"She's an E-Psy."
Faith flicked through a mental file. "There's no such thing as an E designation."
"Have your shower and I'll tell you something else your Council's been hiding from you. It's almost five - you want coffee?"
"Okay." Faith was aware there were peculiar gaps in her knowledge and the taste of coffee was one of them. She knew of it, of course. No one who read as much as she did could miss knowing about it, but she'd never actually drunk it.
Vaughn got up from the bed and her eyes followed the shift of lean muscle and male strength. He was built perfectly in proportion, beautifully constructed. His musculature was well defined and his skin shimmered with a healthy glow that her mind found... interesting, she thought desperately, when that same mind tried to insert another word.
"Do I pass inspection?"
Her eyes met ones that glowed slightly in the dark and she saw something in them that she now recognized as laughter. Her answer came from a part of her she hadn't known existed. "You appear healthy, but I'd have to dissect you to make an accurate judgment."
To her surprise, his lips curved. "So you can play after all."
She wanted to argue, but he was already walking out. "Wait!" It came out without thought.
He turned. "What's the matter?"
Now that he'd stopped, she couldn't say it. What if he left and the darkness found her again? "The shower - where can I get a towel?"
"Hold on." He stepped out.
By the time he returned, she'd started to breathe faster. He paused the second he got inside the doorway. "I smell fear, Red."
She got off the bed and went to grab the towel. What she couldn't even allow herself to think was that she was going to him because he made her feel safe. "You're imagining things." She tugged at the towel.
He held on to it. "I'm a cat. I don't make mistakes like that. Come on."
Knowing she should argue, but not having the will to do so, she followed as he led her from the bedroom. When he didn't switch on a single light, she realized it was because he could see perfectly well in the dark. Since she couldn't, she reached out with her mind and flicked on the kitchen light as they headed into that room.
He froze. "Telekinesis?"
"A touch." In reality her Tk strength was close to negligible, but she didn't think it smart to admit that.
"Any other 'touches' I should know about?" He gave her a piercing look.
She shrugged. "What are you doing?"
"Starting the coffee before I babysit you." He opened a canister sitting on the counter that ran along the back wall.
It felt like he'd slapped her. "Give me the towel. I don't need babysitting."
Ignoring her, he finished setting up the coffeemaker. "I was teasing, Red. Don't get your fur ruffled." He pointed down the hallway. "Go use that shower and I'll sit outside and wait for you."
She took the towel he held out. "I'm fine." She didn't know what had driven her to tell that complete untruth. She never lied - she had no reason to. "And I don't have fur." But for some bizarre reason, she found herself imagining what it would be like to stroke that black and gold fur she'd glimpsed when he'd first stalked her.
"Ask nice and I might let you."
He'd read her mind for the second time. "You're telepathic?"
He nudged her toward the shower. "No, you just can't lie worth a damn. Everything's in your eyes. Plus I know when a woman's thinking about stroking me."
"I wasn't thinking about stroking you." She preceded him down the hallway. "I was imagining your fur."
Heat at her back and a rough whisper against her ear. "You let me stroke you and I'll let you stroke me - I have a thing about your skin."
Faith had no idea how to deal with him. So she opened the bathroom door and stepped inside. "I won't be long."
His eyes lingered over her and she became aware that the tank top was plastered to her skin, outlining everything about her, from her full br**sts to the curve of her hip. "Take your time."
Faith wondered why she felt like she'd been marked. He hadn't touched her and yet... he had.
Vaughn heard the shower come on as he leaned against the wall next to the bathroom. He'd said he'd stay there while she showered and he would. And it wasn't only because he'd smelled the acrid tang of bone-chilling fear. Something far more disquieting had been present in that nightmare-soaked room - a third entity that the cat had recognized as nothing natural, nothing good.
He hadn't been able to define the lingering miasma as either human, changeling, or Psy, but it had clung to Faith like a second skin, disappearing only in the light of the kitchen. It might be gone now, but Vaughn was far from convinced that he'd seen the last of it. Faith could very well be a psychic carrier of some kind, providing a conduit for the infiltration of DarkRiver.
However, his instincts said otherwise. There had been something malignant about that darkness, something violent and ugly. And while he wasn't sure about his redheaded Psy, his beast scented none of that ugliness in her. Faith smelled warm and female, tempting and inviting.
Whatever it was that was happening, he had the gut feeling that Faith herself was unaware of it. It was even possible that someone else was entering her consciousness through her connection to the hive mind of the PsyNet.
The shower shut off. That was when he realized he'd given Faith nothing with which to replace her sweat-soaked pajamas. He waited for her to figure out the same. She cracked open the door a minute later. "I need new clothing."