Bitten by Ecstasy

By: Naima Simone

Dark Judgment, Book Two



A brutal attack left Bastien Sarris for dead. But a chance encounter with a mysterious female drags him back from the brink of death—and transforms the hippogryph healer into a monster he doesn’t recognize. Now a terrible hunger consumes him—one that is becoming impossible to satisfy. Desperate for a cure, he hunts the cruxim who cursed him to a hellish existence. But the petite warrior ignites a fierce desire for her body that overwhelms the sweet call of blood.

For three hundred years Sinéad lived and hunted as a cruxim—a winged vampire hunter. But one sacrificial act stripped her immortality, leaving her human, vulnerable and unprepared for the reappearance of Bastien in her life. The hippogryph is harder and colder than she remembers…and he triggers an onslaught of need within her that is as powerful as it is unfamiliar. She craves his kiss, his touch. Yet even as she surrenders to this newfound passion, she faces a crucial decision—betray the man she’s come to love and regain her immortality, or save Bastien and condemn herself to a human life and death.






Prologue




“Finding you was child’s play.”

Bastien wheeled around, his heart racing like a runaway train that had just run out of track. As the shock ebbed, surprise and delight surged inside him. Evander Agnew. The mottled gray-and-black plumage as well the dark crest rising behind his childhood friend’s rounded, sleek head were as familiar to Bastien as his own white-and-red feathers. Maybe his trek across the Atlantic wouldn’t be the lonely trip he’d anticipated. Granted the wild cliffs and moors of western Ireland were gorgeous but hell, they made him want to reach out and touch someone. Anyone.

“Damn, Evander,” he sent along their common telepathic link as he rose in the chilly, wet—was there any other kind of night in Ireland?—dark sky. “What the hell are you doing here? Not that I’m complaining. Even though you did scare the shit out of me. Whistle or something next time.” He chuckled.

Energy crackled and rippled in the air as Evander shifted into human form. Huge obsidian wings with white paint-dipped tips held him aloft and the formidable member of the krinos—their race’s elite warrior unit—seemed impervious to the cold drizzle, even colder above the heavy clouds. Mist beaded on Evander’s lean cheeks, bare chest and curved onyx talons that remained instead of human fingers. The dagger-sharp claws gleamed like wet ink in the darkness. For the first time, unease slithered through Bastien. Something was…off.

“I would…” Evander’s handsome face retained its usual laid-back smile, but the genial expression didn’t deflect the icy premonition of danger sliding along Bastien’s veins. “If there was going to be a next time.”

Fire blazed over Bastien’s crown, face and beak.

A screaming caw ripped across the sky—his own.

Evander gripped Bastien’s shoulder above his left wing and hard, unforgiving talons pierced feathers, flesh and muscle to sink deep. Again Bastien cried out, the keening wail tearing free from his throat as the pain and bitter reality of betrayal penetrated his body and soul.

“Shhh…my friend.” Evander’s warped attempt at soothing the anguish he inflicted would have been laughable if Bastien could have sucked in enough air through the lungs his former friend had punctured. “This isn’t personal, you know. I actually have no quarrel with you.” Hatred as bright as the moon glittered in Evander’s eyes, twisted his features into a stranger. “But your death will devastate Nicolai. He’ll feel a little of what I do every time I think of Gregor. You’re not his brother, but you’ll do.” The rage cleared from Evander’s face as if it had never been, replaced by the same, easy smile of Bastien’s memories. As if Bastien, in his pain, had hallucinated the burning loathing. “So I’ll apologize for this in advance.”

Numbing, freezing cold punched him in the breast.

The little breath Bastien had left exploded from his damaged lungs. He dropped his gaze to find Evander’s arm disappearing biceps-deep into the jagged, bloody hole in his chest.

Agony—searing hot agony—blasted through him like a fiery backdraft. He clawed Evander’s elbow and biceps with his talons, trying to unskewer his body from the stake of the betrayer’s arm.

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