Mercifully, the burning changed again and began to slowly recede from my limbs in a retreat toward my chest. I felt a thunderous pounding, like an iron battering ram slamming into me. Frantically it raged, faster and impossibly louder. I thrashed about as the pain reverberated throughout my body. And then, with one last agonizing pulsation, my heart ceased to beat.
I opened my eyes, and saw the world as it truly was. Colors were richer, more intense than my memory recalled, and every object was clearly defined. It was dim; the only light came from a single candle on the bedside table, but the dark did not hinder my sight in the least. I had awoken in a lavish bedchamber, upon a dark green velvet coverlet spread over a very large and exquisitely carved bed. Tapestries depicting sunny colorful landscape scenes adorned the ancient stone walls. The furniture was sparse, but luxurious. An ornate chest of drawers occupied one corner of the room. A small writing desk and matching chair were placed facing a massive stone fireplace, which dominated one wall of the room.
But what demanded my attention were not my surroundings or even my seemingly enhanced vision. It was an aroma.
The most delectable and irresistible aroma I had ever encountered.
It called to me above all others, and my parched throat erupted in flames. A thick, viscous fluid began to flow in my mouth and down my throat, but it did nothing to assuage my maddening thirst.
I simply had to find it, I absolutely must devour it.
I sprang from the bed and crouched low beside it; unsure of what to expect next, but determined to find the source of my throat’s torment. The scent was close, so very close. A low growl rumbled deep within me, and I took a wary step toward the door to better track the scent.
I hadn’t noticed Signore Aro watching me.
He stood near the entrance, and had two others with him. One, a woman, stood directly behind him and was lightly touching his shoulder. The other was a brute of a man with black hair who watched me warily, clearly not impressed with my diminutive size. I did not like the look of him as he stared condescendingly at me.
I eyed him suspiciously and growled a warning.
He stumbled awkwardly and reached for his head. Signore Aro caught his elbow.
“Felix?” he asked with concern and took his hand. Signore Aro shuddered and then looked back to me. His eyes held a mixture of knowing pride and shocked surprise while his lips slowly turned up into an oddly gratified smile.
He approached me slowly, the woman followed closely behind to keep her contact with him. The one called Felix wisely remained where he was and wore an idiotic look of confusion. I shifted my position and crouched lower to the floor.
“Dearest Jane,” Signore Aro began sweetly. “There is nothing to fret over. No one is going to hurt you,” he soothed, putting his hand out to me.
My only response was a low growl of impatience.
He retracted his hand. “You promised to be loyal, Jane, and to always obey me,” he reminded me sternly.
My scowl deepened, but I repressed my growl.
He chuckled darkly. “Good girl.”
“Where am I?” I questioned and jumped at the sound of my voice, unsure if the musical tinkling that had come from my mouth was actually me.
“In my home. In your home, Jane.”
I should have expected that reply. “Why does my throat burn?” I asked fingering my neck with my hand while I swallowed more thick fluid.
“You are thirsty. Your thirst causes venom to flow in your mouth. I told you that you would become like the Stregoni, Jane. The legends are true, we are blood-drinkers,” he answered.
I should have been bothered by his explanation, but the mention of blood only served to fuel the flow of venom. I swallowed hard and my attention switched focus again.
“Where is Alec?” I asked, my mind suddenly recalling his existence.
“He is nearby and doing well.”
“I want to see him,” I insisted.
“That is not possible, Jane. You are both too new to this life, and you could hurt each other. You don’t want that, do you?” He asked with raised brows.
“No,” I spat in agitation while my eyes flickered nervously around the room. It was impossible to concentrate on anything while my throat burned so badly.
Signore seemed to sense my discomfort.
“Ah, but you are thirsty, there is plenty of time later to relate details. Come.”
“Yes, Signore Aro,” I replied dutifully. He looked at me with gratification.
“You are to call me Master now, dearest Jane.”
I bowed my head and followed him to wherever he may lead me.
I’m positive that I didn’t need to be led through the dark, damp tunnels encrusted with dripping nitre to find the maddening aroma singing to me, making my throat erupt in a thirst so powerful I wasn’t sure if anything could satiate it. Yet, I followed my Master and his entourage through countless dark ancient stone hallways. My attention was constantly distracted by each new scent and sight I encountered, but finally, after what seemed like an endless labyrinth of passages and doors, the scent became impossibly stronger.
We had come to a hallway paneled with wood on both sides. Ahead of me, I could see an enormous set of gilt double doors at the end of the passage, but I was not led to them. Instead, Felix slid a section of the hall’s wall paneling to the side and revealed an unremarkable thick wooden door. I stepped through it and found myself in a round, high ceilinged, stone antechamber. Three immense, brightly lit candelabras illuminated the room and reflected the candlelight off the polish of several dark wooden chairs placed throughout.
But all of this was completely insignificant. The only matter of importance was that this room was the source of the heavenly perfume, and the cause of my throat’s fiery torment.
Two humans cowered on the blackened stone floor, clutching each other in terror even in their nakedness. The intoxicating scent of their blood mingled with their fear as they whispered frantic prayers to their Lord and Savior, made my throat erupt anew.
I twitched to make my attack.
“For you, Jane,” my Master instructed and waved his hand in indication that I could begin. He then receded into the shadows of the room.
Instinct overtook me. I lurched forward in one lithe spring and took the auburn haired woman closest to me. She screamed and tried to cling to the other one, but I pulled her to me, marveling in the strength I now possessed, and gripped her hair roughly. I ended her screams with a soft gurgle as I tilted her head back and devoured her creamy freckled neck. Her frantic heart forced the warm nectar into my mouth in quick, pulsing, ebbs and the raging fire in my throat subsided with each delicious swallow.
But I was still incredibly aware of the other one that Master had brought for me, a man, old and scrawny, with the tan leathered skin of a shepherd.
One human would definitely not suffice on this night.
I watched him while I sucked and pulled at her neck, drawing every last drop from her. I released her corpse with a thud and began to stalk him. He crawled away from me, but his bare feet slipping on the bloodied floor hindered him. I laughed as I pursued him until he was trapped against the wall.
There was no escape.
I cocked my head and examined him skeptically.
“You don’t look fresh,” I said as I prodded his ribs with my finger.
He began to pray again.
I sighed in exasperation.
“He cannot save you,” I said, shaking my head.
His lips quivered. And for a brief moment, a cloudy memory of my father’s quivering lips as he tried to escape me that day at the stream flashed in my mind. My body remembered too, remembered how it had exhilarated me.
And while I looked upon this withered old man sniveling wretchedly before me, all my hate and loathing for my father surfaced, and I glowered at him.
He let out a horrid tortured scream and writhed desperately on the cold stone floor at my feet.
I felt the tingle begin.
I glowered at him again. The pitch of his screams rose higher and I concentrated my baleful glare on him, allowing all my hatred to flow through my gaze.
The tingle throbbed delightfully as it spread throughout my body, even to the very tips of my fingers. I kept my gaze fixed intently upon my prey, the hate surging and flowing freely while my prey begged for mercy, begged for me to grant him his death.
His desperate terrified pleading was my complete undoing.
I could wait no longer. I pounced forward and pulled him to me, taking a fistful of his hair in my hand and forcing his head back with a snap that nearly broke it. His neck throbbed rapidly from the frightened trilling beat of his heart. He closed his eyes and began to mumble a final prayer; I moved my mouth to his ear and whispered sweetly.
“I told you, he cannot save you,” I murmured, my lips hovering over his wildly pulsating jugular. I sank my teeth into his wrinkled neck and drained him of every warm, succulent drop.
As his limp corpse fell from my grasp I rose and surveyed my first prey with satisfaction.
I heard my Master laughing softly.
“Come with me, Jane,” he commanded as he emerged from the shadows and moved toward the door.
My Master led me out and back into the ancient stone hall and toward the gilt doors I had noticed before. Felix stayed behind me as we passed through and into an ornate white marble audience chamber. In the center of the room was a raised platform where three exquisite Romanesque thrones of black lacquer and gold sat. Two of the thrones were occupied; one by a man whose dark hair and pallid skin resembled Master Aro’s. In the other, sat a man who also possessed the same pale complexion, but his crown was covered by thick white hair and he wore a rather annoyed expression as we entered the chamber. The center throne of the trio was vacant.
“Caius, Marcus. This is my Jane,” my Master said as he turned to me. The note of possessive pride in his tone did not escape my notice.
I inclined my head toward them slightly in acknowledgement. I hadn’t been told to pledge any allegiance to anyone but Master Aro.
“You did not inform us that she was so young, Aro,” Caius quipped with obvious vexation.
“Her age is irrelevant Caius; her gift is too valuable and would have gone to waste had she been killed. I had no choice.”
“But the Law cannot be manipulated to suit individual circumstances, can it, Aro?” Marcus interjected.
“And what of her twin brother?” Caius continued, “He has shown no aptitude for any special talent, despite Eleazar’s presentiment. He should never have been turned. Instead, he should have been left to roast on the stake, as was his fate,” he argued.
My rage erupted uncontrollably then. I could not stand idly by and allow my brother’s life to be considered with so little value.
I snarled viciously and glared at him with menacing hatred. He suddenly fell off his throne shrieking and convulsing in anguish.
Aro rushed to his side and touched his head for the briefest of moments, then pulled his hand back almost instantly as if he’d touched a red hot andiron.
“Enough Jane,” Master said.
But I didn’t hear him. My attention was completely consumed by Caius suffering in front of me. I wasn’t sure what was causing it, but I was thoroughly enjoying it, nonetheless.
Silently, I dared him to tempt me further so that I’d be justified in attacking him. No one would hurt Alec, I wouldn’t let anyone.
“ENOUGH JANE!” And my head snapped to meet my Master’s eyes. Caius’s screams ceased instantly. Surprisingly, my Master chuckled.
“It is as Eleazar foresaw. Do you doubt now, Caius?” Master Aro questioned.
“I retract nothing,” Caius replied bitterly as he stood unsteadily and took to his seat.
“Oh? Shall I allow her to continue?”
“Come, let’s have it Aro. What magic does this one hold?” Marcus pressed with an impatient wave toward me.
Master Aro glided toward me then, “With her look,” he whispered as he raised his hand and softly brushed my cheek, “she will bring men to their knees,” he finished with reverence.
My life, or rather, my existence, began then.
Master Aro explained to me what I had become. I learned of my immortality and virtually unlimited strength, although I was told my strength would decrease somewhat with time. Master Aro also explained that I would never age, perpetually a maid and never a woman. This would become my only regret in my new life.
I had become a Stregoni, but that was only a legend. In reality, I had become a member of a much more secret and powerful family, the Volturi family.
The Volturi upheld the laws of our kind. Without these laws in place, we could be exposed and the humans would overpower us, destroying us all. Master Aro, Master Caius, and Master Marcus (I was eventually ordered to call them each Master, much to my annoyance) judged those who were accused of disregard for our laws. Occasionally, Master Aro would summon me to the audience chamber to assist.
My duty was to convince the accused to be more cooperative. This duty became my greatest joy, and I was able to quickly refine my skills, much to Master Aro’s delight.
When I wasn’t performing my duty, I spent my time roaming the halls of my home. Being new to this life, I was sequestered to the confines of the castle until I was in control of my thirst and able to restrain myself. Being in the streets would be too tempting for a newborn such as myself, and hunting was forbidden within the city walls. So I was forced to remain content with exploring the endless corridors and catacombs that wove a complicated labyrinth below the castle. The castle and I got to be very well acquainted.
I dined well, feeding several times a day on what was served to me in the turret. And although my thirst was quenched, there was no sport in it, and my predator instincts craved the challenge of tracking my prey. I wanted to hunt, and I knew who would be the first to feel my teeth against their skin.
I hadn’t forgotten the vow of vengeance I’d made while burning at the stake. I was well aware that by carrying it out, I would be violating one of the laws I had been sworn to uphold. Hunting within the city’s walls was strictly forbidden. Not to mention Master Aro had expressly requested that I stay within the castle. I decided that retribution was worth any consequences I would face.
I prepared one evening by gorging myself on three humans in the hope of making those I might encounter on the street less appealing. I then excused myself to retire to my chamber where I hastily changed my clothes and donned my dark hooded cloak.
I made my way inconspicuously through the castle corridors; the sight of me wandering was nothing new to those I passed. I knew where the door leading to the street was, having finally located it last night. As I approached the door, the scent of horse manure confirmed that the street was just on the other side. I steeled myself against the other, far more appealing, aromas I could sense and slipped out the door, closing it silently behind me.
The open street was relatively quiet. Being unsure of myself, I had waited until the hour had grown late before venturing out. But I was quite familiar with the layout of the city and knew that where I had emerged was close to the abbey. I drew up my hood and casually walked toward the cathedral.
Some of the scents were much more difficult to ignore than others, but I forced myself to remain focused on my objective. Nothing would be served if I allowed my need to overtake me, and I acted rashly and stupidly. I wound my way through the dark and mostly deserted streets of Volterra, being careful to stay in the shadows as much as possible so as not to attract any attention.
Soon I came to the high wall of the abbey courtyard. It was nothing to jump over it in one swift and graceful leap. I then surveyed the courtyard and examined the line of second story windows, trying to recall which was hers through my dim human memories. After a moment’s thought, I remembered, and I leapt through it and into her room with silent ease.
She slept soundly in her tiny bed, her nightgown twisted around her legs and one arm thrown over her head. The moonlight filtered in, casting her face in a ghastly glow, much like the deathly pallor of a long dead corpse.
Soon enough, I thought with pleasure.
I crept silently toward her. If I had still had a pulse, it would have been racing with the anticipation of wreaking my vengeance upon her.
I leaned over her and readied myself; the scent of her blood was a rather disgusting mixture of camphor and chrysanthemums. Her foul breath blew into my face and I turned my head in disgust. Her lip quivered as she drew her next breath. In a moment, it would quiver in fear, and then it would be over.
And then it would be over, I mused.
It suddenly seemed like much too easy and peaceful a death for her.
I’d been so enthralled with the idea of hunting for the first time that I hadn’t seen the full potential of my plan until now.
I quickly scanned the room for something hard and heavy. A candlestick would do, I thought as I swiped one off the dresser and removed the candle from it. This would be difficult, I was still learning the extent of my new strength, and I didn’t want to kill her…Yet.
I tapped her head with the blunt pewter candlestick and waited. She didn’t stir and I wasn’t sure if I had knocked her unconscious as was my intention, or if I hadn’t used enough strength in my blow. I picked up her hand by the wrist and let it fall. It hit the mattress with a lifeless thud and she still did not stir. I assumed it was safe to proceed.
I grabbed her by both wrists and pulled her into a sitting position with her feet on the floor. I then knelt in front of her and slung her limp body over my right shoulder. Her weight was nothing as I stood and considered my routes for escaping undetected. I had to be quick and get her back before she revived. I decided the window was my best option, from there I’d find the nearest drain.
I jumped from her second story window to the courtyard below and the noise of my landing echoed against the stone walls. I quickly hid in the shadows in case someone had heard me. After I was sure I hadn’t been seen, I ran past the graveyard and to the open street. Sister Isabella’s head bobbed unnaturally behind me as I ran.
I scanned the gutters of the street looking for a drain that would lead me underground. I saw one close by, several feet down and across the street. I stayed concealed in the shadows and moved as quickly as I could with my burden.
I made it undetected and set the Sister down so that I could open the iron grate covering the hole. I then dropped her into the tunnel feet first. After moment I heard a thump. She had landed.
I followed and almost landed on top of her. She had revived, and her face was distorted in confused pain as she looked down at her leg, bent at an unnatural angle. She looked up at me in shocked surprise.
“Jane?” She whispered, unbelieving, as she squinted in the darkness and examined me. My only reply was a swift blow to her head with the back of my hand and she slumped into unconsciousness again.
I had to work quickly.
I picked her up again and took a moment to get my bearings. I was close to the castle, near the tunnels that linked to the catacombs under the Cathedral. If I went to my right, I should come upon the passageway I had in mind.
Hastily, I made my way to the less frequented parts of the catacombs, worried that the Sister would wake before I could secure her. I knew of exactly the right place to carry out my revenge. The stench was almost unbearable. Not only were the tunnels littered with vermin droppings and dead rats, but also close by was the pit where the Volturi discarded the corpses of those we fed from. Their rotting flesh fouled the air and contaminated the shallow water that submerged the floor ankle high.
I was searching for one particularly old passage that came to a dead end. It was narrow and littered with the bones of the dead that had been buried there centuries before. The walls on both sides were pocked with rectangular burial niches and a few of the skeletons still remained intact. At the end of the passage, mounted to the wall with a massive iron ring, was a set of ancient iron shackles.
I set the Sister down roughly and stripped her of her nightgown. Her broken leg dangled grotesquely as I positioned her hands over her head and into the iron cuffs. Once secured, I stepped back and admired my achievement with a satisfied smile. This was going to be so much more enjoyable than simply drinking her blood. But there were a few things I needed in order to carry out my scheme.
I carefully made my way back to my chamber. Eagerly I opened the door and entered, my eyes already looking for the items I sought. I found one, a silver bowl, sitting atop my desk. The other item, I realized suddenly, might be more difficult to procure. I needed a blade of some sort, yet cutlery and weapons were implements the Volturi had no use for, and were therefore generally not to be found in the castle. I growled in frustration.
“Whatever is the matter, dear one?” I heard my Master inquire from a darkly shadowed corner of my chamber. So involved was I that I hadn’t noticed his scent in the air or seen him standing in the corner when I’d entered.
He came forward and extended his hand. It was an action I had come to understand well and I placed my hand in his. He bent over our joined hands and made ready to kiss the top of mine, but instead I felt his gentle touch transform into a pulverizing grip. I quickly broke free from him, owing to my newborn strength, and cast my eyes down to the floor. A nibbling fear began to chew at me.
“I never told you that I also have a gift, Jane,” he began in his usual overly polite tone.
“Oh?” I replied and the nibbling became an insistent gnawing.
“Yes. I know what is in your mind,” he elaborated. My eyes flew to his in panic. “You broke the law Jane,” he continued sadly.
“But Master, surely you know why! I wasn’t hunting in the city; I was only hunting her,” I pleaded desperately. I had seen enough in my short time with the Volturi to know what happened to those who disobeyed the laws.
“I won’t venture into public again,” I promised emphatically, “I only want what is rightfully mine to claim, my revenge.” I defended myself and clutched at the sleeve of his black satin robe as I sank to my knees before him in contrition.
It seemed like several minutes passed before I felt his hand reach under my chin and tilt my face up to look at him.
“Ah Jane, I find myself powerless to deny you. But this must be our secret. If Caius and Marcus were to discover the truth, I would not be able to save you from their anger,” he warned.
“Thank you, my Master,” I whispered with genuine gratitude and stood up.
“Go and be quick about it,” he said and handed me a small, narrow silver object sheathed in leather. A dagger, I realized upon closer inspection, intricately filigreed and mounted with many deep red garnets. I smiled as I quickly took it from him. He had seen what I was in need of.
“Let no one see or hear her,” he advised before he bowed his head and exited my chamber.
I hurriedly went to gather my implements. I fumbled in my desk for an unused candle and some matches, and once located, stuffed them in my cloak along with the silver bowl and my Master’s dagger.
I made my way back down to my captive. As I approached, I could hear her hysterical screams all the way down the corridor. That would never do. If she keeps on, everyone will hear her. I should have brought something to gag her fat mouth, I realized with annoyance.
As I turned the corner and entered the passage, I took a moment to savor the sight of her misery. It was pitch black in the tunnel and I was able to see only because of my extraordinary sight. Sister Isabella had no such advantage and her panic was multiplied by the fact that she couldn’t see what was coming for her. I watched her from several feet away, her head turning frantically in the direction of some noise, either real or imagined. Her eyes were wild with absolute terror. Her voice broke repeatedly as she sobbed, helpless and hopeless, all while frantically trying to pull her hands out of the iron cuffs. She tried so hard that she mutilated the flesh around her wrists and rivulets of blood were slowly trickling down her arms to her shoulders.
It was time to make my presence known.
“I always knew that we would meet again, Sister,” I said sweetly as I struck a match and lit the candle. My ruby eyes settled on her horrified face.
She let out a long, blood curdling scream of all consuming terror that echoed down the passageways and through the catacombs.
In response, I felt the tingle begin to emerge deep within me.
I approached her with the candle in hand and walked toward one of the empty niches in the wall. I carefully tilted the candle and let a few drops of wax fall onto the stone; I then pressed the butt end of the candle into the wax so that it would stand upright and illuminate the passage.
I wanted to make sure she would be able to see me.
“Jane, release me at once!” She cried angrily.
“You are in no position to make requests, Sister. As it is, I’m afraid your pleas will fall on deaf ears,” I said as I calmly extracted my bowl and dagger from my cloak and laid them next to the candle. I then removed my cloak and folded it carefully before laying it in the niche as well.
“You cannot be real. You were killed, burned at the stake…” She babbled senselessly, trying to use reason to explain how I could possibly be standing in front of her.
“Not real?” I asked and took the dagger and bowl from the niche. I walked to her, unsheathed the dagger and knelt at her foot. With a slow deliberate movement, I effortlessly sliced through the soft white flesh above her ankle.
“Did that feel real?” I asked sweetly, “Or not?”
She screamed again.
“If you don’t keep quiet Sister, I shall be forced to make it so you cannot scream at all,” I said as I positioned the bowl beneath her foot to catch her crimson liquid and put the dagger back next to the candle.
“What…are you….Jane?” She managed to spit out between pathetic sobs and hitched breaths.
“I am your death, Sister. Aren’t I pretty?” I asked and spun around for her viewing pleasure. She shuddered and stared at the wall.
Slowly the bowl at her foot filled with her blood. I made sure she was watching as I picked it up brought it to my lips.
I smiled wickedly and winked at her. She bit her lip in horror. I placed my lips on the bowl’s rim and tilted it back. Her warm blood cascaded down my throat and it was nearly impossible to suppress my newborn urge to simply devour her then as I pulled the emptied bowl away from my lips. That would be such a waste, and I forced myself to remain in control of my need.
I returned the bowl to her foot so it could fill again, and stood before her.
“I insist that our time together today be special, Sister,” I said. “There are so many things I want to share with you. Since we parted, I have learned much,” I cooed.
Her lip began to quiver in fear and I smiled as the lovely tingling spread. I had only just begun.
For hours, I toyed with her.
I carved her flesh with my Master’s dagger. Several tiny incisions I placed all over her naked body. The cuts weren’t so deep that she would bleed to death, but still deep enough to be painful. I drank from them all, catching the blood with the bowl and savoring the taste, not of her blood so much as the delectable flavor of her total and absolute fear of me.
I burned her with the candle wax. It was ridiculous and childish, but I wanted her to scream like the mice that had sealed my fate the day she’d caught me burning them. I held the flame to her flesh and watched the fine hairs singe and burn with tiny wisps of brown smoke, watched the angry red burns appear all over her legs, just like mine had when she had me burned at the stake.
After a long while, her screams and protests started to quiet and I knew she was becoming weak from loss of blood.
It was time to progress to my next device.
I took the dagger and ran the very tip of it across her right cheek.
“Stay awake, Sister. I’ve saved my most valuable lesson for last,” I murmured near her ear.
Her glossy, exhausted eyes rolled to meet mine.
“I haven’t heard you pray once, Sister. I confess I find myself surprised, you were such a pious Bride of Christ,” I sneered.
She made no answer.
“Nor have I heard you beg, which truly disappoints me.” I continued cruelly, “I so wanted to hear you beg for your life.”
She spat at me.
“That was most unwise, Sister,” I tisked, shaking my head.
It was then that I unleashed my full fury on her. I dredged up every horrible memory from my human life. The endless beatings and abuse at the hand of my father. My short time at the abbey and how the Sisters had hated me from the start. The horrible trial where I didn’t even understand what I was accused of. The unparalleled terror of being burned alive.
Specific scenes played themselves in my mind. My father’s rough heavy hand dragging me out from under my bed by my hair when I’d run from his leather strap. Alec with a bloodied eye, rocking miserably on his bed while his mind consumed him. The random faces of the mob that screamed enthusiastically for my death. The look of condescension on Isabella’s face as my verdict and sentence were read.
My rage and hate and bitter resentment exploded within me, and I turned my baleful glare on her.
She screamed so loudly it actually hurt my ears. She thrashed wildly against the stone wall, her back arching out as if I were ripping her beating heart straight from her chest. Her legs jerked in uncontrolled spasms and her screeching rose in pitch as she writhed in complete agony.
Rage wasn’t the only thing that had overtaken me. Sister Isabella’s screams had inspired the deep tingle to grow and flourish.
Every thrash thrilled me, every garbled cry of despair excited me further.
I didn’t relent. I continued to stare at her, sending her shockwave after shockwave of unimaginable pain. And as her screams grew more desperate, my pleasure only multiplied, fed by her torment and I reached my breaking point.
The frantic pounding of her heart suddenly ceased, fear finally forcing it to drum its last beat. The instant her heart stopped, the tingling in my center erupted into a shockwave of intense pleasure that rippled and shot through my body like an emblazoned meteor. I growled in pure ecstasy before burying my teeth in the cooling flesh of her neck. With each swallow, my pleasure deepened and vibrated, warmed and tingled, revitalized my strength and satisfied my revenge.
She was dead.
I was the powerful one.
And I was, at last, complete.