"What's going to happen to that guy?"
Kalil laughed coarsely. "He'll be executed. Which is probably better than he deserves."
Shai felt ill. He'd seen his share of death on the streets throughout his lifetime, but he'd never directly been the cause of it before. He tried prying at the fingers clamped around his neck to loosen them, but they didn't budge.
"I knew he was guilty," Kalil said, either not noticing or not particularly caring about Shai's efforts to release himself. "But I wanted to see if you were as good as Thornton said you are." He pushed open a door toward the end of the hall and shoved Shai inside, finally letting go of his neck.
Shai stumbled and caught himself as the lights in the room flicked on. Rubbing at the back of his neck to ease the bruises there, he looked around with renewed apprehension. He was standing in a medium-sized bedroom, with dark maroon carpeting and recessed track lights at the top of the walls. The lighting in the room was subdued.
It looked like the kind of room you'd bring a whore to.
"You mean it was a test," he said, trying not to give in to the panic that was beginning to rise in him.
Kalil seemed to think that was funny. He made a show of locking the door behind him, then turned toward Shai and held up the small bronze key, deliberately sliding it into one of his vest's numerous pockets. "There. No one should be disturbing us now."
Shai shrank back a step, a sudden surge of nausea twisting through him. "What do you want with me?"
Kalil took a step toward him, and Shai retreated hurriedly, starting as the backs of his shoulders bumped into the wall behind him. He held his bound hands up in front of himself defensively.
"Unbonded pathfinders are rare," Kalil said, reaching out and yanking Shai forward before he could twist away. His hand closed over the back of Shai's neck again, and he lowered his head until their foreheads touched, breathing out softly over Shai's face. "Most are found on search and drafted by the Agency. We have no way to hunt for them ourselves, which is why we had to... borrow you."
Shai closed his eyes, trembling. "You're a guide."
The hand on the back of his neck turned disturbingly affectionate, stroking lightly over his skin. "I am."
Shai sucked in a long breath, trying not to panic. "But I... I already have a guide. You can't--"
"Your bond with him isn't completely formed yet. It will be easy enough to break."