Excerpt from THE VAMPIRE WHO LOVED ME
In the space of two heartbeats, a cloud of dark smoke appeared out of nowhere, swirling and knitting into a human shape. Before those familiar green eyes and killer smile appeared, Beck knew it was Achilles, just by the sheer size of him, that and the big bad black Doc Martens on his feet.
"Is it feeding time?" His lips tipped up at the edges in a concerned smile and despite the increasing pain that rumbled and pulled inside her, Beck's heart flipped.
"Just a touch of tummy trouble." His quirked eyebrow told her more clearly than words that he knew she was telling a whopper. She put some backbone in her voice. "I'll be fine. Really."
He lifted his brow higher. "Am I really that bad of a mentor, fledgling? I thought I'd already covered the basics. Blood equals survival. No blood. No survival. Time to eat."
Beck groaned, not from pain alone. "Please, not another cocktail. I barely gagged down that Bloody Mary you made me."
Kris patted Beck on the shoulder. "Listen to your mentor and it'll go much easier." She turned her gaze to Achilles as she got up from the couch. "I'm going to leave you to care for your fledgling. Let me know how she does." With that Kris vaporized into nothingness on the spot.
Beck stood up, the blanket falling to her feet. For a second she stopped breathing, then it came back in sawing, painful breaths, as if she'd been sprinting. "How'd she do that?"
"Transporting. We'll cover it later. Right now first things first." His mouth settled into a serious line. "First blood will bring out your fangs, but your body still hasn't fully transitioned." He cocked his head to the side as if listening intently. The dark centers of his eyes grew larger. "You still have a heartbeat. Whatever was in that vaccine was enough to start the process but not enough to finish it. You're stuck in your transition until you get some additional ichor in your system."
A wave of nausea and pain crested over her, pushing her to her knees as she wrapped an arm around her middle. She rocked back and forth, her skin damp with sweat, heart beating too hard in her chest. "I don't care why it is at this point, what do we have to do to make it stop?"
"You need to feed."
"Yeah, yeah. I got that, professor. Where's the glass?"
"No glass." He gently helped her up from the floor.
He grinned, his teeth transitioning from normal to pointed as his fangs descended and elongated with an audible flick. "It's time to take your fangs on a test drive." He ran his fangs along the edge of his thick wrist cutting a line that welled with black ichor.
A terrible pressure built on either side of her mouth, near the top of her gum line and Beck could feel something pushing forward, sliding through the soft gum tissue. The tip of her tongue confirmed her personal set of pointed tips were primed and ready. Beck's stomach bucked and kicked, an animal inside that demanded to be fed.
He held out his wrist to her. "Drink."
Beck reared back. "Eewww. No!" A wave of heat swamped over her, an insistent throbbing built just behind her eyes and her body ached. Since when did being hungry feel like the flu?
"Before you reject it out of hand, perhaps you ought to taste it." He dipped the tip of his finger into the black liquid and offered it to her. It gleamed on his finger. She couldn't drag her gaze from it. Beck's mind was repulsed but her body had other ideas. The sweet scent of black licorice, filled her nose. While other women might swoon for chocolate, black licorice had always been Beck's downfall. She closed her eyes and tentatively touched the tip of her tongue against his finger. The initial taste of anise was quickly followed by the sensation of liquid heat that shimmered over her tongue, leaving it tingling.
She flicked her eyes open and looked up at the golden good looks of her personal mentor. "Not as bad as I thought." Her tongue moved in quick swipe over her upper lip and one fang.
"Will you trust me now?"
She shrugged, her belly giving an especially large growl that echoed in the room. "Do I have a choice?"
"Pay attention, fledgling. To feed, you need to puncture a sizable artery." He reached out and pressed his fingers against her neck. "The best points are here and here." His fingers traveled down her body, then skimmed lightly along her inner thigh making her contract with need. She inhaled deeply to steady her racing pulse and found the air spiked with a heady combination of rosemary and mint and something else definitely male. She couldn't identify it easily, but it pulled at her like a drug.
"That's if you need a hit fast and a good quantity. For average feeding you could also feast from the vein in the wrist." His fingers brushed the sensitized skin of her own wrist. "Or you could pick any of a dozen other pulse points." His gaze dipped down to her breasts and Beck sucked in a breath as the tips hardened in response to his hungry look.
This lesson was a lot harder to concentrate on than she'd anticipated. Her fangs were actually throbbing.
"Perhaps we should start with a wrist. Come closer."
Beck stepped forward, an invisible cord attached in the area of her belly button, inexorably pulling her toward him. He reached forward, wrapping his uncut arm around her shoulder and turned her so that her back snugged up against his massive chest. The solid heat of him seeped through her clothes and the subtle smell of licorice circulating in the air teased her senses.
Achilles held his thick forearm out before her, the swell of the dark ichor at his wrist glistening in the overhead lights. Beck was shaking, her skin fevered.
"Don't think, just do it." His husky whisper in her ear shot a shiver of desire rocketing down her spine. Beck closed her eyes and leaned forward, letting her tongue reach out blindly toward the source of the delicious licorice scent.
She lapped once, and a glorious liquid heat shimmered down her throat leaving a fiery trail. Had this been a week ago she would have thought someone had given her a sip of fine aged anisette liquor. But now she knew better. Unable to watch, she closed her eyes, slightly embarrassed, she took another swipe with her tongue.
Achilles nearly fell to his knees at the sensation of her warm tongue on his skin. It sure as hell didn't help that the curve of her bottom was pressing back against his groin as she leaned forward to feed.
Focus, soldier. She's your fledgling.
He swallowed hard, fighting back the fierce tide of longing pulling at him.
"Good. Now use your fangs." A warm appreciative sound rumbled in the back of her throat. Aw hell. It was a good thing she wasn't feeding from a major artery. "Gently, I don't want my arm ripped open."
The subtle scrape of her tips against his flesh made his skin tighten and ache in unison from head to toe. He backed up from her slightly hoping she was too hungry to notice the rock hard ridge pressed up against her backside. The pop of her fangs sinking into his skin made every nerve come alive, a pure current of ecstasy flowing from the point where they connected through his veins straight to his heart.
Achilles pulled away from the jolt. It was too much. This was more than feeding a fledgling. A glowing ephemeral strand had formed between them. No one else would see it, but he could sense it all the same. Her fangs slipped from his skin as he eased his arm away from her.
"Wait. I'm not finished." She turned her head and gazed at him, her eyes fever bright, her skin luminous. Her pink tongue darted out, swirling over the end of a pearly fang.
Oh, gods. No. She was imprinting with him.
"You've had enough."
A hurt look softened her eyes for a moment but was quickly replaced by something he feared more.
Fierce determination radiated from her so that she nearly glowed with it. She began moving toward him with a fluid seductive sway to her hips like a cat stalking prey. "I'm still hungry."
The vampire pheromones drifted off her, strong, seductive and mixed with her unique blend of ginger and citrus that drove him crazy with thoughts of how the dips and hollows of her would taste. Before she'd begun to transform she'd been hard to resist. But with the power of his ichor saturating her system, she was lethal to his common sense.
This was why mentors were to be unyielding, hardened more than any other vampire. To resist the temptation she offered took nerves of titanium.
She lifted her chin, lips lightly parted, her fangs brushing the fullness of her supple bottom lip. "Achilles," she breathed, "come to me."
“Nothing can take the place of perseverance. Talent will not. Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not. Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not. The world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
- Calvin Coolidge, 30th U.S. President
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