But all that didn't negate the fact that she was a long way from accepting the kind of touch the cat craved. He wanted to lick her from head to toe, with lingering stops in soft feminine places that drew him like a drug. However, the second he asked more of her than her mind was able to handle, he might lose her. And that was unacceptable. So, where did that leave him?
"Step by step," he murmured under his breath, body taut with expectation. Faith NightStar was about to be hunted. He had no intention of harming her and every intention of breaking down the sensual walls that separated them. By the time he finished, Faith would be enslaved by her body's hunger, the woman core of her screaming out for him.
It would take patience, but Vaughn was used to stalking prey without break for hours, days ... weeks.
Faith found herself doing something inexplicable the next day. Instead of spending her time reinforcing shields that were clearly malfunctioning, she kept going over what Vaughn's skin had felt like under her fingertips, so hot, so different from her own. Caught in the memory, she ran her fingers over her upper arm. It was the first time she'd treated her body as a sensual object quite apart from its functionality.
A discreet alarm chimed.
Still disciplined enough to not betray startlement, she terminated the alarm. It was one in the afternoon and well past the time she should've started work. After a quick but thorough review of her shields, which actually proved not to be compromised, she walked out and took a reclining position on the chair. Monitoring functions came online with a hum meant to be inaudible to the human ear, but which she'd always heard with some unknown sense deep within her body.
A few seconds later, the voice of the M-Psy overseeing this session issued from the small communicator built into the arm of the chair. There was no visual because they hadn't wanted her being distracted by another face as a child, and she'd never asked for that to be changed. But she was under no illusion that they couldn't see her.
"All your biological and neurological functions are within the acceptable limits. There has, however, been an increase in your raw psychic potential."
That was a surprise. As a cardinal, she was off the Gradient but apparently, M-Psy could gauge fluctuations in her abilities. "An increase?" She feigned only cool interest. "Is that a sign of mental degradation?"
"On the contrary, it's a sign of health. Such increases have occasionally been noted in high-Gradient minds - we can't measure cardinals past 10.0, but we are able to tell when your abilities shift in either direction," he explained, displaying the truth that everyone, even Psy, liked to talk about what they knew. "We theorize that the mind learns psychic shortcuts over years of constant use, thereby creating extra capacity."
Double-talk, Faith thought. The reason her powers had increased was because the conditioning was falling away. The logical connection was irrefutable. Her vision channels were being forced to encompass more than the narrow field of commerce, thereby becoming wider. The subject matter or palatability of the new visions was irrelevant. That they existed was proof enough of her untapped potential, potential she'd deliberately been taught to suppress.
It made her wonder what else had been stifled. Who might she have been had she not been created in Silence, genetically selected to generate a steady stream of income? What would it have been like to have been born normal, born without fear of certain madness, born woman enough to take Vaughn on?
"Shall we start the session?" the M-Psy asked. "Or would you like to review the new brain scans?"
"I want to do some work first. Initiate random sequence, full list."
A clear panel rose up from behind the chair to curve over her eyes. It stopped half a centimeter from her lashes and clouded to opaque. A split second later, a steady flow of words began to scroll across it at high speed. It was her list of current dormant requests. Foresight could be steered, but not completely controlled, much to many a business's frustration. Faith, however, was a near-certain bet, which was why she had such a high price tag.
Once she'd entered the relevant triggers into her mind, she usually had a vision within a week or two and they could happen anywhere - in the garden as she walked, during sleep, while in a meeting with the M-Psy. However, over the years, it had become apparent that if she put her mind into a receptive frame, the visions could be guided out in a more controlled environment. That particular skill gave her some freedom from being watched twenty-four/seven, but so long as even one vision came outside of this chair, she'd never be accorded total privacy.
Her eye fell on the Tricep symbol among the mass of scrolling data. She kept picking it up again and again in spite of the speed and amount of other information. Her mind had chosen. Closing her eyes, she allowed her breathing to alter. It was the first step in putting herself into the half sleep she personally called suspended animation. While suspended, she existed neither in this world nor on the Net, but somewhere F-Psy alone could go, becoming part of the timestreams of the world.
Then she opened her psychic channels. In truth, she couldn't ever close them, but she could, with concentration, expand them to the nth degree. Part of her brain itself, the channels were inaccessible from the PsyNet - the only things that could come through them were visions. And if there was a part of her that wasn't sure which visions would choose to crawl in, she didn't let those uncertainties filter through to her conscious mind.
The Tricep prediction was child's play. She came out of it with the now-familiar feeling of barely having stretched her mental muscles. As she dictated the details of what she'd seen, it struck her that if she continued down this path, she'd most certainly go insane - from boredom. Having the M-Psy restart the screen scroll, she gave him two more perfect readings before he called a halt.