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Trey murmured something in Jaida's ear, low and soothing, but she couldn't concentrate on his words. Last night had proven that she couldn't predict her reaction to him. Far from being assailed by his emotional sensations, she was swamped by her own. There were exciting, enticing and totally unfamiliar.
They scared her to death.
"Let me go." Her words were more a plea than a demand and he went instantly still. A moment later he moved away from her, using exaggerated care, and she rose, fleeing to the terrace.
His approach was silent, but she sensed the moment he joined her.
"Leave me alone, Trey!"
"Not yet. Not until we talk this out."
"There's nothing to talk out. I want you to stay away from me."
"That's going to be a little difficult, given the circumstances."
"You know what I mean," she said a little wildly. He was being deliberately obtuse, and he wouldn't be denied.
"Why don't you tell me what has you running scared everything I touch you?" he suggested. "I know that the reaction you have to me is new for you. We've already established that. It's new to me, too." She refused to answer. He contented himself for the moment by examining her delicate profile in the approaching dusk. Her features were fine; her soft pink mouth sulky. He was pushing her, and she didn't like to be pushed. He resisted the urge to cover that sulky mouth with his own.
"I don't have a lot of experience," she said in a low voice.
Her words, not totally unexpected, sent a curl of satisfaction through him. "That can't be from lack of opportunity."
She gave a little laugh that was devoid of amusement. "I'm a freak, remember?" She didn't look at him, didn't dare. She was afraid she'd see the agreement on his features. "I've dated, but I couldn't...I could never..." She stopped, chewed her bottom lip and wondered how to explain. "Being that close to someone, I couldn't block anything out. It's an enormous strain trying to shield myself from a person's thoughts and emotions any time I'm touched. I can't maintain that sort of defense indefinitely. And so I would pick up all his feelings, and they would just overwhelm my own. Or I'd get a glimpse of a vision and that sort of ruins the moment, if you know what I mean."
His voice was inflectlonless. "Is that what happened in there? Are you saying it's the same with me, Jaida?"
She gave a bitter smile in the falling darkness. She sensed the urgency behind that question. She wished she could lie to him. The one thing that Trey would be unable to tolerate was allowing someone close enough to sense what he was thinking.
"No." She shook her head uncomprehendingly. "And I don't understand that, either. Everything inside gets all jumbled up, and the feelings skyrocket through me. But they're not yours--they're mine. It's so different."
He rounded the table and put both hands down on its surface, leaning toward her. "I think you're beginning to understand what scares you so much, honey, but you can't run away from it forever. There's something between us, Jaida. And after we find Benjy, when we're sure he's safe..." He paused meaningfully until she raised his gaze to meet his.
"Then you and I will finish it."
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