SIAN FELT AS astonished as the others to hear it. It had shocked the men. They'd discussed it the whole time they set up the tent, pausing their conversation if one of the women ventured too close. Cat, on the other hand, had raced to get the firewood, eager to go chat with Loushka. Kassie nudged Sian. 'Do you think in time we'll be able to hear the griffons too?'

The tiny twist of envy left Sian's stomach while she considered that. 'I really hope so.'

Loi turned from watching Cat. 'I wonder what caused it to happen?'

'Well, she and Alek would appear to be closer than we are with...' Kassie gestured at the men. 'Perhaps when we're closer we'll be able to tune in,' she finished.

ALEK STRAYED AWAY from the campsite, rubbing the crystal in the metal cuff on his wrist and threw a thought out to Elena. 'Elena?'

'I can hear you, Alek, what's wrong?'

'I'm not sure that it's wrong, just unexpected. Catherine heard Loushka for the first time today. She's conversing with her right now.'

'Really?' Elena sounded impressed. 'Her powers are growing stronger quickly.'

Alek told her about the incident with the tehnear and the energy burst Cat had thrown off.

'How far away are you?' Elena asked.

'We should reach the castle by tomorrow night; we've made very good time. The griffons appear to be getting stronger after each time they leap even if it does tire them for a day.'

'Get here as soon as possible. I need to meet those women and have them under the protection of the castle.'

'Do you think they could be in danger already?'

'Alek, you know as well as I that if I can pick up the energy output so can she. She knows they're in our world and she will be hunting them.'

Elena's presence vanished from his mind. Alek felt exhausted from all the sudden and unexpected events. He watched Cat chat to Loushka, his emotions swirled while the flame haired woman stroked the griffon's beak. He'd never felt such an instant attraction like this before. Part of him knew it would be best to let Cat be, until she herself knew who she was. The other part however, couldn't resist her. Ignoring his good sense, he stared over at her.

LOUSHKA HAD THE most beautiful voice. She was a pleasure to talk to. We'd chatted about all sorts of things and I'd discovered that I could show her images of life on Earth. Telepathy gave you so much more to work with than just words, and I already knew Loushka resisted telling me everything, able to sense a sort of wall she put up. She's probably been instructed only to tell us on a need-to-know basis, I thought, but wasn't concerned, we were doing the same thing. It made sense.

'Do you think I'll be able to talk to Alek like this?'

Loushka hesitated. 'I wouldn't think so, but you may be able to talk to one another through me.'

That's an interesting idea, I thought, then felt someone's eyes on me and glanced up. Alek stood across the campsite from us, watching. I felt a rush of pleasure while I stared. Such a handsome man; tall and broad shouldered with rippling muscles everywhere, as I well knew. A shock of thick, ebony hair, long enough to brush his brows and deep blue eyes that complimented his tan. I continued to watch—okay ogle—him while he strode our way. His armor was unusual, with high armored boots that stopped at mid-thigh like mine and then another section encased the hips and protected the stomach but was jointed so he could ride comfortably. A breastplate, which I hoped I didn't still wear the imprint of, shoulder guards and a full cape which clipped to each shoulder and swung out when he walked.

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