Shai discovers he is a pathfinder and is desperate to find a genetically suitable partner to prevent his extrasensory talents from running amok. Unfortunately those talents make him a target for the brutal crime lords and other violent denizens who inhabit the city of Nhil-Rhar. Shai needs to learn how to use his pathfinder senses—no matter how much they terrify him—before he’s trapped in a partnership that will enslave him for the rest of his life. (M/M+)
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Somehow it didn’t surprise him when he found Ollenbach waiting in his room for him, dressed in clean clothes of his own. It was majorly creepy to think that the Agency had been investigating him in enough detail to know that he preferred guys in his bed instead of women, but a moment later it occurred to him how ridiculous that assessment was. He couldn’t bring himself to believe it mattered one whit to the Agency what his sexual preferences were. Ollenbach had been chosen for him; end of story.
Pausing in the doorway, Shai deliberately turned his gaze away and raked both hands back through his dampened hair. “I suppose it’s too much to hope that you’ll leave me alone tonight.” He was proud of how even his voice sounded, without any hint of the tension he felt.
Ollenbach frowned. “I’m not going to molest you, Shai. But we do have to remain together until our bond finishes forming. I thought you understood that.”
Shai hovered in the open doorway, unable to make himself move forward into the room. Despite Ollenbach’s assurances, he couldn’t help thinking that he was in danger here, that every second he spent in this man’s company was another nail being pounded into his coffin.
Very carefully, Ollenbach took a step toward him. “Come here, Shai,” he said quietly, without looking away from Shai’s eyes. He touched Shai’s hand lightly. “I’m not going to hurt you.”
He tugged gently, and Shai found himself moving forward the single step that separated them, into Ollenbach’s arms. The door hissed shut behind him, but he barely heard it as he was caught up in the sensation of being held in full-body contact by his guide. The embrace felt surprisingly good, and he caught himself snuggling forward into the warmth of it a moment too late.
“That’s good, Shai.” Ollenbach sighed and pressed his cheek against the top of Shai’s head. “It’s going to be okay.”
And as much as Shai wanted to shove him away, there was an even stronger part of him that wanted to just stand there and feel. The warmth of Ollenbach’s arms around him was heady, addictive, and even though he knew the response he felt was a result of the genetic imperative Ollenbach had told him about, that didn’t make it any less powerful.
“I hate you,” he whispered, wrapping his arms around Ollenbach’s waist and inhaling the scent of him.
Ollenbach sighed again. “In time, Shai,” he said, kissing him lightly on the forehead, “you’ll come to love me.”
He drew Shai with him to the bed, and Shai went, too weary to refuse. He laid down when Ollenbach urged him to, and Ollenbach curled up around him from behind, pulling a blanket up over them both.
“Get some sleep,” Ollenbach murmured, slipping an arm around Shai’s waist. He didn’t make any other moves against him, and after several tense minutes, Shai closed his eyes.
But he never relaxed entirely.