She couldn't wait to talk to David and Michael. She moved straight to the monitor when she entered the room. Normally she would mask her maintenance of it with her other tasks so the subjects would have no idea there was any sort of equipment in the room at all. This time, she didn't care about protocol. She needed to talk to these men without the monitors and she would do so now, before she lost her nerve.
She disabled the system and turned to face them with her hands behind her back and her breath caught in rather desperate apprehension. Both of them were watching her carefully, inquisitive looks on their handsome faces. The moment of truth had indeed arrived.
David's concern brought another of those amazing tears to her eyes. She wiped it away, noting their stunned expressions and sank onto the edge of the table behind her, resting wearily against it as she explained her tale of woe.
She told them all about how she'd exposed herself to the agent and it was tall, muscular Michael who came over to gather her into his strong arms, not David as she would have expected. David, instead, watched her in a way that was unnerving. He watched her as if she was some kind of experiment, and she suddenly understood how and why these Breeds resented their captivity and the constant monitoring.
"I'm so sorry." She sobbed, turning her head into Michael's strong chest.
"For what, Jaci? You've never done anything to harm either of us. You've been as close to a friend as one of your kind could be given your lack of emotion. We liked you regardless."
She cried a bit more, waves of emotion hitting her that she didn't know how to deal with. Michael seemed content to let her ride the storm out in his arms and she didn't want to move. He felt so good. So powerful and protective. She wanted to stay in his embrace, safe, for as long as she could.
Of the two, Michael was the larger and physically stronger. David was more cerebral and handsome in a way that made her stomach clench. He had a cunning smile that hinted at deviltry and close-cropped hair that she'd wanted to touch for a long time, just to see if it was as soft and fuzzy as it looked. His sharp features and intelligent, dark blue eyes were aphrodisiacs of a sort different from that of his more muscular cousin.
Because of his almost frighteningly strong masculine form, Jaci would have thought Michael would be less likely to offer her comfort. He had a rough demeanor and more athletically defined physique. He spent a lot of his spare time doing push-ups and other kinds of physical exercise that kept his body at a peak of conditioning unmatched by any of her other charges. She'd been surprised when he'd been the one to gather her close to all that amazingly warm muscle and brawn, but she loved the feel of him against her. With such a man holding her, Jaci felt like nothing could ever harm her.
Mike looked from the sobbing woman in his arms to his watching cousin. Dave was taking it all in, but he hadn't yet made a move to help the confused young woman, and Mike was surprised. He knew Dave liked the look of Jaci. They'd had enough conversations about her since she'd become their jailer to know that for a fact. She was easy on the eyes and had a graceful manner, plus she never used her position of power to intentionally harm any of her charges. She was thoughtful and kindor as kind as a person without any understanding of emotion could hope to be.
"Why won't you help her?" Both men were reasonably strong telepaths and had other gifts as well.
"She needs to cry," Dave said firmly in his cousin's mind. "When she's got this out of her system, we can begin to work on integrating the emotions."
"This could be the break we've been looking for." Mike was excited by the possibilities. "If the aliens are experimenting with reintroducing emotions into their people, it could help us all. I bet the O'Haras had something to do with this development."
The rumor mill among the Breeds was fast and furious. With so many telepaths among their number, even the separation into cells couldn't keep many of them from communicating with each other. Word had spread quickly about the O'Hara brothers when an old O'Mara woman and her husband and daughter had been captured. She'd stood right up to the aliens and told them what the eldest O'Hara had told her to say and surprisingly, it had worked. She'd mentioned her maiden name and suddenly the family had been whisked out of the general population. They had friends down in the pens and they'd kept up the communication, telling them what had occurred.
Mike knew there were free humans working to better conditions for them all and the O'Haras were at the forefront of the fight. He'd even heard tell of the half-alien boy one of the brothers had fathered and his work to help his human kin. Harry, they called him, but the aliens called him Hara in almost reverent tones. Mike had watched and listened carefully, compiling information and looking for his own way out of the cells.
Whether that meant a breakout or cutting some kind of deal, he'd had enough of captivity. It was slowly driving him mad. Only his cousin's calming influence had helped him through the worst of it. Of the two, Dave was the thinker and Mike was the doer. It had been that way since they'd been kids. They'd worked together to build their business. Dave had written the books and Mike had marketed them. Together they'd made millions, but it was all gone now, and Dave was putting his education and talents to use, simply helping those few people he came into contact with stay saneor as sane as they could given the circumstances.
"From what we've heard, the O'Haras have influenced the aliens more than anyone could have guessed. Maybe you're right," Dave mused silently to his cousin as he moved nearer the sobbing girl. "Maybe after studying humans for more than a decade, the aliens are finally coming to realize their own lack of emotion and what it's cost their people as a whole. We've heard the rumors about the throwback crystallographer, right? He's teaching humans now, so maybe they've found some link between emotion and their prized crystal gift."
"We've speculated about that before, Dave. We have no evidence to support that theory, but now that we know they're experimenting on themselves to this radical an extent, it makes sense to think something's spurring them on."
Mike stroked her hair as his mind raced. Dave drew nearer and reached out his hand. Mike knew his cousin had a healing touch and he could feel Jaci's tears winding down.
"Give her to me."