Thalia reached for her spoon, capping the cooking spray with one hand. She groped around the area of the counter where she'd last left it, a frown creasing her forehead when she still couldn't find it. Even when she lifted her mixing bowl, she couldn't find it. She turned around to ask Colt if he knew where it was when she saw it. Hanging in mid-air, part of it gone as it disappeared into an invisible mouth, the spoon had obviously been stolen.

"Colt," Thalia sighed. "I wasn't done with that yet."

Voice muffled by the spoon and the cookie dough he was licking off it, Colt said "Mmm 'orry."

"Just ask me next time. Once I'm done with the bowl, I'll let you know and you can scrape it, okay?" Thalia saw the spoon bob up and down and smiled, turning back to the bowl, pulling another spoon out of the drawer as she moved.

She'd barely stuck it into the dough when she heard a metallic clatter from the sink. She half-turned but the feeling of hands on her had Thalia jumping and yelping. She heard Colt chuckle as his arms slid around her waist. She could feel his chest, stomach, and hisā€¦legs pressed against her back, his cheek warming one side of her face as he leaned his head forward. "You're really good at cooking," he said.

Thalia felt her face flush and hoped he didn't notice. "It's basic science. Combine this, this and this then heat it in this at this temperature and now you have this result. I like that there's always a right answer or an expected result."

She could feel the laughter in his chest as he chuckled again. "I find that that suits you perfectly."

His breath grazed her ear and cheek as he spoke, sending even more blood rushing into her face. From previous experience, Thalia knew she must be approaching the colour of a stop sign. She was about to ask him if he'd had any new ideas on how to keep the Builders from threatening Will like they had the day before, when she felt Colt's lips against the back of her neck.

Thalia couldn't help herself, she flinched. Colt didn't seem bothered, if the way he was trailing kisses higher up her neck was any indication. She turned, trying to see his face, or rather, where she guessed his face was. He used the opportunity to move his head farther forward and pressed his lips against hers.

Suddenly, Thalia found herself aware of so many different sensations. The soft texture overlaying the pressure of Colt's lips, the way her skin was pebbling, and the warmth that was flooding through her, whether it was coming from Colt or her, she wasn't sure. Then the kiss changed. Colt pressed himself even harder against her, his arms tightening around her waist. Now, Thalia had no room to think, she could only feel.

The chime of the doorbell ripped through the quiet of the house, making Thalia jerk. She ducked her head, suddenly unable to look in Colt's direction. She gently pulled herself out of his embrace, aware that she must have already surpassed the colour of a stop sign. "I need to get that." She hurried to the door, the air that had been warm before, feeling cool. She took a deep breath, then cracked the door open enough that she could see the visitor.

Thalia studied the stranger who stood on her front porch. He was a bit taller than her but much wider. His stomach preceded him when he moved forward, his whole middle looking like a sphere. Atop the almost snowman-esque physique lay his head, another near-perfect circle, the sphere not even interrupted with hair, from which two blue irises shone.

"Good afternoon, Miss Quinn. It's a pleasure to meet you," the stranger said, his voice high and soft.

She frowned. "I'm sorry, but who are you? And how do you know my name?"

"My name is Aaron MacQueen. I believe your cousin William might have mentioned me. I'm a member of the Builders."

The hand that Thalia still had on the door's knob went white-knuckled as one of her feet slid back. "What do you want?"

"Only to speak with you. It's long been a belief in our group that if we could gain your support, dear William would be far more willing to help us. Which is why I would like to talk to you about all that we've been doing throughout the years, and what we'd like to do in the future. Have you ever thought about what could be done, if humans could gain extraordinary gifts? Why, it might mean the discovery of new medical techniques. We might be able to cure diabetes, AIDs, or even cancer! And if that weren't possible, in our researches, we've discovered the most likely talents to appear, and some will help save lives. Imagine if we had telepaths, able to read the thoughts of the people around them? We could find missing children, prevent murders, discover who's telling the truth. And how about a telekinetic?"

Thalia felt the hand still around the knob twitch.

MacQueen continued. "They could help firefighters clear escape routes, or help detonate bombs from a safe distance, or fix things where no one else can get safely. Then there are people who can see the past or the future, able to solve mysteries and help everyone prepare for future disasters, and there could even be people capable of cleaning up the planet, saving it for generations to come. Imagine the possibilities, the advances in science and medicine we could make. Don't you want to be a part of that?"

Looking up into the blue sparks that were MacQueen's eyes, she thought she saw conviction there, an almost religious belief in his cause. The depth of his feelings caused a touch of fear to prickle her skin and fill her spine with ice. She couldn't even explain to herself why she felt that way.

But then the door was wrenched from her hand, slamming shut on the face that was still watching hers. Thalia gasped. A moment later, Colt's arms were back around her, one hand clamped over her mouth as she heard the lock click into place. "That man-That man is dangerous. You must stay away from him," Colt whispered.