And Amara Aleine would bathe in the blood of innocents.
Five minutes later, Faith stared at the dull green of the paint on the landing as she and Vaughn made their way out of the building. She found herself torn over whether or not to share a different vision with Vaughn. Usually, it wasn't even a question, but this one was so riddled with emotional land mines, she wasn't sure she wanted the weight of it on his shoulders...
Then he made up her mind for her. "Spill it, Red," he drawled as they emerged onto a street drenched with the smell of the salt water coming off the bay. "I can hear you thinking."
"I saw something about Dorian a while back," she admitted, "around the time we mated." She'd glimpsed him as a leopard, a creature with eyes more green than blue and dark facial markings. "I never told him because it was a distant knowing. Years, I thought... and the future can change."
"You going to tell me the details of the vision?"
Having come this far, she couldn't retreat. She told him. "I didn't want to give him false hope - what if it never came true?"
"Hell of a thing," he whispered, shaking his head. "You really think he might be able to shift one day?"
"I used to." She blew out a shuddering breath. "That vision is gone, Vaughn. Something's changed."
"What do you see now?"
"Nothing." She gripped his hand. "I see nothing at all around Dorian now. I don't know if it's because his future is in flux - "
" - or because he has no future." Vaughn's jaw was a brutal line. "Aleine might get him killed."
"He's made his choice," Faith said, though her heart was a rock in her throat. Sometimes she hated the price her gift demanded. "Like we made ours."
"That was different."
It made her smile. "The Council tried to kill you, too." The memory still made her entire body burn with a violent mix of rage and fear. "We made it. I have faith Dorian will, too." Even if his future was a formless darkness filled with complete and utter emptiness.
Amara couldn't see him, but she knew he was there. Ashaya had never managed to keep her out for this long, not when Amara really wanted to get in. But he was doing something, making Ashaya turn her back on her sister.
That wasn't allowed.
As she tried again and again to break Ashaya's shields, her eye fell on a small pressure injector filled with a lethal dose of narcotic.
"So easy," she whispered. A simple, permanent solution.
The temptation is a physical ache. Now that I've seen him, met him, kissed him, my mind won't stop bombarding me with images of my body intertwined with his, his golden hair brilliant against my skin, his hands powerful against my br**sts, his tongue flicking over the damp heat of me. My hands tremble as I write this. I can't sleep. I can't think.
What is happening to me?
- From the encrypted personal files of Ashaya Aleine
Dorian walked around to sit beside Ashaya. When she made no move to acknowledge him, he growled low in his throat and tugged back her head using her braid.
"Dorian!" she snapped, her shell cracking. "Faith's information means I have to maintain - "
"Shut up, Shaya." He wrapped her braid around one hand, gripping her jaw with the fingers of the other. "Yeah, your sister sounds like a serious problem, but f**k it, she's going to come after you sooner or later. Let it be sooner because I refuse to let you bury yourself for her. We stand and we fight."
Ashaya didn't reply, didn't say a word. If he hadn't already begun to sense her with a part of him he'd never thought would awaken for a Psy, he wouldn't have picked up the distress behind her implacable mask. "What is it?"
She pressed her lips together. Damn, stubborn woman. Eyes narrowed, he thought over what he'd said, coupled it with her vulnerabilities. I refuse to let you bury yourself for her.
"You were buried in a quake." Close, he thought when her lashes fluttered down for an instant before rising resolutely. "But you dealt with that. Hell, you worked in an underground lab for months. So it's not the idea of burial that scares you... it's the idea of being buried by Amara."
"Stop it." A harsh whisper. "Let me go and stop it."
"Oh, no, Shaya." He released her chin but maintained his hold on her braid. He was careful of his strength, but implacable. He knew she'd refuse to talk unless he made her. "This is how it's going to work," he said. "You tell me what the hell your crazy sister did to you, or every time you try to flick me off - or tell a lie - I'm going to kiss you."
Her eyes widened, then grew hot with the blinding fury of a temper she'd never before shown. "Dorian, despite what the Psy Council likes to release via its propaganda machine, you're not an animal. You're a civilized being who understands the rule of law."
He'd already given her a warning. So now he just kissed her. Her mouth was open and he was oh-so-tempted to sweep his tongue inside, to savor what he craved with every hard inch of him. But, though she might not believe it, he was trying to be good. She had no idea how good he was being.
The second their lips parted, she took a deep, shuddering breath that did all sorts of interesting things to her br**sts. He looked down and realized he had plans for those br**sts, such sinful plans. "Talk," he ordered.
"Even the Councilors couldn't make me talk," she taunted. "What makes you think you can break me?"
He smiled, slow, sensual, pleased. Finally, she was playing with him. "I don't want to break you, sugar." Giving a chuckle, he dipped his head and licked at the jumping beat of her pulse. "Hurting women isn't my style. But I do want to handle you" - free hand smoothing down her arm - "pet you" - the slightest brush of his knuckles against her generous br**sts - "devour you." He closed his teeth over the fullness of her lower lip and nearly forgot about his good intentions.