Slave to Sensation (book)
Sls 2.jpg
Author Nalini Singh
Publication date September 2006
Publication Order
Preceded by
none
Followed by
Visions of Heat (book)

This is the 1st book in the overall series. In reading order, it is the first full book, though it is preceded by novellas. It was the first publication by Nalini Singh for this series.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Dive into a world torn apart by a powerful race with phenomenal powers of the mind - and none of the heart In a world that denies emotions, where the ruling Psy punish any sign of desire, Sascha Duncan must conceal the feelings that brand her as flawed. To reveal them would be to sentence herself to the horror of 'rehabilitation' - the complete psychic erasure of her personality . . .

Both human and animal, Lucas Hunter is a Changeling hungry for the very sensations the Psy disdain. After centuries of uneasy co-existence, these two races are now on the verge of war over the brutal murder of several Changeling women. Lucas is determined to find the Psy killer who butchered his packmate, and Sascha is his ticket into their closely guarded society. But he soon discovers that this ice-cold Psy is very capable of passion - and that the animal in him is fascinated by her. Caught between their conflicting worlds, Lucas and Sascha must remain bound to their identities - or sacrifice everything for a taste of darkest temptation.

Plot[edit | edit source]

US book cover

Chapter 1[edit | edit source]

Sascha Duncan walks into a conference room with her mother, Nikita Duncan. She sees Lucas Hunter, alpha of the DarkRiver pack. They discuss the joint construction project planned between Nikita and Lucas' construction company to build homes for changelings. Sascha will serve as Nikita's liaison for the project. Sascha recognizes that Lucas is fully capable of designing homes for changelings himself, and thus, there seems to be a greater motivation for him to seek out Nikita for a joint project.

Lucas, and subsequently DarkRiver, is revealed to be trying to gain access to the Psy Council through high-level Psy, and have been trying for months. The project with Nikita will grant him access to a Psy Councilor, and give him the opportunity to discover which Psy had killed a female of DarkRiver. Lucas would then be responsible for executing the Psy in question.

Two hours after the conference, Sascha is at home and appears to be expending a lot of psychic energy while also going through a nervous breakdown. She cancels dinner with her mother, and will meet to debrief the next afternoon. Then Lucas calls to invite her to a business breakfast the next morning.

Chapter 2[edit | edit source]

The next morning, Lucas has a conversation with Dorian about Sascha. Lucas has been trying to find the Psy who killed Kylie, Dorian's sister. The Psy Council claims it knows nothing, and Enforcement has made little progress. DarkRiver dug and found more murders with the same signature, revealing that the Psy Council has been pressuring Enforcement to keep silent about the murders.

When Sascha arrives, Lucas explains the meeting had to be postponed, and thus, they ought to check out the proposed construction site. They have a conversation about buying the land. Lucas asks about Sascha's name, leading into a conversation about Psy conception. It segues into a conversation about changelings and the dual nature of human and animal.

Chapter 3[edit | edit source]

Lucas calls the SnowDancers about the land. Sascha contacts her mother on the PsyNet to determine whether to take the deal or not. They agree to the deal to buy the land with SnowDancer sharing profits as a silent partner. Lucas and Sascha go back to the office.

The two go over the contract for the land deal. The accountability of the Council and alphas comes up in the discussion. Lucas invites Sascha to lunch. He drives her to a packmate's house. Sascha feels sick when Lucas greets the woman inside with a brush of lips.

Sascha asks if Lucas is mated to Tamsyn, who overhears and laughs. Tamsyn states they are not, and that Nate would duel Lucas if he heard that. Sascha apologizes for misunderstanding. Tamsyn is confused until Lucas points out they kissed. Tamsyn waves it off, saying it was a simple greeting. Sascha thinks they are lucky to be able to express emotion freely, and that she also has touch starvation. She notes that changelings despise Psy and the only way to leave the PsyNet is death.

Tamsyn invites her to eat a cookie, and it is revealed Sascha has never had a cookie, or chocolate. When Tamsyn says Sascha has been deprived, Sascha defends the Psy. Lucas and Tamsyn convince her to eat one. Sascha is overwhelmed by the sensation, but manages to keep a straight face and a Psy answer. Lucas points out the Psy do not like or dislike.

When Sascha mentions they haven't eaten lunch, Tamsyn directs them to the table. Sascha is confused that Tamsyn is able to order Lucas around. Lucas points out that this is her kitchen. Sascha decides to she needs to sneak chocolate into her apartment. Sascha is surprised when two leopard cubs come running into the room. Tamsyn picks them up and scolds them, but then laughs and delivers them to Lucas for judgement. Lucas growls at them and they growl back.

One goes to Sascha, and she, unable to resist, picks him up. The other one climbs her like a tree. She looks to Lucas for help, but he's amused and uninclined. She warns the cubs that Psy are not kind and they should be wary of Psy. One of them boops her nose, and startled, she asks Lucas what that means. Lucas tells her it means he likes her.

Chapter 4[edit | edit source]

Tamsyn gets both of them and tells them they have to stay on the floor while the guests eat. One of the cubs curls up against her boots as Lucas plays with her plait and Sascha realizes that even though she's playing a dangerous game, exposing herself to this much sensation, she will do this again. She will not let herself be rehabilitated. The adults have a conversation about Psy controlling changelings. The cub chews at Sascha's boot, and she doesn’t move him away.

A Psy contacts Sascha for permission to speak telepathically by chiming her organizer first. Sascha answers telepathically. Tamsyn asks if she will answer and Sascha replies that she is. Tamsyn inquires why Sascha was first called if they can communicate mentally. Sascha states that it is because only certain people have the right to initiate mental contact with her, comparing it to knocking before entering. Lucas mentions he thought the Psy were in constant contact.

Sascha, having undergone Silent conditioning, redirects to say they are supposed to be leaving for a meeting. Lucas agrees and stands. Sascha tries to wriggle off the cub but he clings. She mentally speaks to the cub, and he lets go. Julian is able to share that he is glad she didn’t tell on him for chewing on her boot. She keeps her boot out of sight of Tamsyn and Lucas. Tammy kisses her cheek goodbye at the door. Sascha panics, scared that she can feel Tamsyn's kindness, and thinks she is deluding herself. Sascha goes to the car.

Tamsyn feels bad for touching her, but Lucas says she shouldn’t. Tamsyn and Lucas both noticed Sascha's chewed boot. Lucas asks Tamsyn to tell him if the cubs say anything. Lucas is surprised and suspicious that Sascha let Julian chew on her boot. Lucas gets in the car with Sascha already seated.

Sascha and Lucas talk about changelings. Then Lucas proposes quid pro quo for information. Sascha reveals the Psy's overall leadership is the Council. Lucas reveals all packs are autonomous, with no overall leadership. Sascha reveals the Psy are organized by family groups. Lucas reveals family bonds exist but ultimately, every person is loyal to the pack. Sascha calls him out about mated pairs, and Lucas replies it is the one exception. Lucas asks where Psy loyalty lays. Sascha says it lays with the good of the Psy as a collective. They are allowed to compete against other families for business, but against other races, they are one.

Sascha asks if mating is like marriage. Lucas replies changelings and humans can mate. Sascha mentions that historically, Psy-changeling pairings occurred. Lucas mentions his great-great-grandmother was Psy. He also says mating is not a choice like marriage. Once a mate is found, the only choice is to decide whether to take the final step. After that, it's for life. Sascha asks after the final step. Lucas asks about the PsyNet. Sascha asks if it's secret. Lucas replies it's private. Sascha asks how one finds a mate. Lucas says he's not mated and therefore unable to answer that.

Sascha asks if he wants to be. This makes Lucas highly suspicious, as no Psy should have noted the emotional undertone. He turns the question on her. She asks if it is private. Lucas says he'll tell her when she has skin privileges. They exit the car and go inside.

In the conference room, Kit greets Lucas. Lucas introduces Sascha to Kit. Kit turns on the charm and falls short with a Silent Sascha. Lucas is amused at Kit's expression. Zara, the designer, enters the room. When they sit down, Sascha keeps looking at Zara. Zara asks if Sascha has a problem with her. Sascha asks why she would have a problem with Zara. Zara says she can do her job well, but some people don't like her skin color. Sascha points out her own darker skin color. Zara laughs and asks why Sascha keeps looking at her.

Sascha replies Zara doesn’t appear to be a leopard, which alarms Lucas. Lucas is concerned Sascha is a Psy spy. Zara doesn't answer until Lucas gives permission nonverbally. Zara states she is a wildcat and Sascha asks why she's in a leopard business. Lucas says it is because she is the best. Sascha asks if Lucas had to give her permission to be here, and he says he did. Lucas tells Zara to show the designs.

When Zara rolls out one and calls it the first, Sascha asks why they aren't all going to be the same home. Kit says they wouldn't be, otherwise it'd be like the coffins the Psy live in, cutting himself off and turning red. Lucas is amused at Kit and tells Sascha changelings like unique things and that they don't share well. Sascha asks if the diversity will delay completion. Lucas says the diversity has already been accounted for. Zara says that she has planned it mainly for leopards and wolves, but has planned a few for nonpredatory species.

Sascha asks whether nonpredatory species would be willing to live there. Zara admits probably not and jokes that deer might not want to live next to a leopard that would eat them. Kit continues the joke. Sascha ignores it and says she has been given permission to approve or disapprove the designs. She also asks how willing the wolves and leopards would be to live next to each other, alarming Lucas further. Lucas is concerned at how much she understands the undertones of the changeling thought process when Psy are normally ignorant. Lucas says they will be willing, though it will likely be leopard-dominated.

Zara shows two plans, one for leopards and one for wolves. She mentions for a few, she'll customize to match the buyer. Sascha says she would have to know the buyer. Lucas says they already have a list of prospective buyers who have put down money. She is surprised, and Lucas says it is the first home construction project designed and built by changelings. Sascha realizes Lucas knew he would meet the stipulation of having all the homes sold by opening. She admits to being bested.

Chapter Five[edit | edit source]

Sascha returns to her apartment in the Duncan building and then heads up to her mother's office. Nikita is showing Santano Enrique something on her computer. Enrique mentions Nikita told him Sascha is heading her own project. Sascha confirms it. Enrique says he has confidence in her success. He then comments on her appearance looking different than her mother. Nikita says Sascha has no genetic defects and that she is a cardinal.

Sascha does not understand the undertones of the conversation. Enrique excuses himself to prepare for a lecture and leaves by walking out.

Sascha mentions it is strange Enrique was here, and Nikita closes down the conversation. Sascha says she needs to know if she's taking on more responsibility. Nikita refuses and then asks about the changeling. Sascha says that Lucas is extremely intelligent, and that every home has already been sold. She also mentions that there's a shortage in the market, and that perhaps another deal could be struck, but later, as they do not know if they can continue working with them. However, she does expect them to follow through on the deal.

Nikita mentions she found out that DarkRiver and SnowDancer go further than a mutual non-aggression pact. They share 20% stakes in many of each other's projects. Nikita warns Sascha not to drop her guard. Sascha decides to scratch her itch safely and dismisses the idea it might make it worse.

Lucas meets with his sentinels in his home at night. Nate says the seven kills are confirmed and all by the same murderer. Mercy says that there are no new leads, and that Enforcement refuses to consider a serial killer. Lucas shares that the PsyNet is not about equality and the Council rules. Dorian says he can't get any information about the PsyNet, not even from the drug addicts.

Vaughn says he followed Nikita and that he wouldn’t want to meet her in a dark street. Vaughn shares that Nikita has held onto her Council seat for over a decade by terrifying other Psy. She is a powerful telepath. When Dorian points out that's not terrifying enough, Vaughn says her telepathy allows her to transmit viruses. Mercy asks for clarification, and Vaughn says it's like a computer virus but for brains. Several cardinals, who were competition for the Council seat, either had nervous breakdowns or died right around the time Nikita became a Councilor.

Lucas points out that even if the entire Council does not know, Nikita would likely know. If Nikita knows, it's highly likely Sascha knows, and thus, Sascha is their way in. Clay asks if they can break Sascha. Lucas says they don't torture, and Clay replies he was talking about seduction. Dorian laughs the idea off. Lucas considers the idea. Lucas says that they go in slow, and pretend they're just animals.

Lucas goes for a run in animal form and Clay joins him. Lucas reminisces on the sentinel-alpha relationship. He also thinks about the serial killer and the other changeling packs. SnowDancer is only letting DarkRiver be primary investigator because they lost a female and SnowDancer hasn’t yet. If SnowDancer does, it would spark a war.

Lucas dreams about Sascha.

Chapter 6[edit | edit source]

As it turns out, Sascha had the same dream. She tried scratching the itch in her dreams but she only made the itch worse. Lucas tells Sascha they'll meet Clay Bennett, and then look at the construction materials. Lucas asks if she slept well. Sascha says she did not, but is fine. Lucas asks if it was bad dreams, and Sascha says the Psy don't dream.

They leave to meet Clay, and Lucas begins asking about Nikita. He asks how Tatiana and Nikita can work together when they're business rivals. Sascha becomes suspicious. Lucas mentions he doesn’t often get the chance to speak to someone so high up in the Council structure as a cardinal like Sascha. Sascha denies being within the Council structure.

Sascha asks what a Hunter does. Lucas asks for an information exchange. She agrees and he asks for the Psy incidence for violence. She replies it's near negligible. He tells her Hunters hunt down rogues. She asks what rogues are, and he tells her she only paid for one answer.

Lucas introduces her to Clay. Clay says he is the point of contact if she has problems with the construction. Sascha asks if the glass in the office opens to the outside. Lucas sarcastically says they do because they're animals and can't stand cages. Sascha asks about the higher floors and then answers herself by realizing there are trees and leopards are excellent tree climbers.

Sascha goes into the restroom a few minutes later to repair her fracturing shields. She gets a comm from Enrique, asking to meet on the PsyNet. She does not want to talk to him, but has little choice. She finishes repairs and steps out into the PsyNet. Enrique questions her about her project, and then asks her to pass along any information she learns about the changelings to him. Enrique bribes her by hinting that this might earn her a spot in the Council structure. Sascha bluffs that she may learn nothing, and that she needs to clear it with Nikita.

Enrique replies he already has and would like to meet daily for updates. Sascha says that would interfere with her schedule, and she will report as she learns information. The conversation ends and she immediately contacts Nikita. Nikita informs Sascha Enrique was allowed to get information but not to meet daily. Sascha offers to tell Nikita the information first and then let Nikita pass on the information to Enrique. When Nikita disagrees, Sascha offers the reasoning that it would be too much for her to handle on top of her first project. Nikita approves and ends the conversation.

Sascha almost giggles when she realizes she just had two conversations with Councilors on a toilet. It took about thirty minutes, and thus, she has to come up with explanations for the changelings. She explains she was called into conference. When Kit comments that the bathroom was a strange place for that, she teases him by asking why it would be. Kit doesn't catch on, and flees the room in embarrassment. Lucas does and is amused, teasing her back.

Sascha asks when changelings are considered adults. Lucas offers an exchange again. Sascha says twenty. Lucas says juveniles have to prove their maturity before being declared adults.

Lucas meets in his own office with Clay after Sascha leaves. They discuss Sascha. Clay points out that something is different about her, and Lucas knows that. Clay says that she isn't part of the Council structure, which means she's either a spy or there's something wrong with her. Clay adds that if she's not part of the Council structure, she isn't useful for determining who in the Council knows about the serial killer. They discuss what to do.

Chapter 7[edit | edit source]

Lucas has another meeting with his sentinels, and dreams of Sascha again. When he wakes, he looks at his calendar and realizes he forgot what day it was. He goes to the office and tells Clay to take care of Sascha. He goes to a florist, Callie, to pick up an annual order. He takes a wildflower bouquet to his parents' graves. He speaks to his parents for hours.

Sascha feels strange and cancels her meeting with DarkRiver, attempting to avoid detection of her sadness. She goes back to her apartment after working in the Duncan office all day. She considers going to an M-Psy, but dismisses it for fear they will detect her fracturing mental state.

Lucas drives home. He shifts to climb up the tree into his home. He is tempted to turn control over to the panther to stop hurting, but risks going rogue. He decides not to and shifts back.

Chapter 8[edit | edit source]

Lucas sees Sascha in his dreams again. However, this time she looks quite young, with twin braids and wearing old cotton pajamas. They have a conversation. Sascha says that she wishes he could protect her. When he asks why she needs protection, she reveals she is broken, and that the Psy don't allow broken creatures to live.

When Lucas meets Sascha the next day, he is uneasy about how she has turned completely Silent. He questions whether she's alright. When she says she hasn't been sleeping well, he asks if she has bad dreams. She replies the Psy do not dream. He guesses that she does dream and asks what that makes her. She is startled, but the moment dies when she gets a call.

He goes to find her, and Ria tells him she left but would be back for the afternoon meeting with Zara.

When she turns up a minute before the meeting, she is ice-cold. Lucas pretends defeat. They enter the room, and only Kit and Dorian are there. Dorian is acting strange, keeping his gaze pinned on Sascha. Lucas asks Sascha to step outside for a minute. Dorian reveals a female from SnowDancer was taken. They discuss what happened. Dorian wants to torture Sascha for information. Lucas tells Kit to get Zara for the meeting, but nonverbally communicates that he should get the healer instead, as Dorian is out for blood. Kit leaves.

Lucas tells Dorian kidnapping a Psy is futile. Dorian wants her to tell them where the SnowDancer is, and Lucas realizes Sascha is behind him. He tells her to leave. Dorian says Lucas should tell Sascha about what the Council has been hiding. Sascha steps into the room, wanting to know. Lucas keeps himself between her and Dorian, stating that the Council has been covering up for a serial killer.

Sascha denies it. Dorian and she argue back and forth. Lucas warns her to step back, as Dorian is out for blood and his sister was a victim. She takes a step back and questions again how they know a Psy was the killer. Lucas mentions the metallic stink of the Psy being present at the scene. Sascha asks how the serial killer isn't public knowledge. Dorian mentions the cover-up as he slams his palms against the windows, cracking the glass. Lucas says they will track down the killer.

Sascha wonders what has changed recently. Lucas mentions the kidnapped SnowDancer. Tamsyn arrives. Lucas tells Sascha to wait outside. Sascha leaves.

Sascha goes down to the public lounge. She feels Dorian's pain and ends up psychically taking his pain. She walks to her car and programs the car to automatically take her to her destination. She reinforces her shields.

Lucas feels the pain being drawn from Dorian and asks Tamsyn what she did. Tamsyn says she barely started. They are all confused by how peaceful Dorian seems. Dorian says it's like he can think for the first time since Kylie died. Lucas has a crazy theory, as the hair on his neck rose just earlier. Tamsyn mentions all she knows are rumors.

Lucas looks for Sascha, but she has disappeared. The receptionist tells him she didn’t look well. Rina wonders if she went to warn the Council. Privately, Lucas doubts it but says to put the sentinels on alert.

Chapter 9[edit | edit source]

Lucas calls Hawke and warns him about the possible leak to the Council. Hawke says he's declaring open season on the Psy. Lucas says they might be able to find the female before the week is up. Hawke asks for surety. Lucas says low, but if Hawke moves, it will be zero, and the resulting loss will be devastating. Hawke says he won't be able to control his pack if she turns up dead. Lucas tells him he wouldn’t hold him back, and he'll ally with him. Hawke says that Lucas is asking him to wait until Brenna dies.

Lucas asks for seven days, because if the Psy know they're being hunted, they'll kill her just to be rid of the evidence. Hawke reluctantly agrees, though they both agree to go for blood if she turns up dead.

Sascha wakes up, collapsed just inside her apartment. She checks the communicator which woke her up, seeing her mother leave a message. She notices it is 10 p.m. She has lost over seven hours. She checks her shields, but they are fine. There is no more pain left.

She contacts her mother, who tells her they need to give Enrique information. Sascha asks why, and Nikita tells her to come to her apartment.

They discuss political maneuverings, and Nikita reveals she has a not-alliance with Enrique. Sascha realizes if Enrique doesn’t get what he wants, Nikita will be killed. Sascha reveals that changelings are intelligent, but that if they want information, she will have to play the long game. Sascha leaves.

Sascha is unable to sleep. She researches the murders on the human-changeling Internet and finds out they are real, but that they appear to have been covered up. It occurs to her that it might be a Council member, but she refuses the idea that her mother might be helping a killer. She decides she needs more information and begins driving to the DarkRiver building. She realizes it's two in the morning, and parks in an empty lot.

She thinks about what has happened and believes all of Lucas' reactions were lies. She gets out of the car and is confronted by Lucas, who she'd been looking for. They have a conversation and decide to talk about the killer somewhere else. She drives them to Lucas' home. Lucas has her cling to him while he climbs up to the aerie. He uses his claws as he climbs.

Chapter 10[edit | edit source]

They enter the home, and Lucas decides to shower. Sascha goes into the kitchen to turn on the hot water. She starts the coffeemaker before going back to the living room. She looks around. Lucas finishes the shower, and she offers to make food. Lucas says to heat up pizza Rina left last night. Sascha walks away ice-cold when Lucas comes in.

Lucas is confused by this change in attitude. Sascha thinks that Rina was there as a lover, but Rina was actually there to discuss the security of a safe house with two other soldiers and spoke with Lucas about Dorian's loss of control. Lucas takes the plate out to the living room, then goes to get coffee. Sascha turns down the coffee and accepts water instead.

He brings back the drinks and sits on the same sofa she is on. He tells her to try the pizza. She does and asks what flavor it is. He says Mexican, and tells her to bite. She refutes that she is not one of his packmates. He adds please, and she does. His beliefs about her being different than other Psy are confirmed.

After eating, Sascha asks about the murders. Lucas tells her there have been eight in the past three years that they know about, including Kylie. Brenna will be number nine. He believes there are more victims. They talk about the investigation, the serial killer's modus operandi, and why no one picked up on the serial killer before.

Sascha asks how he can be so sure it's a Psy. Lucas again mentions the Psy scent, but adds on that the bodies were cut 79 times, each body cut precisely the same way. He asks if she knows any other race that can be so precise. He than adds that the autopsies showed their brains were mush except their skulls were undamaged. Sascha tries to stand, but he stops her, asking her where she is going. She says that he is letting himself be controlled by his emotions. He apologizes for taking his anger out on her. She says it's understandable, that she is a representation of the Psy he holds responsible. He confirms the Psy are responsible. She claims it is possible, but that there is no proof the Council are involved.

They argue over whether the Council is involved, Sascha revealing that her mother is not evil, and thus, cannot be hiding a killer.

Chapter 11[edit | edit source]

Lucas contradicts it and says they only have seven days. They go quiet, and then the conversation turns to touch. Sascha notes it's after 5 a.m. and that she ought to leave. Lucas asks for a kiss. After some back and forth, she agrees. They kiss until she pulls back and wants to go home.

Sascha arrives at home at 8 a.m. She realizes that Lucas is exploiting her. She decides to tell Nikita everything she has learned.

Chapter 12[edit | edit source]

Sascha arrives at the building site and Lucas knows something is wrong. She goes to the eastern side, and Lucas leaves the group to speak with her. He realizes once he reaches her that she has gone totally Silent. She asks about construction. He replies, and her cool confirmation makes him ask what she's done. She replies she is Psy. He asks again, grabbing her arm. She says she went to tell her mother everything. He drops her arm and insults her.

She says that she didn’t. She wonders aloud why she wasn’t able to. Lucas asks what they've done to earn her loyalty. She returns the question. He says he's trusted her. She says she'll search the PsyNet for information, and tell him what she learns. He goes back to Zara, mentioning that the Psy could be something more than killers.

She knows that she cannot leave the PsyNet, thinking about how being cut off from it would kill her within two minutes.

Lucas comes to the realization of what she is to him. It is approximately 1:30 p.m. He tries to convince her to eat lunch with him at Tammy's and succeeds.

Sascha asks about updates on Brenna as she drives. They discuss how she could have been taken. Sascha asks to know what she was wearing, and Lucas asks why. Sascha says any bit of information helps when searching the PsyNet. Lucas tells her and shows her a picture of Brenna. Sascha realizes the killer wants to steal Brenna's life, the vibrancy of her. She isn't able to explain why she knows, but she's sure.

Tamsyn hugs him for minutes upon arrival, missing her children. After, she goes into the kitchen. Sascha asks why she let them go in the first place. Lucas comments it's not good for predatory changelings to be overprotective. They go into the kitchen and eat lunch. They discuss logic versus love, stemming from Brenna's brothers' reactions to her kidnapping. Sascha asks to use Tamsyn's home, with a quiet room to surf the PsyNet. Tamsyn offers an upstairs guest room, then goes to check who rung the doorbell.

Sascha tells Lucas to leave because he's distracting. He refuses to leave her unprotected. She counters that if she is caught, she would be killed and there would be nothing he could do. He says she shouldn’t do it, but she says she'll only be searching public archives.

Rina enters and says Kit is missing.

Chapter 13[edit | edit source]

Rina clarifies that Kit went on a trip to Big Sur with Nico and Sarah. Lucas says he'll track them down, worried that SnowDancer soldiers might be less than reasonable. Lucas leaves.

Sascha goes into the guest bedroom. Tamsyn brings her hot chocolate and goes to leave. Sascha asks Tamsyn to explain something to her. Tamsyn immediately guesses it was the kiss Lucas gave Rina, explaining it was the same as the one he gave Tamsyn the first time. Sascha asks whether kisses mean anything special to Lucas, and Tamsyn explains it's special if it's outside the pack. Tamsyn leaves Sascha to her realization that Lucas is interested in her.

Sascha goes into the PsyNet and lets data filter through her. The NetMind brushes past her, and Sascha continues searching while appearing to search for nothing at all.

It is after five when Lucas returns to find Tamsyn and Sascha in the yard. Lucas says the juveniles are okay, having found them after a SnowDancer patrol had stopped them and told them to go back home immediately. Tamsyn leaves the two of them.

Sascha warns Lucas not to trust her, that her mind is vulnerable while part of the PsyNet. Lucas asks what she's found. She tells him nothing but an echo of violence. She will try something else tonight.

Hours later, Lucas is with Tamsyn, Nate, and Dorian in the pack's largest safe house. They discuss who is present and needing to be safely ensconced with splinter packs that have agreed to harbor their vulnerable. They discuss Sascha. Dorian mentions he convinced Andrew and Riley to refrain from ripping out Psy throats.

Sascha meets with Enrique and Nikita in her mother's office. Enrique subtly reprimands her for not acquiring more information. Sascha shares that changelings have the ability to shift from childhood, which is public info. She also shares that young alphas that splinter from their birth pack maintain friendly ties even as a new pack forms, which is also public info. Enrique praises her. She leaves back to her apartment, terrified they noticed her slipping.

Enrique mentioned calling on her later, and knowing he likely would, she decides she can't go to her apartment. She decides to go where he can't find her, as her body begins to spasm, her vision blurs, and her heart beats arrhythmically. She gets into her car and is overwhelmed by different emotions. When she calms, she programs a destination in her car and leaves a message for Nikita. When she gets the car out into the street where it can drive automatically, she curls up and gives into the emotional turmoil. She screams and passes out.

Lucas spots a huge white wolf emerge from the woods behind the safe house. He orders Rina inside. He follows the wolf into the woods. The wolf runs off and Hawke returns wearing jeans. Lucas asks Hawke what the problem is. Hawke says they found something on SnowDancer land they wanted to kill, but since she smelled like Lucas, he decided to ask first. Lucas is terrified and asks where she is, knowing the wolves want to gut her. Hawke asks who she is, and Lucas says she's their contact into the PsyNet.

Lucas follows Hawke to Sascha, who was left alone in her car. Hawke reveals Indigo spotted her. Lucas sees her unconscious and asks Hawke what was done to her. Hawke says she was found like this. Lucas picks her up. Hawke says the onboard computer was set to drive into DarkRiver land but went too far. Lucas thanks him, but Hawke replies they'll kill her just the same if Brenna dies. Lucas threatens a fight if someone goes after Sascha.

Hawke asks him if he mated a Psy. Lucas doesn't answer, but internally, he acknowledges that Sascha is his mate. Lucas tells Hawke not to move against the Psy without consulting DarkRiver, and Hawke says if DarkRiver fails, they'll take over. Lucas says DarkRiver doesn't usually fail.

Lucas brings her into the safe house, causing reactions from those inside. Dorian asks how she is. Lucas says she was found unconscious on SnowDancer land. Kit is surprised she isn't mauled. Lucas says he told them she is their PsyNet contact. Nate questions the state of her boot. Tamsyn tries to evaluate her condition, but can only guess she's in a coma.

Lucas questions whether the Psy attacked her. Tamsyn asks why they would leave her alive. Lucas asks why she would program her car to go into changeling territory. No one has answers.

Chapter 14[edit | edit source]

Sascha is left lying on the table as all the beds are taken. A pillow and blanket are located for her. They question what to do if she doesn’t wake by tomorrow. She wakes at dawn. She asks how she got here, and Lucas says SnowDancer found her and he brought her here.

Nate and Tamsyn leave them alone in the kitchen. Sascha is pulled into Lucas' lap. He expresses worry and she says she's fine. He calls her out on it, and she says she will give everything to find the killer. Lucas asks why and she diverts to say she has to be back to her apartment by noon. Lucas asks what happened to her. She says she lost control of her body. Lucas says she needs to be seen by a doctor, but she refuses.

Lucas tells her he knows she's not like other Psy, and she slaps a hand over his mouth. She tells him not to so much as think it if he even cares for her a little, that it will mean her death if someone knows. She mentions she will help him, even as she breaks. When he questions the meaning of that, she says she is going insane. She asks him to kill her if she does. He refuses and she asks again, saying otherwise she'll become the walking dead. He agrees, but only because he does not smell any mental illness from her.

She takes a shower and then meets Dorian. Dorian says she did something to him. Sascha says she doesn’t know what, if she did anything. Dorian touches her cheek and she flinches, unused to any touch but Lucas'. They talk about whether she has a soul and Dorian needing to let go of his pain. Lucas comes up and asks if she is ready to leave. Sascha asks for a fact she can give them.

Rina comes up and questions Sascha, ultimately calling Lucas onto the carpet. Lucas reprimands her and remands her to Dorian, advising him not to sleep with her as Barker did. Dorian tells him not to worry because spoiled little girls aren't his type. Sascha scolds both of them, but Lucas tells Dorian to take Rina and leave.

Sascha turns on Lucas, but Lucas tells her Rina doesn’t have the seniority to question his decisions. Lucas explains pack hierarchy to her when she has trouble understanding.

Chapter 15[edit | edit source]

Lucas and Dorian have a conversation as Sascha walks out in the yard. Lucas drops her off around the corner, asking how she'll explain the car. She says she'll pretend it was stolen in an area populated by leopards, and that no report was filed because she didn’t want to anger Lucas. Lucas is surprised they'll buy that, but she explains they think little of changelings. She again asks for information she can share. Lucas says he can't risk anything without knowing what it will be used for. She says she'll stall.

Lucas asks if that's safe, and Sascha says she doesn't expect to be around long enough to find out. He tells her to stay safe, and calls her darling. She wishes she could have been his darling. He watches her leave.

Sascha again sees Enrique with her mother in Nikita's office. They have a conversation, Sascha pretending to be a failure, and Nikita concluding that they won't be able to gather as much data as they thought they would. Sascha leaves the office knowing the two are a team trying to accomplish something. Sascha realizes her mother cannot be unaware of the killer.

Enrique catches her at the elevator, expressing interest with her and offers to train her. When the elevator arrives, Latham steps out wanting to speak with Enrique. Sascha is able to slip away, but Enrique wants to continue the conversation later. Sascha knows he will stop at nothing to satisfy his curiosity with her.

Lucas goes to the DarkRiver building to talk to Zara. Lucas keeps thinking about Sascha's unusual behavior when she left the car. Clay appears in the doorway about an hour into his meeting with Zara. Clay informs him a wolf juvenile smelled Brenna near a Psy building, but only someone who'd had contact with her. Lucas figures out it's the Duncan building before he says it. Hawke's pack works on trying to get into the mainframe to figure out who entered the building. Hawke also did a physical sweep himself but found nothing, though he still believes the juvenile. Lucas offers to work on hacking as well.

He calls Sascha, communicating in code that she ought not to risk herself on the PsyNet and that they have a different lead, and that the killer was in the Duncan building. She says in code back that she'll be fine and that she's going to do it anyway. Lucas knows that the computer lead likely won't get them anywhere and that the answers will be in the PsyNet.

Sascha decides to "ghost" a Council member. It involves using a portion of her mind to latch on like a shadow to another mind.

Chapter 16[edit | edit source]

Having to stick to changing minds when they pass close by, it takes her two hours to get to Henry Scott, the easiest Councilor for her to hide within. Henry goes into a vault with family histories, allowing his consciousness to spread enough that Sascha takes the chance to seek out her own family history. She was told it had been destroyed, but she finds the Psy signature of her family.

She lets the information drift through her so she can analyze it later, then has to move quickly to prevent being trapped in the vault as Henry leaves. Henry then moves into the Council chambers, causing Sascha to panic. Terrified of discovery, she layers her consciousness within Henry's, obscuring her sense of identity in order to avoid detection, though it could cause her to lose her own self.

Tatiana asks why they are here, and Nikita echoes the thought. Marshall mentions that "he" has taken another changeling female. Tatiana asks when and Marshall replies two and a half days ago. He adds that they did too good of a job convincing their inferiors to cover up, and that their inferiors didn’t think they wanted updates.

Nikita warns that this cannot continue, because DarkRiver is likely hunting for the killer. Enrique asks which pack it was, and Marshall says it was the SnowDancers. Ming wonders what mere changelings can do. Nikita reminds him five Psy died last year without warning because of the SnowDancers, and no bodies have been found. Henry asks why the lack of retaliation, and Marshall replies it is because the Psy were stupid enough to go into restricted SnowDancer land.

Nikita asks if the killer is Psy, and Marshall confirms it. Nikita determines the killer must be cardinal or near-cardinal, with high access in the PsyNet, and the ability to prevent the NetMind from seeing all that he does. Tatiana says they need to catch him before he is exposed publicly. Shoshanna agrees and wonders if he is a cardinal anchor, necessary to the PsyNet's structure, mentioning they have an inclination towards becoming killers.

Marshall says they then need to leash him and feed him victims that won't be missed if he's necessary. Marshall orders they all have a quarter of their minds on the PsyNet constantly so that they can trace the killer the moment the PsyNet catches a hint of him.

Nikita worries that he might go underground, but Marshall argues he won't be able to resist the compulsion to kill. Nikita asks if the number of Psy serial killers is still around fifty. Marshall says those are the known ones, and there might be more. He adds that as most target other Psy, their jobs are easier. Henry asks what is happening to them, and Marshall says the vital ones are being provided for, and the rest are being sentenced to rehabilitation. Henry says there will be more, and Marshall says that is the nature of the Psy.

The meeting ends and Henry leaves with Shoshanna. They enter a private room on the PsyNet. Henry asks what she thinks, and Shoshanna thinks the decision was understandable. Henry mentions the changelings are suspicious, but Shoshanna counters that no one has exposed Psy serial killers since the first generation of Silent Psy. They then speak about tagging in the family archives, but then decide to discuss further later. Shoshanna and Henry leave separately.

Sascha finally remembers her sense of self, and begins step-shadowing back to her own mind, which takes over three hours. She lets the info she gathered release in her mind. She lets it process as she checks her messages, noting it is well past dinner. Lucas left a message, requesting to meet. She decides to go to him.

She walks out the door only to be met with Enrique. He requests an immediate meeting, but Sascha uses the excuse that she cannot miss this meeting as it has to do with the family business. She leaves, but is afraid of his intense concentration on her.

Lucas is worried about Sascha and has a conversation with Nate before Sascha arrives. When Lucas pulls her into the kitchen, she asks Tamsyn for food. Dorian and Kit are there, but Lucas asks Kit to swap with Mercy. Sascha eats before telling them she hacked the PsyNet.

Chapter 17[edit | edit source]

Lucas asks who it is, and she tells him they don't know.

Dorian is upset and mentions that if Brenna dies, SnowDancer will be out for blood. Sascha proposes a plan to catch him earlier by using his fixation to spring a trap within the PsyNet. Lucas is upset that she is proposing to be the bait, and Tamsyn asks how she'll know it's the killer. Sascha says she'll need a major distraction in the PsyNet.

Sascha says that since Silence, the Psy have had little violence. Tamsyn asks what Silence is, and Sascha reveals the Psy condition their children not to feel. Tamsyn realizes the Psy are purposefully hurting their children. Sascha reveals that serial killers still exist, explaining rehabilitation, and apologizing to  Dorian. She explains she will need a changeling mind to connect to so that the psychic "scent" of changeling will be present on the PsyNet. Sascha says she expects not to survive, and Lucas offers the protection of his pack, with the members present agreeing. She reiterates that she will not survive, and Lucas refuses, providing reasons for every argument.

Lucas points out she needs sleep and Tamsyn takes her up to a spare bedroom. Tamsyn tells Sascha about Lucas' mother being killed by the ShadowWalkers, and the torture Carlo and Lucas underwent for four days. Tamsyn asks that Sascha not ask him to be the connecting mind, forced to watch as she dies. Sascha says he'll volunteer, and Tamsyn volunteers herself.

Tamsyn leaves and Lucas enters later. They have a conversation. They tease each other and have sex. Sascha doesn't notice, but she clearly sends telepathic thoughts to him and he receives them easily.

Lucas leaves to meet with Hawke in the morning, leaving her with Vaughn and Mercy as bodyguards. Sascha thanks them for protecting her, and mentions she'll only be here to bother them for a few more days, and then won't be a problem. Vaughn says she is tough, and Sascha says she had to be to not be rehabilitated. Sascha asks them for a favor: for one of them to kill her if she is sent to rehabilitation. Mercy says that will be up to Lucas. Sascha says he shouldn’t have to be the one to do it, focusing on Vaughn.

Chapter 19

Vaughn declares her pack, and Mercy adds that they won't let her die without a fight. Sascha is upset that they don't understand. She says she's broken. Vaughn asks if she's broken or something else entirely. Sascha sinks into her mind, processing the data she retrieved. A while later, Lucas breaks her out of it, upset she went into her mind. They argue, Sascha feeling accused of being an idiot, and Lucas angry that she is using mental energy when she needs to rest after yesterday's ordeal.

He asks his sentinels why they let her enter her mind, and she is annoyed enough she kicks his boot. He threatens payback later, and she gets angry enough to push him with Tk. Everyone freezes, but then she decides he deserved it and throws down the gauntlet. She jumps on the table, but he talks her off, and then kisses her.

Embarrassed, she asks if he's heard of privacy. Tammy laughs and says DarkRiver males are possessive and exhibitionists during the mating dance. Sascha asks what that is, garnering reactions from everyone. Lucas says they should discuss it upstairs. They talk about it while Lucas tries to seduce her. Sascha refuses the mating, citing that she's going to die. Lucas refuses the idea that she will die.

The next day, Sascha is working on the plan to entrap the killer. Lucas asks what information she stole, and she replies she stole her family history. Tamsyn and Nate enter the room. Tamsyn asks why she would need to steal the info. Sascha says it was because she was told it had been destroyed. Lucas asks if it was, and Sascha says it was all there. Tamsyn asks what she found out, and Sascha says she found a red flag on her great-grandmother Ai's file. Nate asks if it was an indexing system, but Sascha denies it, guessing that it is something the Scotts are doing on their own. Lucas asks what the red flag is, and Sascha guesses that it is something to do with her Psy designation, as Sascha was also marked with the red flag. Lucas asks why they were selected.

Sascha reveals Ai was one of the few transitional children who survived the implementation of Silence. She was a 8.3 E-Psy at birth, and a 6.2 nonspecialized Psy after Silence, and the E designation no longer exists. Sascha explains the designations to them.

It is revealed that the leopards are refusing to tell her the last step of the mating dance so that she can avoid it.

Chapter 20[edit | edit source]

They speculate about the E-Psy. Tamsyn asks what she is, and mentions she thought she was a telepath. Sascha reveals all Psy have Tp to some degree, and that she is a 3.5 Tp and 2.2 Tk. The cardinal power is only the potential for power. Lucas and Tamsyn argue that she has been using cardinal level power in their presence. Tamsyn guesses that Sascha is an E-Psy, but that E-Psy aren't allowed anymore. Therefore, they told her she was nonspecialized.

Nate and Lucas react to something unseen. SnowDancers have arrived. Lucas orders Tamsyn out, and she takes Sascha with her. They talk about mating. Sascha guesses that Tamsyn thinks E stands for Emotion. Tamsyn says not to be afraid of dropping out of the PsyNet. Sascha does not tell her about the biofeedback requirement. Tamsyn reveals that there are stories about mind healers that disappeared a century ago. Sascha realizes that the whole time, she has been healing people, taking their negative emotions, and that she has been lied to.

Lucas walks out into the yard with Nate and Dorian. Hawke is with Indigo and Riley. Hawke wants to speak with Sascha. Lucas doesn’t want to let him. Hawke insults Sascha and Lucas decks him. Both sides crouch, ready to fight.

Chapter 21[edit | edit source]

Lucas warns Hawke she's his. Hawke gets his lieutenants to straighten, and then tells Lucas he should have warned him he'd mated. Hawke points out he spared Sascha's life earlier, and Lucas allows him inside the home. They give each other free passage, turning their alliance into a blood bond.

Dorian fetches Sascha and comes back with Tamsyn in tow. Sascha disputes Lucas' order for Tamsyn to leave. Hawke and Sascha talk, and he doesn’t trust her until she proves she's a cardinal E-Psy. Hawke says he didn’t think empaths existed anymore and Sascha agrees with him. Hawke asks if she can attack with her ability and Sascha says she can hack it. Lucas says they won't let her until they can safely pull her from the PsyNet.

Sascha sees Hawke move and nonverbally tries to tell him not to say anything. Hawke apologizes out loud that he can't keep that kind of secret, that he won't let her suicide and have Lucas gunning for him. Lucas asks Sascha what he meant and then orders the wolves out. Lucas carries Sascha upstairs and argues with her. Sascha reveals she has to be connected to the PsyNet to live.

Chapter 22[edit | edit source]

Sascha argues that she was going to die soon anyway, and that she should save Brenna's life rather than adding one more day to her numbered one. Lucas refuses. They fight most of the night, Sascha knowing that unless Lucas okays it, not even the wolves will help her with her plan.

Hawke calls the next morning to say the SnowDancers can provide the distraction. Lucas asks how and Hawke says to come over with Sascha.

They drive up part of the way, with Dorian, Clay, and Vaughn providing guard. They walk the rest of the way to the den, about thirty minutes from a fake lodge. The den is hidden inside a mountain. They enter. Lucas and Hawke banter about security of their respective homes. Sascha laughs at them, and says they act like wild animals trying to figure out whether to trust each other. Hawke looks at Lucas, silently saying if Lucas weren't already with Sascha, Hawke would mate her. Lucas says she is with him. Sascha doesn’t notice, looking at the paintings on the tunnel walls. She asks Hawke if the painter was part of the pack. He goes cold and says she was, and tells them to follow him.

They enter a meeting room, with five people inside. It is the Lauren family, the five who died unexpectedly a year before, according to the PsyNet. They talk about how they survived, and Sascha reveals she is an E-Psy. Sascha asks why they were slated for rehabilitation, and Sienna says it was because of the way her mother committed suicide.

Chapter 23[edit | edit source]

Judd adds that there were incidents that caused the Council to look upon them unfavorably. He also says nonbiological members were offered the choice to leave. Sascha understands Marlee's mother had given up on Marlee and saved herself. Lucas asks how they survived, and Walker explains they came to SnowDancer expecting that even if the adults, including Sienna, who was sixteen at the time, were killed, SnowDancer wouldn’t kill Toby and Marlee.

Hawke sends Sienna out with Toby and Marlee. Walker continues, explaining that they expected Toby and Marlee to somehow adapt their minds to survive. Hawke says they didn’t kill them immediately because they'd come in expecting to die. So the SnowDancers captured them instead, expecting to hold them for ransom. Judd explained to him the Council would pay the ransom and why, so Hawke could not morally hand them over but could also not risk his own people. Hawke demanded they cut the link, and Sienna came up with the idea that they could drop out one by one and create a familial network.

Sascha is hopeful, but Walker immediately clarifies that they had to lock the network or risk the children rejoining the PsyNet. Lucas isn't happy, but respects the need to keep the kids safe. Judd explains that he and Sienna are capable of hijacking into the PsyNet using a drug addict volunteer to cause a distraction by messing up some of the major communication lines. Sascha debates the ethics but ultimately accepts. Walker and Judd say they have tried to find a way to take her role in the plan, but every scenario would lead the Council to learning they are alive.

They then try to determine how Sascha can leave the Net alive. Judd says she will have to hide even if she does leave, but Lucas and Hawke deny it, stating they will take care of that issue themselves. Walker proposes that it may be possible that Sascha could get the necessary feedback from changelings, another idea of Sienna's. He mentions that a mating link would likely be psychic, and Sascha mentions that she had thought of that. Lucas is upset, but Sascha and Walker correct him, explaining that only a single mind would not be enough to feed her need for biofeedback, and ultimately, they would both die a slow death. Walker proposes linking with three or four minds, but Sascha can see no way of accomplishing that with changelings.

With that, the conversation ends. Sascha and Lucas argue in the car on the drive back. Sascha says she needs to do this, and Lucas realizes she will do it with or without their help.

Chapter 24[edit | edit source]

Lucas argues that he should be the changeling mind she anchors to, and she refuses. That night, Sascha dreams of Brenna, pleading for help.

Sascha gets up and moves up the timeline of the trap to that morning instead of the evening. Lucas is downstairs with Hawke, his lieutenants, and two other males. She demands they do it now. Lucas orders everyone out. Hawke asks when Judd should begin the distraction, as the others leave. Sascha says in five minutes.

She creates a superficial link between her mind and Lucas'. He makes her promise to initiate the link after, when she drops out of the Net.

She steps into the PsyNet, creating a fake flaw in her shields, and allowing out thought patterns with Lucas' changeling signature and tailored to act like Rina's thoughts, as she fits the profile of the killer's victims. Typically, when "meeting" someone on the Net, a roaming piece of consciousness is sent out. However, she has to keep the connection to Lucas, and thus has to send out a piece connected to the core of her mind, making her extremely vulnerable to mind control by another Psy. She has to be outside her mental shields in order to find the killer's identity.

Someone sets off her warning alarms, and she realizes she forgot she would attract her mother's attention. Her mother warns her to fix her shields. Sascha says thanks. Nikita warns her she may want to visit M-Psy soon, since she has not been in a while, and they may call her in for a random check-up. Sascha says she will go as soon as she can. Nikita begins to ask about the DarkRiver project, but interrupts herself. She has to leave to handle a problem that sprung up with two of the main information relay points.

Sascha realizes Sienna and Judd carried out the distraction. She guesses many Psy have already moved to fix the problem, and that it's already been fixed by this point, but the backlog will require hours of work to clear, causing chaos in the minds nearby. She feels a hint of violence and realizes the killer is near. It suddenly disappears.

She feels Enrique's cardinal blaze and realizes he must have scared the killer away. She is upset at him scaring away Brenna's killer. He does not realize she is present on the Net, and doesn’t contact her. Instead, he begins examining the fake flaw. She would think him the murderer, but she knows he has no emotion.

She realizes this is why she felt so wrong around Enrique: even her mother gives off low amounts of emotions, but Enrique never gave off anything.

Enrique contacts her about the flaw. Sascha says she has already begun repairing it. Sascha knows Nikita wanted it fixed because she didn’t want Sascha to appear weak, but Enrique has no reason to. Sascha also wonders why E-Psy weren't killed upon discovery. Enrique comments on her thought patterns.

Chapter 25[edit | edit source]

Sascha casually dismisses it. Enrique calls her perfect, and then says she is something different. She realizes he is laying a trap around her mind. The trap he is laying would cut her mind off from her body, and kill her if he left it too long.

She pretends ignorance, and he demands a meeting. Enrique discloses that he recognizes the changeling traits in her thought patterns, and Sascha is confused. She is sure he is not the murderer because he does not feel, but she cannot understand how he would recognize the traits.

She starts sneaking back into her mind, continuing to subtly question Enrique. Enrique reveals he thinks the changelings are stronger for being able to bear emotion and not break. Enrique also adds that he killed the women he was studying, pushing Sascha to believe he is the killer. She proves it by asking about seventy-nine, to which he replies 1979. He is then suspicious, because he wants to know how she knows that number.

She slips inside her mind again, locking the shields behind her. Enrique starts putting pressure on her mind, crushing it. It occurs to her Silence allows psychopaths to thrive. She dives inside the second shield layer, as he breaks through the first layer into her mind. She goes inside the third layer, the natural layer, which she, like the changelings, was born with. She cuts the link of her mind to the PsyNet.

Sascha screams awake in agony. Lucas is aware of who the killer is because they were linked, and he also heard the conversations she had. Lucas kisses her to try to make her stick around. She comes back around and admits the killer is Enrique. Lucas orders Vaughn and Dorian to go, the former protecting the latter from his own rage. Hawke stops Riley and Drew from leaving as he asks what is wrong with Sascha.

Tamsyn says she is dying, approaching Sascha. Sascha tries to tell them the address, but can't through her chattering teeth. Hawke says he has the address. Lucas and he exchange a glance, and Lucas tells him to carry out the plan to keep Sascha safe. Originally, Lucas was going, but Sascha is dying, so he trusts Hawke to take care of it.

Hawke says he will, and he, Brenna's brothers, two more wolves, Dorian, and Vaughn leave. Tamsyn is confused why his mind isn't helping feed Sascha's. Lucas realizes she has not linked. The two argue, and Lucas demands Tamsyn do something. She says she cannot, that Sascha is the only one capable. Sascha passes into unconsciousness, and Lucas feels the bond snap into place.

He holds tight to the bond, and she wakes a minute later. She tries to cut it, but finds she cannot. They argue, and she ends up dropping the shields she's built to prevent the bond. She cries, upset that she has sentenced him to death.

Ten hours later, they are still mad at each other, Lucas for her refusal, Sascha for him forming the bond. The rescue was successful. Enrique was exhausted by his effort to capture her, and Brenna was kept in his apartment. Hawke explains that the SnowDancers and DarkRiver soldiers stapled a message to Enrique's tongue and delivered it to Tatiana Rika-Smythe. Nikita received the rest of his head, and the other Councilors outside of California have been promised a piece of him as well.

Sascha questions how they could, and Dorian reacts, still upset. She recognizes that she needs to calm him. She goes over and brushes her lips with his.

Chapter 26[edit | edit source]

Lucas doesn't react, because this is a normal action, one of the accepted touches in a pack. Hawke continues, explaining they have evidence of Enrique confessing to Psy violence on camera. They talk and decide the information cannot get out to the general public without a solution for the problem. Lucas wonders how the Council will explain Sascha dropping out of the Net. Hawke replies they suggested the Council say it was a mutation that caused her to be vulnerable to mating with a changeling and that is how she left.

Sascha speaks with Nikita three days later. Nikita informs her she has been disowned, but that the company will continue the DarkRiver construction project. Hawke summons Sascha to the wolves' den, saying that Brenna is dying. Sascha telepathically speaks to Brenna, who is under the impression she is not with her pack. Sascha relays the information to Hawke and advises him to ground her with touch. Hawke strokes her cheek, Riley holds her hand, and Drew pets her hair.

Sascha initiates contact again, telling Brenna she is home. Brenna is terrified and doesn't want to believe, because she feels she has no more strength left for another fight if it's a lie. Sascha says she will not be blamed if she wants to die instead. Brenna doesn't want to die, so Sascha tells her to choose to live. Brenna asks her who she is, and Sascha introduces herself. Brenna asks for her help in healing her broken state, and Sascha promises. Sascha helps draw Brenna back to consciousness.

Riley pushes past Sascha to hold his sister's face and speak to her. Sascha decides to leave, as it will take time to heal Brenna, and Brenna needs to feel comfort from her pack for now. Lucas asks if she is still mad, referring to the bond, and Sascha says yes.

Sascha is watching Roman and Julian a week later when she comes to the realization that she does not want to be angry with Lucas for the limited time they have left. She informs him, and that night, asks him to shift for her. She pets him and he shifts back.

A month later, she tells him something is wrong, because they are not deteriorating. She asks him permission to go into the mental plane, not wanting to violate his privacy, and he gives it. She steps out and realizes there is a web. She is sending out rainbow sparks, using her E designation passively. She sees five other minds and three minds connected to one of the five. She mentions it to Lucas, who brings up the sentinel blood oath. They realize that the blood oath builds a mental network.

They guess that Nate's cubs are only there because they are so young, and that Tamsyn is there because mating produces a strong psychic bond. Lucas guesses this was the reason the blood oath was passed down through centuries. Sascha points out that the Laurens guessed wrong, and that changeling minds can produce a multiplication effect.

Lucas asks what this means, and Sascha tells him they're safe, and will be healthy. Lucas is upset that she almost died when she would have been fine, and Sascha says she'll remember it as Lucas saving her life. Lucas says it's going to take time to forgive her, and she says they have forever.

Epilogue[edit | edit source]

Later that week, they hold a meeting with the sentinels and Tamsyn to explain the network. Sascha reassures Mercy she won't enter their minds without permission. Dorian and Sascha talk about how her empathic ability is affecting him. Lucas tells them Sascha offered to cut some loose if they didn’t want to be in the network.

Vaughn asks if she can get inside their minds easily, and Sascha reassures him she can't. Vaughn refuses the offer, citing that as Lucas' mate, the loyalty oath extends to her as well. Dorian refuses because she healed him. Mercy asks if Sascha can figure out male secrets for her, and Sascha teases back, saying that she only knows Lucas that well, and she's not sharing those. Mercy laughs and refuses the offer.

Clay warns her she wouldn’t want to be in his mind, and she says she won't enter without permission. He nonverbally rejects the offer. Tamsyn and Nate are the only ones still present. Tamsyn rejects the offer for both of them.

Sascha calls the mental network the Web of Stars, as it has rainbows within the starry night of the psychic plane. Lucas asks if that's what it looks like, and Sascha confirms it. She says she has a lot to learn, and Lucas says they have a lifetime. 

Characters[edit | edit source]

Main Pairing

New Characters (by appearance):

Others:

  • Barker[1]: leopard changeling, soldier, was Rina's teacher and had a brief affair with her, rich brown hair.
  • Callie[2]: human, florists, works at the shop where Lucas buys the flowers for his parents grave each year, almost 33 years old, has an innocence about her, a small brunette with glasses
  • Carlo Hunter: deceased, Lucas' father
  • Kristine Lauren: deceased, Toby and Sienna's mother, committed suicide
  • Kylie Christensen: deceased, Dorian's sister, brutally murdered by Santano Enrique
  • Shayla Hunter: deceased, Lucas' mother
  • Zara[3]: wildcat changeling, adopted into DarkRiver, an architect working for DR construction, petite with mocha colored skin and cloud grey eyes

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Slave to Sensation (2006, Paperback), ch.14, p.181
  2. Slave to Sensation (2006, Paperback), ch.7
  3. Slave to Sensation (2006, Paperback), ch.4, ch.12
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