Bitten by Ecstasy

By: Naima Simone

He tunneled his fingers through his damp hair before scrubbing a palm over his sweaty face. Almost instantly, he dropped his arm as if it’d been stung and his hand fell amid the tangled covers at his waist.

He hated touching his face.

Hated the sight of it and the torso that reminded him he was a condemned, cursed fuck.

With a silent snarl, he fisted the blanket, tossed it to the side and swung his legs over the edge of the thick, comfortable mattress. The bed could have been made of stones and pine needles for all the rest he’d found in it. Most nights he paced the bedroom floor or stood out on the balcony overlooking the wild but beautiful Washington coast. When he did manage to grab a few hours of sleep, his dreams alternated between memories of love, beauty and hope, X-rated dreams of lust and desire and nightmares of pain and insatiable hunger. He didn’t know which vision was worse. The images of the idyllic past, the fantasies of what he could never have or the terrifying slide show of blood and agony. All of them drove him awake to begin the delightful cycle of insomnia all over again.

Happy, happy, joy, joy.

Bastien padded over to the glass French doors, curled his fingers around the gold handles and yanked the doors wide. Immediately, the cool rain-thick breeze rushed in, the refreshing tendrils of air like soothing caresses on his overheated skin. He shuffled forward and the chill from the stone terrace penetrated the bare soles of his feet. Yet the shiver coursing through his body was welcome.

At two a.m., the world seemed empty of all its creatures and inhabitants, leaving Bastien the only living being. The snow-capped behemoths in the distance with their silent towering evergreen sentinels greeted him as they did every night. The Puget Sound whispered to him with the quiet lap of tides and soft swells. Usually the raw, elemental beauty calmed him. One ageless immortal speaking to another. Deep calling to deep.

But tonight wasn’t like the others.

The hunger—the terrible, crushing hunger—ground down whatever peace he’d been able to scrounge like an ant under a boot heel. And though the residual pleasure from the dream continued to pulse in his cock, it wasn’t sex he craved. No. This need was darker…deeper…greedier…

For three months he’d kept the craving in check, held it off and maintained a façade of “Of course I’m okay! No Posttraumatic Stress Disorder here!” But the pretense was a lie—a cleverly staged lie in danger of cracking under a need he could no longer ignore…or control.

Even now the lure tugged at his gut. He glanced over his shoulder into the room and direction of the long, oak dresser. He narrowed his eyes as if he’d inherited Superman’s X-ray vision and could peer through the thick wood to the nearly empty vial inside the drawer. A vial of gleaming crimson liquid that drew him closer to salvation. He clenched his teeth until a dull ache bloomed along his jaw. More like a siren’s call seducing him to his damnation.

Fuck it.

A growl rumbled in his chest and reverberated across the night as he spun and stalked back inside the shadowed bedroom. He strode directly to the antique furniture, jerked open the top drawer and dipped his hand inside. Sight wasn’t needed to locate the slim tube. His fingers closed around it and just the touch of smooth glass against his palm helped settle the voracity, as if reassuring him soon—very soon—the gluttonous thirst would be satisfied. Bastien withdrew his hand, grasping the source of his suffering…and pleasure.

Disgust soured his stomach.

He was a healer—the most gifted healer his people had seen in a millennium. He acknowledged this trait with the same acceptance he gave his blond hair and green eyes. His father, Alexander, had passed down thousands of years of knowledge, had encouraged Bastien to investigate and search out answers on his own. He’d studied not only the medicinal arts of his people, but humans and other immortal races, gleaning information from their brightest and most brilliant minds.

And yet even his gift was victim to this addiction. After healing Nicolai of a potentially lethal wound two months earlier, Bastien had discovered using his ability worsened the craving. Made him almost feral to satisfy the clawing hunger in his chest and gut.

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