Faith's eyes were intent, eerie in their focus. "I see the future."
"You're an F-Psy?" A being so rare that Talin didn't know anyone who had ever actually met one. "A cardinal F-Psy?"
"Yes. Believe me when I tell you - the things I see, they're not for the weak."
"I take back the crack about you being fragile then," she said. "But friend or not, you have no right to get between me and Clay." She might be a puny, powerless human, but just let anyone, even a cardinal, try to keep her from Clay.
"You and Clay. So there is a relationship?"
"Yes." With that single word, Talin felt a fundamental shift inside of herself. "If you have something to say about that, say it to my face instead of dancing around it."
Tamsyn's needles stopped completely, but Faith didn't flinch. "I see the future. Sometimes, I see things about people who matter to me."
That destroyed Talin's anger as nothing else could have done. "What?" she whispered. "What do I do to Clay?"
"I don't know." Faith's response was quiet, her voice so crystal clear it reminded Talin of Jon's. "But what I do know is that the future hasn't yet changed."
"What does that mean?" She wanted to shake the foreseer, make her stop talking in riddles.
"It means that whatever you are, you're not yet the woman who'll stop him from crossing the final line...from losing his humanity."
Max turned to block the attack an instant too late.
They fell on him in a sadistic swarm, kicking and punching. They didn't yell, didn't scream, and their utter silence was a threat in itself. He fought back, but there were too many. After a while, his world narrowed down to a repetitive chorus.
The thud of flesh on flesh, the rasp of skin against the asphalt, heavy, pained breaths. A trickle of warm blood down his face.
The sound of a gun being fired. Then...nothing.
Clay took one look at Talin's face when she came downstairs into the kitchen and knew she'd gone head to head with Faith. She stopped with a good foot of space between them. Scowling, he closed the distance and took her stiff, cold hand. When she tried to pull it away, he had to remind himself to act civilized. "I thought we were friends."
That made her press her lips tight, but she stopped fighting him.
"Are you going to tell me what happened?" Silence. "Fine. I'll ask Faith."
Her eyes narrowed. "Are you in love with her?"
Where the hell did women get ideas like this? "She's Vaughn's mate."
"So, what?" Clay shoved a hand through his hair. "Meddling in each other's business is what packmates do. I don't like it much, but you learn to live with it."
"She thinks she has rights over you."
Now this was interesting. "Your possessive side is showing again, Tally."
"Stop it." She tugged at her hand.
He refused to let go. "She does have rights over me," he said. "Just like I have rights over Sascha or Tamsyn. It's about looking after your own. They're Pack."
"And I'm not."
"Not yet." Wanting to possess her until his scent was a permanent marker on her skin, he pulled her toward the door. "Come on, we need to get to this meeting on time."
They were there in plenty of time as it turned out. Entering the restaurant, Clay let Talin talk. She'd been quiet on the ride over and he knew her well enough to know she was working things through in her own head. That could be dangerous, but he was playing for keeps and he wasn't going to lie to her. Distract while he persuaded, but never lie.
"We're here to meet someone," she told the maitre d'.
The rigid man looked first at Talin's jeans and the thin V-necked sweater she'd pulled on over her top, before moving to Clay in his jeans and white T-shirt. "I believe you have the wrong establishment," he suggested, his nose so high, it was a wonder he was able to see them over it. "The nearest bar is two blocks over."
Clay waited to see what Talin would do. He could almost see the steam coming out her ears. "Where's the nearest unemployment office?" Saccharine sweet and oh-so-innocent. God, she turned him on when she got all pissy like that.
"I'm sure I wouldn't know." A sniff.
"You will pretty soon if this is the way you treat your guests." Her voice turned to steel. "I could be anyone."
The man smirked. "Your clothes give you away, my dear. If you're going to play in grounds above your station, I suggest you get a better costume. And," he sneered, "a more refined companion."
That last made Tally narrow her eyes. "Why, you stiff-necked prick. My companion is worth a thousand of an arrogant snob like you."
Clay was enjoying this but no one insulted Talin in front of him. "Hey, Tally."
She glanced over her shoulder. "What?" Her tone was close to a snarl.
"You think I should show him how refined I can be?" A quick flash of lengthening canines, eyes cat-green.
The maitre d's face went white behind her.
Clay barely held back his laughter.
Talin smacked his arm. "Behave, you're not helping." She returned her attention to the maitre d'. "Now, where were we - Are you all right? You look very pale."
"I'm, uh, fine." His fear an astringent irritant to Clay's senses, the maitre d' ran his finger along the screen of his little computer tablet. "Who did you say you were meeting?"
"Mr. Devraj Santos."
The man's voice was reedy when he spoke. "Mr. Santos booked one of our private dining rooms. If you'll follow me."