"It has to do with the blood oath the sentinels take. We don't know how it works - we'd forgotten it even existed."
Vaughn had never been this content. It was as if a missing part of him had come home, a part that he'd been functioning without but, now that he'd found it, the loss of which he'd never survive. Faith was inside of him, held in the core of his animal heart, protected with every ounce of strength he had. If she saw their bond on the level of the mind, he saw the physical reality of it, the strength and the purity.
She ran a hand through his hair and he purred against her, asking for more. She complied, understanding him without words. It was part of the bond, but it was also because she wanted to know, wanted to please him. And that gave him more pleasure than anything else.
Yet a sadness lingered in her and he knew why. "You're thinking about Marine."
"We have to stop him."
"I'll call Pack."
"You're one of us. They'll want to help."
"Even a Psy?"
"You're my Psy now."
His possessiveness was welcome, but it set off a less joyful thought. "The Council isn't going to let me go without a fight."
"Leave that to me. You think about how to catch this killer and I'll work out a way to keep you safe."
"Alright." Trusting Vaughn was easy. He'd never made a promise he didn't keep.
Faith wasn't surprised when Vaughn drove them to the now familiar wooden cabin for the meeting with his pack-mates. She had a feeling her jaguar didn't like too many people in his home territory. Exiting the car, she straightened her spine and began closing the distance to the porch. She didn't want to look weak in front of these people who mattered to the man who meant everything to her.
However, it wasn't only Sascha and her mate waiting for them, but also a stranger dressed in black.
"This is Judd Lauren," Sascha said, from her chair beside Lucas's.
Faith nodded, conscious of the sudden rise in Vaughn's aggressiveness. Lucas didn't look too happy either. The truly peculiar thing was that the silent stranger triggered her internal alarms as well. She couldn't reason why. What she did know was that for all his icy masculine beauty, he was deadly. But then so were the two changelings.
Aware she was being rude, but unwilling to let it go, she continued to stare at him where he leaned against the outer wall of the cabin. "I've seen you before."
"No." His expression betrayed nothing, not even by the flicker of an eyelash.
No one was that controlled. No one but a Psy. But of course Judd wasn't one of her race. "No," she agreed. "But I've seen others like you." He inspired the same primal fear response as those cloaked guards who'd escorted her to the candidacy meeting.
Judd was hardly likely to be one of the almost mythical Arrows, but he made her very uneasy. And if that wasn't enough, another male who set off her defenses appeared that second from around the corner of the house. He prowled to lean against the railing a small distance from the others, his green eyes watching her with the unblinking stare of a predator sizing up prey. She was extremely glad Vaughn was beside her.
Lucas jerked his head at the new arrival. "Clay, I thought you were bringing Tammy."
"Cubs. Rosebushes. Thorns," came the truncated reply.
Everyone but her seemed to understand. Sascha shook her head, a small smile on her lips. "Are they okay?"
Feeling out of the loop, she leaned her back against Vaughn's chest. White fire licked up her fingertips where they touched his jeans. He seemed to freeze and then reawaken, his hand never ceasing its soothing strokes down her arm. "You all know why we're here."
"To locate the man who murdered Faith's sister," Sascha said. "But I thought you didn't know enough."
"At first," she began, "all I saw was her, the intended victim - very pale skin, white-blonde hair, blue eyes. Unusual looks for a Psy, but not a practical way to track her." She forced herself to go back into the evil of the visions. "Then I started to get more - "
"Because he's stalking her?" Sascha interrupted.
"At the time, it was because he was going to stalk her."
Everyone went silent as they digested the reality of her life. Lucas was the first to shake himself out of it. "How far gone is he?"
"In the final stages. The visions I'm seeing now are of blood." Vaughn's arms came around her though she'd betrayed nothing by either gesture or tone - being unemotionally Psy was a form of protection against these predators, not all of whom were in her comer. "We have to stop him at the kidnapping because I know the location and I even know the time."
"How?" It was the dark-skinned male called Clay.
She had to force herself not to press closer into Vaughn. "There were time markers in the last series of images, things that let me place a vision in the correct time frame. Some markers are hard to spot, like seasonal changes or the color of the sky, but these were unmistakable."
No one spoke so she continued, grounding herself in the muscled heat of the body surrounding hers. The embrace was a silent statement of his loyalty, she knew that much. "I saw a datebook open on her desk as well as the face of an electronic clock. Both the same." Time markers didn't get much clearer than that.
Then she revealed something she'd told Vaughn in the car after unraveling all the other markers. "We have one day." Too close for comfort, far too close. "If we don't get him... it's likely we won't save her. He feels" - she searched for the right words - "full, full of anticipation, of need. He doesn't keep and torture his victims, either. While stalking his intended victim excites him, his biggest thrill comes from the actual kill." Like when he'd killed Marine. Once again, her heart clenched and now she knew what to call it: a mixture of pain and grief, sorrow and loss.