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Silver Silence (Psy-Changeling Trinity #1)
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New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh introduces a bold new chapter in her extraordinary paranormal romance saga with the Psy-Changeling Trinity series. Wild passion will encounter the darkest of betrayal…
Control. Precision. Family. These are the principles that drive Silver Mercant. At a time when the fledgling Trinity Accord seeks to unite a divided world, with Silver playing a crucial role as director of a worldwide emergency response network, wildness and chaos are the last things she needs in her life. But that’s exactly what Valentin Nikolaev, alpha of the StoneWater Bears, brings with him.
Valentin has never met a more fascinating woman. Though Silver is ruled by Silence—her mind clear of all emotion—Valentin senses a whisper of fire around her. That’s what keeps him climbing apartment buildings to be near her. But when a shadow assassin almost succeeds in poisoning Silver, the stakes become deadly serious…and Silver finds herself in the heart of a powerful bear clan.
Her would-be assassin has no idea what their poison has unleashed…
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To be a Mercant is to be a shadow that moves with will, with intelligence, with pitiless precision.
—Ena Mercant (circa 2057)
SILVER MERCANT BELIEVED in control. It was what made her so good at what she did—she was never caught by surprise. She prepared for everything. Unfortunately, it was impossible to prepare for the heavily muscled man standing at her apartment door.
“How did you get in?” she asked in Russian, making sure to stand front and center in the doorway so he wouldn’t forget this was her territory.
Bears had a habit of just pushing everything out of their way.
This bear shrugged his broad shoulders where he leaned up against the side of her doorjamb. “I asked nicely,” he replied in the same language.
“I live in the most secure building in central Moscow.” Silver stared at that square-jawed face with its honey-dark skin. It wasn’t a tan. Valentin Nikolaev retained the shade in winter, got darker in summer. “And,” she added, “building security is made up of former soldiers who don’t understand the word ‘nice.’” One of those soldiers was a Mercant. No one talked their way past a Mercant.
Except for this man. This wasn’t the first time he’d appeared on her doorstep on the thirty-fourth floor of this building.
“I have a special charm,” Valentin responded, his big body blocking out the light and his deep smile settling into familiar grooves in his cheeks, his hair an inky black that was so messy she wondered if he even owned a comb. That hair appeared as if it might have a silken texture, in stark contrast to the harsh angles of his face.
No part of him was tense, his body as lazy limbed as a cat’s.
She knew he was trying to appear harmless, but she wasn’t an idiot. Despite her offensive and defensive training, the alpha of the StoneWater clan could crush her like a bug, physically speaking. He had too much brawn, too much strength for her to beat him without a weapon. So it was good that Silver’s mind was a ruthless weapon.
“Why did you need to see me at seven in the morning?” she asked, because it was clear he wasn’t going to tell her how he kept getting past her security.
He extended a hand on which sat a data crystal. “The clan promised EmNet a breakdown of the small incidents we’ve handled over the past three months.”
Those “small incidents” were times when Psy, humans, or non-clan changelings needed assistance in the area controlled by StoneWater—or elsewhere, when members of the bear clan were close enough to help. As the director of the worldwide Emergency Response Network run under the aegis of the Trinity Accord, Silver was the one who coordinated all available resources—and in this part of the world, that included the StoneWater bears.
Of course, she had no ability to order them to do anything—trying that on a predatory changeling was an exercise in abject failure. But she could ask. So far, the bears had always come through. The data crystal would tell her how many clan members and/or other resources had been required to manage each instance; it would help her fine-tune her requests in the future.
She took the crystal, not bothering to ask why the alpha of the clan had turned up to personally deliver the data.
Valentin liked to do things his way.
“Why does Selenka let you get away with breaching her territory?” The BlackEdge wolves had control over this part of Moscow when it came to changeling access. The city was split evenly between the wolf pack and the bear clan, with the rest of their respective territories heading outward from that central dividing line.
This apartment building fell in the wolf half.
Valentin smiled, night-dark eyes alight in a way she couldn’t describe. “StoneWater and BlackEdge are friends now.”
If Silver had felt emotion, she may have made a face of sheer disbelief. The two most powerful packs in Russia had a working relationship and no longer clashed in violent confrontations, but they were not friends. “I see,” she said, refusing to look away from those onyx eyes.
Predatory changelings sometimes took a lack of eye contact as submissive behavior, even when interacting with non-changelings. Bears definitely took it as submissive behavior. They weren’t exactly subtle about it, either. In fact, bears were the least subtle of the changelings she’d met through her work as Kaleb Krychek’s senior aide, and as the head of EmNet.
“What do you see, Starlight?” Valentin asked in his deep rumble of a voice that spoke of the animal that lived under his skin.
Silver refused to react to the name he insisted on calling her. When she’d pointed out he was being discourteous by not using her actual name, he’d told her to call him her medvezhonok, her teddy bear, that he wouldn’t mind. It was difficult to have a rational conversation with a man who seemed impossible to insult or freeze out.