Bitten by Ecstasy

By: Naima Simone



Cool logic demanded she leave, continue with her hunt. A visit from Death was imminent—she couldn’t do anything to help the beast. And if she returned to tracking the evil creature she’d been trailing, many lives would be saved. One very precarious life versus many? A no-brainer.

The knowledge hadn’t prevented her from scooping the hippogryph’s massive weight into her arms and flying to the isolated property on the outskirts of Dublin she called home. No one—or thing—had ever ventured into her “lair”, not even her cruxim sisters. The hippogryph, who transformed into a large, blond male after the first couple of days, was her first—and last—visitor. For two months she’d cared for him, bared her fangs at Death and wrestled the stone-faced specter back from her charge with sheer will, stubbornness and blood.

And what had her Florence Nightingale act gotten her?

Weakness. Vulnerability. Lost. Wingless.

Screwed.

And not in a good way.

What was that human saying? No good deed went unpunished.

Damn straight.

Agony suddenly ripped through her brain. The hot dagger of pain stabbed so deep in her frontal lobe, she staggered under the power of it. Lady. She stumbled to the wall of the nearest building and flattened her palm against the damp brick. Air whistled in and out of her tight lungs as she struggled to breathe past the psychic onslaught.

Trouble. And close.

Gasping, she shoved off the wall and lurched forward.

“Hey! Watch where you’re going, bitch!”

The insult rolled off her as she staggered through the throngs of people. She must have appeared as if she’d just stumbled out of a pub after imbibing one too many, but if only overindulging was the case. Damn, she wished that was the case.

The farther she travelled down the street, the deeper the knife in her skull burrowed. The emotional attack had blindsided her, caught her unaware and unprotected. Now it was too late to erect a proper shield. The stark fear and suffering drew her like a fish being reeled in on a rod. The terror penetrated her flesh, soaking deep until she was coated in its suffocating darkness, until it became a part of her muscles and bones and she wore the horror and anguish like skin.

Again, she paused. Bent over at the waist. Palmed her knees. She sucked in desperate gulps of air and cursed the vulnerability the Fates had deemed part and parcel of her “gift”. For precious seconds, she shuddered under the overwhelming weight. She clenched her teeth, refusing to bow, refusing to become any more defenseless and weak. Then, as she straightened, a great, pulsing wave rippled through and over her.

And the screams of agony ceased.

Sinéad inhaled and, for the first time in five minutes, her breath didn’t reek of horror and agony. Fisting her hands, she stalked down the sidewalk. The screams may have stopped, but she had her target. The momentary connection had left a psychic trail of breadcrumbs.

Steely resolve lengthened her stride. She’d heard that particular cry for over two centuries, was intimate with it.

Several moments later, she approached the mouth of an alley set between two tall, empty warehouses. Light from the streetlamps didn’t reach the passageway’s stygian depths. Didn’t matter. Whisk. Her sword whispered in the sudden silence as she slid it free from under her coat and the scabbard strapped to her back and stole forward. The business she was after was best conducted in the dark.

As she stood in the center of the dank passage, several scents inundated her, surrounded her. She didn’t need heightened senses to pick them up. The rotting stench of tossed garbage. The stale, acrid pinch of old urine. The wet loam of the river. And underneath it all, the bright, metallic bite of human blood.

Slashes of scarlet gleamed out of the darkness. The slits disappeared then reappeared as the thing in the shadows blinked.

“You made the wrong turn, woman.”

“On the contrary,” Sinéad said to the vampire. “You made the wrong turn when you decided to hunt in my territory.”

Even though her human eyes couldn’t pierce the glamour every vampire utilized to hide the identifying tribmarks on their left cheek, Sinéad would have recognized the male’s otherworldly beauty in the middle of Phoenix Park during the Great Ireland Run. The predatory leanness. The smooth-as-glass alabaster skin, the just-a-tad-too-long-and-sharp incisors. And then there were the eyes. Under other circumstances, the black, bottomless gaze would swallow light into their obsidian depths.

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