Dark Possession

By: Christine Feehan

He was starving. Without blood he would be unable to defend himself. He needed this. He deserved it. He had spent centuries defending humans—humans who despised what he was, humans who feared his kind...

Manolito closed his eyes and blocked out the sound of that sweet, tempting heartbeat. The whispers were in his head.In his head. He swung around, shoving the girl behind him. “I will not! She is an innocent and will not be used in this manner.” Because he was too far gone and might not stop. He would have to fight them all, but he might be able to save her yet.

From behind him, the woman wrapped her arms around his neck, pressed her lush, woman’s body tightly against his, her hands sliding down his chest, his belly, lower still until she was stroking him, adding lust to hunger. “Not so innocent, Manolito. I’m yours, body and soul. I’m yours. You have only to taste me. I can make it all go away.”

Manolito snarled, whirling around, shoving the woman from his body. “Go! Go with your friends and stay away from me.”

She laughed and writhed, touching herself. “You need me.”

“I need my lifemate. She will come to me and she will take care of my needs.”

Her face changed, the laughter fading, and she yanked at her hair in frustration. “You cannot escape this place. You are one of us. You betrayed her and you deserve to stay here.”

He didn’t know—didn’t remember. But all the temptation in the world would not make him change his mind. If he was to stay alive without food for centuries, enduring the torment of it, so be it, but he would not betray his lifemate. “You would have done better to tempt me to betray another,” he said. “Only she can judge me unworthy. So it is written in our laws. Only my lifemate can condemn me.”

He must have done something terrible. It was the second accusation of its kind, and the fact that she wasn’t fighting at his side spoke volumes. He couldn’t call her to him, because he remembered very little—certainly not a sin he had committed against her. He remembered her voice, soft and melodious, like an angel singing from the heavens—only she was saying she would have no part of a Carpathian male.

His heart jumped. Had she refused his claim? Had he bound her to him without her consent? It was accepted in his society, a protection for the male when a female was reluctant. That was not a betrayal. What could he have done? He would never have touched another woman. He would have protected her as he had Jacques’s lifemate, with his life and beyond if possible.

He was in a place of judgment, and so far he didn’t seem to be faring very well, and maybe that was because he wasn’t remembering. He lifted his head and showed his teeth to hundreds, maybe thousands, of Carpathian males who had chosen to give up their souls, decimated their own species, ruining a society and a way of life for the rush of feeling rather than holding on to honor—rather than holding on to the memory of hope for a lifemate.

“I refuse your judgment. I will never belong with you. I may have stained my soul, perhaps beyond redemption, but I would never willingly give it up or trade my honor as you did. I may be all the things you have said, but I will face my lifemate, not you, and let her decide whether my sins can be forgiven.”

The vampires hissed, bony fingers pointing accusingly, but they didn’t attack him. It made no sense—with their superior numbers they could easily destroy him—yet their forms grew less solid and seemed to waver, so it was difficult to distinguish between the undead and the shadows within the darkness of the rain forest.

The back of his neck tingled and he spun around. The vampires receded deeper into the bushes, the big leafy plants seemingly swallowing them. His stomach burned and his body cried out for food, but he was more confused than ever. The vampires had him trapped. Danger surrounded him. He could feel it in the very stillness. All rustle of life ceased around him. There was no flutter of wings, no scurry of movement. He lifted his head and scented the air. It was still, absolutely still, and yet there was...

Instinct, more than actual sound, alerted him and Manolito spun around, still on his knees, hands going up just as the large jaguar sprang at him.

Chapter Two

Clinical depression was an insidious monster that crept up and slid over and into a person before they had the chance to be aware and on guard. MaryAnn Delaney wiped at the seemingly endless tears running down her face as she went through the list of symptoms. Feelings of sadness.Check. Maybe even double check.

Sadness wasn’t the word she would use to describe the terrible yawning emptiness she couldn’t overcome, but it was in the book and she’d add it to the growing list of indicators. She was so freakin’ sad she couldn’t stop crying. And she could put a check on the no appetite because the mere thought of food made her sick. She hadn’t been able to sleep since...

She closed her eyes and groaned. Manolito De La Cruz was a stranger. She’d barely spoken to the man, yet when she’d witnessed his death—his murder—she had gone quietly to pieces. She seemed to be grieving more than his family. She knew they were distraught, but they rarely showed emotion at all, and they certainly didn’t speak of him. They’d brought his body back in the same private jet they used to return to their ranch in Brazil, but they hadn’t taken him to their ranch.