Slave to Sensation - By Nalini Singh Page 0,2

couldn't look away. "In this case, I think we have the same ones. You need help to plan and execute housing that'll appeal to changelings. I want an inside track on new Psy projects."

Sascha knew that that couldn't be all of it. They needed him but he didn't need them, not when DarkRiver's business interests were extensive enough to rival their own. The world was changing under the noses of the Psy, the human and changeling races no longer content to be second best. It was a measure of their arrogance that most of her people continued to ignore the slow shift in power.

Sitting so close to the contained fury that was Lucas Hunter, she wondered at the blindness of her brethren. "If we deal with you, we'll expect the same level of reliability that we'd get if we went with a Psy construction and design firm."

Lucas looked across at the icy perfection of Sascha Duncan and wished he knew what it was about her that was bugging the hell out of him. His beast was snarling and pacing the cage of his mind, ready to pounce out and sniff at her sedate dark gray pantsuit. "Of course," he said, fascinated by the tiny flickers of white light that came and went in the darkness of her eyes.

He'd seldom been this close to a cardinal Psy. They were rare enough that they didn't mingle with the masses, being given high posts in the Psy Council as soon as they reached any kind of mature age. Sascha was young but there was nothing untried about her. She looked as ruthless as the rest of her race, as unfeeling and as cold.

She could be abetting killer.

Any one of them could be. It was why DarkRiver had been stalking high-level Psy for months, looking for a way to penetrate their defenses. The Duncan project was an unbelievable chance. Not only was Nikita powerful in her own right, she was a member of the innermost circle - the Psy Council. Once Lucas was in, it would be his job to find out the identity of the sadistic Psy who'd stolen the life of one of DarkRiver's women... and execute him.

No mercy. No forgiveness.

In front of him, Sascha glanced at the slim organizer she held. "We're willing to offer seven million."

He'd take a penny if it would get him inside the secretive corridors of the Psy world but he couldn't afford to make them suspicious. "Ladies." He filled the single word with the sensuality that was as much a part of him as his beast.

Most changelings and humans would've reacted to the promise of pleasure implicit in his tones, but these two remained unmoved. "We both know the contract is worth nothing less than ten million. Let's not waste time." He could've sworn a light sparked in Sascha's night-sky eyes, a light that spoke of a challenge accepted. The panther inside him growled softly in response.

"Eight. And we want rights to approve each stage of the work from concept to construction."

"Ten." He kept his tone silky smooth. "Your request will cause considerable delay. I can't work efficiently if I have to traipse up here every time I want to make a minor change." Perhaps multiple visits might allow him to glean some information on the murderer's cold trail, but it was doubtful. Nikita was hardly likely to leave sensitive Council documents lying around.

"Give us a moment." The older woman looked at the younger.

The tiny hairs on the back of his neck rose. They always did that in the presence of Psy who were actively using their powers. Telepathy was just one of their many talents and one that he admitted came in very handy during business negotiations. But their abilities also blinded them. Changelings had long ago learned to take advantage of the Psy sense of superiority.

Almost a minute later, Sascha spoke to him. "It's important for us to have control at every stage."

"Your money, your time." He put his hands on the table and steepled his fingers, noting how her eyes went to them. Interesting. In his experience, the Psy never displayed any awareness of body language. It was as if they were completely cerebral, shut into the world of their minds. "But if you insist on that much involvement, I can't promise we'll hold to the timetable. In fact I'll guarantee we won't."

"We have a proposal to counter that." Night-sky eyes met his.

He raised a brow. "I'm listening." And so was the panther