Tangle of Need

By: Nalini Singh

The shock of the proprietary hold almost snapped her out of the madness, but then he pushed up her bra and the rough warmth of his palm on her bare flesh was a jolt to the system that splintered rational thought. Unable to get enough of his mouth, she sucked on his tongue, his lips, before kissing her way down the stubble of his jaw to grip at the tendons of his neck with her teeth.

Growling deep in his chest, he pulled her head back to take her mouth again. He wasn’t the least bit gentle, but she didn’t want gentle, her claws digging into his shoulders as her body moved with raw impatience against him. Taking his hand off her breast, he tore the button off her jeans, tugged down the zipper. It was as she broke the kiss to gasp in a breath that he shoved his hand into her panties and through the damp curls between her thighs—to spear two blunt-tipped fingers into her in a hard thrust that made her scream and break apart in a powerful clenching of muscles.

The orgasm was a naked blade, one that cut her in half with the primal viciousness of it and left her bereft at the same time. Opening her eyes when he withdrew his fingers, she saw a glittering expression she understood all too well. Fury. At her. At himself. “Put me down,” she said, shaken to the core by the violent depth of her response.

Never, never had she orgasmed that hard … and felt so lost, a block of ice in her gut.

Not saying a word, he did so, putting his hands on her waist to help stabilize her when her legs wobbled. “Get your hands off me.” She’d be damned if he’d touch her with that look in his eyes, his anger a brutal heat that slapped her with every breath.

LETTING go of the stiff woman in his arms, Riaz turned on his heel. “Fuck.” What the hell had just happened? He didn’t even like Adria, and yet he’d betrayed his mate with her, would’ve had his cock balls-deep in her by now if she hadn’t stopped things. That cock pulsed, so rigid it was painful. No.


He turned in time to catch a bottle of water.

“Wash your fingers,” she said, red streaking the defined arch of her cheekbones. He knew the color had nothing to do with embarrassment, even before she bit out, “I don’t particularly want to advertise my lapse in judgment,” through gritted teeth.

A second later, she was inside the car, a sculpture in ice, no hint remaining of the demanding female wolf who’d been wet and hot and tight around his fingers not two minutes ago.

Chapter 3

COUNCILOR KALEB KRYCHEK examined the consciousness of the individual he’d first been alerted to by the NetMind, the neosentience that was the librarian and guardian of the Net. The consciousness in front of him was moderately powerful—that of a Gradient 5.7 telepath employed by a major corporation. The male’s Silence was flawed, minor fractures visible to the careful eye. But that was an ordinary enough situation, and not what interested Kaleb.

This male had the bad luck to be uniquely susceptible to the unnamed and largely unnoticed disease that was carving silent, deadly runnels through the PsyNet. Others had been infected earlier, and were all now dead or insane. The mass outbreak at Sunshine Station had claimed one hundred and forty-one victims, eleven of whom had originally been put into involuntary comas in the belief they could be saved.

They couldn’t.

Subject 8-91, however, continued to function in spite of his advanced infection, leaving Kaleb to conclude that something had altered in the sickness within the Net, making it able to survive longer within its host. Contracted via direct contact with one of the “diseased” sections of the Net—though Kaleb was apparently immune to the effect, likely as a result of his connection to the twisted twin of the NetMind—the infection didn’t yet spread from person to person, but there was a high chance it would mutate further, becoming even more noxious.

Subject 8-91 was the first host the NetMind had found of the new variant, and as such, he’d become Kaleb’s barometer, his “canary in a coal mine.” The old saying was apropos. If 8-91 continued to react as he’d done to date, he would show the catastrophic effects of the quietly spreading rot before anyone else in the Net.

No, Kaleb corrected himself, 8-91 is already showing the effects. The male had had a violent outburst in his sleep two days ago, so violent that he’d broken several bones in his hand when he punched it into a wall. What made the violence interesting was that it had no connection to the male’s Silence—though he didn’t know that. It had been initiated by the changes the infection had caused in his brain.

Subject 8-91 had been smart enough to create a cover story before he went to see one of the M-Psy about his hand, but the NetMind watched him constantly, knew his every move. And since the NetMind and its twin, the DarkMind, both spoke to Kaleb, he was never unaware of the status of the subject.

Continue to watch, he told the NetMind, his order given less in words than via an intuitive psychic connection he could explain to no one, not even another Psy. Protect him from exposure. Kaleb needed 8-91 to remain an active part of the Net. Any interference would shadow the picture, dull the clear view of the progress of the male’s impairment and Kaleb’s understanding of it.