Dark PossessionBy: Christine Feehan
Perhaps it was all an illusion. Everything. Where he was. The vivid colors. The shadows. Perhaps his wish for a lifemate was so strong he had created one in his mind. Or worse—a vampire had created one for him.
Manolito. You have risen early. You were to remain in the ground a few more weeks. Gregori said to make certain you did not rise too soon.
Manolito’s eyes flew open and he looked warily around him. The voice held the same timbre as that of his youngest brother, Riordan, but it was distorted and slow, each word drawn out so that the voice, instead of resonating with familiarity, seemed demonic. Manolito shook his head and tried to rise. His body, usually graceful and powerful, felt awkward and foreign as he fell back to his knees, too weak to stand. His gut knotted and rolled. The burning spread through his system.
Riordan. I do not know what is happening to me.He used the path shared only by him and his youngest brother. He was careful to keep his energy from spilling from that path. If this was an elaborate trap, he would not draw Riordan into it. He loved his brother too much for that.
The thought made his heart go still.Love.
Hefelt love for his brothers. Overwhelming. Real. So intense it took his breath away, as if the emotion had been gathering throughout the long centuries, building in strength behind a solid barrier where he couldn’t access it. There was only one person in the world who could restore emotions to him. The one he’d waited centuries for.
He pressed his hand tightly to his chest. There could be no doubt she was real. The ability to see color, to feel emotion: all the senses he’d lost in the first two hundred years of his life had been restored. Because of her.
So why couldn’t he remember the most important woman of his life? Why couldn’t he picture her? And why were they apart?Where was she?
You must go back to ground, Manolito. You cannot rise. You have journeyed long from the tree of souls. Your journey is not yet complete. You must give yourself more time.
Manolito withdrew immediately from his brother’s touch. It was the right path. The voice would be the same if it wasn’t playing in slow motion. But the words—the explanation was all wrong. It had to be. You couldn’t go to the tree of souls unless you were dead. He wasn’t dead. His heart was hammering loud—too loud. The pain in his body was real. Hehad been poisoned. He knew it was still burning through his system. And how could that be if he’d been healed properly? Gregori was the greatest healer the Carpathian people had ever known. He would not have allowed poison to remain in Manolito’s body, no matter what the risk to himself.
Manolito pulled his shirt from his body and stared down at the scars on his chest. Carpathians rarely scarred. The wound was over his heart, a jagged, ugly scar that spoke volumes. A killing blow.
Could it be true? Had he died and been drawn back into the world of the living? He’d never heard of such a feat. Rumors abounded of course, but he hadn’t known it was truly possible. And what of his lifemate? She would have journeyed with him. Panic edged his confusion. Grief pressed him hard.
Riordan’s voice was demanding in his head, but was still distorted and slow. Manolito jerked his head up, his body shaking. The shadows moved again, sliding through the trees and shrubs. Every muscle in his body tensed and knotted. What now? This time he felt the danger as forms began to take shape in a ring around him. Dozens of them, hundreds, thousands even, so there was no possibility of escape. Red eyes blazed at him with hatred and malicious intent. They swayed as if their bodies were far too transparent and thin to resist the slight breeze rustling the leaves in the canopy above them. Vampires every one.
He recognized them. Some were relatively young by Carpathian standards, and some very old. Some were childhood friends and others teachers or mentors. He had killed every one of them without pity or remorse. He had done it fast, brutally and any way he could.
One pointed an accusing finger. Another hissed and spit with rage. Their eyes, sunken deep in the sockets, weren’t eyes at all, but more like glowing pools of hatred wrapped in red blood.
“You are like us. You belong with us. Join our ranks,” one called.
“Think you’re better. Look at us. You killed again and again. Like a machine, with no thought for what you left behind.”
“So sure of yourself. All the while you were killing your own brethren.”
For a moment Manolito’s heart pounded so hard in his chest he was afraid it might burst through his skin. Sorrow weighed him down. Guilt ate at him. He had killed. He hadn’t felt when he did so, hunting each vampire one by one and fighting with superior intellect and ability. Hunting and killing were necessary. What his thoughts on the subject were didn’t matter in the least. It had to be done.
He pulled himself up to his full height, forced his body to stand straight when his gut clenched and knotted. His body felt different, more leaden, clumsy even. As he shifted onto the balls of his feet, he felt the tremors start.
“You chose your fate, dead one. I was merely the instrument of justice.”
The heads were thrown back on the long, thin stick necks, and howls rent the air. Above them, birds lifted from the canopy, taking flight at the horrible cacophony of shrieks rising in volume. The sound jarred his body, making his insides turn to gel. A vampire trick, he was certain. He knew in his heart his life was over —there were too many to kill—but he would take as many with him as possible to rid the world of such dangerous and immoral creatures.