There was some shouting in the distance and Jorge knew the Collector’s people had stopped trying to be inconspicuous. They had shifted into “capture at any costs” mode.
He shouldered his way through the throngs of people and made another turn, never easing his grip on Sabrina’s arm. He could see a type of alley on the side of the building. At this time of day, it was all in shadow.
As soon as they reached the alley, Jorge shoved Sabrina up against the wall and caged her between his arms. “Whatever happens next, I need you to relax and not panic.”
“Why? What’s going on?”
“I’ll explain later. For now, I’m about to show you one of my tricks and get us the hell out of here.”
She glanced behind him and back. “Then hurry up. I can hear them coming.”
He didn’t have time to ponder the significance of her accepting his word so easily. Instead, he imagined the cells of his body breaking down, getting smaller and smaller. After two seconds, a familiar shock of pain flashed through his body and he became a dense shadow cloud.
Even though he no longer had eyes or ears, he was still aware of his surroundings. The Collector’s soldiers were nearly upon them. He was going to have to pull his shadow-transport trick faster than he’d ever done before if they were to get away.
He still surrounded Sabrina in shadow form and he carefully covered her entire body with his shadowy mist. He started to caress her skin and she went limp. Any time he tried to transport someone, they always went unconscious; he didn’t worry. Instead, he concentrated on engulfing her body. Once she was completely covered, he imagined her cells breaking down until she became part of his shadow cloud.
He could feel her warmth mixing with his own. In the past, he’d always had to transport strangers, and usually against their will. But this time was different. Sabrina was familiar, and her scent surrounded him and oddly calmed him. He was starting to realize how intimate this act was—two beings breaking down to become one.
Shit, that sounded way too romantic for his life, and he quickly pushed the thought aside.
Now that they were both shadows, he started to move along the darkest parts of the alley. He had done something similar a few days before, when he’d transported a man named Marco Alvarez from a different market.
Once they hit the streets, he easily avoided anyone stepping on or in him. The feeling of someone encroaching on his shadow form was never pleasant—like someone kicking him in the stomach or the side of the head.
Since he wasn’t going to risk going back to the safe house in case their previous location had been compromised, Jorge headed to another place, one that would hopefully allow Sabrina enough time to wake up and recover. Now that the Collector’s people had found them, the clock was ticking. They needed to move up their takedown of Watkins and flee the Yucatan peninsula as soon as possible if they wanted to live out the week.
Sabrina opened her eyes to find Jorge seated next to her on an unfamiliar bed and staring down at her. She tried to sit up, but he forced her to stay still with a hand on her shoulder. She glanced at his hand and back at his face before she asked, “Are you going to tell me what happened? One minute you disappear in front of my eyes, and the next I wake up here.” She frowned. “Just what all can you do with those strange powers of yours?”
At first, she thought he was going to argue with her again, but instead, he studied her face. When he brushed a lock of hair off her forehead, she resisted a shiver at his touch—so tender and warm, a big contrast to his usual behavior.
That raised her guard. Why was he being so nice to her? The old Jorge might’ve been this tender, but not the newer, harder version. Something had to be wrong.
She glanced down, but she didn’t see any life-threatening injuries. She looked back into his warm, brown gaze and said, “Do we really need to get into an arguing and threatening match again? Or will you just tell me what’s going on?”
He stopped playing with her hair and said, “I didn’t disappear back near the market. I used my shadow-shifting abilities to become a shadowy mist. That’s what you saw all those months ago, when my arm seemingly ‘disappeared’ during our run. That had been the first time I’d ever had that happen to me.”
She remembered that day. They’d been doing one of the trail runs on their day off. Jorge had suddenly buckled over and cried out in pain. She’d gone to him, convinced him to stand up, and then they’d both noticed the lack of his hand and forearm. Sabrina didn’t remember screaming, but just staring with her mouth open. She’d heard a few tales of strange Feiru abilities during her early training with the Feiru Liaison office, but the disappearance of Jorge’s arm had been the first time she’d seen any type of Feiru magic up close.
Once the shock had worn off, Jorge had pushed her aside and ran away. Sabrina had been too freaked out to follow him.
In hindsight, she realized how frightening the situation must have been for him. As his friend, she should’ve gone after him to make sure he was okay.
Instead, she’d betrayed him.
No. She wasn’t going to walk down that memory lane again. Getting too close to him while undercover had been a huge mistake, and she couldn’t let it happen again. Right now, she needed to focus on getting more information out of the man sitting beside her. Specifically, she needed to understand how his powers worked. Maybe then they could use them to help push up the date of their take down of Watkins.
She needed to see Jorge Salazar as a tool and nothing more.
He was still staring at her with concern. She was pretty sure her face was neutral, but since her undercover agent training seemed to fade the longer she was around him, who the hell knew what the man saw.
Jorge raised his eyebrow in question, and she nodded for him to continue.
He rubbed the comforter on the bed between his fingers as he said, “What I did today was another aspect of my powers that I discovered during my time with the Collector. It’s probably one of the few things I actually was happy to pick up.”
“Is that how we got here?”
He nodded. “I can surround someone in my shadowy form and then break down their cells until they become a part of my shadow mist. As long as I don’t shift back, I can move through the shadows and be nearly invisible. I call it my ‘shadow-transport’ ability, although I have no idea if that’s what it’s officially called or not.”