But the Psy who turned up a bare ten minutes later with a tall amber blond male wasn’t anyone he’d expected. He recognized her of course—that distinctive red hair, those cardinal eyes. Faith NightStar was said to be the strongest F-Psy in or out of the Net, her ability to see the future a gift and a curse both. But Max knew he’d always see it as a gift after the way she’d saved their lives. “Thanks for coming.”
As Faith hurried past and unerringly to the bedroom, Max paused long enough to say, “You got here quick.”
“Faith,” the changeling male said, “woke me up an hour ago and told me we’d be needed in the city around now.”
Max, walking back to the bedroom, stopped for an instant. “I guess I never thought about the reality of being mated to an F-Psy.”
Vaughn slapped him on the back. “Ask me sometime about how f**king difficult it is to surprise her with a gift.” It was said with affection, his tone that of a man who wasn’t only delighted in his mate, but didn’t care if the whole world knew about it.
They entered the bedroom at that moment, and everything else faded. Faith was sitting beside Sophia’s stiff form, her hand on his J’s forehead. “Her telepathic shields are terrifyingly thin, but they are continuing to protect her,” Faith said, before pausing for almost ten seconds. “Her PsyNet shields appear fine. A little unusual according to my contact, but not damaged.”
Max didn’t ask about Faith’s contact, taking it as a given that that contact would soon be dead if it became known he or she was sharing information outside the Net. “Do we need to get her to a hospital?”
The foreseer’s endless eyes met his. “No. She’ll wake up soon.”
A simple, absolute answer, and yet . . . “What aren’t you telling me?”
“There’ll be time after she wakes.” Faith looked up at her mate as he came to stand beside her, his fingers playing through her hair. “Coffee?” she asked.
Vaughn’s smile was indulgent. “Addict.”
“Your fault.” The foreseer’s expression was somber, belying her light words. “We’ll need to talk once she wakes.”
Smile fading into an expression of intense tenderness, Vaughn untangled his fingers from his mate’s hair and went to exit the room. “Come on, Max. You can’t do anything here.”
“I’ll stay.” No way in hell was he leaving his Sophie alone.
Faith seemed to struggle with something as she rose to her feet. But in the end, she followed Vaughn out in silence.
Faith walked straight to where Vaughn was measuring out coffee grounds. “Hey.” Putting an arm around her, he hugged her to the solid strength of his side. “The answer’s no.”
She rubbed her face against his chest as he turned to embrace her fully, loving the scent of him. “How did you know what I was going to ask?”
“We have been mated over a year. Give the cat a little credit.” A teasing kiss from her jaguar, his hand curving around her throat in gentle possession.
“You said it yourself, Faith.” A quiet reminder, the jaguar looking out of his eyes. “The future isn’t fixed. It wasn’t for Dorian.”
“Yes.” She’d seen the sentinel’s future blacked out, had thought it meant death, but he’d survived. “It’s different this time, Vaughn.”
“I saw bits and pieces of reality—the fact that Sophia would need us for some reason tonight, other events that may or may not happen, but I felt this gathering wave. I can’t describe it, but I know something huge is about to happen, and it’s centered around Sophia Russo.”
“You’re talking about more than the life of one person . . . two people,” he added, and she knew he’d seen the way Max looked at Sophia. So had she.
Her foreseer’s heart hurt for them, for the future they didn’t have. “I’ve never felt anything like this, but from the research I’ve been doing”—using the records her father had managed to unearth then smuggle out to her—“F-Psy in the past noted the same kinds of sensations before major catastrophic events.”
Vaughn cupped her face, an areola of pure gold around his irises, the jaguar rising to the surface. “Are you talking earthquake, plague, political turmoil?”
“Any, all,” she whispered. “But whatever it is, Sophia Russo is the domino that will begin an unstoppable cascade.” The J was the leading edge of a perfect storm, one that might annihilate them all.
“It’s as if he simply doesn’t exist in Sophia’s future,” Faith said, tugging at the tie that held back her mate’s hair. It fell over her hands in a stroke of rough silk, a familiar anchor. “But I don’t get that same sense of blankness as I did with Dorian. Instead, it’s this feeling that he’s never been a part of her life. Which is impossible.”
Vaughn stilled. “Not if the Sophia you see is Sophia after rehabilitation.”
Faith shook her head in stunned horror, but he was right. Full rehabilitation wiped out the psyche, creating a slate so blank that nothing of the mind, the soul, remained.
Max argued with himself about whether or not to touch Sophia, knowing it had to have been their sexual play that had caused this, but driven by gut instinct, he got on the bed and cradled her in his lap. And the instant he did, it felt right. She was a soft, warm weight on him, her breathing easy, her heartbeat steady. Something wild and panicked inside him settled.