Hunger Awakened(2)

By: Dee Carney


“Hey, sweetheart. You buying?”

Bast turned to the exotic woman at his elbow. She pressed a finger into one ear and leaned close enough that he was afforded a healthy blast of her warm breath when she shouted. Some Asian ancestry ran through her genes. Bone-straight hair and distinctive eyes declared it for her. The makeup around her eyes had been plastered on, the lipstick she wore too bright, but she was pretty. And based on the way she ogled him, about to become the next notch in his bed post.

“Just out playin’ the game,” Bast replied. No sense in getting her hopes up for anything more. She’d either stick around or head for deeper pockets. He swallowed down the vodka chaser, already scanning the crowd for another woman in case this one didn’t pan out.

“Yeah?” She edged closer, allowing her breasts to brush his torso. “What are you packing?”

Bast’s lips twitched with amusement. “Enough. You interested?”

She peered past him, and her moment’s inattention gave him the opportunity to notice too-large pupils. The chick was high and whatever she floated on was taking her for a nice ride. When he fed from her later, it should give him a nice momentary buzz too. The prospect of fucking her became that much sweeter.

A few weeks ago he might have felt like a shit for taking advantage of her state, but lately, he couldn’t stop the craving. It had become almost unbearable. He needed to feed, and she’d do nicely.

“Today’s my birthday,” she said with a smile. “Why the hell not? What’s your name?”

The polite thing to do would have been to at least offer a “happy birthday.” At the very least, toss her a fake name to call him by. Instead, Bast took her by the hand and wound them through the throng of bodies and into the back. His gift to her would be allowing her some dignity by staying out of the restrooms, but against the wall in a dark corner proved an appealing idea.

“Always had a thing for the strong, silent type,” she muttered. Sensitive hearing picked up every syllable over the rhythmic beat of music. Bast grinned to himself. He didn’t have the abilities of full-born vampires, but his lineage offered him enough bennies.

The smugness faltered for a moment when he thought of what he was doing—what he was about to do.

He was going to feed, yes. But while he drank from her, another need, some primal call, demanded to be sated. The urge taunted him, and he felt an addiction to something he’d not yet partaken of. Something in the back of his mind tugged at him, whispered of caution. Ravenous Bast ignored it.

By the time they’d crossed the room, he couldn’t get them away from the crowd fast enough. He swore he felt the blood race through every vein. Inside of him swelled with life, as if something within was trying like hell to get out. The urge, the gnawing in his belly, the craving became almost unbearable. He staggered as a wave crashed into him. Heat flared like summer in the air-conditioned room.

“Hey, you okay?”

Bast nodded, hiding a grimace behind tightened lips. “Fine. One shot too many.”

Vampires didn’t get inebriated off two shots of booze, and they sure as shittin’ didn’t get sick. Whatever this was almost had the ability to frighten him. Almost.

The woman’s grip on his hand tightened, but she kept pace with his long stride, winding with him through bodies and toward their ultimate destination. He knew once he got them there, he would feel better. He would feed, and the sensation would die away.

He’d been training too hard. Ignoring his basic needs for too long. That his body finally retaliated made sense.

“Are you sure?” His companion might have been tipping toward oblivion a few minutes ago, but a new edge to her voice at once made her seem sober. “You’re kind of warm.”

“Warm?”

She tugged on his hand, forcing him to slow. He caught the concern on her face when he glanced at her over his shoulder. “You might be coming down with something, sweetie. Maybe tonight’s not your night for this.”

Bast’s eyelids felt heavy, his body sluggish. “I’m...fine,” he mumbled.

Vampires don’t get sick, he tried to tell himself. Then his stomach lurched, an immediate reminder that as often as he passed himself off as a full-born vampire, he was anything but.

Putting one foot in front of the other took all of his strength, but somehow he managed to stagger forward. To the dark corner. To a door. Through it.

The cool night air blasted his face, and he almost moaned in pleasure. It felt so good against his skin. He’d begun to burn up, and the night kissed away some of the hurt.

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