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Soren moved toward the woman and she stumbled as she tried to step back, looking for an escape. The wall of the building was already against her back. Still he advanced.
Standing inches from her, he grazed her cheek with his fingers then plunged them into her hair and swept the sopping mess back. She gasped softly, a nervous intake of breath.
“Please, don’t.” Her voice quavered.
“Say it again,” he demanded roughly, though his touch was gentle.
“Please,” she whispered, squeezing her eyes shut, and he dropped his head and nuzzled her neck. Her voice enthralled him so, had drawn him closer.
She whimpered, the vibrations touching his lips, and he tightened his grasp on her, trying to somehow remain focused. He needed to go slowly, but it had been too long. The sensation of her lush form against him was too right, the soft scent of her flesh too potent.
Control fled, and he bit her. Her body jerked once, then went rigid against him. Happily drowning in the sweet and tempting scent that had driven him over the edge, he barely noticed. Rose? Lavender? He didn’t know flowers, and didn’t care to learn them, but he would never again breathe that scent without thinking of her.
Nourishing, sweet and hot, her lifeblood sent blissful shivers coursing through his body. Feeding was always a delicious experience, though he’d never experienced anything like this. The rain continued to fall on them, the cool drops sliding down her neck to the very spot where they were joined. Soren drank in the water, the taste of her skin infused in every raindrop. So intoxicating, so sensual. He couldn’t help but wrap his other arm around her waist and bring her closer. He was no longer holding her still, but simply holding her.
His heartbeat raced. The simple act of feeding was enough to send him out of his mind with satisfaction, but the soul wrenching pleasure of her clutching his shoulders had him gasping for breath.
The world faded away. No rain or alley, no feeding existed. He only wanted to bask in the way her fingers moved, tightening then releasing, like she needed him. Wanted him. But too soon her fingers slipped from his shirt, fell slowly down his arms, and hung at her sides.
She went limp in his arms. Something was wrong.
The earth had been conquered by darkness and the dead didn’t remain so for long. The streets had been paved with destruction and the stubborn searched for the light because they had hope. They searched for the light because they must; because giving in to death wouldn’t relieve the gnawing ache of hunger for something more. There were whispers of a place where the Deads gathered at the water’s edge in the mountains of old. A place where peace could still be found in simple acts of valor and happiness, done by the lucky and the determined. The world hadn’t come to an end, just an end as man knew it. But there had to be a balance for the chaos. There had to be asylum from the damned.
The words were written on a mirror in an old, abandoned gas station bathroom in what Laney Landry fervently hoped was bright red lipstick. The last sentence was hurried and scribbled, the letters fusing together to snake into one monstrous word, like the writer had run out of time. Run out of life. At least that was what the pile of bones to the right of the sink suggested. They were picked so clean they didn’t even have an odor. She read it again and loss clenched inside of her. It was the first page of a book and it had been so desperately long since she had read one. Since she had read anything with an ounce of hope in the spaces between the lines.
A shadow covered the dusty evening light that filtered through the ceiling length frosted window beside the bathroom stalls. A lone figure shuffled slowly across the span of it. The man looked huge, but maybe it was just the shadow playing tricks on her. Not one of her team.
She cursed softly and grabbed her backpack. Where there was one, there would soon be others and she’d be damned if she was dying in some Quickie Mart bathroom out in the middle of nowhere. She sprinted for the door but hesitated as she opened it. The words were stark against the dirty mirror and they stirred in her…something. It had been awhile.
“Jarren,” she hissed to her older brother. He and the others rifled through the storage room in search of supplies that had long been picked dry, like the bones in the bathroom. “Time to go. We’ve got Deads, at least one, on the west side of the building.”
“Let’s move,” he whispered, and Mitchell and Guist headed for the door without hesitation. She got stuck behind Mitchell on the way out, which wasn’t all bad. His backside was lovely, but she wouldn’t tell him that in a million years. It would inflate his barely-controlled ego to the size of the gas station in two cocks of a pistol. She allowed a private smile. Best to look and not touch with that one.