Dark Possession

By: Christine Feehan

The mage must have found a way to resurrect the dead.He whispered the information in his head, needing Riordan to tell their oldest brother. Zacarias would send a warning to the prince that armies of the dead would be once again rising against them.You are certain of this?

I have killed these in centuries long past, yet they surround me with their accusing eyes, beckoning to me as if I am one of them.

From a great distance away, Riordan gasped, and for the first time sounded like Manolito’s beloved sibling.You cannot choose to give your soul to them. We are so close, Manolito, so close. I have found my lifemate and Rafael has found his. It is only a matter of time for you. You must hold out. I am coming to you.

Manolito snarled, throwing his head back to roar with rage.Imposter. You are not my brother.

Manolito! What are you saying? Of course I am your brother. You are ill. I am coming to you with all haste. If the vampires are playing tricks on you...

As you are? You have made a terrible mistake, evil one. I have a lifemate. I see your filthy abominations in color. They surround me with their vile bloodstained teeth and their blackened hearts, wizened and shriveled.

You have no lifemate,Riordan said in denial.You have only dreamed of her.

You cannot trap me with such deceit. Go to your puppet master and tell him I am not so easily caught.He broke off the connection immediately and slammed closed all pathways, private and common, to his mind.

Spinning around, he took in his enemy, grown into so many faces from his past he knew he was facing death. “Come then, dance with me as you have so many times,” he ordered and beckoned with his fingers.

The first line of vampires closest to him howled, spittle running down their faces and holes for eyes glowing with hatred. “Join us, brother. You are one of us.”

They swayed, feet carrying out the strange hypnotic pattern of the undead. He heard them calling to him, but the sound was more in his head than out of it. Whispers. Buzzing. Drawing a veil over his mind. He shook his head to clear it, but the sounds persisted.

The vampires drew closer, and now he could feel the flutter of tattered clothing, torn and gray with age, brushing against his skin. Once again, the sensation of bugs crawling over his skin alarmed him. He spun around, trying to keep the enemy in his sight, and all the while the voices grew louder, more distinctive.

“Join us. Feel. You are so hungry. Starving. We can feel your heart stuttering. You need fresh blood. Adrenaline-laced blood is the best. You canfeel!”

“Join us,” they cried, the entreaty loud and swelling in volume until it was a tidal wave rolling over him.

“Fresh blood. You need to survive. Just a taste. One taste. And the fear. Let them see you. Let them feel fear and the high is like nothing you’ve ever felt.”

The temptation made hunger grow until he couldn’t think beyond the red haze in his mind. “Look at yourself, brother, look at your face.”

He found himself on the ground, on his hands and knees, as if they’d shoved him, but he never felt the push.

He stared into the shimmering pond of water stretching before him. The skin on his face was pulled tightly over his bones. His mouth was wide in protest and not only his incisors but also his canines were long and sharp in anticipation.

He heard a heartbeat. Strong. Steady. Beckoning. Calling. His mouth watered. He was desperate—so hungry there was nothing to do but hunt. He had to find prey. Had to bite into a soft, warm neck so that the hot blood would burst into his mouth, fill every cell, wash through his organs and tissues and feed the tremendous strength and power of his kind. He could think of nothing else but the terrible swell of hunger, rising like a tide to consume him.

The heartbeat grew louder, and he slowly turned his head as a woman was pushed toward him. She looked frightened—and innocent. Her eyes were dark chocolate pools of terror. He could smell the adrenaline rushing through her bloodstream.

“Join us. Join us,” they whispered, the sound swelling to a hypnotic chant.

He needed dark, rich blood to survive. He deserved to live. What was she after all? Weak. Frightened. Could she save the human race from the monsters preying on them? Humans didn’t believe they existed. And if they knew of Manolito, they would...

“Kill you,” hissed one.

“Torture you,” hissed another. “Look what they’ve done to you. You’re starving. Who has helped you? Your brothers? Humans? We have brought you hot blood to feed you—to keep you alive.”

“Take her, brother, join us.”

They shoved the woman forward. She cried out, stumbled and fell against Manolito. She felt warm and alive against his cold body. Her heart beat frantically, calling to him as nothing else could. The pulse in her neck jumped rapidly and he smelled her fear. He could hear her blood rushing through her veins, hot and sweet and alive, giving him life.

He couldn’t speak to reassure her; his mouth was too filled with his lengthened teeth and the need to crush his lips against the warmth of her neck. He dragged her closer still, until her much smaller body was nearly swallowed by his. Her heart took up the rhythm of his. The air burst from her lungs in terrified gasps.

Around him, he was aware of the vampires drawing closer, the shuffling of their feet, their cavernous mouths gaping wide in anticipation, strings of saliva dripping down while their pitiless eyes stared with wild glee. The night fell silent, only the sound of the girl struggling for air and the thundering of her heart filling the air. His head bent closer, lured by the scent of blood.