She wasn’t smiling tonight. She was jittery, playing with her drink, shifting in her seat, sensing his scrutiny as she’d begun to do over the last couple of weeks. Gabriel reached out with a psychic caress, the thought brushing over her defenses like a breath of wind against closed shutters, and noted with satisfaction the shiver she couldn’t quite suppress.

Her searching gaze slid harmlessly past him, foiled by the low-level psychic broadcast he was projecting. Look elsewhere, that insidious mental whisper said. You never even saw me. His prey was just as susceptible as any other human, and yet, as she passed over him there was a hesitation that hadn’t been there before.

He leaned forward, watching her, his lips curling upward just at the corners.

She was learning him already and he hadn’t even started.

* * * *

Amanda Bairns found herself scanning the faces around her—again—and wondered who she was looking for.

The bar was packed with University of Wisconsin-Madison students celebrating the end of finals, just as she and Brandy and James were doing. Normally, Amanda liked the press of people, the odd mix of camaraderie and anonymity that was part and parcel of State Street on a Friday evening, but tonight she couldn’t shake the itching between her shoulder blades, the hint of a breath on the back of her neck.

“You know, I thought once the Business Law exam was out of the way I’d stop feeling so paranoid,” she commented to Brandy.

“I told you your professor wasn’t out to get you specifically.” Brandy poked at the sunken cherry of her brandy old-fashioned, the tiny black straw too small to be used for much besides fishing out muddled fruit. “Have another drink, you’ll feel better.”

Amanda shook her head, the very thought making her shoulders hunch defensively. Her gut said she needed her wits about her, and she trusted her instincts. Even if my instincts have been saying the same damn thing for the last week or more. “I have to work tomorrow.”

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