Bitten by Ecstasy

By: Naima Simone

But now, as he lifted his head from the neck of the woman dangling over his arm, the narrowed glare was blood-red with hunger and rage. Slim nostrils flared as if sniffing the air and catching the tang of Sinéad’s humanity. His crimson inspection touched her dark hair, slid down her reed-thin body clothed in a black tank top, cargo pants, boots and ankle-length coat. The male’s scrutiny lingered on the steel, razor-sharp gladius clutched in her fist.

“You’re not cruxim,” he snarled. Blood-tinged fangs dropped farther in his mouth. The wicked-sharp tips of the elongated eyeteeth grazed his bottom lip as he sneered.

Sinéad smiled. “Oh I’m something else entirely,” she said, sinking into the battle stance she’d assumed for hundreds of years. Leaning back on her right leg, she extended her left and, with both hands fisting the hilt, drew the sword high beside her right ear.

Though adrenaline flooded her veins, she held steady and studied the vampire over her bent left arm, not daring to blink. One misstep and she would be littering the dirty ground in ribbons of skin. She no longer had her wings, supernatural strength or speed, but she hadn’t lost her training along with her immortality.

Still, the odds of her walking away from this unscathed were slim to not-a-chance-in-hell.

“You should have retreated when you had the chance,” the vampire said and, with a careless flip of his arm, tossed the limp body of his victim to the dank ground. Sinéad didn’t wince or glance down at the thud of flesh connecting with asphalt and brick. Taking her eyes from the true menace for even a second meant her death along with that of the unconscious woman—if her soul hadn’t already escaped her motionless form for whatever afterlife she believed in. “Now I’m going to teach you a lesson about interfering where you have no business.”

“Sweetie, I majored in Interference 101,” Sinéad drawled, grinning. Delight sang through her, an aria of blood and death. She’d been created for this—for battle. She crouched lower, tilted the sword forward until the tip of the blade pointed at the vampire’s throat. “Now c’mere and give me your head like a good lil’ vamp.”

His lips peeled back from his teeth in another hiss before he leapt the several feet separating them. He was a blur in the air, his pale skin her only point of reference as she charged forward at a dead run. She swung her sword over her head and the jarring clang of claws meeting steel rang down the blade, through her arms and settled in her shoulders.

Shit. Her breath caught in her throat but she contained the gasp of startling pain behind clenched teeth as she was reminded with crystal-clear clarity how human she really was. As a cruxim, the blow would’ve been negligible. But now… Shoving aside the throbbing taking up residence in her sockets, she wheeled around to face the entrance of the alley and her enemy.

The vampire struck again, his movements lightning-fast. Hundreds of years of training and hunting kicked in and she parried and countered almost every attack, managing to keep up with him. Barely. The few nicks she inflicted on the vampire’s nearly indestructible body weren’t nearly deep enough to debilitate him—just royally piss him off.

Her harsh pants echoed in her ears as her mortal body weakened at a rapid pace. She couldn’t continue much longer. She swallowed past the bitter resentment burning a path up her throat. If she’d been cruxim the battle would have ended minutes ago—she would’ve have the vamp at her mercy, his blood pouring down her throat then writhing at the point of her sword. The arrogant male couldn’t have been more than half a century old. His lack of fighting style, overconfidence and impatience displayed his immaturity. And yet it was she who teetered on the verge of defeat. The muscles in her arms and thighs trembled. Sweat stung a shallow cut on her forehead.

Fuck it. She resumed her battle stance, drew her sword up again and wiped the moisture away on the arm of her coat. If she was Fated to die in this grungy, piss-soaked alley, it would be with a sword in her hand.

“This is pointless, woman,” the vampire cajoled, arms held out to the sides as if inviting her into his lethal embrace. “Let’s stop this now and I promise I’ll make your death painless.”

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