As a girl, she’d once heard that Tk-V children were GPS chipped as babies. Sahara didn’t know if that was true, or only a story made up by young Psy who had never met anyone from the near-mythical subdesignation V, but it made sense. Like all telekinetics capable of teleportation, they had to have steel-trap geographic memories. So a baby or a toddler could conceivably teleport himself to a random location he’d glimpsed from a car, for example, then become too distressed to teleport back home.
Now the teleporter, a man she simply couldn’t imagine as a child, glanced around the pine-needle- carpeted clearing made distinctive by two royal blue scarves hung from thick branches. He inclined his head at the woman with hair of scarlet silk who ran toward Sahara, then was gone.
“Sahara. It’s really you!” Cheeks stained with tears, the lovely woman cupped Sahara’s face, her smile luminous through the wet. “I thought I’d never see you again.”
“Faith.” It was a whisper as she took in the woman her remote, composed cousin had become.
Alive and stunningly vibrant. “You’re so beautiful.”
A startled light in the cardinal starlight of Faith’s eyes before she gave a small cry and removed her hands. “Forgive me. I didn’t—”
“It’s all right.” Sahara took the slender hands that had touched her with an unhidden affection that made her throat thicken, brought them back to her cheeks. “My Silence is far more than broken.”
Wrapping her arms tight around Sahara, her cousin whispered, “I never forgot you,” into a quiet filled with the music of a thousand leaves rustling in a passing wind. “Father . . . it wasn’t until after my defection that he told me about your abduction, and that the family had never stopped searching for you.”
Returning Faith’s embrace, emotion burning her eyes, Sahara said, “I know you tried to find me, too, through your visions.” It was something her own father had shared with her that first day they’d spent together.
A shaky breath as Faith drew back. “I’m so sorry about Leon. He was kind to me whenever our paths crossed.”
“He’s strong, he’ll be okay.” Sahara refused to believe in any other outcome. “He didn’t give up on me, and I won’t give up on him.” A future without her father’s big, solid presence in her life was incomprehensible.
“If it helps,” Faith said, “when I look into the future with Leon as a focus, I constantly see him in his clinic, talking to a patient, or at his desk. I feel no sadness, no sense of loss.”
Sahara squeezed her cousin’s hand. “Thank you.” To hear that from the most gifted F-Psy in the world was no small thing, the glimmer of hope one she held on to with both hands. “I’m sorry, too,” she said softly, “about Marine.” Faith’s younger sister had been a cardinal telepath, her studies rarely crossing with Sahara’s, but they’d been cousins all the same.
Sadness in Faith’s eyes, her fingers brushing Sahara’s cheek. “Marine lived an extraordinary life, did things I only found out about after I was no longer in the PsyNet. She left her mark.” Unhidden pride, a waterlogged smile. “I like to think she would’ve cheered and said ‘Finally!’ when her toe- the-line sister rebelled at last.”
Sahara’s responding smile was just as shaky. “I’m so happy you made it out, Faith, that you have a life full of joy. Thank you for inviting me into it.”
“You can stay forever as far as I’m concerned.” Tender warmth in every word. “We can finally be friends as we always wanted to be.”
Sahara wanted nothing more than to accept the offer of sanctuary and just be, but she couldn’t do it under false pretenses. “I may be dangerous to your pack. Kaleb Krychek can find me at any time.”
The warm welcome in Faith’s expression didn’t falter. “We’ve already thought of that. Fact is, if Father is right and Kaleb is a teleporter who can lock on to people rather than simply places, he can find any of us.” Smoothing Sahara’s hair, she continued. “Still, he’s never shown any aggression toward the pack, and you’re family. If he does turn hostile, we’ll handle it.”
Even as Sahara’s heart warmed at Faith’s protectiveness, another part of her whispered that Kaleb had no family, no one to call his own, no one who would welcome him with the unconditional love with which Faith had welcomed her. “But,” she said through a deep sense of desolation mixed with anger at the parents who had given up a defenseless boy to a monster, “you will put me away from your vulnerable?” Kaleb might not harm her, but she couldn’t promise the same when it came to others.
“Yes.” Faith’s eyes were gentle as she said, “Don’t worry, Sahara. We’ve been playing these games a long time.” It was the firm reassurance of an older sister. “Your aerie is close to our place, but far enough away to afford you your privacy.”
“I have my own aerie?” The idea of a house in the treetops made the damaged girl inside her gasp in wonder.
“Yes, but only if you prefer it that way,” Faith assured her.
“I think I’d like my own place.” It felt disloyal to say that when Kaleb had built her a graceful, light-drenched home that sang to her soul—but that home wasn’t what she needed at this moment, wasn’t a place where she could stretch her long-stunted wings.
Kaleb was too protective . . . too much an addiction.