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Sage has avoided being alone with Anni for years.

She makes him feel way too much—lust, need…love.

And there is no room in his life for any of that, not when he is fighting on the front lines of a war.

At least he never thought there was any room for it.

But when Anni is kidnapped by the enemy, Sage is willing to do anything to get her back. Including letting her inside his heart.

There is just one little problem—Anni doesn’t seem to want him.

Somebody had kicked her.

He wanted to lower his head to that dark stain and kiss it, but he didn’t. On the outside of her right thigh was another mark, and the skin had split. “God, Anni…I’m so sorry.”

Her eyes moved to his for the briefest second. “It’s not your fault, Sage.”

The hell it wasn’t, Sage thought. He hadn’t ever felt so helpless. So pissed. She had bruises on her—he should have saved her.

He filed away each mark on her, swearing silently that he’d have blood for every last bruise. “How many of them were there?”

“I lost count. But they look worse than I do.” As she spoke she flexed her right hand and he lifted it, staring at the bloody, torn knuckles.

Both fury and pride moved through him and he murmured, “I bet they do.”

Still holding her hand, he rubbed some of the soap across it, opening her palm and checking for any other injuries.

The elongated tips of her nails, thicker than his own, but not quite as dense as a true cat’s, were still showing. He saw why once he started washing each individual one. Blood, and unless he was mistaken, a decent amount of human skin was embedded under them. If she retracted her nails, some of that might get inside her system. Anni had a hypersensitive immune system and could fight off damn near every germ, virus and bacteria known to man, but she was very fastidious.

Grabbing one of the loofah sponges that Kelly had stocked in all the bathrooms, he used it to clean under her nails as best as he could. “That will have to do for now,” he murmured, reaching for her other hand and cleaning it as well.

“Thank you.”

Once he had cleaned her hands and finished washing her torso, he turned her around, checking her back as he went. There were small scrapes in her skin that had him seeing red.

Dermal scrapes. Somehow, they had gotten her down long enough to get dermal skin samples.

Damn them.

They hated people like Anni and Sage, but that didn’t keep them from trying to figure out what made them different. An odd thought flashed through his mind.

That other teleporter—did he have scars left from the government’s tests?

Sage clenched his jaw. Anni…she was what mattered right now. After slicking shampoo through her short black cap of hair, he nudged her under one of the showerheads, rinsing the bubbles away, then washing the dark strands again. Once he was sure he had her hair clean as could be, he turned her back around.

He’d put it off as long as he could. Staring at the sweet curve of her ass was hard. He kept remembering how he had pushed inside the snug heat, how she had screamed and begged just before she’d climaxed around him.

But it wasn’t as hard as this. He knelt in front of her to wash her legs, putting his mouth right on level with the core of her. Maybe he should do it with his eyes closed, he thought briefly as he skimmed his soapy hands over the outside of her thighs.

Shit. That wouldn’t do any good. The memory of her body wasn’t one he’d ever forget.

Besides, Sage was anything but a saint. Glancing up, he saw her cheeks were flushed red, but her eyes were closed. His cock jerked, aching, demanding. Slowly, he lowered his eyes back to her mound, his blood pounding through his veins hot and heavy.

Hell, he could practically taste her, feel her clenched around his cock, hear her screams. He ran his hands up her thighs while he stared at her hungrily, taking one foot and massaging it with his hands. One hand came up, bracing on his shoulder and Sage slid a glance upward.

Anni still had her eyes closed, her lashes a black fan. She sighed shakily, and as Sage released her left foot he caressed one hand along the inside of her calf. Her breasts heaved as her breath hitched in her lungs and Sage damn near came.

The telltale flush on her cheeks, her erratic breathing…