks to look out for a minnow.

A shrug, the muscles of his back and shoulders rippling. “Arrows are the wolves of the PsyNet.”

His phone buzzed.

While he spoke to whoever was on the other end, Memory dared to peek into the PsyNet. The black wave had split in two; one mind stood sentinel on either side of her own. Protection or enforcement?

As she watched, wondering if she’d gone from one prison to another and—eyes hot—vowing to break out again if she had, the Arrows began to drop small glittering psychic constructions around her mind. She stared at them uncomprehendingly until Alexei’s voice brought her back to the real world.

A kick of her heart, her skin suddenly tight. Because she’d forgotten the predator in the room with her while distracted by those on the psychic plane. Her eyes skated away from the dangerous amber of his . . . and caught on the red marks on his shoulder.

A wave of dull heat crawling over her skin, she curled her fingers into her palm. “I’m sorry.”

“For what?” He scowled. “Scrambling away from me like I’m a drunk bear with randy intentions when all I did was cuddle you? Yeah, you should be sorry for that.”

Memory wanted to glare at him, but shame bit at her. “I hurt you.” She pointed to the evidence.

He glanced down . . . and laughed. Threw back his head and laughed as she’d never heard anyone laugh in her whole life. It was like fur over her senses, a delicious taste on her tongue, a cascade of butterflies in her stomach. She stared, drunk on the sensations.

Astonished by his intrinsically male beauty.

Grinning afterward, he shook his head and the slightly overlong strands of his hair shimmered in the light coming from the hallway. “To a wolf, lioness, that doesn’t even count as a love bite.” Wickedness danced in his eyes, and she, a woman who knew nothing about courtship rituals except for what she’d seen on the comm, understood that he was a man who’d never have an empty bed unless he wished it.

“Arrows said they put warning beacons around your mind,” he told her, his lips yet curved. “All stamped with Arrow markers—only a person with a deathwish would cross the threshold.” He slid his claws back in, but his eyes remained wolf. “An Arrow will respond in a matter of seconds to any incursion. Squad’s also attempting to track Renault on the Net—no joy with a facial lock. They tried just now when I passed on his name. He’s got shields that block a teleporter from targeting him.”

Pressed up against the back wall by now, Memory hugged her knees to her chest and said, “Why?” The Arrows didn’t know her, had no reason to help her.

Alexei had no reason to help her.

She needed to know the price she’d pay when they discovered the truth about her. Found out she’d helped Renault commit his atrocities.

“You’re an empath.” Alexei yawned and stretched that muscular body, scratching absently at the ridged line of his abdomen. “And because no one has the right to cage an innocent being.”

Empath. Innocent.

Shivering, Memory hugged her knees even tighter and closed her eyes, shutting out a world that would find her out sooner or later.

“You fall asleep there and I’m going to pick you up and put you in your bunk. I might even—horror of horrors—cuddle you again.”

She flicked open her eyes to see that Alexei had risen to his feet in predator silence. Hands on his hips, he raised an eyebrow, and it was a silent dare. Something unfamiliar and strangely bright woke inside her, forcing her onto her feet. She wanted to spit a quick comeback, but her brain chose that moment to decide it was exhausted beyond bearing, all resources expended in the fight against Renault.

Everything went blank.

Chapter 11

Dr. Menet’s fifteen-year study uncovered no common genetic markers among known rogues. However, my research has unearthed three families with at least two rogues in successive generations. Families A and B have provided DNA for further examination. Family C, with three rogues in as many generations, is currently not part of this study.

—Changeling Rogues: Broken Minds & Broken Families by Keelie Schaeffer, PhD (Work in Progress)

HAWKE PULLED ON a T-shirt over his barely dry body, his hair damp from his shower, and his heart a raw knot. Not wanting to think about why, he turned his attention to the woman with cardinal eyes and ruby red hair who stood beside the edge of their bed, attempting to pull on a pair of jeans. Other than the jeans, she wore only a white lace bra and cool-yellow panties with thin white stripes.

Sienna’s breasts bounced as she jumped up and down to tug the jeans up over the curve of her butt. “What?” she demanded in the successful aftermath, the white stars on black of her extraordinary eyes as open to him as her heart.

Hawke smiled slowly—she was the best fucking thing in his life. “I think your jeans need to be tighter.”

A narrow-eyed look. “I’m your mate, Mr. Alpha Wolf. You think I don’t know you’re feeling messed up today? Come here.” She held out her arms.

He had no hope in hell of resisting.

Going to her, he enclosed her in his arms, then bent his head to press a kiss to the plump curve of her breast. Nuzzling the side of his face, she tugged at his hair and, when he lifted his head, met his lips with her own. He was the most dominant wolf in SnowDancer, used to control, to power, but this morning he let his mate take the reins, pet him, kiss him, adore him.

His wolf was no longer as agitated when they parted. “I’m going to talk to Judd.” Rostered on the night shift, the Arrow-turned-SnowDancer-lieutenant had taken charge of tracking down information on the empath Alexei had rescued. “You still want to come up to the substation?”

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